URMIA Matters

Episode 6: The Leadership Pathway

December 04, 2019 URMIA Season 1 Episode 6
URMIA Matters
Episode 6: The Leadership Pathway
Show Notes Transcript

There are different paths to an URMIA leadership role, but the common theme is a willingness to volunteer. Current leaders Courtney Davis Curtis, executive director of risk management at the University of Chicago; Chauncey Fagler, executive director & CRO of the Florida College System Risk Management Consortium; and Luke Figora, senior associate vice president & chief risk and compliance officer of Northwestern University, chat with host Jenny Whittington about their unique roads to URMIA leadership and also share some insider stories. 

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Jenny: Welcome everyone this is Jenny Whittington, executive director of URMIA and welcome to URMIA matters, our new podcast series. So today I'm with three of our leadership team and we are going to talk about the path to leadership. So how our members got involved in the association and their path to leadership and their own experiences. So first up I'd like to introduce Luke Figora. He is the immediate past president currently in 2019 of URMIA. So, Luke, tell us a little bit about your experience with URMIA; how did you get involved?


Luke: Sure. So, I was encouraged to get involved in URMIA by my predecessor at University of Chicago, Glenn Klinksiek, who has recently reretired from URMIA. But Glenn really, it’s my first job in higher ed, and encouraged me to be part of the association and to get involved. So, I did that shortly after I started and I think one of the first volunteer steps that I took was I joined the, at the time, the professional development committee, which is a large committee, but that was my first kind of volunteer opportunity with URMIA, probably back in about 2011 or so.


Jenny: Yeah, were you involved in the Regional Conference in Chicago as well?


Luke: Yeah, I helped out with the regional, again being in Chicago it was easy. So, between the professional development committee and the regional, that was kind of my initial first step. I had put in, I had volunteered Chicago to be the host city for I think it was the 2014 annual conference and it was selected, but then unselected due to cost. So, I did end up chairing in 2014, co-chairing in 2014 in the annual conference in Louisville with Kathy Hargis and Steve Bryant, and so that was a great experience as well just to one, get to work closely with both of them, but to get even more involved in the leadership perspective in URMIA.


Jenny: Is that when about you got elected to the board? 


Luke: Yeah, exactly. So, it would have been also I think right around 2014 was when I got, ran for and elected to the board.


Jenny: And tell me about your experience running for president. Did you run opposed or unopposed? How did that situation go? 


Luke: I ran opposed by very strong competitor sitting across from me in the room, Chauncey. So I think I had been asked to run for president once before, maybe twice before, but it wasn't the right time in my career personally and then I thought in 20, what was it, 2018? It felt better, and so I did run and again I was a little nervous about that just because when you look at the history of URMIA presidents over time there's so many people that are just well known in our space, that truly are the experts, and are such thought-leaders in the industry, and sort of do I fit in with this group? But I was eventually convinced that it was worth it.


Jenny: I mean from a time management standpoint I know I mean you're fortunate to have a staff at Northwestern with you but did it, did you try to do your URMIA work at certain times? Was there any secret to your success?


Luke: This seems like a specific question to me… I think as Jenny sees, most of my work at done between midnight and 2 in the morning, but it was a balance, and again I’m lucky to have a great team in the office and was able to allocate some time to URMIA but often times that was after work hours and late night but I think everyone, every president probably finds their right balance and some probably, and I had actually talked to a few other presidents that really, their approach was to say I'm going to spend a day a week on URMIA stuff, and so they kind of block off that day and have it be an URMIA day and others kind of fit in an hour here or there when they could. Again, I tried to be responsive during the day where possible, but kind of after-hours dedicate to some URMIA time. 


Jenny: Yeah so when we have leaders at URMIA we attended a meeting called the exceptional boards conference at the American Society of Association Executives puts on and I've been going to it for years as the executive director and Luke's been at it twice over the last couple years and one of the things I talk about at that meeting is communicating how you're going to work together, like and I will be honest every president has been different. I mean sometimes it is you know one day a week or one day a month or it is, sometimes it's between midnight and 2 a.m. and you know I mean the truth is that I have to be flexible as the leader of the organization and we as a staff understand that you guys all have day jobs so that we understand you know that we have to be a little bit more patient so I mean those are good things. So, thanks for sharing that with me Luke and I'd like to turn the same question over to Courtney now. So, Courtney is our president elect- can you just tell us a little bit about how you got involved with URMIA in your experience?


Courtney: Sure, so again I started my career as a broker and transitioned into the risk management role after getting a call from my colleague sitting across the table from me, Luke. But as my day in the brokerage world, I actually choreographed a flash mob at URMIA.


Jenny: Oh yeah, I remember that!


