IASA bestows awards

IASA bestows awards – up front

IASA president Stephen M. Sill, at the 75th anniversary of the Insurance Accounting and Systems Association Inc.’s annual conference in Denver in June, presented the organization’s top awards to employers and employees.

The Diamond Award, celebrating IASA’s 75th anniversary, went to Franklin Life Insurance Co., now part of AIG, and IBM Corp.’s James Cranwill, past president of IASA, accepted the award on behalf of Franklin. Judy Smolski, vice president of marketing, accepted the award on behalf of IBM.

The Excellence Award, recognizing corporate support of IASA, went to the Prudential Insurance Co. and to Utica Mutual Insurance Co. Bill Eckert, vice president and division controller, accepted the award on behalf of Prudential. Daniel O’Connell accepted the award on behalf of Utica.

The President’s Award, which recognizes volunteer service, went to Michelle Mauer-Williford of IBM’s Business Consulting unit. A surprise award was bestowed on Alan Close of the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co.

The top graduates of the Associate in Insurance Accounting and Finance program were also honored. They were Brown & Brown’s Melodee Dickson in property and casualty and Manulife Vietnam’s Le Thanh Hung in the life category.

“I feel like I’m at the Academy Awards,” said Sill, as he handed out the plaques before an audience of about 1,500 participants before the keynote address.

The awards were presented following a show entitled “A Salute to America” which reinforced the themes of pride, honor and service, themes made all the more prescient by the presence of U.S. troops still in Iraq.

Strive for the Impossible

The much-anticipated keynote speaker, author James Bradley, told a packed conference hall that reaching for what appears to be impossible is a worthy goal–always.

“The difference between life and death is attitude,” said Bradley, whose father, John “Doc” Bradley, was one of six Marines photographed planting the Stars and Stripes on a mountain during the fierce battle for Iwo Jima. Only three of the Marines in the photograph made it back to the U.S. John Bradley never talked about the battle during his lifetime. Nor did he ever reveal that he had been the recipient of the Navy Cross. Only when the story of the six Marines was published three years ago in a bestseller entitled Flags of Our Fathers, did the story of what happened to the Marines come to light. Bradley exhorted his audience to “think your way into what others say is impossible,” and the rousing pep talk received a standing ovation from the audience.

Honesty Still The Best Policy

The conference’s second keynote speaker, Frank W. Abagnale, author of The Art of the Steal and Catch Me If You Can, spoke about being a runaway teen and living the fugitive life. His life was captured on the big screen last year by Steven Spielberg in Catch Me If You Can, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks.

“The law sometimes sleeps but never dies,” said Abagnale. He was eventually arrested in France at age 21, then extradited to the U.S. via another prison stay in Sweden. He did 12 years in federal prison in Virginia and was eventually paroled at 26, after agreeing to work for the government. He has worked for the FBI for the past 27 years. He also told the audience of about 1,000 people that he was sorry for what he had done and the damage he had caused. Abagnale also said he’s “dumbfounded” by those who call him “brilliant” and “a genius.” Blessed with a photographic memory, he admits he was a “gifted” man.

Abagnale’s speech on fraud was apropos. A day earlier, Cubs’ slugger Sammy Sosa was found to be using a bat filled with cork, in violation of Major League Baseball rules. The Sosa incident was a hot discussion item at the breakfast table among attendees at the conference.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Axon Group

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group