What is your educational & prior employment background before becoming commissioner? How did you start in the insurance industry?
Prior to be appointed as Nevada’s Insurance Commissioner in March of 2016, Barbara was the Director of Operations/Fraud for the state of New Hampshire Department of Insurance for 13 years. Prior to that position, she had, over the years, worked for Putnam Investments, Kemper Financial, CNA Insurance and the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago, Illinois. The responsibilities at these organizations included managing the Consumer and Broker Dealer Support areas, providing investing services for reinsurance pools and running the Financial and IT support areas. At the beginning of her career, Barbara was focused on the financial sector of the job market and was using the MBA in Finance she received from Loyola University in Chicago. This was an unexpected start to her career path given that she graduated with a BA in English Literature from Vassar College and focused on studying medieval poetry. Barbara’s first job was teaching writing skills to security advisors in exchange for studying and obtaining securities licenses to better understand the staff’s technical backgrounds. This was a whole new area to learn and, as one can see from her employment background, Barbara continued her education and experience with a focus on aspects of the financial industry players. Barbara ultimately entered into insurance regulation after obtaining her JD from the University of NH Pierce Law School all the while teaching paralegal studies at the local college and eventually teaching insurance law for several years as an adjunct professor as UNH.
Who was your favorite personal or professional mentor?
As part of the questions posed you wanted to know if I had any personal or professional mentors that influenced my life. My first response would be to say no. This is not because I have not had people influence me throughout my life but because I could not name one as there are so many. As a general explorer and lifetime student, I meet people every day who teach and influence me. I am especially grateful to those people who allow me to ask “why?” and who take the time to share their knowledge or experiences. The beauty about working in the insurance field is that there are so many aspects and nuances to so many topics, this industry topics never get boring. I just have to thank all of those brave souls who don’t mind sitting down and discussing any topic with me as I always have more questions than answers.
How has your department handled the pandemic?
As for how the NV Division of Insurance is handling the pandemic, I must say that I am extremely proud of the staff here at the Nevada Insurance Division and the ease with which they have embraced the new post COVID-19 world by focusing on getting their jobs done and even finding efficiencies for handling their job functions under the current telecommuting standards. The Division has embraced and continues to seek out and incorporate any technology solutions that help smooth the workflow for the staff, the industry and our consumers. This has put us on the track for a paperless environment and for incorporating easier and more effective ways to work with our regulated entities. We have also been able to view shortcomings in our processes and in the oversight of regulation by being able to review the world through a new lens.
What are your initiatives/priority for NV in the upcoming year?
The Nevada Insurance Division has been on a mission of incorporating modern ideas and technologies into every aspect of our regulatory oversight. As anyone who works for a governmental body, these changes take a long time, continued long term focus, patience and the ability to calmly adapt to new pathways as you keep your eye on the final goal. The Division will continue to focus on supporting industry efficiencies which help our citizens and we will continue to focus on the educating and protecting the rights of our consumers.