The VCIA is not one to rest peacefully on its laurels. In addition to the fact that the Conference Task Force is already working on the 2023 VCIA Annual Conference, I also need to tell you about our future planning process. Just this week, staff went offsite to the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe for our annual planning retreat. While we did not indulge in a Sound of Music karaoke session, we did have six hours of highly productive conversations concerning the future direction and initiatives for the VCIA.
We brainstormed big picture ideas as well as how to optimize our work systems. We discussed opportunities and how VCIA can better serve our members and the captive community as a whole. What else can we provide? What can we do different and new? What do our members want, and what do they want in the future? Overall, we identified key areas to explore, steps to take, and proposals to confer the Board on. A stroll in the misty mountains by the grazing cows was the perfect cap to the day.
Next up, in less than three weeks, is the fall meeting of the VCIA’s Board, where they will review staff input and also create a plan for member consultation as a part of a root and branch strategic direction consultation.
Then comes your part – member and stakeholder input in a variety of formats. I really hope that you make the choice to participate when asked. Your organization, the VCIA, can only grow and support you if we have clarity on your needs. Our goal will be to look at all ideas, from the incremental to the radical, through the lens of the question “will this build value?”
While our staff retreat generated strong themes and initiatives for the future of the VCIA, these need validation through our process, and I hope to hear from many of you as this process is rolled out. You can always contact me by phone or email. Until then, “my heart wants to sing every song it hears.”
A Director of Finance, Director of Membership, and Director of Education walk into a bar…jokes aside, Peggy Companion, Janice Valgoi, and Diane Leach have been central in building the high reputation and strong impact of VCIA. What drives them? A deep admiration for the good-natured people in the captive industry.
Along with industry-leading educational sessions and curated networking events, VCIA’s 37th Annual Conference is simply going to be blast. It will be a productive AND enjoyable time—guaranteed. That said, I have a couple of fun “branding” initiatives up my sleeve (after all, this will be my first conference as VCIA president, so I want to make it memorable!). Staff trivia will be one of them. Here’s our final staff spotlight, a tripleheader!, on the three smart and experienced women that are vital to VCIA’s success. Read up on all of our staff so you can get to now us a bit better before our big summer event. We’ll pose some staff questions at the conference and if you get them right you could win a nice little gift!
Director of Education Janice Valgoi
Since 2012, Janice Valgoi has brought many smiles to people in the captive industry. She takes great care in fostering relationships with people and companies, and works attentively in setting up sponsors for the annual conference while managing member needs throughout the year. Something you may not know about Janice, she used to be a serious synchronized swimmer, doing routines in the water and getting chewed up by Canadian geese. She loves dancing whether on land or sea!
Naturally her mind focuses on the conference this time of year, and when asked about what she’s excited about, she has a difficult time choosing. “To be honest I’m excited about everything! It’s very fulfilling to see everyone benefit from the conference. I think we give sponsors and exhibitors a really great value. There’s nothing better than bringing everyone together and that’s what the 2022 conference will be like. The VCIA staff has worked so hard to put it all together and make it a wonderful experience. It’s a very cool high to complete it!”
Director of Finance Peggy Companion
Four weeks into Peggy’s tenure at VCIA the office flooded. Her room was the only part of the floor that didn’t get damaged, and so she stayed in the building while everyone worked remotely. It was quite the initiation. She had just finished an accounting degree after juggling many jobs and working as a single mother. Before graduating, her teacher came to her and said, “I am going to change your life today.” He was neighbors with then VCIA president Molly Lambert and set up a meeting for Peggy with her. Peggy hasn’t looked back (minus the flood!) since.
Raised in Long Island, Peggy has lived in many places: Louisiana, Connecticut, Florida, the list goes on! Her work with VCIA comes back to the people she serves and connects with. “The staff, the industry, they are all lovely, supportive, intelligent people.” She sees this year’s Annual Conference as a great opportunity to witness the positive changes VCIA President Kevin Mead has begun making. “Kevin’s got smart plans and visions for the organization. I’m excited about the pathways he’s creating for VCIA.”
Peggy plays the piano and guitar and wants to brush up on her skills. She sails and golfs when she can, but there’s something else. “Peggy’s hidden talent is that she can be a professional singer. She has a wonderful sense of humor and sings a perfect show tune,” Diane revealed, to Peggy’s chagrin.
Director of Education and Programming Diane Leach
October 2022 marks 35 years of employment for Director of Education and Programming Diane Leach. She’s been with VCIA literally from the start. “I keep learning something new with VCIA and the captive industry. It’s what keeps me going, this constant evolution of knowledge.”
