Join guest host Jenny Whittington, URMIA’s Executive Director, as she interviews Juan Azcarate, Marje Lemmon, and Eno Oregbesan, members of URMIA’s Honors Committee, about their work on the committee. Juan, Marje, and Eno share the different awards and honors available to URMIA members, what the nomination process is like, and how you can nominate others and yourself for these awards. They also discuss efforts to promote inclusiveness in the Honors Committee’s process and the hope to further improve these strengths. Don’t miss out on the nomination process - most nomination categories are open until July 15th!
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Guest Host - Jenny Whittington, Executive Director- URMIA
Jenny Whittington: Hello everyone. This is Jenny Whittington URMIA's Executive Director and welcome to URMIA Matters. Today I have three fine URMIA members with me, and today we're gonna be talking about URMIA's Awards and Honors program. So first up, I have Marje Lemmon from Yale University, former URMIA president, and she's been chair of the honors committee for many a year. So, Marje, tell us a little bit about, your experience on the Honors Committee and welcome.
Marje Lemmon: Hello, Jenny, nice to be with you. And I'm wondering, will this be the last podcast I do with you before you ride off into the sunset? How sad is that?
Jenny Whittington: No, no. We have plenty of time. You know, we, we try to put these on every two weeks. I mean, we got, we got months Marje, we got more things to talk about.
Marje Lemmon: Right. We'll have to come up with some really good ideas. But, yes, as Jenny said, my name's Marje Lemmon. I am the Director of Risk Management and Insurance at Yale University. I have at the end of June, will be 20 years for me at Yale, which means it's probably 19 years and 11 months since I've joined URMIA because I pretty much joined right when I started at Yale. So, I've held a bunch of different roles, but I love being the honors committee chair. I think I've been it for maybe six or seven years I think now. So, it's great. It's one of my most favorite things to do. It's really fun to recognize all of our fabulous members, so.
Jenny Whittington: Well, congratulations on 20 years. That is so awesome. Wow.
Marje Lemmon: Thank you so much.
Jenny Whittington: That is exciting. What a, what a milestone for you. And yes, I've heard that from more than one member, that this is the, you know, one of their favorite things to do as an URMIA member is to recognize each other. And I mean, really that's what URMIA is about as a community is to, to build ourselves up, lift ourselves up. So, thank you for that nice introduction and now I'll turn it over to Juan Azcarate. I hope I got your name correctly, so please welcome to the podcast and tell me a little bit about yourself, Juan.
Juan Azcarate: Sure, sure. Thank you, Jenny. So, I've been in higher ed for 10 years now. Having started at SMU and actually that was when I first got exposed to URMIA, I didn't know anything about URMIA. They ca- you know, Anita came to me and told me, you know what, I want you to really get involved with URMIA. I'm like, what is URMIA? What is, what does that stands for? And so, she got even involved and it, it's been, I mean, it's just been great. I mean, the camaraderie, the friendships, the collaboration that, that goes on at URMIA is just, I mean, it's second to none. I mean, I, I even going to RIMS, which is a great organization, I just ne- didn't experience the same thing at rims, but being an URMIA member, I mean, it's just, I think, elevated my, I think my risk management experience to a different level and just, you know, interacting with so many members has been great. So, hard to believe that I've been, you know, in higher ed for 10 years and then went over to Texas Wesleyan for a few years, about six years, and then just moved over to Dallas College back in right after Labor Day. So, it's been seven, eight, going on eight months now as their Senior Director for Risk Management.
Jenny Whittington: Awesome. Well, congratulations to you for that, that milestone of time.
Juan Azcarate: Thank you.
Jenny Whittington: And, you have been serving on the board for some time now as well.
Juan Azcarate: Yes, yes. So, since 2021, I served one year and then ended up actually, you know, being successful on earning a three-year term. So, I'm in the middle of that right now. So, we'll see how things go after that. And then I've been on the committee for two years now, since 2021.
Jenny Whittington: Excellent. Well, thank you for that fine introduction. And last but certainly not least, we have a podcast newcomer and, no, I don't wanna butcher your name. I've, I've finally got my arms around how to say your first name. So, can you please pronounce both names for me?
