The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors has recognized Sharon Heierman, CAE, IOM, with the association’s most prestigious honor in association management: the C. Carney Smith Award. Heierman served as both chief executive officer and chief operating officer of NAIFA-Florida since 2001. She retired in July 2012.
“Sharon’s ability to meet the diverse demands required to manage a state association are unmatched,” NAIFA President Robert Miller said. “She has the right vision, knowledge and experience to direct all aspects of association management, from program and professional development, to PAC and personnel matters. NAIFA-Florida has benefited from her expertise, and she truly is deserving of the C. Carney Smith Award. We wish Sharon all the best in her future endeavors.”
Heierman is the 37th recipient of the C. Carney Smith Award. The award was created to honor the legacy of C. Carney Smith, CLU, who served as the National Association's Executive Vice President for 15 years, ending in 1978. Established in 1976, the C. Carney Smith Award began honoring the advancement of professionalism in the field of association management among NAIFA state and local associations. Through the years, it has come to symbolize a lifetime achievement award for association executives. The recipient is chosen by their peers, who strive to select an executive who embodies the very best of what NAIFA stands for: education, involvement, integrity and service to others.
According to the NAIFA-Florida Board of Directors, Heierman has been integral in managing and maintaining the association’s finances amidst a severe recession in the state. She has implemented strategic initiatives that have enabled NAIFA-Florida to remain on budget. Among her achievements:
- Heierman worked with the state of Florida to secure automatic renewals of NAIFA-Florida’s annual contract to publish the Life, Health and Variable Annuity Study Manual, one of the Association’s strongest sources of non-dues revenue.
- To further boost revenue from this source, Heierman directed the creation of a self-study test exam program as an “up-sell” to the purchase of the manual. This action resulted in tens of thousands of dollars in additional non-dues revenue.
- Heierman spearheaded efforts to institute an online pre-licensing course to complement the pre-licensing and self-study test kits, resulting in thousands of dollars in additional non-dues revenue.
- When the state of Florida enacted legislation creating a new senior suitability ethics requirement, Heierman ensured NAIFA-Florida was first to create a course outline and supporting materials. The state of Florida inserted the NAIFA-Florida outline into rule, and required all education providers in the state to use it as the template for training thousands of agents across the state. Other states (including Ohio and Iowa) also have requested the outline and course materials to help with development of their own programs.
- Heierman also revived NAIFA-Florida’s correspondence CE program and included it in every edition of the NAIFA-Florida Journal, an exclusive benefit to members. This program satisfies up to 25 percent of their state compliance requirement.
Heierman’s unique blend of association management experience and insurance industry work has been an asset to NAIFA-Florida, according to the NAIFA-Florida Board. Prior to beginning her career as an association executive, Heierman was co-owner of a multiline agency for eight years. She served as the chief executive officer of the Tallahassee Board of Realtors from 1990 to 1996, and the executive vice president of the Florida Society of Association Executives from 1996 to 2001. Heierman joined NAIFA-Florida in 2001 as chief operating officer and was named CEO in 2003.
Founded in 1890 as The National Association of Life Underwriters (NALU), NAIFA is one of the nation’s oldest and largest associations representing the interests of insurance professionals from every Congressional district in the United States. NAIFA members assist consumers by focusing their practices on one or more of the following: life insurance and annuities, health insurance and employee benefits, multiline, and financial advising and investments. NAIFA’s mission is to advocate for a positive legislative and regulatory environment, enhance business and professional skills, and promote the ethical conduct of its members.