Bank Forward Blog

Monday June 19 2017

Jon & Makell Take On DC

In May, Insure Forward’s Jon Erickson and Makell Sahlberg attended the Big “I” Legislative Conference in Washington, DC. While this was a return trip for Jon, everything was new for Makell.

“I didn’t really know what to expect,” says Makell, “but looking back, I would go again in a heart beat. The whole experience was one I will never forget and I feel lucky to have been able to attend. The people I met and things I learned will be great resources down the road.”

This annual three-day conference offers independent insurance agents the opportunity to educate members of Congress on issues important to agents and their clients. The conference kicked off with a Legislative Luncheon and conference briefing aimed at helping attendees prepare to lobby on Capitol Hill.

Attendees learned about the most pressing legislative issues facing independent agents and brokers and how to effectively share their perspective with lawmakers. It was also during this time that Jon accepted the Eagle Award on behalf of the Independent Insurance Agents of North Dakota, which recognized the fundraising efforts within the North Dakota membership. At the conference briefing North Dakota was also awarded the Membership Growth Award, marking the first time a state association received the honor.

Day two was spent on Capitol Hill. “We lobbied our Senators (Heidi Heitkamp and John Hoeven) and our House Representative (Kevin Cramer) on behalf of independent insurance agents of North Dakota,” Makell says. “We shared our perspective on the most pressing issues facing independent agents including Flood Insurance, Tax Reform, Health Care, Insurance Regulatory Reform, and Crop Insurance.”

The day concluded with Young Agents Committee (YAC) Gives Back and InVEST Silent Auction. The YAC sponsored the benefit with the goal of raising funds for InVEST scholarships, which are offered to high school seniors and college students currently participating in the InVEST program to pursue insurance related education or careers. “They were able to raise nearly $20,000 dollars in just a few hours,” Makell says. “Pretty impressive!”

The final day included hearing from the Big “I” Chair Spencer Houldin, and a CEO Panel consisting of Bob Rusbuldt (Big “I” President & CEO), Mark Berven (President & CEO of Nationwide P&C), Tricia Griffith (President & CEO of Progressive), Greg Murphy (Chair & CEO of Selective Ins Group Inc) and Bruce Kelley (President, CEO & Treasurer of EMC Ins Co).

“They discussed trends in the industry, opportunities and challenges facing the Big “I” association and the independent agency system,” says Makell.

Makell says she saw the importance of the convention and having a presence in DC. “Together with the other members of the Big “I” our voice makes the industry stronger. We are able to continue to build relationships with legislators and help educate new and existing members of Congress on issues we face as business leaders in the insurance industry. We are also able to share our experience with our colleagues and peers so even more independent agents understand the importance of a strong voice for our industry on Capitol Hill.”

If you have questions about the Big “I” Legislative Conference, Jon ( or Makell ( would be happy to chat.

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