Natalie Sherod, a risk advisor at Cavignac, has been named 2022 Woman of the Year for the Southern California-Hawaii Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) chapter. LLS is the world’s largest voluntary health organization dedicated to fighting blood cancer.
This year, competitors in LLS’s Man and Woman of the Year campaign collectively raised more than $1.5 million to support research for cures and improve treatment access for blood cancer patients. Sherod and her team contributed $274,000 to that total – a feat she called “emotional and exciting”.
“I was kind of in awe when it all ended,” the San Diego insurance professional shared with Insurance Business. “We knew where our team was going into that night [in terms of amount raised], but we didn’t know where anybody else was.”
The achievement marks a special milestone for Sherod: the 10th anniversary of her husband beating Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a rare form of cancer that affects the lymphatic system.
“At the time [of his diagnosis], we were introduced to LLS by our doctors. I didn’t get too involved because we were focused on getting him through the treatment,” Sherod explained.
It wasn’t until six years later that she began to get more involved in the charity organization after a friend’s young daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. Fast forward to 2022 and the same friend, Liberty Mutual division vice president Akbar Khan, was with Sherod on awards night as Man of Year runner-up.
Fundraising is no easy feat, but Sherod said she received extraordinary support – not just from friends and family but from her employer and the San Diego insurance community.
Insurance brokerage firm Cavignac hosted a charity event to aid Sherod’s efforts, inviting many local insurance carriers to participate through sponsorships and attendance. The event generated over $90,000 for Sherod’s campaign.
“It was just amazing to see the community come together. It was a nice way for us to come together and support the greater good,” said Sherod.
If she had one piece of advice for other professionals who want to get into philanthropy, Sherod said: “I would say take the time to learn more about the organizations that can be beneficial.
“We're all busy with our jobs and families, but there is extra time to give back to others. Don’t be scared to talk about it and ask [for support] because people do want to help.”
“I think that we can never underestimate the amount of support people want to give. When I first started talking about my goal, people didn't think it was achievable,” Sherod admitted. Her initial goal was to raise $150,000 during the 10-week campaign.
“I quickly learned that there are so many amazing people that want to support this cause. I think if people advocate for what they believe in, they'll find much more support out there than they anticipated.”
Sherod plans to continue contributing to LLS as a member of the board of trustees. Her efforts will focus on increasing awareness of blood cancer and the organization’s work. According to Sherod, LLS’ funding will be funneled into three areas: research for new treatments and ways to minimize treatment side effects, patient support, and advocacy efforts.
“One of the best things out of this campaign has been raising awareness. Many people I spoke to weren't aware of the advances that have been made because of LLS. If I can continue to push that message out there and get more company involvement, that would be amazing,” said Sherod.
Though she’s not looking to break her fundraising record next year, she said the experience made her more aware of the people skills she uses as an insurance professional.
“The [insurance] industry is heavily driven by relationships. The more we can get out there and create new relationships, the better it is for the industry and our business,” Sherod told Insurance Business.
“Being authentic about things we’re passionate about helps clients see that we will also have the same authenticity when working with them. If I can find a way to deeply connect with my clients and deepen those relationships, that helps me do my job better.”