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Big "I" Honors Minkler, ALBA, Florida Agents

Longtime agent leaders and state association earn recognition at legislative event

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 3, 2008—The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I”) has honored two agent leaders and one of its state associations for their legislative accomplishments in 2007. Honors went to the following recipients this week at the Big “I” National Legislative Conference and Convention: 

Tom Minkler of Clark-Mortenson Agency in Keene, N.H. was presented the Sidney O. Smith Award for his tireless work in promoting the legislative goals of the Big “I”, including in his role as government affairs chairman.  

The Florida Association of Insurance Agents was honored with the Maurice Herndon Award for its great work in a difficult legislative environment in 2007. 

Vinny Alba received the Barney Burns Award for his work as the New York InsurPac chairman. 

Currently serving as chairman of the government affairs committee, Mikler has been a true voice for agents on the Hill. He has testified numerous times before both House and Senate committees on national issues important to independent agents and brokers, including insurance regulatory reform. He has been a member of the Agents Advocacy Fund Committee since 2005, and he participated in the NAIC Advisory Committee on Producer Licensing in 2007. An avid supporter and major donor of InsurPac, he served as the InsurPac Chairman for the state of New Hampshire.

The Florida Association of Insurance Agents has excelled in just about every aspect of government affairs: lobbying, grassroots, InsurPac, and more. The state has proven its commitment to InsurPac, eclipsing its 2007 contribution goal by $17,000. Agents have relationships with every member of Congress in their state delegation, creating a valuable grassroots network used by the national and state association. FAIA has continued to improve the insurance marketplace despite their catastrophe exposure and difficult legislative environment. In the face of serious threats, political pandering and public pressure, the association has been a constant voice in the insurance marketplace debate and has responsibly voiced the concerns and views of independent agents and the consumers they serve.

Vinny Alba was born in 1925 and served his country honorably during World War II and he now serves the independent agency system as the New York InsurPac chairman.  Since taking over as chairman, New York has more than doubled its support of InsurPac.  Working with his state leadership, he implemented a charitable matching funds campaign to increase InsurPac participation.  He personally contacts hundreds of prospective donors via personal phone calls and hand-written notes every year, and is a constant advocate for political involvement.

The Smith Award is given annually by the Big “I” and the Independent Insurance Agents of Georgia to an individual agent or broker for outstanding service to his or her peers and the national association in the field of government affairs. It is named in honor of a Big “I” past president and Georgia agent who was instrumental in focusing the association and its members on legislative advocacy.

Also awarded annually by the Big “I”, the Herndon Award is bestowed upon the state association whose legislative achievements the previous year on behalf of IIABA and its members have been deemed most outstanding. The honor is named after the former head of IIABA’s government affairs operation. Herndon, who died in January 2003 at age 91, directed the association’s Washington D.C. office from 1949 to 1976 and was known as “Mr. Washington” to agents and brokers across America. He is fondly remembered as an extremely effective leader of the Big “I” government affairs and grassroots operations.

Barney Burns award to recognize outstanding work for Insurpac. The award is named after former Big “I” President Barney Burns, who founded InsurPac in 1975, and served as chairman of its Board of Trustees until 1983.  During these years, Barney worked tirelessly to educate agents about the importance of being politically active and contributing to InsurPac. 

Founded in 1896, IIABA (the Big “I”) is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing a network of more than 300,000 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 and health—as well as employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address:


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