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Trailblazers: Then and Now

January 5th, 2017

Hazel Siler was a trailblazer in insurance. Circa 1927, Hazel Siler set up her own insurance agency in Celina, Ohio (Mercer County). And as far as we know, she may have been the first female insurance agent in the state of Ohio.

Thanks to Tim Miesse, Department Chair at Owens Community College and who oversees the insurance program, we've come to know Hazel. She is Tim’s great aunt. Aunt Hay – which is what her family called her – provided financial protections for the community of Celina, meeting with businesspeople from her office in the First National Bank Building across from the Mercer County Courthouse.

As one of the first women in the insurance industry, we were curious as to how Aunt Hay grew her business. Tim shared that she did it through building relationships. Some of her first customers were recommended to her by her fiancé, George, who owned a local real estate business. Aunt Hay did not own a car, so she would walk to customers’ homes and farms to discuss their business needs and to collect premiums. Aunt Hay’s nephew and Zella’s son, Robert O. Miesse, became Aunt Hay’s business partner after he earned his license in the late 1950s. Together they operated the agency until Aunt Hay’s retirement in the 1970s. Robert then carried on as a sole proprietor until his own retirement in the 1980s. (Robert Miesse was Tim Miesse’s dad. The Miesse family’s legacy in insurance continues.)

Sisters Zella and Aunt Hay, Zella also worked at Aunt Hay’s insurance firm.

We celebrate Aunt Hay for blazing a path as well as women such as Lt. Governor Mary Taylor, who leads Ohio’s Department of Insurance. Taylor, a strong advocate for the IIRC and Insuring Ohio Futures, works to create an environment that is friendly to business and job growth in Ohio. Taylor joins many other female leaders who are growing the insurance industry today. It is the strong and bold women who came before them who paved these leaders’ paths. 

Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, Director of the Ohio Department of Insurance, speaking to IIRC members

Today, insurance is marked by digital innovations, a deluge of data and a fast-moving world, which are transforming the business. Today’s trailblazers need to be just as customer-centric as Aunt Hay. They must evaluate how new technologies impact risk and premiums and transform the industry accordingly. Those in the insurance industry today work with customers in much the same way that Aunt Hay did – by taking the time to understand customers, their business, their risks and how best to protect them. Do you think that you’ve got what it takes to be a trailblazer? Explore to find out more.

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From Graduation to Career: The Story Continues

December 5th, 2016

This past summer, Insuring Ohio Futures celebrated 20 graduates of the Columbus State Community College insurance certificate program as they launched into their careers in insurance.

We wanted to see how they were fairing in their new jobs, so we followed up with some of their employers. Here’s what they had to say about their new employees:

“The graduates we hired from Columbus State have been nothing short of fantastic. They have fit right in with our service center team and started contributing right away. Our Account Representatives must obtain their Ohio agent license within 90 days. Of the four we hired, one already had her license and the other three passed the state exam, which isn’t easy, on the first try. We are very thankful for the work done by Paul Werth Associates, the IIRC and Columbus State to find and prepare this outstanding group of employees.”

– Brian B., Westfield Services Leader

“I was fortunate to hire one of the graduates from Columbus State. She was hired as a Personal Lines Insurance Account Representative after being a stay-at-home mom for several years. The skills and knowledge she acquired were amazing. She perfectly represents our company and seems like she has been doing this for years . . .”

– Linda T., Personal Lines Unit Leader, Westfield Services

“The caliber of the candidates who passed the certificate program far exceeded my expectations. Initially, I was excited to hear about this program, but never thought it would generate the quality people we were so privileged to interview. After hearing from one after another of the graduates, singing the praise of the rigorous and meaningful instruction and projects, I was convinced this was a well-planned and executed program. I am grateful to the entire team who worked to launch this quality program, Paul Werth Associates, the IIRC and Columbus State.”

– Ann N., Customer Service Center Leader, Westfield Services

“I am so pleased with the knowledge, skills and professionalism that the candidates that we hired. They are an asset to our team! This program has provided us with outstanding candidates . . . . I cannot wait for the next one!” 

– Kate S., Personal Lines Unit Leader, Westfield Services

“Jen (a CSCC graduate) reports to me, and we are very happy she joined State Auto. She is a real asset to my team and our department.”

– Kate B., Customer Services Supervisor II, State Auto Insurance Companies

We’re thrilled for these new insurance hires who have launched great careers in what may be one of the most rapidly changing industries in the nation. As new innovations become part of our daily lives (think drones, driverless cars and cybersecurity), insurance companies need to keep up and assess and manage risk. Ohio’s insurance industry is growing and companies are looking for insurance investigators, IT specialists, operations managers, registered nurses, claims adjusters, underwriters, marketing managers, risk managers, web designers, network technicians and customer service specialists. The list goes on . . . (Find more careers at