Shiza Shahid Inspires at WLN Event in Seattle

By Mary DePaolo Haddad, Helsell Fetterman LLP:

Shiza Shahid, the keynote speaker for PLUS Foundation’s Women’s Leadership Network event in Seattle, inspired those in attendance by describing her childhood experience in Pakistan, the second worst country in the world for women to be born.  There, the average level of education for girls is 6 years to America’s 12.  Before getting accepted to Stanford, Shiza was a young activist and helped serve imprisoned women with children.  At Stanford, Shiza learned of the Taliban’s prohibition of girl’s education by Malala Yousafzai – who blogged about it.  Shiza wanted to give back to girls from her country from circumstances she found abhorrent and began working with Malala’s father.  She organized a summer camp for 26 girls to navigate their lives under the Taliban and help expose this human rights violation to empowered leaders whose influence could remedy it.

After Malala was shot by the Taliban at 15 for her activism for girls’ education and gender equality, Shiza rushed to her side and witnessed a miracle as Malala made a full recovery, stronger than ever before.   Malala, thereafter became the youngest Nobel Prize laureate, and directed the corresponding flood of monetary support to be used to educate girls around the world to grade 12.  Shiza left McKinsey and co-founded the Malala Fund that carries out this mission.  After serving as the fund’s CEO, Shiza created NOW Ventures that backs “mission driven” start-ups.

At the Women’s Foundation event, Mary Haddad and Shiza discussed why NOW Ventures backs mission driven startups and why they are expected to bring scalable change and measurable profit.  Shiza moved from the nonprofit sector, as the co-founder of the Malala Fund to create NOW Ventures to maximize the scale of change of mission driven companies.  At our event, she challenged women to engage in investing and understand that they are far more comfortable donating time and money.  While women in America enjoy far more opportunity in the market place than women in Pakistan, their rise into leadership positions over the last 30 years has stagnated.  While different, women in both Pakistan and America fail to progress in education and work for similar reasons; because they lack the support of their spouse, are held back simply because they are a woman (implicit gender bias), and disproportionately take on the burden of household chores and childcare responsibilities.

Introducing the Second LAMP Cohort

The Professional Liability Underwriting Society (PLUS) launched the second cohort of its Diversity Leadership & Mentoring Program (LAMP) at its 30th annual conference November 1-3, 2017, in Atlanta.

LAMP is a leadership development training program for PLUS members from diverse and traditionally under-represented groups within the professional liability insurance industry. The curriculum focuses on leadership coaching but also includes matching participants with senior-level PLUS members who have agreed to serve as mentors throughout the program.

Additionally, PLUS sponsors participants’ involvement in signature PLUS events including the PLUS Conference and national Symposia as well PLUS educational offerings and RPLU designation exams.


Members of the second LAMP cohort include:

  • Nyreese Arzu, Axis Capital – San Francisco, CA
  • Kristine Bell, Chubb Limited – Boston, MA
  • Vanessa Contreras, Scor Reinsurance – Chicago, IL
  • Liliana Cortez, Aon – Chicago, IL
  • Christian Hughes, Verisk Analytics – Jersey City, NJ
  • Bernadine Jones, Admiral Insurance Group – Mount Laurel, NJ
  • Lilit Jragatsbanian, RPLU, MLIS, Worldwide Facilities LLC – Los Angeles, CA
  • Linda Lin, QBE North America – New York, NY
  • Moiré Morón, QBE North America – New York, NY
  • Gloria Nava, RPLU, Philadelphia Insurance Companies – Pasadena, CA
  • Jon Perry, Allied World – Chicago, IL
  • Nanette Ross, RSA Canada – Mississauga, Ontario
  • Dwight Williams, Willis Towers Watson – New York, NY
  • Renada Williams, AXIS Insurance – Berkley Heights, NJ
  • Jeremy Zacharias, Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin – Cherry Hill, NJ

Participants are selected out of a competitive application process overseen by seven members of the PLUS Diversity & Inclusion Committee, chaired by Chester D. White, RPLU, ARM, Vice President and Director at Aon Risk Solutions.

“LAMP is designed for any professional who recognizes the importance of diversity and leadership in business and wants to make themselves more valuable to their current organization,” said White. “It is ideal for both those that are early in their career but wish to pursue greater leadership responsibilities or career advancement as well as those further along in their career that wish to improve certain skill sets.”

Further details on the program, including how to apply for the next cohort, can be found on the PLUS website.