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Partner with Childress Duffy Goldblatt Ltd. and Founding Member of Risk Assessment & Transfer International
Katherine Smith-Dedrick specializes in insurance protection and recovery for policyholders on a national level as a partner at Childress Duffy Goldblatt. She also is a founding member of Risk Assessment & Transfer International, a risk consulting company dedicated to bringing risk and insurance expertise to the table exclusively for corporate and sophisticated policyholders. In 1996, she founded and served as the inaugural chairwoman for Women for Achievement, which provides career mentoring and scholarships for female high school seniors. She has received the Mercedes Mentor Award from Mercedes Benz, Chicago Magazine and the Chicago Junior Women's League, and the Women with Vision award from the Women's Bar Association for her promotion of women in business.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE INDUSTRY: "I am a lawyer and I do the consulting piece as well. Years ago, I joined a firm and they asked if I was interested in insurance coverage work. I started doing the work and then I met a gentleman just starting out as a claims handler for insurance companies and he asked me to explain some losses. I ended up educating him while (essentially) locked in a conference room for 10 hours. We were discussing environmental waste law because they were starting to get claims. As he rose within his organization, he chose to take me as national counsel. From there I just loved it. Policyholders started asking me to look into situations where they were getting into coverage issues. I had good ties with the insurance industry, so I could usually get it solved. For the past 10 years, I've worked exclusively for corporations and policyholders."
THE BEST ADVICE YOU'VE EVER RECEIVED: "Think out of the box. That has been a key guiding principal for me in how I look at whatever I'm presented with, be it a legal matter or a consulting matter. It allows me to react to my clients' goals and what drives my clients. It allows me to find unique solutions for whomever I happen to be working with at the time."
ADVICE FOR THOSE STARTING IN THE INDUSTRY: "Stay current on changing events. Stay current on the way the fabric of society is starting to shift on regulator and legal changes. All those things put together are a precursor for the type of risks they are going to need to watch out for on the horizon. If they can do that in advance, they are going to be of great service for whomever they work for."
WHAT YOU WANTED TO BE PROFESSIONALLY WHILE GROWING UP: "I wanted to be three totally diverse things--a doctor, and dancer and screenwriter. I think that goes to my out-of-the-box thinking. I totally use those two parts of my brain in a unique way. "
Business Insurance’s Women to Watch feature is our attempt to identify some of the women who do outstanding work in commercial insurance, risk management,employee benefits and related fields.