8 Questions for CPCU Society President Traci Adedeji

The newly elected president of the CPCU Society shares more about her goals, her background and her hopes for her legacy as the first Black female CPCU Society president.
By: | January 30, 2024
Portrait of Traci Adejeji

Risk & Insurance spoke with the 2024 president and chair of the CPCU Society, Traci Adedeji, about her goals and plans for her presidency.

Adedeji began her term on January 1, 2024. In addition to her CPCU Society role, she is the founder and president of Positive Paradigm Group.

Adedeji has held various volunteer roles, including leading the Rhode Island CPCU Chapter and serving on the board of the NAAIA Boston Chapter. She teaches CPCU courses and has mentored others to help them earn their designation and find their path.

Adedeji had this to say about her presidency.

Risk & Insurance: What do you plan to accomplish during your tenure as president? 

Traci Adedeji: When I joined the Society’s Leadership Council in 2021, I participated in crafting the strategic plan under which we are currently operating, so it feels fortuitous that one of the things I will do as president this year is to lead the crafting of the plan that will pick up in 2025 where the current plan leaves off.

That is probably the heaviest lift of my presidency.

That said, I plan to continue our efforts to grow our membership and increase our members’ engagement with and consumption of all the benefits the Society offers.

R&I: Can you share a little about your journey to this role and why you decided to take on a leadership role in the CPCU Society?

TA: The short answer to why I decided to take on a leadership role is that I answered the call that came when I put myself in a position to be of service.

My first role as a volunteer leader within the Society was on the board of the Rhode Island Chapter. I moved through the various leadership roles at the local level and dovetailed that with committee service for the global Society.

That service led to an ask from Sharon Koches to be her special appointment to the Leadership Council in 2021.

And since I didn’t break anything, I applied for a full three-year term and would like to think that my work and commitment led me to my current role.

I am thankful for the opportunity.

R&I: How do you see your role in shaping the representation of women of color in leadership positions within the insurance industry?

TA: I’ll start by saying that my opportunity to be the first Black woman to serve as president and chair of the Society in the organization’s 80-year history comes on the shoulders of women like Janet Jordan-Foster at AXIS and Susan Johnson at The Hartford, just to name a couple.

It was very powerful to share the stage in D.C. with Sherry McFadden and Ramya Sunad when we were installed as the Society’s 2024 officers.

We were selected to serve in the Society’s executive leadership because of our talents and strengths. But the impact of the message conveyed to our membership and to our industry in that moment is an important one.

The imagery of three women of color stepping into prominent leadership roles signals to everyone that women of color have a place at the top. That message will motivate other women of color to commit to advancement within their current volunteer leadership roles and be empowered to leverage that experience to advance within their careers.

The fact that I am a Black woman is obvious. But the caveat is that Black women are not monolithic, and by no means do I speak for or represent all Black women. My job is to be as authentically Traci as I can be and to make room for others to do the same (meaning be authentically themselves — not authentically Traci). [Laughs.]

R&I: What are some ways the CPCU Society can become more diverse and inclusive?

TA: A truly inclusive culture is made up of people who are excited to contemplate and synthesize ideas that differ from their own. By prioritizing the goals of the organization and being open to diverse ideas, you open yourself to endless possibility and operate under a model of continuous improvement.

We accomplish this by challenging what we think and do as an organization and by intentionally inviting new people into the conversation.

That could look like having an interesting conversation with someone and encouraging them to expand the dialogue by sharing on INteract or maybe LinkedIn, or it could look like encouraging someone to apply for a volunteer leadership role so that we may all benefit from their talents.

R&I: What strategies will you deploy to drive growth in the CPCU Society, particularly considering the focus on international growth?

TA: Our Society grows when we deliver value to our members and partners.

This will require visibility, engagement and communication.

As leaders, one of the first things we should be asking our members and our chapters is “How can we help?” Not every member or chapter or country is the same.

Our current efforts to support our CPCUs in Ghana is a good example of the collaborative approach needed to ensure success when engaging our international members. Our member benefits are not one-size-fits-all, but they are robust enough that they can be customized to deliver significant value to each and every member.

We have seen positive trends in our membership numbers and that will continue as we amplify the message about our membership expansion and clearly articulate the values of membership.

R&I: What advice would you give to new leaders and those wanting to pursue leadership roles at work and in professional organizations?   

TA: The first piece of advice I would give to new leaders is to have a solid understanding of the organization’s mission and how their strengths contribute to the execution of that mission.

Armed with this knowledge, a leader can confidently advocate for themselves when opportunities arise.

The other piece of advice I would give is to not pass up opportunities to further develop their leadership skills. Being a volunteer leader with the Society is a wonderful way to develop as a leader.

R&I: What do you hope is your legacy as the first Black female president of the CPCU Society?

TA: I hope that my legacy is one of empowerment, compassion and excellence.

I want any person who has ever felt marginalized or disenfranchised for any reason to see that there are boundless opportunities within the Society and, by extension, within the RMI industry. I want every person with whom I engage to feel seen and heard, and to pay it forward by making sure that they see and hear every person with whom they engage.

I want everyone in our industry, even if tangentially, to take pride in delivering the very best of themselves each and every time.

R&I: Who or what inspires you?

TA: I am inspired by the idea of possibility and the power that we each have to make each day into what we want it to be.

I’ve been doing a lot of work lately around “purpose.” I’ve almost got it locked and loaded, but what I’ve got so far is the North Star that guides my decisions.

Life can be stressful and there is a lot of ugliness in the world. But there are also so many opportunities for us to be amazing and to support others in being amazing. That’s where the magic happens.

And plugging into that energy every day allows me to end each day at peace and excited about what I might accomplish the next day. &

Abi Potter Clough, MBA, CPCU, is a keynote speaker, author and business consultant focused on Insurtech, leadership and strategy. She has over 15 years of experience at a Fortune 500 company with expertise in P&C claims operational leadership, lean management consulting, digital communications and Insurtech. As the past chair of the International Insurance Interest Group of the CPCU Society, Abi remains involved in many international initiatives and projects. She has published two books about change management and relocation. Abi can be reached at [email protected].