Jeff Dailey, CEO of Farmers Insurance, turned what could have been a mere acceptance speech into a lesson-filled personal account of his first time seeing the devastation wreaked by the May 2011 tornado in Joplin, Mo.
“Joplin was a major disaster,” Dailey said, offering a description looking down from his first aerial view of the path the EF5 twister tore across the community. “It looked like somebody erased a 6-mile swatch 20-miles long.”
With that Dailey grabbed the attention of a large group of insurance professionals gathered to see him presented with the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation’s Golden Horizon Award at the organization’s annual Horizon Award Gala on March 16 at the Alexandria Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, Calif.
Dailey and the insurer group were recognized with the IICF award for the Los Angeles-based carrier’s efforts in helping rebuild the communities of Joplin, Mo., and Sea Bright, N.J., following the weather events that struck those communities.
This annual Horizon Award Gala (formerly known as the Club100 Dinner) brought together insurance professionals from dozens of companies to support local nonprofits as part of IICF’s Western Division Community Grants program.
Event proceeds are earmarked to benefit local nonprofits with targeted programs in child abuse prevention, disaster preparedness, education, and health and human services.
Dailey was introduced by Steve Marohn, senior vice president and Western zone officer of CNA and IICF Western division chair, who said he “epitomizes” the Golden Horizon Award.
Marohn and Jon Axel, senior vice president of Hub International Insurance Services Inc. and Horizon Award Gala Diner chair, both spoke before Dailey and called attention to the charitable nature of the industry.
“I believe that our industry is filled with some of the most generous, community-minded individuals,” said Marohn said.
Axel, who opened up the evening, looked out at the packed the room and said the gathering was a “true testament to the character and quality of our industry.”
Farmers efforts were a big part of helping to rebuild Joplin, Dailey said. He emphasized the value of the volunteer efforts from “hundreds” of Farmers employees, who helped the city rebuild far faster than the original seven-year timeline from the Federal Emergency Management Agency at the time.
“We had the entire city rebuilt in three years,” he said.
Dailey said those kind of volunteer efforts go beyond the concept of helping others, and generate feelings of goodwill for the industry.
“It is a tremendous benefit for us as an industry and as an organization to give back,” he told the IICF crowd.
Among the good deeds Farmers was celebrated for at the ceremony was its creation of the Disaster Recovery Playbook, which compiles best practices for municipalities and communities in preparing for, responding to and recovering from disaster.
Farmers also donated thousands of volunteer hours and made financial contributions to support recovery efforts.
The featured nonprofit for the evening, an element of each year’s gala ceremony, was the Center Theatre Group Young Audiences Program. The program brings thousands of students to matinee performances, while themes from the production are incorporated into their classroom learning.
More than 5,000 students attended the program last year, with more than 53 percent of those students attending for the first time and roughly 66 percent were from low-income schools, according to the group.
Through its grant program, IICF reinvests funds raised by a region back into that same region and its communities. IICF was established in 1994 and is directed and funded by the insurance industry.