By MICHELLE KERR, who writes on risk management and safety issues
Nine judges answered the call this year, a richly blended group of new and longtime judges, industry veterans and past Teddy winners.
This year's newest volunteers include Jon Coppelman, senior vice president at Lynch Ryan & Associates, a management consulting firm specializing in risk and human resource management for insurers and employers. Coppelman is a popular and well respected writer for the Workers' Comp Insider, the nation's first corporate blog dedicated to risk management issues.
Also new to the team this year is Mike Weiss, director of risk management for AT&T. AT&T's workers' comp and disability management program, led by Weiss, was the 2007 Teddy Award winner on the for-profit side. Weiss has been with AT&T for 37 years--10 of them in his current position.
Keith Reynolds joined the panel for the second consecutive year. Reynolds is the vice president of risk management for Frito-Lay North America, the for-profit winner of a Teddy Award in 2006. Reynolds, a 20-year veteran of the insurance and risk management industry, is responsible for all aspects of Frito-Lay's risk management program, including property and casualty insurance, claims management and safety.
Representing past Teddy winners on the nonprofit side, Rachel Toro accepted the invitation to serve on the judging panel for the third year in a row. Toro is the manager of workers' compensation for Catholic Healthcare West, which took top honors as the 2005 Teddy Award winner.
And for the fifth straight year, the indefatigable Yolanda Romero took a seat on the judges' panel. Romero is the director of workers' compensation for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, a Teddy Award honoree in 2003--the first year a separate nonprofit award was established.
In addition to Romero, other longtime veterans of the judging process include Tracey Carragher, of specialty brokerage Breckenridge Insurance. A former CEO at Cambridge Integrated Services Group, Carragher has an extensive background of claims-handling and claims technology expertise.
Peter Rousmaniere is also a fixture at the judges' table. Rousmaniere is a journalist and a nationally recognized independent risk-management consultant with more than 20 years' experience in the field of workers' compensation. Rousmaniere has written a regular workers' comp column for Risk & Insurance® for the past five years.
Rounding out the group this year are industry notables Milt Wright and Richard Pimentel. Wright (not pictured), an author, trainer, and consultant, is cofounder of Milt Wright & Associates Inc. For 25 years, Wright's company has been providing companies with the knowledge and resources to reduce disability costs and boost productivity.
Pimentel, a senior partner at Milt Wright & Associates Inc., is a consultant, trainer, author, and keynote speaker as well as an expert in making people laugh. Pimentel, an expert on disability management, has designed and implemented return-to-work systems for the private sector and government employers throughout the country. Pimentel is an authority on the Americans with Disabilities Act. His own experience with disability is the subject of last year's award-winning biopic, "The Music Within."
This group of nine spent a significant amount of time reading the applications of Teddy Awards finalists, taking notes, asking questions, and participating in lively group debate via coast-to-coast conference calls over several weeks.
At the end of the process, the judges were then asked to score the applicants in several categories using a numerical ranking system, as well as provide narratives in support of their scores.
November 1, 2008
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