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Cindy Steele is the president of the San Diego Chapter of the Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc. and director of risk management for San Diego-based ConAm Management Corp., which provides property management services in the United States. Ms. Steele spoke recently with Business Insurance Staff Reporter Donna Mahoney about the risks and opportunities specific to the Southern California area. Edited excerpts follow.
Q: What are some of the risks that are unique to companies in the San Diego area?
A: We have a lot of tourism traffic; visitors are drawn here for SeaWorld or Legoland. There are also many people coming here for conferences. This makes risk managers concerned about the issues that tourism brings to a community such as the threat of pandemics. San Diego has the busiest single-runway airport (over 20 million passengers last year) and the fourth-largest port in California; both cruise ships and air traffic play a large role in creating the transient traffic, which heightens the exposure of a pandemic on the community and impacting the business profile. The San Diego County Office of Emergency Services ranks the threat of pandemics as one of the top risks for San Diego.
Q: What role is the San Diego RIMS chapter playing in this year's RIMS conference?
A: This year, our chapter vetted some of the RIMS speakers from our region. There were a lot of speakers who came through our chapter who were interested in speaking. We are also the recipient of a chapter achievement award at the conference in acknowledgment of the planning that we do for our chapter throughout the year. We are also hosting a small reception at the conference to welcome the workers that helped put the conference together. We don't have a large role, but we will make sure that the conference team has all the resources it will need. We also helped organized an after-the-conference airport tour for attendees of the conference, who will get a tour behind the scenes of the San Diego airport. We are expecting about 50 people at that tour.
Q: Is there anything that the San Diego RIMS chapter does that you think is unique?
A: The military is very prominent here, and we love that fact. We just got a brand new combat ship, the USS Coronado, that will be making San Diego its new home. The chapter supports the United Services Organizations. We have the largest USO in the country; it is a dedicated facility that makes the traveling needs of the armed forces a little easier and gives them a place to go.Our RIMS chapter supports the Waves of Appreciation organization that every year gives the chapter members the opportunity to say thank you to the men and women of the military on their way home or to a deployment.Chapter members have the opportunity to volunteer twice a year to this effort, first to assemble thousands of bags full of snacks for traveling servicemen and -women who often can't afford to pay the costly prices of airport food, secondly to distribute the bags that were packed previously. Last year, we helped to distribute about 3,000 backpacks full of snacks to soldiers at Christmas time. There are other businesses that do this with us as well — it's not just us — it's many businesses and organizations from the community that join in.