Eno Oregbesan: Absolutely. Eno Oregbesan. And I'm the Director of Risk Management at Rice University, located in Houston, Texas. We're a medium size private university. So definitely the newbie, but not necessarily new to URMIA. And I have thoroughly enjoyed being an URMIA member. I actually had been in higher ed for about 10 years. Also, Juan, had prior to that worked for an insurance company, not specific to higher ed, a Liberty Mutual handling claims, and then went into higher ed, specifically public university experience. So, I was very involved with URMIA. Then I feel like that's where I, I sort of grew up in terms of my risk management, technical knowledge, met awesome folks during that time. I agree with Juan on the camaraderie. You know, actually some are dear friends now. So, in terms of opening up opportunities for me now that I'm on the private higher ed side, a lot of that was through connections from folks I met at URMIA.
So, like I mentioned, insurance company public, higher ed, and then moved on the broker side, the dark side as some may say. And, and that was fantastic. I thought there was nothing but change, you know, when I was on private or working for a corporation. Now that I'm in private higher ed, I've experienced the same thing. We have a new president, a new presidential cabinet. So, it's so exciting and so dynamic. But you know, really happy to be here. Happy to be talking about anything, awards and honors. I've been participating with URMIA and different committees. I was trying to think back on what am I not involved in this year?
Jenny Whittington: You're everywhere.
Eno Oregbesan: I am, you know, the engagement task force specific to strategic goal four on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. So, participating on that task force as well as, of course, the honors, the upcoming B’more Risk Aware, the Baltimore upcoming conference, annual conference, participating there in terms of on the annual conference committee as well as a subcommittee of for URMIA Cares. So, I feel like I'm kind of all things URMIA this year, but I absolutely love it and fortunate to be working with Marje and Juan and many others on the honors committee, so thank you.
Jenny Whittington: Oh, that, it is so wonderful to hear you say that. And you've just been such a lovely member in all those roles you've played. You've, you have a lovely way about asking questions and approaching people. So just really appreciate you being involved in URMIA cuz you, you make us a richer organization. So, thank you. Thank you all of us. Or all of you for joining me today on URMIA Matters. So, I'm gonna start with asking Marje to tell us a little bit, since she's the, the, the senior member here to talk about kind of the evolution of the honors committee and really what, what they do. So, Marje, take it away.
Marje Lemmon: Sure. Well, in a nutshell, I mean, I think you had hit the nail on the head before. We honor our members for all of the wonderful things that they do. We are very fortunate to have amazing institutional and affiliate members. Volunteering and assisting not only the organization, but also the higher education industry as a whole and doing great things at their institution. So, we wanna make sure that they are recognized for everything that they are doing. So, what we've done recently and that keeping in mind, you know, the URMIA's own DEIB initiatives, we took a look at the committee. And said, you know, what do we need to do with our committee? We want it to be more well-rounded. We want it to be more diverse. We want it to better represent the members of the organization because more diversity in the committee will help us be a little bit more diverse in thinking about who deserves recognition and who we can award these honors to. So, it's great.
So, we expanded it this past year. We're now 12 members strong. Like we mentioned, Eno is, is a brand-new member. We're thrilled to have her be part of it. Juan joined a couple of years ago. He's been a great addition to it, so it's terrific. I think we have a, a very, very nice makeup of our committee now.
Jenny Whittington: Yeah. And we have both institutional members and affiliate members, that hasn't always been the case in the past.
Marje Lemmon: Yeah, we have, we've, we've had brokers on it in the past, but we did, when we expanded, we actually added an insurance carrier person, which is great. So, it's good. I think we've got big institutions, small institutions, community colleges, brokers, insurers. I think we're, we're, we're looking pretty good in terms of representing the overall membership for sure.
Jenny Whittington: So why don't you speak to the different awards? , I don't think the average URMIA member, I mean maybe not the podcast listeners because they are, you know, a special group of folks, but why don't you tell us about the, the different honors and awards that we, we offer?
