June 2023 Newsletter

Hello Texas PRIMA!

This year is flying by and, while our annual conference is still a few months away, our journey thus far has been filled with several exciting opportunities and events. The Education Committee hosted three educational webinars and one Coffee Talk covering a wide variety of hot topics. Most recently, the committee played host to 103 members during the 2023 Virtual Summit. This event was held in lieu of a hybrid conference offering in November. Attendees heard from keynote speaker, Dr. Ben Welch, who shared his Ten Proven Keys to Success. While his time with us was brief, his message was impactful and reminded all attendees that we do make a D-I-F-F-E-R-E-N-C-E in our respective entities and communities. If you were unable to attend, reach out to a board member for a recap on what each letter means! We also heard from industry experts on property valuations, ISO Standards, ethics and morality in claims and redefining workplace impairment. A special thank you to our speakers, moderators, and to McGriff Insurance Services for their assistance in providing Summit Survival Kits to all attendees!

Texas PRIMA has also recently been in the national spotlight. National PRIMA recently awarded this association with the 2023 Chapter Recognition Award for its Member Engagement Strategy. In 2022, Immediate Past-President Robert Warren challenged us to re-engage, and as a board, we committed to doing just that. Texas PRIMA’s presence on various social media platforms has grown exponentially and we’ve continued hosting regular Coffee Talks, a first time conference attendee orientation, offered a free professional headshot to conference moderators and volunteers to encourage participation, and spotlighted our own award winners by encouraging each to present on their product or program during a Coffee Talk. Our members are the life blood of this association and providing opportunities for engagement throughout the year remains a top priority. National PRIMA also recognized Robert Warren with a Chapter Service Award for his leadership and commitment to Texas PRIMA. Several Texas PRIMA board members will attend National PRIMA to accept the awards.

As we continue on this journey and prepare for the annual conference, I encourage you to get involved. The call for presentations is open, the sponsor/exhibitor prospectus has been released, the scholarship application will soon be open, and we will need moderators for each conference educational session. We would love to recognize you, or a successful program you’ve implemented at the awards ceremony in November. Nominate a candidate or program for one of Texas PRIMA’s awards by visiting the nomination page here.

Kalpana Chawla said “the journey matters as much as the goal.” Let’s continue this journey with our goal being to break last year’s attendance record at Texas PRIMA’s upcoming conference. I hope to see you in Galveston, November 5-8!

Lesley Ward, ARM
2023 Texas PRIMA President

Distracted Driving Awareness Month
June is National Safety Month

Observed annually in June, National Safety Month is a time to focus on safety in the workplace, at home and in the community. How does your entity recognize or celebrate National Safety Month? Discussion is already happening and ideas are being shared in the Texas PRIMA Members Only Community, so be sure to check it out! (You'll need to be logged in to your Community account to view this post.)

Cybersecurity – The Need for K-12 Schools to Develop a Third-Party Risk Management Program

148. This is the average number of applications used by a single educator in a school year. (Source: LearnPlatform “EdTech Top 40: Fall 2022 Report”) Between the federal government’s push for cybersecurity in K-12 schools and ongoing high-profile cyber-attacks against districts, the spotlight is on protecting student data. In response, IT teams are employing more measures to keep student data safe. Learn more on how to protect your district.

Employee Benefits in 2023: The Ultimate Guide

Forbes Advisor recently released an ultimate guide to employee benefits. “If the Great Resignation climate has taught us anything, it’s that employee benefits are more important now than they’ve ever been. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a record-breaking 47.8 million people quit their jobs in 2021, up 33% from 2020. With 10.1 million job openings as of August 2022, employers are scrambling to find the right employee benefits to attract, engage and retain top talent—all while trying to stay within their budget.” To learn more about benefits and why they matter, click here. To see the top benefits employees want in 2023, check out this article

It’s Hot Out There!