Diane puts her heart into designing the annual conference. Of course, this year has added significance because it’s the first time since 2019 that it will be back live and in person. She looks at the VCIA Conference as an enormous tool to solve challenges and brainstorm new ideas for the captive industry, and she finds a common theme that will be on display this August. “Change. Change of the guard with the DFR. Change of leadership with the VCIA. Change with hot topics and the incoming generation of captive professionals. This industry responds well to anticipating needs and providing answers to them, and that’s what the conference will be all about.”
If Diane’s not perfecting details for the conference, she’s seeking out a tranquil place on earth. Nature brings her peace, and practicing yoga has kept her more centered as a person. Her best thinking comes out on the trail, or on the mat. She contributes her well being to the support VCIA has provided. “I have always tried to take care of myself and VCIA has encouraged that for all staff.”
What’s most important to Diane? Being a mother. “My greatest joy is being the mother of my two daughters. I love the work-life balance VCIA provides. To have been a present parent means so much to me. VCIA has been so kind and generous to me and because of that I consider VCIA as my third child. And every year that child gets married again and I plan a large wedding to celebrate.”
Graphic Design extraordinaire. Fluent in all things tech. When he’s not making sure webinars are going smooth, you can find him on the slopes or playing volleyball. Meet VCIA’s Communications Assistant, Dave Rapuano
Along with industry-leading educational sessions and curated networking events, VCIA’s 37th Annual Conference is simply going to be blast. It will be a productive AND enjoyable time—guaranteed. That said, I have a couple of fun “branding” initiatives up my sleeve (after all, this will be my first conference as VCIA president, so I want to make it memorable!). Staff trivia will be one of them, so read this staff spotlight, the two that profiled myself and Francis McGill, and look out for the rest in the weeks to come. We’ll pose some staff questions at the conference and if you get them right you could win a nice little gift!
Dave Rapuano is the VCIA go-to person when troubleshooting a computer issue. An on-his-feet problem solver, he uses his background in digital media to help build a reliable and efficient ecosystem of VCIA’s online presence, whether that be our website, webinars, or the virtual conferences in 2020 and 2021.
A Connecticut native, he moved to the Green Mountain State to attend Champlain College and explore the bounty of outdoor activities available in Vermont. Snowboarder? Check. Hiker? Yup. He also coaches a high school varsity volleyball team. And what else? Dave is an avid fly fisherman! Ask where he’s favorite fishing spot is and he’ll tell you, “Camel’s hump way up high on a little creek catching beautiful wild brook trout.”
Make sure to say hello to Dave at the next gathering! Stay tuned for another staff spotlight soon, and remember to take some notes so you can win a prize at the conference!
A newbie gardener. Film, music, and book enthusiast. When he’s not at work he’s probably changing a diaper. Meet VCIA’s Director of Communications, Francis McGill
As we approach the 2022 VCIA Conference, we are going to introduce you to VCIA staff. Of course, many ‘need no introduction,’ but with many new members and after two years away, it won’t hurt. So please get to know Francis. And do please play close attention, we there will be a quiz—I’m serious! At the conference we will ask a few questions about our staff and those who answer them correctly will be eligible to win a prize or two!
Francis became VCIA’s Director of Communications in January 2022, and he’s pleased to play a role in creatively promoting VCIA values and programs. He’s especially enjoyed e-meeting so many folks in the industry and looks forward to solidifying those relationships come the VCIA Spring Mixer and at the Annual Conference. That captive insurance spans so many industries—from healthcare, to manufacturing and entertainment companies, to higher education, you name it!—has really sparked Francis’s interest in realizing how complex it is to safeguard employees and company property, among other things. Rarely thinking of insurance besides his healthcare and home and auto, he’s impressed now that there are so many different kinds that captives cover!
In his home life, Francis enjoys living in the “country” up near the Green Mountains with two cats, his wife, and their 6 month old son, Herschel. Francis and Charlotte are first time parents and have experienced the range of emotions that parenthood brings, from the tremendous excitement of seeing their boy roll over for the first time, to the tremendous fatigue of waking in the middle of the night to feed him, and then starting the day off bright and early at 5:30am. Herschel is their pride and joy, and yes, the cats are getting used to him, somewhat.
Fun facts about Francis
He and his wife grow vegetables in a greenhouse on their property; they are currently harvesting delicious spinach that overwintered
The last film he saw that made a powerful impression on him was The Power of The Dog, partly because of the cinematography and partly because of the amazing soundtrack (done by Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood)
All in all, communication matters most to Francis—how we share and what we share. He greatly appreciates that his role at VCIA allows him to learn so much about captive insurance while wordsmithing and designing communications in all kinds of forms that compel people to connect with and participate in the VCIA mission.
Make sure to say hello to him at the next gathering! Have an idea or want to just drop him a line? Email Francis at email@example.com. Stay tuned for another staff spotlight soon, and remember to take some notes so you can win a prize at the conference!