PARMA Member Spotlight

Meet Carrie Willson, Staff Risk Manager, 
State of California


Tell me about how you became a risk manager?


After my good friend tried to recruit me to a small managing general agency/surplus lines broker for about a year, I finally took her up on her offer. I left the hectic restaurant business thankful for the 9-5 business hours and holidays! I started as a file clerk, and I found myself very interested in the insurance industry. From there, I started volunteering for other job duties that lead to working 16 of my 17 years at this agency, identifying and analyzing risk as an underwriting assistant and commercial lines underwriter.

What are the rewards you experience professionally by being a PARMA member?

The network opportunities are priceless. I have met a number of other risk management professionals that I wouldn’t have had the chance to meet otherwise. These relationships are mutually beneficial and very rewarding. Another very important benefit is the relevant and up to date risk management educational opportunities provided by PARMA.  

How has your professional knowledge expanded by interacting with other PARMA members?

I have learned so much through the years, attending PARMA local events and the PARMA annual conferences. Contacts with fellow insurance professionals provide multiple avenues to get feedback to challenges that are unique to the public entity risk management world.

When did you start realizing you wanted to move into a leadership role within PARMA?

I love to help people accomplish their goals! As I became more and more a part of PARMA over the past decade and met many talented professional PARMA members, it became clear to me that I wanted to help further the PARMA mission due to the educational and networking challenges public entity employees face.

After being a member in PARMA for some time now, how essential was joining your professional association?

PARMA membership is very essential as a public entity employee; we have limited resources. PARMA connects us with many tools that I wouldn’t easily have otherwise.

How would you respond to a risk manager who says they don’t have time to participate in PARMA and /or moving towards a leadership position?

We always face time challenges. We have to be choosy about where to spend our valuable time! Making time for professional growth opportunities through PARMA is a wonderful opportunity to help us succeed as risk managers.

What do you see being one of the largest challenges for the future of risk management?

Due to the State’s recent disasters, public entities will face many issues for years to come. Especially the state of the property insurance market place including decreased limits availability and increased premium costs.

How will PARMA respond to that challenge?

Creative and new innovative means for more member engagement to create opportunities for public entities to share their challenges and resolutions on this issue. Another way, could be to provide educational sessions on this topic at the local PARMA level and during the annual PARMA conference.