As we head into another hot summer, help bring awareness to the importance of workplace heat safety within your entity. Roughly half of the workforce is at an increased risk for heat-related illness. Use these 10 Key Elements for a Workplace Heat Safety Program to guide you and aide in making sure you are properly protecting the health of your employees. How do you promote heat safety in your entity? Head over to the Texas PRIMA community forum and share your ideas!

Education Update

Texas PRIMA Awards

Nominations are open for the 2023 Texas PRIMA Awards! Learn more about Risk Professional of the Year, Rising Star and Program Achievement awards here.

Members on the Move

Congratulations to Katie Anderson on her move to Carrington Coleman (

Congratulations to Tasha Camacho on her move to the City of Mansfield as their new HR Director. Also congratulations to City of Mansfield's new Risk Manager, Kristen Jenkins-Cooper.

Congratulations Cindy Conyers on her retirement! Cindy has served as the Risk Manager at the City of San Marcos for 20 years.

Member Spotlight: Meridith Kerr, Auto Claims Specialist for Garland ISD.

Meridith is new to the world of risk management. Her background is in auto insurance, and she has worked in financing, claims, and appraisal.

When asked about her career and her involvement with Texas PRIMA, here’s what she had to say: 
“I’ve always been interested in how insurance is applied and financed. I prefer focusing on the big picture of a project and contributing to the overall strategy of how a program works, so it seemed like a natural fit to move into a risk management position when it became available. I hope to become more involved in the procurement of insurance as I gain tenure with my employer.

I’ve just completed two years with Garland ISD. There is never a dull moment in this position. I handle auto claims for our 600-vehicle fleet. To get the documentation we need for our TPA, I go to the accident scene for photos and interviews as often as possible.  I track claims over time and look for trends that I then use to make suggestions for trainings and safety to our transportation department. I schedule random drug testing for our CDL drivers to make sure we stay in compliance. I also enjoy doing some safety training to explain what to do in case of an accident.

I joined Texas PRIMA when I came to GISD in the summer of 2021. We have a small Risk Management Department and all of my teammates are members. Texas PRIMA was recommended to me as a great resource for keeping up with new topics that relate to public entity risk management in our state, and that it would connect me to lots of other risk professionals in our region that I could learn from. That was great advice!

Texas PRIMA has been a great resource to me. I really enjoy reading the posts in the Texas PRIMA Community. I learn so much just by seeing the questions others ask and reading the different solutions that are offered.  It helps me know what to do if I face a similar situation and alerts me to different issues that others in my position are dealing with. It also gives me a chance to prepare for issues that might be headed my way.  In addition, the in-person conferences have been great for getting me out of my bubble. It has allowed me to connect in person with people I have only spoken to on the phone or by email. It has also connected me to other school districts out of the immediate North Texas area and even municipalities that have similar size fleets.

One of my biggest challenges I have faced in risk management has been switching from a post-incident, damage control perspective to a preventative mindset. Insurance is all about closing the claim and moving on to the next one.  It feels good to close the claim and then integrate what I’ve learned from it into a system that continually improves our processes from hiring through training, maintenance, and evaluation.”

When asked what her best advice to other risk management professionals would be, Meridith shared this bit of wisdom: “Join Susan Golla’s ARM study group! Last spring, I knew that working towards my ARM would expand my understanding of risk management and help me fill out my insurance background, but I was overwhelmed by the program. Thank goodness my director saw the Texas PRIMA notification that an ARM study group was beginning and sent it to me. I signed up the same day and continued for the entire series. I attribute my success in passing those exams to that group. The weekly class really helped me create a foundation in risk management. It also introduced me to an amazing group of people who were in different levels of their careers that I probably wouldn’t have met otherwise. If you are thinking about doing it, this is your sign! Join the study group and get your ARM.”

Meridith is a Dallas native and went to Townview High School. She’s an ‘08 graduate of Stephen F Austin State University (Axe ‘Em Jacks!). Seven years ago, she married the love of her life in a beautiful church ceremony. They have decided that for their 10th anniversary, they will be renewing their vows in Las Vegas, preferably by an Elvis impersonator!

And in case you’re wondering, in April, Meridith completed the ARM certification that she worked so hard for!

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