Angela Blair ’86 was selected as a fellow in the National African-American Women’s Leadership Institute (NAAWLI) Class of 2007. A NAAWLI fellowship recognizes African-American women who have achieved success in their chosen field or volunteer activities and have the potential to become a significant force for positive change in their community and professional field. Angela resides in Bloomington, Ill., where she is an executive assistant in the State Farm systems department.
Children look for grownups to show them how to live, and Angela Blair’s childhood in Pittsburgh was no exception. She remembers her father balancing several jobs while going to college at night and on weekends so that he could make a better life for his family.
“I believe watching him work to achieve his goals gave me a greater value for the importance of higher education,” said Blair. “My family taught me the importance of family unity, education, striving to succeed, and giving back to the community.”
NAAWLI recognizes the supportive role African-American women have traditionally assumed in every aspect of American life. The organization seeks emerging women leaders who will commit themselves and their leadership talents to constructive change in the black community. NAAWLI fellows have a passionate desire to make a difference in the communities where they live and work.
As a NAAWLI fellow, Blair will jump right in by attending an orientation session in Dallas, Tex. During that session, fellows will consider leadership needs within their hometowns and share their personal commitment to making a difference through a community service project they will steward.
Blair’s project is to organize a reading program for first through fifth grade students in the African-American community within the Bloomington/Normal, Ill., area. “The project will educate students on the importance of reading, and it will involve both parents and children reading together on a regular basis,” she explained.
Blair noted that a recent town hall survey indicated a number of African-American students have reading scores below the national average. She wants to assist in closing this reading achievement gap. Blair proposed partnering with the McLean County Urban League and working with school administrators and counselors to identify students who have the need to enhance their reading skills.
Her reading program will include conducting workshops with parents to provide tips on encouraging reading, asking participants to read at least one book per month, and sharing success stories. The goal is for books to be provided at no charge to the children enrolled in the program, and their reward is keeping the books so they can be shared with friends. Remembering the strength of her father as an example, Blair said, “I am committed to learning ways to build on my existing strengths to better serve and improve my community.”
Blair joined State Farm in 1986 as a claim representative in the Pittsburgh North claims office. She held several claim management positions in Pennsylvania, Florida, and South Carolina before being named Claims Section Manager in 1997 in the Concordville, Pa., office. She moved to corporate headquarters in Bloomington in 2002 as an analyst and joined the systems department as a fire systems manager in 2004. She has earned four distinguished insurance designations: Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriting (CPCU), Chartered Life Underwriting (CLU), Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), and Associate in Claims (AIC). She also earned an M.B.A. from the University of Illinois in 2004.
“I am honored to be chosen as a NAAWLI fellow, and I look forward to the whole NAAWLI experience,” said Blair. “I believe the knowledge I will gain and the relationships I will forge in the next year will help me appreciate the talents others bring to a corporate environment and instill even greater civic responsibility within my personal life.”