We had a wonderful Women’s History Month observance this week. On Wednesday, I had the honor of hosting a discussion panel with three special guests for RMA’s Women Leaders in Crop Insurance event. My guests were Kendall Jones, President and CEO of ProAg; and Iris Saenz and Pat Swanson, who have both served on the FCIC Board of Directors.

Each of our guest speakers gave a presentation about their backgrounds, challenges they faced in their careers as women, and about the people who encouraged them to reach their goals.

“I was moved by the similarities in our stories and inspired by their unique perspectives,” said presenter, Iris Saenz. “It was so refreshing to see women in our industry standing comfortably in the spotlight, and I hope that those attending got as much from it as I did. I look forward to seeing many more events like this, not just during Women’s History month, but throughout the year—events that allow us to celebrate and encourage each other.”

Iris Saenz and Richard Flournoy

Iris Saenz (R), former member of the FCIC Board of Directors and owner of South Texas Insurance Services, in discussion with Acting Administrator Richard Flournoy (L) at RMA’s Women Leaders in Crop Insurance event – March 31, 2021

Women Leaders in Crop Insurance was the first presentation of its kind for our agency. More than 330 people from across the country joined the live online event, which was open to the public and promoted to RMA stakeholders, farm bureaus, grower groups, and women’s organizations.

Following the presentations, the guest speakers gave professional advice for those trying to advance their careers and answered questions about how far they feel women have come in today’s world.

“Years ago in the [crop insurance] industry, there wasn’t anything like this in sight and quite honestly, without visibility like the women you hosted today, it was a tougher path,” explained attendee Marji Alaniz, who works for private insurer, AgriSompo North America. “It’s important to help people understand the role that women play from the Board room to the farm field, and hear the stories of strong, smart and focused women just like Kendall, Iris, and Pat.”

Pat Swanson and Kendall Jones

Pat Swanson (L), member of the FCIC Board of Directors and owner of Son Risk Management insurance agency, and Kendall Jones (R), CEO and President of ProAg, discuss questions from the audience about women’s equality – March 31, 2021

I share both Iris’s and Marji’s sentiments. Events like these matter a great deal and strengthen organizations. I look forward to more events like this at RMA this year. We conduct special observances to recognize the contributions of all Americans to our nation and to increase understanding, awareness, and mutual respect.

Thank you again to all our guest speakers who gave such insightful and moving presentations.

– Richard