Spencer announces new leadership

Board names new chairwoman and elects new officers, board members

C. Zakia Phillips

C. Zakia Phillips

The Spencer Educational Foundation announced that its board has elected new officers as well as new board members. C. Zakia Phillips, formerly of Willis Towers Watson, was elected Chairwoman for 2018-19 and five new board members were named: Dr. Cassandra Cole (Florida State University), Andrea Dudek (Accenture), Stephen Grabek (AIG), Dr. Weili Lu (California State University – Fullerton), and Debbie Michel (Liberty Mutual).

New Spencer Board members: Front row (l to r): Dr. Cassandra Cole (Florida State University) and Dr. Weili Lu (California State University – Fullerton). Back row (l to r):  Andrea Dudek (Accenture), Stephen Grabek (AIG), and Debbie Michel (Liberty Mutual).

New Spencer Board members: Front row (l to r): Dr. Cassandra Cole (Florida State University) and Dr. Weili Lu (California State University – Fullerton). Back row (l to r):  Andrea Dudek (Accenture), Stephen Grabek (AIG), and Debbie Michel (Liberty Mutual).

Serving with Phillips on the Foundation’s Executive Committee will be Marya J. Propis (formerly of AIG) -- president, Robin Joines (Sedgwick) – vice president, Matthew Schneider (Aon) – secretary, and Peter Heard (Travelers) – treasurer.

“I look forward to working with the board as we continue,” said Phillips. “I would be remiss if I did not thank and acknowledge the great contributions made by our outgoing chair Ron Davis and acknowledge the hard work and dedication of departing board members Peggy Accordino, Roger Andrews and Debbie Rodgers.”

Phillips worked at Willis Towers Watson for ten years, most recently as the East Region Director for Corporate Risk and Broking, Large Accounts. She provided her colleagues and their clients with thought leadership, strategy, coordinated relationship management and other assistance for those large, complex corporate accounts. Her broking experience also includes work at Aon. Prior to being a broker, she was an Executive Director in the Risk and Insurance Management Department of Morgan Stanley, where she worked for 23 years. Phillips graduated with honors from the State University of New York, she is a licensed New York insurance Broker and has her ARM certification. She has been actively involved in RIMS where she served on the board of the New York Chapter for a number of years and is a Past President. She has served on the Foundation’s board since 2013.

Spencer alumna provides named scholarship

Spencer alumna Elizabeth Lisle. She received scholarships in 1995, 1996 and 1997 and is now the principal of Silvient, Inc.

Spencer alumna Elizabeth Lisle. She received scholarships in 1995, 1996 and 1997 and is now the principal of Silvient, Inc.

New scholarship looks to the convergence of insurance and technology

The Spencer Educational Foundation announced that one of its alumna, Elizabeth Lisle, has made a donation to create a named scholarship. The new scholarship will be given in Mrs. Lisle's name to a student who is studying risk management and insurance as well as technology. This is the first scholarship funded by a past recipient.

"This scholarship will recognize those students who see how insurance and technology/MIS are converging," said Mrs. Lisle, a three-time Spencer scholarship recipient.  "It is a joy to be able to return a small measure of all that Spencer has done for me since my very first interview in 1995.  The encouragement and support of Spencer and RIMS leadership over the last two decades have been an incredible gift."

"We are delighted that Elizabeth is funding this scholarship and paying it forward," said Ron Davis, Chairman of the Spencer Educational Foundation and EVP, Head of Customer Management for Zurich. "Technology is playing an increasingly important role in the industry and this scholarship will recognize up-and-coming talent that will help drive future innovation."

Mrs. Lisle received Spencer's scholarships in 1995, 1996 and 1997 while studying at Georgia State University. She is the Principal of Silvient, Inc., a risk technology consulting company. She is a member of the Foundation's Alumni Committee and has previously served on the Scholarship Committee.

The first Elizabeth Meldrum Lisle Spencer Scholarship will be awarded in 2019. Students receiving this scholarship will need to meet the academic criteria set by the Foundation's Scholarship Committee. In addition, they need to be pursuing a major, minor, or certificate in MIS, technology, computer science or similar discipline.

Foundation grants 70 full-time scholarships; Exceeds 1,000 cumulative scholarships awarded

The Spencer Educational Foundation named 70 full-time undergraduate, graduate and Pre-dissertation Ph.D. students as its 2018 Spencer Scholars. The students, selected and screened from a record pool of more than 730 applicants, represent 28 schools. These awards bring the number of scholarships awarded by the Foundation to 1,051. The Foundation awarded 62 undergraduate scholarships ($5,000 each), five master’s scholarships ($10,000 each) and three pre-Ph.D. dissertation scholarships ($10,000 each). A total of $390,000 was given out.

See the full list of 2018 Undergraduate and Graduate scholarship recipients.

“These scholarship recipients represent the future of our industry and, based on their collective credentials, our industry will be in very good hands,” said Tim Meacham, Spencer’s Scholarship Committee Chairman COO of Lockton Benefits Companies. “Since our inception, we have awarded more than one thousand scholarships. These students have been and continue to be among the best and brightest students entering the workplace and we thank our donors for their generosity which allows us to continue our mission by providing them with these scholarships.”

The Foundation’s scholarships are merit-based and take into consideration academics, leadership, industry interest and experience. Each application was reviewed by every committee member.

