Introducing the NEW Difference Makers Podcast

Difference Makers Podcast Logo & Claire Richardson, CISR

The National Alliance proudly introduces the new Difference Makers podcast. An expansion of our popular Nat Alliance NOW series, the Difference Makers podcast highlights insurance and risk management people making positive impacts in our dynamic industry. 

Claire Richardson, CISR, Captive Consultant at Hylant Global Captive Solutions, and National Alliance Board Member, hosts our inaugural Difference Makers podcast episode! On this special episode, Claire is joined by Chief Marketing Officer, Mitch Dunford and Bob Rogers, CLU, ChFC, a fantastic teacher and mentor for the National Alliance.

Tune in as the trio looks back at previously featured Difference Makers to discover what makes them and future guests so unique.

What Defines A Difference Maker?

Grey rounded square with white lightbulb icon. Motivated by Innovation

Innovation drives progress across industries, particularly in insurance and risk management. Difference Makers revolutionize traditional industry practices, challenge the status quo, and embrace emerging technologies and strategies. 

“So with our insurtech platform and what we’re doing with, basically we just help to streamline insurance transactions, and we actually start with the more sophisticated transactions and we allow consumers, brokers, and carriers to distribute insurance products extremely efficiently. We do that using a lot of cutting-edge technology like artificial intelligence and machine learning.

We allow insureds, the consumers, their agents and brokers, and insurance carriers to all live in an ecosystem similar to like that of like an Amazon, where you’re able to then figure out what you want to buy, get questions served up to you based on that particular type of product, or your industry, or your experience, and then from there, go ahead and look to get insurance options.

Our real goal and mark that we want to leave is just that. It’s that we can leave an awesome legacy in insurance of solving the problems that were presented to us and set up the next generation for success.”

Paul Gaglioti III, CIC

“When you have the millennial and the Gen Z generations coming up, they want to be able to get their insurance through the internet as quickly and simply as possible. The reason I co-founded the Insurance Informant was because you need that information on demand.

We really saw a gap that our generation and the up-and-coming generations really needed to have. It needs to be at their fingertips when they want it, how they want it, where they want it. So if it’s a website, a blog, a podcast, social media, whatever it is, they need to have access to that.”

Alivia Cooper, MS, CRM, CIC

Grey rounded square with white hand icon holding a gear to visualize service. In Service of Others

Service is the cornerstone of the insurance and risk management industry. Difference Makers prioritize building trust-based relationships with clients, going above and beyond to deliver personalized, tailored solutions addressing each client’s unique needs.

“I first met Kathleen Hicks at a CIC institute. She was one of the early women to attend the institute.”

Dr. William T. Hold

“There were maybe 10 women out of 125 attendees. My boss that owned the agency gave me an opportunity to go as well. He said I think you might be able to learn something. I don’t expect you to take the exam and wouldn’t definitely do not expect you to pass it.”

–Kathleen Hicks, CIC

“Not only did she pass the first exam, but she also passed every exam she took. So she began the program in 1977, and received her designation in 1978.”

–Dr. William T. Hold

“It was something that empowered me to be able to compete with anybody and not be intimidated.”

–Kathleen Hicks, CIC

“The difference maker to me is someone who makes a difference or impacts somebody’s life. She’s made a difference in thousands of people’s lives by helping them through national disasters.”

–Dr. William T. Hold

Grey rounded square with white heart/hand shake icon. Focused on Community

Embracing community responsibility, Difference Makers strive to make a positive impact beyond daily tasks. They engage in mentorship, knowledge sharing, and promoting diversity and inclusion.

“We need to make sure that our kids in our school systems have an opportunity. I want to be able to pay back now. I really want to be able to pay back and to help high school students get into the CISR High School program, which is a win for everyone. We talk about it all the time. It’s a win for the student because we’re giving that student an opportunity, and I love to focus on those students and those high schools that do not generally get these opportunities. The CISR High School program is here in Birmingham. We’re working to get it in seven inner-city high schools. I’m super excited about that because I am a graduate of Birmingham high schools.”


“There is a high school here in Birmingham that just started this year, and they’re working toward helping kids that have hard times in regular high schools, whether it’s an LGBTQ issue, just general bullying, kids with learning disabilities, kids who just can’t succeed well in a traditional high school environment.”

–Amy Elliott, CIC, CISR, CPIA

“This high school just actually started. This is its first year. All of a sudden, they have 200 students. One of the things that I have offered to them is the CISR High School program in their new high school. I’ve decided to support the school and make that possible for them.”

–Jack Elliott, CIC, CISR, SOTP, CBCP, MPM, CFE

“I am a firm believer in insurance education because every program that’s out there has a different bent on it and so forth. They all add value. But I thought, “I’m going to retire and just see what I want to do.” Well, I hadn’t been home for a month until I got a call from UNT that said, “Hey, we heard you’re out of corporate now. We want you to come and teach for us.” I really love seeing the light go off and say, “First of all, I’ve never heard of what you do, I’ve never heard of risk management, but it sounds really cool and I want to do that.” I try to tell these students to understand what is your passion, what do you want to do. You can have a career and still do what’s important to you.

In my Principles of Risk Management, which is the intro class, I’ll post 50 to 100 business cards of my colleagues. I just copy and I say, “Your assignment is this. You call this person, you introduce yourself, tell them you’re in my class, and you would like to interview them,” and they have to write a report for me, then they have to send them a thank-you email, copying me, and then they have to send them a handwritten note, put a stamp on it, drop it in the mail, and mail it to them. I want to teach them an appreciation for a person’s professional time. There have been countless students who got internships because of this, and some of them got full-time jobs because of it.”

–Debra Richardson, MBA, CPCU, CIC, CRM, AINS

A commitment to Innovation, Service, and Community are what define a difference maker in the insurance and risk management industry. These exceptional professionals not only embrace innovation to drive industry-wide progress, but also prioritize delivering exceptional service to their clients, and actively engage in community initiatives to create a positive impact beyond their organizations. The Difference Makers podcast series aims to recognize, celebrate, and learn from these inspiring individuals, who are shaping the future of the insurance industry through their remarkable contributions.

Are you or do you know of an exceptional risk and insurance professional making a difference in our industry? Fill out the nomination form for your chance to be featured.

Claire Richardson, CISR


Claire Richardson, CISR

Captive Consultant at Hylant Global Captive Solutions


Mitch Dunford

Chief Marketing Officer at The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research


Bob Rogers, CLU, ChFC

Academic Director at The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research

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