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Big “I” Issues Agent Awards

Association presents prestigious awards at annual agent gathering.

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 14, 2016 —The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”) has bestowed three prestigious agent awards at the annual Big “I” Legislative Conference.
John Deardorff of Nebraska is the 2015 recipient of the Sidney O. Smith Award. This award is bestowed annually by the Big “I” and the Independent Insurance Agents of Georgia upon 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 an IIABA past president and Georgia agent who was instrumental in focusing the association and its members on legislative advocacy.
“The Big ‘I’ is proud to present the Sidney O. Smith Award to John Deardorff for his tireless service to the Big ‘I’ government affairs committee as state government affairs chairman and a two-time committee member,” said Lee Schilling, Big “I” government affairs committee chairman. “His efforts on crop insurance and other important issues helped pave the way for major legislative accomplishments and our association is grateful to him for his commitment and service. John is also a consistent, strong supporter of InsurPac. John’s work ethic and dedication are a huge asset to the Big ‘I’ and our entire industry.”
Deardorff is an independent insurance agent at Peterson Bros. Insurance, Inc., in Omaha, Nebraska.
Ray Gallant of Massachusetts is the recipient of the 2015 Bernard J. Burns Award which 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 his tenure, Barney worked tirelessly to educate agents about the importance of being politically active.
“Ray Gallant tirelessly promotes the importance of InsurPac and has made huge strides in increasing participation by Massachusetts agents since he became the state’s InsurPac chair three years ago,” said Schilling in presenting the award. “With Ray at the helm, Massachusetts recorded the second highest number of total InsurPac donors last year. He also leads by example—100% of his agency’s employees chose to follow his leadership and donate to InsurPac in 2015.”
Gallant currently serves on the IIABA Government Affairs Committee. He is president of Gallant Insurance Agency in Acton, Massachusetts.
The Insurors of Tennessee is the recipient of the 2015 Herndon Award which 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 award is presented annually by the Big “I” and the Independent Insurance Agents of Illinois (IIAI). The honor is named after the former head of IIABA’s government affairs operation. Maurice Herndon, who died in January 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.
“Political involvement runs deep with the Insurors of Tennessee with a dozen insurance agents serving in the state legislature,” said Robert Rusbuldt, Big “I” president & CEO. “In 2015, the Tennessee Big ‘I’ worked tirelessly and successfully defeated an opt-out workers comp law. The Insurors of Tennessee have demonstrated continued commitment at the national level by accomplishing ambitious InsurPac goals, helping craft major legislative and regulatory initiatives in other areas, and by sending an impressive contingent of agents to the annual Big ‘I’ Legislative Conference.”
Founded in 1896, 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:
​127 South Peyton Street
Alexandria VA 22314
​phone: 800.221.7917
fax: 703.683.7556

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