Carmen was taught at an early age by her mother, a nurse, to be caring and compassionate, vital skills in the field of insurance, where she has spent the last more than 25 years. Today, she is the senior vice president at McKinley Insurance Services, based in Fort Lauderdale and president of the board of directors for the Lighthouse of Broward.
Carmen grew up Seat Pleasant, Maryland in the Washington, D.C. area with a brother nine years her junior. She attended Prince George’s Community College in Largo, Md., but as a newlywed decided to land a job as a secretary for Sanus/HealthPlus Insurance (now called Aetna). Admittedly a poor typist, she found herself alone in the office one day just after a direct mail campaign touting a new health care plan had been dropped. Shifting into her natural sales mode, Carmen signed up 11 new customers who walked in that day with the mailer. She was immediately promoted to a customer service representative and began earning her insurance licenses.
Eight years later and newly single, she decided to move with her son, Ronald, to warmer surroundings. She spent 10 years at HIP Health Plan of Florida, where she served as Jim McKinley’s chosen representative. When she decided to move on in 2001, joining McKinley was a logical choice. Today, she is responsible for the servicing of the firm’s group benefits division and oversees open enrollment, new group implementation, customer retention, and business development. She holds a health, life and annuity license in the state of Florida
In addition to her career success, Carmen always finds time to give back to the community. Her charity of choice is the Lighthouse of Broward, the county’s only nonprofit focused on helping babies to seniors who are blind or visually impaired live independently. She has volunteered her time at the Lighthouse since 2005.
She also is a graduate of Leadership Broward, Class XXII and recipient of the Board Member of the Year for the Human Resources Association of Florida and Broward County. She chaired two Florida State conferences for the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), which provides education, training and development for more than 1,000 human resource professionals in Florida. She is a past nominee for the NAWBO Bravo Awards (Spirit of the Community) and was named the Human Resources Florida Volunteer of the Year.
In her spare time, Carmen enjoys spending time with her 3-year old grandson, Dominick and the rest of her family.
McKinley Insurance Services SVP 2001 – present
HIP Health Plan of Florida (Florida) 1991-2001
Family Health Plan (Florida) 1989-1991
Humana Health Care Plan (Florida) 1988-1989
Sanus/HealthPlus (Washington, DC) 1980-1988
Lighthouse of Broward, President of the Board, since 2005
Leadership Broward, Class XXII, 2004
Human Resources Association of Florida and Broward County
Society of Human Resource Management, Florida
Going back to when you first started with your organization to now, what has been your proudest personal accomplishment? To become president of the board and to be a part of the Lighthouse’s success and growth. I was most proud last year when we raised more than $75,000 at our first Share The Vision breakfast.
What do you enjoy the most about your work?
I enjoy watching people who are visually impaired, from children up to adults, succeed after they received training from the Lighthouse.
Do you have a mentor; someone who has been there to guide you or consult with you when you needed their input?
Ralph Campbell, the CEO of McKinley Insurance Services and my boss, is always there with financial and emotional support and valuable advice. My mother, of course, is always encouraging even during the most challenging times.
You are out in the public arena quite often; who is the most interesting person you have ever met?
Captain G. Michael Abrashoff, the author of It’s Your Ship.
What program with your organization do you get the most excited about?
The job readiness program, which helps train and place Lighthouse clients in careers.
How did you determine which charitable organizations you would support?
My first priority is passion, as I have to believe in the mission of the organization and see that it’s making a real difference in the community. The Lighthouse of Broward certainly meets both of my requirements.
Is there a charitable event(s) you really look forward to attending each year?
I am most excited about this year’s Share the Vision breakfast on October 21, as we are featuring Tom Sullivan, an amazing and very famous author, entertainer and motivational speaker
How have things changed for you through the years?
I’ve grown along with the organization and now look at the organization with a difference set of eyes. I see it more as an absolutely essential service in our community, and one that is making measurable differences in peoples’ lives.
What is your greatest strength(s) that makes you such an asset to your organization?
My best leadership skill is that I am good at creating consensus.
What is your greatest challenge at this time?
It’s always raising enough money to meet the budget and keep programs .
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Being with my family.
What is the most important thing you have learned through the years?
I can only do what I can do and the rest will take care of itself. I can be effective serving others, as they are always above me.
How do you relax?
With my feet up with a glass of white wine and the sun shining on my face.
Do you have a favorite vacation spot?
Traveling on a cruise ship.
What do you wish you could have a never-ending supply of?
Money to give to worthwhile charities.
If you found a treasure chest – and you could keep it, what would you want to be in it?
How can we reach out to other people in the world?
By sharing our visions and taking action one step at a time vs just talking about it.
What can make you laugh?
What can make you cry?
A sad movie.
Are you where you hoped you would be at this point in your life?
What do you still hope to accomplish?
Reaching a $10 million endowment at the Lighthouse.
Is there a fond childhood memory you can share with us?
When my mom, dad, brother and I went to the Bahamas, all wearing plaid pants.
When you were a little girl, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?
What is your vision and hope for the future?
Goodwill toward all.
What do you think is the biggest problem we are facing in this country today?
Too much bickering and violence. We really all just need to learn to get along.
How do you want to be remembered by future generations?
As a leader with a heart for people
What do your want your epitaph to read?
She was a kind and loving person
Do you have a motto, or some words of wisdom, that has guided you through your life? Don’t waste time, once it’s gone, it’s gone.
What word best describes your life right now? In service
What charitable organizations are you involved with at this time?
The Lighthouse of Broward
Is there a non-profit event you really look forward to attending each year?
Share the Vision Breakfast
What is your proudest achievement?
Watching my son grow into a wonderful young man and raising his own son now.
What is something your parents taught you that you will never forget?
Respect one another
In order to thrive and survive in the corporate workplace, we sometimes have to desensitize ourselves in order to get ahead. Not being real and authentic, isn’t that a big sacrifice to make? It’s a huge sacrifice and that’s not me. “True to one’s self” is the only way for me to be, even if I don’t make it to the next level
How do you stay so motivated and committed? The success of others keeps me going. Watching people grow.
When does someone know when it’s time to move on?
When the you just don’t want to be there anymore…when it’s a chore.
What is your favorite sport? Not much into sports, but I like to swim
Do you feel women have made progress in their quest to be treated fairly and equally in the workplace? I can only speak for myself, and yes, progress has been made and equality has been reached.
How does the “seasoned” woman compete in a marketplace that is focused on looking and being young?
It’s all in the mind. People will see you for who you are.
Is there a special “aha” moment in your life when you knew “I get it now!”?
Once I began to service the community and realize that life’s not all about me. I was awarded Board Member of the Year for HRABC and then Volunteer of the Year for HR Florida, aha!
If there were a movie being made about your life, what actor/actress would best play you? She hasn’t been born yet.
If you were going to be on a Space Shuttle for about a year, what one item would you have to take with you? Family pictures
Do you have a Fashion Addiction? No
What would you still like to learn how to do? Paddle Boarding
How do we get our young people more interested in charitable giving and community volunteering? Set a good example and start them young.
Thanks for your contributions to South Florida.
SYLVIA M HENDERSON
Thank you for all you do for Lighthouse of Broward. This is a wonderful acknowledgement of your achievements and contributions. Keep up the good work!
Thank you for your support and all you do!