Named scholarships

In addition to 33 general undergraduate scholarships, the Foundation awarded 29 named undergraduate scholarships. All those scholarships are for $5,000. The named scholarships have been sponsored by: Allied World, Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., Chubb, FM Global, Liberty Mutual, Lockton Companies, RIMS Atlanta Chapter, RIMS Chicago Chapter, RIMS Dallas/Ft. Worth Chapter, RIMS New Jersey Chapter, RIMS New York Chapter, RIMS, Sedgwick, St. John’s University, XL Catlin, and Zurich.

While announced last year, this is the first year that the Steven Penman Memorial Scholarship sponsored by Sedgwick is being awarded. It was given to Varun Sivakumar, a junior at Temple University double majoring in Risk Management and Insurance and Finance.

The Foundation also awards risk managers pursuing part-time master’s degrees up to $10,000 scholarships. The deadline for these scholarship applications is May 1. Learn more about the Part-time Master’s Scholarship

Foundation awards 40 internship grants

Internship 2017.jpg

Karrie Honnaka at Alexander & Baldwin’s recently renovated Kalaheo hydro facility on Kauai, HI as part of her risk management summer internship in 2017.

The Spencer Educational Foundation announced that 40 companies will have the opportunity to hire a summer risk management intern because of $5,000 grants they each will receive from the Foundation. The Foundation acknowledges the RIMS Northeast Florida Chapter and the Risk and Insurance Management Society for their continued sponsorship of this program. The full list of grant recipients can be seen here.

“Spencer has a proven record of providing experiential learning opportunities to students. Our internship program is a prime example,” said Roger Andrews, Chairman of Spencer’s Internship Grant Committee. “As the industry celebrates Insurance Careers Month, we are excited to announce these 40 internship grants that will provide students hands-on experience in a corporate risk management department. Since 1997, the Foundation has awarded more than $1.7 million in internship grants — including $200,000 this year — to expose students to a dynamic industry with vast career potential. We appreciate the industry’s support of this program and thank our generous sponsors.”


Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. will host the the 27th Annual Spencer/Gallagher Golf Tournament on April 15, 2018 at the Hill Country Golf Club in San Antonio, TX. The event benefits the Spencer Educational Foundation.

This event is one of the largest fundraising events each year to benefit the Spencer Educational Foundation.

For more information about playing in or sponsoring the event, please visit: https://www.ajg.com/s/spencer-gallagher-golf-tournament/2018-spencergallagher-home/



Spencer Educational Foundation has opened the application process for its 2018 scholarships and grants. These include:

  • Full-time undergraduate scholarships — Selected individuals are awarded a $5,000 scholarship. The application deadline is January, 31,2018. Click here for criteria.
  • Full-time graduate & pre-dissertation Ph.D. scholarships — Selected individuals are awarded a $10,000 scholarship. The application deadline is January, 31,2018. Click here for criteria.
  • Summer internship grants — Awarded to risk managers’ companies to hire a student in the risk management department (Grant amount is $5,000). The application deadline is January 9, 2018. Click here for criteria
  • Risk Manager in Residence grants — These are $4,000 grants awarded to colleges/universities to bring risk managers to their campus to speak with students. The application deadline is April 1, 2018.
    • Risk Managers: Your participation is needed. We need individuals who are willing to go to schools and share their (and their company’s) story. For more information, please click here


The application portal for all programs can be accessed here.


Paying it Forward: Industry Leaders Celebrate at Spencer Gala

This article originally appeared in Risk Management Monitor and is reprinted with permission.

Every year in September, leaders in the insurance world celebrate the profession and show their support for the next generation of risk management and insurance professionals. This year, close to 700 executives made their way to the Spencer Educational Foundation’s 9th Annual Gala on Thursday night at the New York Hilton Midtown. Nearly $1 million in donations were accepted at the event, a critical fundraising initiative for the Foundation. Proceeds will directly fund grant, scholarship and internship programs for undergraduate and graduate students who are pursuing careers in the field.

“The Gala is a wonderful reminder of just how generous and passionate professionals in this industry are,” said Ron Davis, executive vice president at Zurich and Spencer Educational Foundation chairman. “Tonight we’re celebrating the profession that has afforded us so much by giving back and creating meaningful opportunities for future risk professionals.”

The Gala honored 2017 Spencer Scholars Jayde Lim Ah Tock, a junior from Temple University, and James Pappas, a senior at St. John’s University. “Being a Spencer Scholar has allowed me to focus on my university’s program,” Tock said. “I want to thank the donors for allowing me to pursue something that is so important to me.”

When speaking about the support Spencer provided, Pappas said he is now “confident, optimistic and energized” about his future and knows he is “joining an amazing industry that truly makes a difference.”

Among the industry leaders in attendance were honorees Joseph Tocco, chief executive, north America insurance at XL Catlin, and Michael Rice, chief executive officer at JLT Specialty USA. Both are longtime Spencer supporters and were recognized for their efforts to move the Foundation’s mission forward.

The night’s festivities concluded with remarks from the honorees whose comments focused on the industry’s talent gap and the aging risk management workforce.

“The world needs our industry and our industry needs to attract and develop new talent,” Rice said. “Spencer is a wonderful conduit that allows us to celebrate this talent and the future of the profession.”

Tocco added, “I’m proud to be in an industry that places so much energy on education. Enlisting the next generation of risk professionals is more imperative now than ever before. We need to make “risk management” students’ first choice and not a profession by accident.”

Students around the world have benefited from Spencer funding. Since its inception, the charitable nonprofit has awarded 970 scholarships totaling about $6.4 million, and $3.25 million in grants to universities and professional institutions for educational programs and conferences.