Jerald L . Tillman, JL Tillman Insurance Agency/National African American Insurance Association
JL TILLMAN INSURANCE AGENCY/NATIONAL AFRICAN AMERICAN INSURANCE ASSOCIATION
Jerald Tillman started in insurance in 1974, joining Aetna right out of college. Among his 46 years of industry accomplishments and experience, it’s his founding of the National African American Insurance Association (NAAIA) in 1997 that stands out to Tillman the most. As he gained experience, his mentor encouraged Tillman to get involved in professional associations, but he found there weren’t many other people of color there. He began mulling the idea for his own association dedicated to increasing the number of African Americans in the industry at all levels, culminating in the creation of NAAIA.
“The mission was to diversify the insurance industry, simply put,” Tillman says. “I would like to feel that NAAIA has made a difference in many careers and will continue to bring more diverse talent into a great industry.” He adds that while progress has been made on diversity initiatives among corporate leadership, there’s still a lot of work to do on the agency development side to attract talented African American professionals.
Tillman’s other major career accomplishment has been building JL Tillman Insurance Agency, “despite all the many challenges I faced as an African American corporate sales manager and business owner breaking new ground in the industry,” he says. “Growing up, I always had the vision of running my own business and being my own boss – I had no clue the insurance industry was my path to success.”