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New Scholarship Offers Financial Boost for Emerging Leaders Participants

New Scholarship Offers Financial Boost for Emerging Leaders Participants

USC supporters Steve and Sue Wilder endowed a scholarship to advance professional development for diverse talent seeking risk management careers.

Color photo of USC students visiting the Getty Museum

Emerging Leaders explore Los Angeles’ Getty Museum as part of the summer program activities [USC Photo]

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Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace culture is a goal of almost every organization. The benefits of supporting a sense of belonging and community among employees include increased creativity, innovation, and productivity. Insurance companies and corporate risk management departments, especially, have an interest in representing their customers and reflecting their principles.

Marshall’s EMERGING LEADERS PROGRAM (ELP), a program focused on recruiting diverse talent into the risk management and insurance industries, is getting a big boost. The Steve and Sue Wilder Endowed Scholarship for Emerging Leaders was recently gifted by the Wilders, providing opportunities for Marshall students to succeed as they prepare for future career aspirations.

With the generosity of these long-time USC supporters, the new Wilder scholarships will help cover the cost of attendance for Marshall students who participate in the summer program.

Ideals like building a diverse talent pipeline for the risk industry and supporting USC motivated the Wilders to endowing the scholarships. Between Steve’s career rooted in risk management and his role as one of the founding volunteers of the risk management program, and Sue’s longtime involvement with USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, supporting Emerging Leaders was a natural fit for the couple’s interests.

“The Emerging Leaders Program was created at a time when our society was at a low point. It was the height of COVID and a time when it became evident that we needed to increase the role of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity in everything we do. Besides the obvious desire to increase diversity in society as a whole, it also became evident that our industry needed to change and adopt a more inclusive attitude — the Emerging Leaders Program was a successful attempt to do that, and the results of the program speak volumes about this unique opportunity,” said Steve and Sue Wilder in a joint statement.

ELP is a partnership between Marshall’s PETER ARKLEY INSTITUTE FOR RISK MANAGEMENT, the insurance industry, and participating colleges. As Emerging Leaders, Marshall undergraduates learn the basics of risk management in the classroom, receive professional development advice by industry leaders, and are further mentored during a paid summer internship at a high-powered firm. Past program employers were among the twelve Risk Management Advisory Council members, including Alliant, Amwins, Aon, Chubb, CRC, Disney, FM Global, Gallagher, Lockton, Marsh, Philadelphia Insurance Companies, and RT Specialty.

We like the ‘family’ culture the most and give to USC because we are helping fund issues that we really care about.

— Steve and Sue Wilder

KRISTEN JACONI, executive director of the Arkley Institute and associate professor of the practice of accounting views the Wilders’ scholarship as instrumental to the success of the students in the program.

“Steve Wilder championed the idea of developing a talent pipeline at USC for the risk management and insurance industry. Since the very beginning Sue Wilder has been cheering him on,” Jaconi said. “It is fitting the Wilders have endowed a scholarship for students accepted into the Emerging Leaders Program, a program that expands the talent pipeline to students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, and internationally.”

The Steve and Sue Wilder Endowed Scholarship for Emerging Leaders will launch in fall 2024 and will be open to USC Marshall students applying to ELP. The annual scholarship is another example of the Wilders’ support of the Arkley’s Institute’s risk management program, which they have backed since its inception.

“We both wanted to give back something to this industry that has been so good to us, and the USC risk management program seems to stand out from other programs based on the culture of USC and the professors’ commitment to the students and the enthusiasm it has generated, in large part due to Professor Jaconi’s passion for the students and their success,” the Wilders’ said.

The need for experienced risk management professionals will continue to grow as the need for corporate governance and compliance increases.

More and more often, customers want their risk management professionals to reflect them, demographically. With this scholarship, the Wilders and USC may yet push the industry closer to that reality.