For many independent agents, political activism is part of daily life—not just a once-a-year visit to Washington, D.C. At the annual issues briefing yesterday during the Big "I" Legislative Conference, the association presented three awards to honor legislative involvement in the states.
The Big "I" gave the 2016 Sidney O. Smith Award—the association's highest honor for legislative activism—to Lee Schilling of Louisiana for going above and beyond the call of duty to serve his fellow agents and brokers in 2016.
As chair of the Big "I" Government Affairs Committee since 2014, Schilling has overseen efforts on key issues such as flood insurance, NARAB II, terrorism insurance and health care, just to name a few. He has lobbied on behalf of the Big "I" and participated in the Legislative Conference for nearly two decades.
The 2016 Herndon Award went to the Independent Insurance Agents of Kentucky (IIAK) for its efforts to educate its membership about being politically active. Kentucky has a handful of agents serving in the state legislature in both the House and Senate, as well as some in key committee and leadership roles.
The state association has consistently increased InsurPac agent participation and contributions, including those from young agents, and consistently brings a strong delegation of attendees to the annual Legislative Conference. As a testament to IIAK's clout, the current U.S. Senate Majority Leader has gone out of his way to personally meet with the Kentucky delegation for the past decade.
The Big "I" also honored Robert W. Shepard of Texas with the 2016 Barney Burns Award for outstanding work for InsurPac. Shepard has served on the InsurPac Board of Trustees for three years and continues to be actively involved in fundraising for both InsurPac and his state's political action committees.
During his time on the InsurPac Board, Shepard helped Texas significantly increase its support of InsurPac and capture three national championship awards. He also serves as a key grassroots contact for a handful of federal officeholders.