Kids’ Chance of Florida, Inc., the scholarship organization dedicated to helping children of seriously injured workers, held its quarterly board meeting in Tampa last week. It was a meeting filled with what you might expect at such an event; discussions about finances, strategy and policy dominated the day. It was not, however, without its fair amount of lighthearted and jovial discussion. The KCFL board, you see, is a group that is firmly committed to meeting the Kids’ Chance mission and recognizes that our work is changing lives. It is an easy idea to get behind, and most on the board are founding members. 4 years in we are as dedicated as ever to see it through. It also helps that we all seem to like each other and get along well. 

It’s probably the positive outcomes we are seeing that helps those relationships along.

For me this meeting represented a rather significant change. It was the annual meeting where we elect directors and officers, and my two-year reign as president of this fine organization came to an end. I happily handed the gavel to Linda Vendette, Vice-President at The Zenith Insurance Company. She will do a terrific job in her new role as leader of the organization.

I was the second person to serve as president of KCFL, replacing Founding President Ray Neff in 2017. We have continued to grow since our inception in December of 2015, to the point where we have already distributed $100,000 in scholarships. We also this past year hosted the Kids’ Chance of America National Conference, the youngest organization in the Kids’ Chance ecosystem to ever do so. It was a great success, and our reputation as a solid and successful scholarship organization is secure. I am very proud to look back on the accomplishments we had during my presidency, and many people have complimented me for the results we achieved.

But I’m going to tell you a little secret. It wasn’t me.

No, I will only take credit for one thing. It is something, if I do say so myself, I did exceedingly well. I surrounded myself with good people; people who are in fact better than me. As my vice-president, Linda Vendette was the “power behind the throne;” the Prime Minister to a hapless and often distracted king. Our treasurer, Kimberly Helwig, Strategic Planning Manager at NCCI, was exceptional in her role, with an impressive commitment and command of our financials. She also had the task of coordinating our terrific Ambassadors in the state, which she did quite well. Our Secretary, David Langham, Deputy Chief Judge for the Florida Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims, is a machine (really, I think he is a machine. I don’t think the guy ever sleeps). No one could do a better job of keeping track of all our records and keeping us on the straight and narrow regarding our compliance requirements. 

Stacy Hosman, Principal at Hosman & Associates as well as Executive Director of the WCCP continued the herculean task of Scholarship Chair, one of the most demanding positions on the board. What can I say? She just flat-out owned it. Vendette, Helwig and Hosman were also the ones who made our national conference the success that it was.

One of the strong tenets established at the outset for KCFL was a commitment to a leadership track that provides continual development and rotation of board officers. While our bylaws dictate one-year terms for the top officers, the standard KCFL has unofficially adopted is to have each officer hold position for two years. This seems to allow for a continuity in service, while still preventing leadership from becoming stagnant. For Kids’ Chance operations all over the country (each one is state specific), establishing and maintaining effective boards has been one of the more vexing challenges. Where an individual has been allowed or required to maintain the role of president for many years, the board they serve tends to wither and weaken. Our method of rotating top officers through the ranks gives a path of development and prevents a drain of leadership strength. 

The other factor that has led to our success is that we have established a balanced board, that represents many sectors and interests within the workers’ compensation industry. This has provided a balance and perspective that lets the group think outside the restrictive box that can exist when too many people from one industry dominate the group. And all of our KCFL directors have contributed to that balance and supported the organization in a variety of ways. From financial support to outreach or assistance with promotional support, they all contribute and strengthen the organization.

They are:

Jim McConnaughhay, Workers’ Compensation Institute
Dr. Kerry Maher, Brooks Health
Ken Eichler, ODG by MCG
Geoff Bichler, Bichler & Longo, PLLC
Andrew Sabolic, Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation
William Rogner, HR Law
Jane Ann Nolte-Weiner, Medical Management & Reemployment
Pamela Jennings, PepsiCo
Ray Neff, Neff and Associates

We also have very talented and supportive Ambassadors. They include Tammy Boyd, Bardavon, Marc Kaufman, Medval, Shawn Twiss and Ronda Clement, Paradigm, Shay Velsor, OneCall and Jonathan Simpson, Nova Case Management.

The leadership track for officers of KCFL is designed to bring a person through several roles before they become president of the organization. It runs from Secretary, to Treasurer, to Vice-President and then President. Looking at our current officers in position, I can feel very comfortable knowing that with Linda Vendette, Stacy Hosman and Kimberly Helwig in the leadership track, the office I just left will be in extremely capable hands for the next several years (Judge Langham will not advance beyond the Secretary position due to fundraising restrictions of his position).

Working with all of the people on the KCFL board for such a worthy cause has been an absolute pleasure, and the end results make all of the efforts worthwhile. Even though my time as president has passed, I look forward to continuing on the board of KCFL for the foreseeable future. There is still much to do. I’m glad that I am working with a caliber of people that assures we will get it all done.

BTW – if you would like to learn more about Kids’ Chance of Florida, or donate to the cause, you may do so at

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