The Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping communities and enriching lives, raised $1.14 million at its 13th Annual Northeast Benefit Dinner held December 11 at Cipriani in New York City.
The event gathered more than 700 hundred insurance professionals for an evening of networking and philanthropy designed to give back to the community by supporting nonprofits that serve the New York tri-state region, according to an IICF press release.
“The insurance industry has touched thousands of lives through the IICF grant program that is supported by this annual Northeast dinner,” Betsy Myatt, executive director of the IICF Northeast Division, vice president and chief program officer, said in the release.
Indeed, more than $9 million has been granted to local nonprofit and charitable organizations through the benefit dinner since 2007, the release added. Established in 1994, IICF has contributed $36 million in community grants along with 300,000 volunteer hours by more than 110,000 insurance industry professionals since its onset.
“The dinner has become a holiday tradition and is truly a celebration of the work of the industry every day of the year and of the generosity that is so well-illustrated by this event where everyone is pulling together through IICF for the greater good of our communities,” Myatt stated.
As part of the event, IICF awarded its “Double I” Award to Markel Corporation. The “Double I” stands for “influence” and “impact” as the annual award recognizes an organization that has served as a philanthropic leader through its influence in the insurance industry and its impact in the community.
“We really, I hope, put our money where our mouth is with regard to being charitable and helping those in need,” Markel Vice Chairman Anthony Markel told Insurance Journal in an interview before the event. Anthony accepted the award on behalf of the company.
“At Markel, we have a role as corporate citizens to support our communities,” he said. “From top to bottom, we believe that all successful companies have a philanthropic responsibility to prioritize the health of their communities.”
Anthony has an extensive history of personal and professional philanthropy, including his leadership of the City of Hope’s Power of Hope campaign, for which $1 billion was raised to fight cancer, the IICF press release said.
“Markel’s commitment to its communities and all of those in need is just overwhelming,” Sarah Gavlick, regional president of Markel Northeast, told Insurance Journal. “Each office is always doing something.”
This commitment to giving back to those in need has served as a foundation of Markel and is laid out in The Markel Style, a statement written decades ago by Anthony, Markel Executive Chairman Alan Kirshner, and Vice Chairman Steve Markel, Gavlick said.
“That one document, that one style, has been maintained all the way up through Alan Kirshner’s retirement, and it still exists today,” she said. “So the culture that exists at Markel is really attributable to Alan, Tony and Steve. We’ve grown tremendously as a company, and what they’ve done and how they’ve just made [the Markel Style] such an underlying foundation of the company is amazing.”
The statement, which can be viewed on Markel’s website, illustrates the company’s belief that successful companies are by definition good corporate citizens. With this in mind, Markel is supportive of its associates’ efforts on behalf of more than one hundred local, regional, national and international charities. Recent contributions have aided medical research, hunger relief agencies, schools, inner city youth, hospice organizations, veterans, the arts and victims of natural disasters, its website states.
“It is absolutely part of who we are,” Gavlick said. “It’s a great corporate culture.”
Anthony stated in the IICF press release that receiving the “Double I” award is an honor, and he hopes Markel’s efforts will inspire the next generation of insurance leaders to put their communities first.
Indeed, Gavlick said she believes giving back is not only an important element of the culture at Markel, but also a way for the company to attract and retain the next generation of talent.
“Especially the generation that we’re hiring – this generation of incoming associates – [giving back] is a big focus of theirs,” she said. “It’s a really important part of their life. And so to be able to do that with them and for them, I think, helps attract talent. And it helps keep talent because they see that it blends well with our culture and how we run the company.”
Anthony added that the younger generation of talent hired in the past decade has been a valuable asset at Markel.
“Alan, Steve and I sort of got the company where it is today, but in the last decade, these younger people are just taking it to heights that we never imagined,” he said.
As Markel looks forward to the new year, Anthony said it is continuing to look for acquisitions and further its growth while remaining true to its statement of culture, now almost 40 years old.
“Corporately, we are hoping that we’re stepping forward with the necessary funds to move the needle for some of these organizations,” he said.
The IICF benefit dinner also featured two speakers from Operation Healing Forces (OHF), a nonprofit founded by Anthony’s brother, Gary Markel. Staff Sergeant Vince Mizerek and Heather Mizerek shared their appreciation for the Markel family and explained OHF’s mission to provide emotional and physical support to active duty and recent-veteran wounded, ill and injured Specials Operations Forces and their spouses, the release stated. Operational Healing Forces was presented with a grant from IICF.
Additionally, the dinner featured two celebrity speakers: U.S. Women’s Soccer Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist Mia Hamm and 60 Minutes Correspondent John Dickerson. Both Hamm and Dickerson shared how charitable giving and philanthropic efforts have shaped their respective lives and noted that giving back should be a core priority for all leaders, the release stated.
Hamm received a grant to support the Mia Hamm Foundation, a nonprofit that raises funds for those in need of marrow or cord blood transplants and supports athletic programs for young women. Dickerson accepted a grant on behalf of Covenant House, an organization that provides housing, support and educational services for homeless youth.
Proceeds from the IICF Annual Northeast Benefit Dinner fund area nonprofits supporting education, people in need and the environment, the release said.
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