Marje Lemmon: Well, we have six of them and everyone out there in podcast world, Jenny affectionately likes to refer to them as the “HERMIES” for Higher Education Risk Management Awards. I will just call them awards and honors. The first one is the Distinguished Risk Manager Award. So that has, it's one of our biggest ones and it's, it's meant for members, institutional members, who have been outstanding leaders in the field of higher education, risk management, and within the service to URMIA. It doesn't have to be given every year. It's given when we've got people who we feel are warranted. But it's, that's an excellent award to have. And we actually have a subgroup within the honors committee that just votes on the DRM recipient, so that way we don't have any issues with someone on the committee being nominated for it and then us having to vote in secret.
Second is the Emeritus Award, and that award is meant for those who have recently retired and have played a significant role in URMIA and in higher education risk management. So, we honor those upon their retirement, they are invited to the next conference. And we give them an award and a, a little bit of a stipend to help with their attendance. We have an Excellence in Volunteering Award, which is our newest award. We invented it to, created it two years ago. I think it was last year was the first time that we presented it.
Jenny Whittington: Yep.
Marje Lemmon: Yeah, it was last year.
Juan Azcarate: Yes.
Marje Lemmon: So that award is geared towards those who are kind of like in the middle of their career, but they have been absolute champions of URMIA and have provided an extensive commitment to the organization for volunteering. The next is the Larry V. Stevens Lifetime Achievement Award. Now, this one is meant for institutional members who have had a career of not less than 20 years. That doesn't mean we're showing them the door. They're still URMIA members. They don't have to be retiring anytime soon. But we're, it's meant for people who truly have had a, a career of at least 20 years. In that career, they have provided a high level of service to higher education risk management, and to URMIA.
The fifth one is the Outstanding Affiliate Service Award, and we did change the name recently on that one. And added the word affiliate because we wanted to make it clear that this was a, an award separate from the Larry Stevens Lifetime Achievement Award, which is geared for institutional members. However, the Outstanding Affiliate Service Award is very similar to the Larry Stevens Award, so it is again geared towards someone who's had a career of not less than 20 years. And during that career they, they've provided a very high level of service to higher ed risk management and to URMIA and their service has been notable.
And then the last one, which we don't, which is the sixth one, we don't give this out very often. It's called the Visionary Award. It is designed to honor institutional members who have really identified a specific need for their institution or for higher ed risk managers as a whole, and then developed some sort of innovative solution for it and implemented that solution. So we haven't given that one out in a few years, so we're especially eager to find some recipients of that this year, if anybody has any equal great ideas. But those are our six.
Jenny Whittington: Thank you.
Marje Lemmon: We're always thinking about new ones that we could add and different categories of awards that we could create to help honor our members. So, if anyone thinks of anything, let us know.
Jenny Whittington: Awesome. And now I'd like to turn my question to Juan and ask him specifically about his involvement in the honors committee and kind of what you've, what you've learned. Juan, I know last year I recruited you to do some of the presentation at the conference.
Juan Azcarate: Sure. Sure.
Jenny Whittington: Which you were wonderful at.
Juan Azcarate: Thank you. Thank you. No, I think what I, what I've seen is that I think we've taken it to another level, and I think taking it to a different level is, we've looked at the awards and found out, you know, do we need to tweak some of these awards? Do we meet, need to make them more inclusive? And I think that's what we really wanted to do, was our goal was to make it more inclusive. Maybe tweak the language a little bit. And like Marje was talking about is like the Visionary Award. I mean, just because you have the award, that doesn't mean that you have to give it out every year. I think you need to find someone that's really deserving of the award, someone that's done something, you know, some standout, you know, something that they've done at their campus that really elevates, you know, risk management. And so I think that's one of the things that we looked at is, you know, do we want to basically address the Vision award every year and does it have to be given to someone every year? And that may not be the case, you know?
Jenny Whittington: Sure.
Juan Azcarate: So, I think that's one thing that Marje brought up. I think the other thing is the Excellence in Volunteering award. I think that's a, a good example of where we basically identify that they should be going to someone that is kind of in the middle of their career. Someone that basically is deserving, has really stood out as a volunteer for URMIA for several years already. So that's one of the things I take away from it is that I saw where we were trying to make it more inclusive and add other members of that collaboration that I was talking about earlier.