Courtney: And so, while that wasn’t necessarily getting involved, it did make a name for myself, if you will. So, once I had joined the organization as an institutional member, the first year actually I was asked to help co-lead the risk management 101 and so that was a nice way to get involved, and when you do that you get to go to the board chairs and friends event in advance of the conference and through that I really got to know some of the leaders there a little bit more in subsequent to that was asked you apply for the board. So then I was elected to the board and co-chaired a few Regional conferences with Luke that were hosted Chicago and then kind of continued on in those efforts to manage some of the strategic themes that we were having at the time which led me then to apply for the president's role. 


Jenny: That’s excellent, and I remember the flash mob well and anybody listening today who was part of the Portland conference that was on, it was at the opening reception which was at the Forestry Center. Courtney did a wonderful job choreographing and getting everybody to follow her lead and that was a lot of fun and we’ve talked about doing that again we just haven't had the courage I guess to bring that back. So next up we have Chauncy Fagler who is the current president of URMIA, so why don’t you talk a little bit about your, how you got involved with UMRIA and your path to leadership.


Chauncey: Thank you, Jenny. I think my first true involvement with URMIA was working with programming for the Middle Atlantic region with, Donna was in charge of that, at least from the University of Maryland, and that's where I first really got involved. I remember doing one or two presentations there and then shortly thereafter that's when Jenny gave me the call about the annual conference in Orlando and I was chosen to co-chair with Steve Bryant and it's just sort of taken off in there very quickly. I’m always curious if I'm one of the most fast-tracked presidents ever in the origins in history because I think after the annual conference I ran for the board, started board term, I think I did two years on the board term, next thing you know president elect, president and here I am. But it's been really wonderful and it’s a great opportunity and I would just encourage you to know don't be afraid to get involved.  


Jenny: I think you know the experience serving on the board is great experience, I mean in your professional life. I know I mean it certainly helped me over overtime to volunteer and to give back and to gain different perspectives and be around different people with different ideas, and learn about good governance. I mean I think the exceptional boards conference that Courtney has yet to experience but Chauncey and Luke and I have done in a couple years now, it is a great learning experience and a great, I think it would pay a lot of dividends in your career. So, Chauncey one quick question what was your favorite memory of the Disney 2017 annual conference?


Chauncey: Does it have to be about the conference, or can it be when we were touring the sites? 


Jenny: Oh yeah, we can talk about the site visit because that was a highlight. 


Chauncey: One of my most favorite memories is when the site visits were over and Jenny’s coming out of the last hotel and her suitcase is so full it just burst open on the sidewalk as she's getting ready to go to the airport, so luckily I had a duffel bag in the back of my car I gave it to her so she could all her Disney stuff home but I do remember that. But the site visits were really awesome, but from the conference I just really appreciated what Disney brings to an organization like ours and they talked to us and we had opportunity to have some key notes concerning the Disney Institute and what is Disney does as far as our organization goes so I really appreciated that.


Jenny: Awesome. How about you, Luke, any memories from the Louisville conference that you chaired? 


Luke: I do remember being on stage in a horse costume, which is an interesting way to introduce yourself to the community, but I really, being involved in a conference and co-chairing, and you don’t have to co-chair, but being involved either in just the committee level or if you want to take that next step, it is really rewarding to see it come together, because at the outset you have the site visits are fun and the programming discussion is a great couple days, but then is this all going to come together are people going to enjoy it, but then you actually get there and see all the work you put in really over the last two years, kind of come together. So, I really had a great time, it was fun to watch everyone enjoy Louisville and enjoy the different pieces we had put together. 


Jenny: So, the lessons I heard are urmians don’t take ourselves all too seriously; we are known to wear costumes from time to time, our people love to dress up at events like I always actually love that part of the event planning is when we talk about you know what the themes are going to be because I mean the Kennedy evening this past year in Boston I mean people really got into dressing up like a Kennedy and that was pretty cool. How about you Courtney, any special conference memories from over the years, anything that sticks out?


Courtney: So going back to Disney, I really, I mean I wasn't as big of a Disney fan as some but it's really grew on me and so I think that's what's important about URMIA and we switch locations in terms of the annual conference, so it doesn't just get boring in terms of going to the same place all the time, so you get to experience something you wouldn't have otherwise or go to a location that you may have not considered going to before and so now I'm truly a believer myself as well. I remember the firework display with the Mickey Mouse and just you know sometimes our gala and the class reception really brings it all together and allows you an opportunity to reflect on the people on the things you learned in the overall conference as a whole. 


Jenny: Well thank you to the three of you for being part of our podcast URMIA matters, will wrap it up today and thank you. The URMIA matters podcast is brought to you by the University Risk Management and Insurance Association. You can find and subscribe to the podcast on any podcast app and while you're there we’d appreciate it if you gave us a 5 star review. And, be sure to visit www.urmia.org that's www.urmia.org to check it out our wealth of online resources. Thanks for listening and we'll see you next time.