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Getting injured workers back on their feet and volunteer work are two things Debra Livingston feels good about.
That’s why she and her partner combined the two concepts to create a program that has provided nonprofit organizations with 4.5 million hours of volunteer work performed by workers who might otherwise be home. For example, a truck driver who was in an accident and isn’t well enough to drive can get out of the house by volunteering, with his company — which benefits from the worker’s improved state of mind, among other pluses — paying him to volunteer.
Launched in 2007, the program Transition2Work grew out of Ms. Livingston’s background in workers compensation case management. In 2003, she co-founded ReEmployAbility Inc. with Frances Ford, who also spent her career in claims for injured workers. ReEmployAbility also provides other return-to-work services, such as overseeing modified duty arrangements.
“Because we came from the claims environment, we recognized that the way the industry thought about (return to work) was wrong, and we wanted to change the way the industry considered return to work with having compassion for the worker,” she said. “It made such sense that you would work within your community with organizations that are there to help others while you are helping yourself (get better).”
Ms. Livingston oversees the company’s financial planning, accounting systems, and procurement of goods, equipment and insurance products, and provides oversight of its information technology infrastructure and data management practices.
She started her insurance career as a claims adjuster for Aetna Inc.’s former property/casualty operations. Later, she became a broker consultant for Wells Fargo Insurance Services USA Inc. She has served on the board of directors for the Association of Workers’ Compensation Claims Professionals for many years, and was president of the group for six years.
Jim Greer, Tampa-based President of AE21 Inc., an insurance consulting firm, has known Ms. Livingston since 1992 and was a friend when the idea for ReEmployAbility emerged. “(They) started the business and took it places no one would ever dream,” he said. “From the moment I met her, she was a standout and always was.”
The Women to Watch awards program has been significantly expanded this year.