Jenny Whittington: Yeah, and I, I know we've talked about a theme as we were talking about doing this podcast, you know, that we're really trying to get the message out that we have these six different categories, and we would love to have the problem of too many submissions. So, I think our call to action here is for all members to think, I mean, even while Marje was just speaking and you too Juan, I was thinking, gosh, you know, I do know a few URMIA members that are really doing great work, you know, on their campuses, that, that really does kind of transcend higher education risk management and really helps. So, I really appreciate your, your being inclusive and bringing that to mind, Juan.
Juan Azcarate: Well, and many times I think what happens, Jenny, is that, some of these members are not going to say anything about those achievements, those things that they're working on. So, it might involve another URMIA member saying, you know what? I know this, this URMIA member is doing this at their campus, and I want to basically acknowledge them and recognize 'em for their achievements and what they've done to basically make their campus, you know, much better, you know, have a better environment. So sometimes yes, you may not hear about them, but if we have those other members that know about 'em, they can bring it to the membership.
Jenny Whittington: Absolutely. And I know I know when we were talking about, , the, the things we wanted you to talk about in the podcast, I really wanted you to reflect on your time on the other side of the business because a lot of times our, our affiliate members do, you know, they really know the good work cuz they're working in tandem with their risk managers on campus of what they're doing. And a lot of times, they can be very shy.
Eno Oregbesan: Absolutely.
Jenny Whittington: About their achievements. So why don't you speak to, you know, your experience as the newbie here in podcast land and, and your experience.
Eno Oregbesan: Absolutely. You know, just to add to that, if an affiliate knows of or hears of great work that's being done, we want to know about that. We want to be able to consider that. So, I definitely encourage affiliate members to, you know, reach out to their clients who may be doing great work or, you know, nominate them. Or invite them to nominate themselves, because that's something I don't think I was as familiar with, that you can nominate yourself and the goal is to make, you know, the goal is to make the form and the process easy and inclusive. So, you know, take a look, go on the website and, you know, let us know what's happening. In addition, you know, for, I'm sort of not entry level, you know, not senior, kind of that mid-level career. I wanna know what, I may be leading some ideas, you know, to bring to our campus and we won't know if people are not sharing. So please, share the great work whether you're an affiliate that can nominate someone or you're nominating yourself.
My experience though on the honors committee has been fantastic in terms of people. First of all, being receptive to hearing new ideas and considering changes. I'm kind of using my diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging task force brain to kind of, you know, bring it together here and see opportunities. For example, some things that I talked about were, what about those new and emerging leaders? You know, do we have a category for that type of person? Or maybe people that are not necessarily volunteering but are still new in the industry and have made an impact. How can we create an award for that? Should we also include maybe non-members, just people in the higher ed industry that are doing fantastic work? Is there a way to recognize them? May not be an award, but maybe some kind of recognition. So, I think those are some things I've thought about that, you know, may be helpful or, or things that we can consider in the future.
Jenny Whittington: Yeah, I, I know, I sat in on that, that one, the last committee meeting or two. And it was really nice, I mean, to have a broader group and to really kind of think outside of the box. And I really recognize the, the good work of Strategic Goal four, because I think URMIA is just gonna be a better organization, you know, having more, more lenses that we're looking at things through and hearing and absorbing and changing because, you know, that's just, it's gonna make us a stronger organization.
Eno Oregbesan: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I'm excited to work together with the honors committee to kind of think through how we can continue to be more inclusive, so looking forward to it.
Jenny Whittington: Absolutely.
Eno Oregbesan: I'm just gonna say it cuz Marje didn't say it. She did win an award. I know. I was planning for her. I was like, I know she's so humble. I know she wasn't gonna say it, but she did win the inaugural Excellence in Volunteering Awards and was one of the recipients. So-
Jenny Whittington: And Amy Daley.
Eno Oregbesan: And Amy Daley for sure. Yes, absolutely. So, affiliate members can win, you know, even honors committee members, but you know, I just want people to know and be encouraged to just consider applying, even if you're nominating yourself or you know of others. So.
