Monday, September 11, 2023

Jim Lewis (BBA83), a longtime leader in insurance innovation, is the new executive director of the Vaughan Institute of Risk Management and Insurance at the Tippie College of Business.

“I’m thrilled to join the outstanding team at the Vaughan Institute and Tippie’s entire Risk Management and Insurance program,” said Lewis. “I love the institute’s mission of inspiring and equipping the next generation of insurance leaders with the skills and experiences they need to make the world safer and smarter.”

jim lewis portrait
Jim Lewis

Founded in 2002, the Vaughan Institute provides innovative education, research and thought leadership in the field of risk management and insurance (RMI) regionally, nationally, and globally. Its goal is to strengthen and support the state’s insurance industry, the largest non-agriculture economic sector in Iowa employing 65,000 people, while providing educational and experiential learning opportunities for students planning to pursue RMI as a career.

Lewis is well-known in the Des Moines insurance industry, having co-founded or led numerous insurance and insurance technology (insurtech) companies in Central Iowa, including Benjamin® and Relationship Marketing. He is currently the alumni director of the Global Insurance Accelerator, an international insurance incubator for insurtech start-ups, based in Des Moines.

Lewis is also well connected to the university. A Des Moines native, he graduated from Tippie in 1983, later taught in the MBA program, and has served on various university alumni advisory boards.  His company, Benjamin, was selected as the Alumni Business of the Year by the university’s John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (Iowa JPEC).

Thomas Berry-Stoelzle, associate professor of finance and faculty director of the risk management and insurance program, said Lewis’ deep connections within the industry will be key in helping the institute expand its vision further outward to help Tippie students and the state’s insurance economy.

“He’s a great communicator and very passionate about the insurance industry,” said Berry-Stoelzle. “We’re confident he can continue to build the Vaughan Institute’s reputation with insurance company executives and business school leaders and help bring new career-ready talent into the state’s insurance industry.

David Ernst, executive director of strategic partnerships at Tippie, said Lewis will help students build connections with insurance leaders through guest speakers, experiential learning opportunities, and participation in case competitions, office visits, and other events.

“Jim has successfully started and exited several insurtech businesses, and his strong links to regional and national insurance executives and thought-leaders will help our students get hands-on experience and provide potential career opportunities,” Ernst said.

Lewis said a well-educated, creative workforce is critical for insurance companies in coming years, as climate change, rising risks, and reduced profitability continue to put pressure on the industry to adapt.

“My job will be to make sure that our students are career-ready,” he said. “We’re going to provide a collaborative innovation platform for our ecosystem where we can ask questions, listen, and learn what employers need now and in the future, and propose real-world solutions that the university can provide.”

I couldn’t be more excited to welcome Jim to the Vaughan Institute. His vision for the college, the industry and the State of Iowa is bold and inspiring,” said Amy Kristof-Brown, Tippie dean.

Lewis replaces Terri Vaughan, who is stepping down as professional director of the institute but will continue to serve as a member of its advisory board.

“Terri is a visionary leader who reimagined how our program can and should engage with all our stakeholders, including our students, alums and industry partners,” said Berry-Stoelzle. “We cannot thank her enough for setting us on a growth trajectory.”

Media contact: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010 (o); 319-541-8434 (c);