Shareholder and Chief Diversity Officer, Maria Abate, helps NAAIA Florida launch endowed scholarship at FSU to encourage diversity in the insurance industry

Mar 1, 2021

The National African American Insurance Association (NAAIA) Florida, which is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion in every sector of the insurance industry, is raising $660,000 to establish the NAAIA Florida Endowed Scholarship in Risk Management/Insurance at the Florida State University College of Business as part of the newly formed NAAIA Florida Scholarship Program. The stated goal is to provide scholarship and job opportunities to African American and minority risk management students while simultaneously addressing the insurance talent gap and lack of diversity in management positions that currently vexes the industry.

NAAIA Florida founding board member and Colodny Fass Shareholder, Maria Abate, and NAAIA Treasurer, Charles Watkins, are spearheading the effort. 

NAAIA Florida selected FSU’s Dr. William T. Hold/The National Alliance Program in Risk Management and Insurance as a partner because it is recognized as one of the best in the nation, ranked by U.S. News & World Report in the Top 5 nationwide and well-positioned to help NAAIA achieve its goals. NAAIA Florida is also working with Florida A&M University and plans to expand the program to include FAMU students.

“The FSU RMI program has an excellent reputation in the insurance industry, with established mentoring and internship programs, and works with students from underprivileged environments through FSU’s CARE Program as well as through co-op programs with Florida A&M University, a traditional HBCU.  Additionally, FSU has a high placement rate for graduates, and has expressed an eagerness to expand their existing infrastructure to include industry stakeholders who can benefit from the placement of African American graduates with an RMI focus,” Abate said. 

NAAIA Florida has structured its scholarship program to create a reciprocal pathway wherein students will be made aware of the various career opportunities available in the insurance industry and prospective employers will be provided emerging skilled talent. “It’s a win-win all around as this pipeline program will provide measurable gains in diversity, equity and inclusion. Colodny Fass is excited to be a founding partner in this program, and together with our insurance industry partners, we can really make a difference,” Abate explains.  Companies interested in participating in the program and donating to the scholarship fund can contact Maria Abate at