Magazine article Risk Management

The Sky Is the Limit

Magazine article Risk Management

The Sky Is the Limit

Article excerpt

As a flight attendant, Cheryl Johnson never imaged that she would be working in risk management. After 10 years with Braniff Airlines, however, the company went bankrupt and she found employment as a claims adjuster with Safety Insurance Company (Safeco). Three years later, Johnson moved on to Electronic Data Systems where she spent five years as a risk analyst and risk manager and two years at Baylor Medical Center as a risk manager. Now with the Dallas Independent School District, Johnson has spent the past 18 years as director and executive director of risk management.

The Dallas Independent School District (ISD) is the 12th largest school district in the nation, with a diverse student population of more than 150,000. Additionally, the Dallas ISD has more than 19,000 employees, making it one of the largest employers in the city. "When an entity covers 384 square miles, has 257 facilities and over 20,000 employees, it is often difficult to get your arms around the risk," says Johnson. For instance, in the controlled insurance program alone, they often saw over 80 sites under construction or in the renovation process at a time.

As risk manager for the Dallas ISD, Johnson is directly responsible for property and casualty insurance, the self-insured workers compensation program and the safety program. Additionally, she oversees vehicle accidents, a rolling owner-controlled insurance program and unemployment compensation. She has also assisted in training for emergency operations planning.

Johnson reports to the executive director of finance and eight employees report to her. "District management understands the need for risk management to be close to the financial functions of the district, and as such, our department was recently moved from business operations to the finance department," she says.

Johnson was responsible for developing Dallas ISD's risk management department and during the first few years she spent most of her time trying to get a handle on the risk. Additionally, she took on a number of the responsibilities that brokers had done in the past in order to help reduce costs.

Since then, Johnson has added insurance limits, expanded coverage and increased deductibles. "New exposures and new programs and curriculum require constant assessment," says Johnson. …

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