Jenny Whittington: Yeah, I mean, I think. Raising awareness about the good work that all of us are doing is, is good and sharing, I mean, even if they don't get recognized with the award this year. I mean, putting in a nomination and kind of laying the foundation so that we might consider them in the future is always good. So, I'd like. I'd like to circle back now to Marje, is there anything that, that we left off that you wanna emphasize, Marje?
Marje Lemmon: No, I mean, I don't think so. I think Juan and Eno really covered everything really well. I mean, we are, we're really trying to be more inclusive. We're trying to think outside the box when it comes to opportunities to recognize our wonderful members and as Eno said, maybe even people who aren't members yet. So, we welcome site ideas and suggestions. We, we urge everybody as they're thinking about it. I mean, nominations for most of these categories are open until July 15th, so you've got plenty of time. So, as you go about your day-to-day business, interact with people, maybe read something on the URMIA. What is it, Jenny? Not network. What's it called now?
Jenny Whittington: The URMIA Community.
Marje Lemmon: Community. A post from the URMIA community or, or if you're a broker or you are an insurer or some other affiliate member, as you're talking to your clients, just think about, oh, they would be really good for one of these awards. So, keep the six awards in mind. Always keep them top of mind. And you know, like Jenny said, I mean even if someone, someone gets nominated this year, maybe they're not gonna win it this year, maybe cuz the competition is really tough. But maybe next year the committee has that name already in mind, and maybe next year they can win one. So always, just always be thinking about it.
Jenny Whittington: Yeah, and I mean another, another thing I know that I've paid attention over the years, when we do get submissions or nominations for folks, I mean, there are more ways to recognize people than just, you know, giving an award. I mean, there's so many subtle ways that we can, as a community, recognize each other. So, yeah, again, I mean, we just want to get more submissions this year. We really wanna recognize our members and celebrate each other while we're in Baltimore. How about Juan, do you have any closing comments?
Juan Azcarate: Sure, yeah. I think the number one thing is going back to marketing. I think we're doing a very good job marketing a lot of these awards. I think in the past that maybe that was something we were not, we were lacking, but I think going forward by getting the word out, by doing the podcast, you know, getting it out on URMIA Insights. It stays, I think, uppermost in people's mind. It stays there with the members, because there are a lot of members out there that I think are well deserving of being recognized for some of their achievements. And many times, you need to kind of just put that out and say, look, here's this information. Here's, you know, some awards that we need to basically, you know, recognize our members. And so, I think marketing and getting that word out to our members often and early, I think is gonna help us increase our, our submissions.
Jenny Whittington: Awesome. And how about you, Eno? Any closing comments?
Eno Oregbesan: Sure. Real quick, if you're like me, that just types in risk management in the Apple Podcast to see, see what comes up and you're one of those and you're listening and you're not a member, please reach out to URMIA. And if you're in the higher ed industry and you're, you have any challenges or you just, you know, want to learn more, please reach out because we could, there may be opportunities, where we can assist or provide some solutions. So that's one thing I wanna remind folks about. As well as please apply, please apply. We're really excited to review those submissions. It doesn't have to be some huge, lofty, you know, idea, goal, or work. We just wanna hear what you're doing, and it may create an opportunity for you to be recognized. So, thank you, Jenny. Thank you, Michelle. Thank you, Juan. Thank you, Marje. Thanks for the opportunity and bringing us together to talk about something great. Honors!
Jenny Whittington: You said it so well there. Thanks to all of you. And I think this will be a wrap. Oh, go ahead.
Marje Lemmon: One more thing. I mean, I don't think any of us do the work that we do and take all the steps and volunteer and do all that to be honored. They do it, we all do it for much more altruistic reasons, but. It is a great feeling to stand up in front of that room of people and receive one of these honors. It's happened a couple of times and it's, it's a great feeling. So, if, if for nothing else, do it because you really wanna make somebody else feel really good.
Jenny Whittington: Right? Yes.
Juan Azcarate: No, it's right.
Jenny Whittington: I love that. Pay it forward. Yeah. I mean, it's great. Well, that is a great way to wrap up this edition of URMIA Matters.