Link USA New York 2023 Kick-Off Event
Link USA New York held their first networking event on 2/23/23, hosted by Lloyd’s in their New York City office. Over drinks and light appetizers, LGBTQ+ professionals and allies from across the insurance industry met to network with colleagues and learn more about Link USA’s plans for New York and beyond.
The event culminated in a 3-person panel discussion, made up of members from the Link USA New York steering committee and moderated by Hank Watkins, Regional Director & President, Americas at Lloyd’s.
“Aligned with our Lloyd’s colleagues who proudly sponsor Link in the London market, our New York team welcomed the opportunity to host the 2023 kick-off event at our US headquarters,”
Hank said as he introduced the panel.
The panelists included Kristen Bennett, Associate Director – Health and Benefits at WTW; Tim Svoboda, Vice President – Captive Consultant at Connor Strong & Buckelew; and Eric Smith, Sr. Business Operations Analyst at Philadelphia Insurance Companies. Over the course of the conversation, each answered questions from the moderator, sharing personal stories of how being LGBTQ+ in the insurance industry has impacted their careers, personal development, and why Link is such an important organization.
Eric shared his own personal experience in the insurance industry as a gay male in the south.
“I played the ‘pronoun game’ when discussing a partner with other coworkers. I edited how I presented myself, what pictures I placed on my desk, never feeling like I was fully me at work. That needs to end, not only for me but for everyone in our industry. We can’t truly succeed if we can’t be our full authentic selves in our careers.”
Eric Smith, Sr. Business Operations Analyst at Philadelphia Insurance Companies
Tim continued with how Link is positioned to make change.
“One of our top priorities must be a new approach to inclusive hiring practices,”
“It is both a moral directive, and it could be one of the solutions to replace talent that is more rapidly leaving the workforce. At the same time, it is imperative that we work to ensure that our workplaces are affirming environments.”
Tim Svoboda, Vice President – Captive Consultant at Connor Strong & Buckelew
“I joined LINK with the hope of creating a space for LGBTQ+ insurance professionals to come together and feel connected in our industry while also addressing the unique challenges we face,”
Kristen said as she provided why she wanted to join Link.
“The opportunity to also provide representation to young students, showing the industry is a place for LGBTQ+ people is also an important part of creating the future of the insurance industry.”
Kristen Bennett, Associate Director – Health and Benefits at WTW
Link USA New York also extended thanks to their additional sponsors including Amwins, Beazley, Eliot Partnership, Guy Carpenter, Hudson Structured Capital Management LTD., Morgan Lewis, and Philadelphia Insurance Companies, and to Fwee Carter for photographing the event.