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2016: IN03172016_ED The Big "I" provides numerous resources to assist consumer and general business writers, editors and producers with insurance-related or small business-related stories. IIABA has knowledgeable staff sources as well as hundreds of local agent spokespeople located in communities across the nation who are available to answer questions from reporters and serve as news sources on insurance-related consumer issues.
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InVEST Welcomes New Executive Director

Deborah Pickford brings more than 20 years of experience in education and the insurance industry to program’s leadership.

Pickford photo2.jpgALEXANDRIA, Virginia, March 17, 2016 – InVEST, the insurance industry’s premier classroom-to-career education program, is pleased to announce that Deborah M. Pickford has joined the program’s team as executive director. Pickford previously served as Allstate Insurance Company’s senior field corporate relations manager.
 
“InVEST is pleased to announce that Deborah Pickford will now lead the team as executive director,” says Cindy Hower, InVEST board chair and president of Kellerman Insurance, an independent agency in Holton, Kansas. “We are excited work with her as InVEST continues to grow in its mission to educate students about the insurance industry and provide financial literacy.”
 
The InVEST program is a key driver to attract new talent to the insurance industry and is currently in more than 600 college and high schools across the country.
 
As Allstate’s chief communication officer, Pickford was responsible for overseeing regional business growth strategy as part of the senior leadership team in the Capital Region. She also led the regional advisory board that counsels Allstate’s more than 600 independent small business owners on growth strategies and received an Allstate Innovation Award for developing and implementing an integrated national business community involvement program. Pickford served as chair of the board for DriveSmart Virginia for five years and won a traffic safety champion’s award last September for her work on highway safety. She recently graduated from the University of Virginia’s Sorenson Institute for Political Leadership and led FEMA’s Flood Smart program including overseeing projects, budgets, staff and communication. She also previously served as vice president of the Virginia High School League Foundation Board.  Prior to joining Allstate, she worked as a journalist and a specialist in education reform issues. Pickford earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park.
 
Pickford will replace Diane Mattis, CPCU, AFIS, AIAM, who served as InVEST executive director since 2010 and will retire effective April 1.
 
“The future of the independent insurance agency system and the industry as a whole depends on attracting new talent and InVEST plays a huge role in this development,” says Robert Rusbuldt, Big “I” president & CEO. “In order for the program to continue succeeding, we must count on a strong leadership team and staff. We are excited to welcome Deborah on board and grateful to Diane Mattis for her service to the association at the state and national levels. We congratulate Diane on her retirement.” 
 
As a 501(c)(3) educational trust, InVEST benefits from the support of numerous insurance organizations, hundreds of agencies, brokers and volunteers. The program provides the insurance industry with motivated, talented and intelligent professionals through a support structure of state associations, board members, national staff, teachers and the many industry professionals who work in the field as classroom liaisons.
 
Founded in 1970 and based in Alexandria, Virginia, InVEST promotes insurance education in order to attract individuals to pursue a career in the insurance industry. Each year, the program prepares thousands of students for insurance-related careers with a hands-on curriculum taught in high schools, adult education centers and colleges. The high school curriculum is a business-education program that utilizes a hands-on approach which simulates an insurance agency and company operations to prepare students for various business careers and create more knowledgeable insurance consumers. At the college level, InVEST is an information-intensive curriculum of risk management and financial services. These courses provide students with a working knowledge of the basics needed to pursue careers in the insurance industry. For more information, go to www.investprogram.org.
 
Founded in 1896, the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”) is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing a network of approximately a quarter of a million agents, brokers and their employees nationally. Its members are businesses that offer customers a choice of policies from a variety of insurance companies. Independent agents and brokers offer all lines of insurance—property, casualty, life, health, employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address: www.independentagent.com.
 
 
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