Farewell Remarks of 2021-22 Academy President Maryellen Coggins at the American Academy of Actuaries' Annual Meeting on Nov. 2, 2022
I want to say it has truly been an honor to serve as your president.
It has been an amazing experience and I want to thank the many individuals inside and outside the Academy who have worked so tirelessly for the Academy in pursuit of our mission, to serve the public and the United States actuarial profession.
Renewal has been a theme I've talked about a lot this year.
I spoke about it at last year's annual meeting, and have written about it in my presidential columns in Contingencies magazine, and discussed it with our Executive Director in our Actuary Voices podcast.
What is renewal?
In the simplest terms, it is a new beginning that is also a continuation of the past.
In so many ways, this past year is one that reinforced a renewed focus on our mission.
It's been encouraging to me to witness firsthand how the Academy both continues its work in pursuit of this mission, and how it has come to life in new and always-evolving ways.
With the up-close vantage point of president, I've come to appreciate that when the Academy flourishes, it's due to both our volunteers and the excellent support of our talented and dedicated professional staff.
Our work is fueled by over 1,100 dedicated volunteers-- some of whom are in the audience today-- who make it possible to fully engage our mission and deliver value to our membership.
I want to congratulate them, Executive Director Bill Michalisin--who has just completed his first year in that position--and the entire Academy staff for all their efforts throughout the year.
Given the Academy's refreshed strategic plan adopted at the Board of Directors meeting just a few weeks ago, coupled with Bill's leadership, the Academy has a new road map for driving innovation and delivering value as we move into the future.
Our plan reflects new information that was produced through extensive research and volunteer and staff collaboration this year, including through feedback from our members about what they value most and the changes impacting them professionally, all in an effort to renew the promise of the Academy's mission to serve.
Our plan also reflects our commitment to building a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion in everything we do.
We have already started expanding the ways that we can engage with our members through short-term and more focused "micro"-volunteering opportunities as well as how we engage all segments of a diverse membership who have varied experiences and perspectives.
Our ability to continue to grow opportunities for volunteer engagement, along with a renewed and ongoing focus in supporting a diverse pipeline into the profession and the Academy, is our steadfast priority.
Our Committee on Education, formed late last year, is planning for new Academy programing to further support actuaries' professional educational needs, with a specific focus on what it means to be an actuary practicing in the U.S. In addition, we have begun to explore a new learning management system for the Academy, which would support a seamless and user-friendly member experience when accessing public policy and professionalism webinars and other important Academy content.
This year was marked by new strides in public policy outreach efforts with key stakeholders such as the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, congressional and federal agency offices, and state policymakers, making our voice resound on key public policy issues and challenges facing our nation.
The Academy has been at the forefront on public policy issues that we all hear about in the news every day-- climate change, use of big data and algorithms, cyber risk, diversity, equity and inclusion, private equity, inflation, and retirement and health security.
The Academy provides our profession's unique perspective on the issues through issue briefs, policy papers, Hill visits and briefings, testimony, and presentations across all practice areas.
And that work and our expertise is respected and recognized by policymakers and well-beyond.
Many of you may have heard Senior Casualty Fellow Rich Gibson's interview with NPR's Morning Edition after Hurricane Ian, and Senior Health Fellow Cori Uccello's interview with Kaiser Health News' "What the Health" podcast this year after the release of the Medicare Trustees Report.
Or perhaps you read our comment letter on the recent Colorado law regarding unfair discrimination in insurance practices, or heard Lauren Cavanaugh, Vice President of the Casualty Practice Council, testify to the Washington, D.C., Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking on unfair discrimination in automobile insurance.
It is always essential for the actuarial perspective to be heard and for our stakeholders to gain the unbiased perspective and knowledge that the Academy delivers, especially in an election year like the one that's drawing to a close.
This morning at breakfast, we had a chance to recognize three of the many outstanding volunteers who've helped renew the promise of the Academy this year.
Their work on qualification standards, wildfire risk, and cyber risk are some of the best examples of the dedication that ensures that the actuarial perspective is heard, and that the profession effectively self-regulates in a changing landscape of risk, societal expectations, and public policy.
We were also reminded this morning that our profession must constantly prepare for the future, with the recognition of our first-ever class of Rising Actuary Award recipients, many of whom are already making significant contributions to our great profession and organization.
Throughout the remainder of this meeting, you'll hear more in breakout and general sessions about what lies ahead-- both challenges and opportunities.
I'm looking forward to hearing veteran Washington Post columnist Michelle Singletary's take on macroeconomic changes like interest rates and inflation, consumers' changing retirement needs, and next week's elections.
I'm also looking forward to ethics expert Bruce Weinstein's discission of ethical considerations for today's actuarial professional, and all the other sessions we have in store for you.
In just a few moments, I'll pass the presidential gavel to Ken Kent -- a ceremony that itself marks renewal.
Before I pass the gavel, I want to thank Academy members, volunteers, leadership and staff who -- in the spirit of renewal -- have committed and re-committed to advancing our mission to serve the U.S. profession and the public.
The founders of the Academy believed that the power to elevate and demonstrate the contributions of our profession is in actuaries' hands, and they entrusted future generations to take up their banner.
I am optimistic that together, we will continue to renew their vision going forward and work to ensure the future of the profession and the Academy remains bright.