To celebrate Black History Month, the Loudoun Chamber’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Accessibility Committee is spotlight several members of the Chamber. Today’s spotlight is on Chamber Ambassador Veneé Galloway, of Brock Norton Insurance Agency. To view all DEIA spotlights, click here.
Where were born and raised and, if it was someplace else, when and why did you come to Loudoun?
I was born in Fairfax Co. but raised in Prince William. Went to Stonewall High School (Unity Reed now) and then off to Lawrence University in WI where I earned a B.A. in Political Science. I grew up on Linton Hall from the time I was 3 until 25 when I purchased my first property in Ashburn (less the 1 year I lived in London after graduation). I have been a Loudoun resident ever since. (Thanks Dave Jones!)
How long have you been in the industry?
I have been in the insurance space since 2015 when I opened my own agency. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter, my dad fell ill and I decided I could always open another business, but I can never get another dad. About a year later I closed shop and started working solely in Commercial P&C. Since then, I have been working with middle-market businesses nationwide educating and advocating for the owners, their employees and customers alike.
How did you get into this line of work?
In 2010 my mom had a mild stroke. As she had a masters in nursing we all looked to her to assist with decisions on her care. The doctors then recommended a procedure to determine where the blockage was, and she and my dad agreed. Regrettably, she had an allergic reaction to the anesthesia and fell into a coma before they could begin. Within a week she was gone. 6-months later, my sister who was diagnosed with Lupus went into organ failure and died within 3 days of being hospitalized. Luckily, we were able to use a portion the proceeds from my mom’s life insurance to pay for my sister’s final expenses. Naturally, when my uncle passed a few short months later, I did not understand why they were crowdfunding for the funeral. My dad had to explain to me that many minority communities did not have access to the financial tools that come with higher education and access to better jobs. I felt in that moment that everyone deserved the right to mourn the loss of their loved ones without the financial pressure of the world continuing to move forward. So I decided to sell life insurance and start an agency in 2015.
Have you had any special mentors or inspirations that guided your career?
I have had several mentors that have helped me figure out commercial insurance and how to advocate for myself in an industry where there are not many who look like me, respect me or understand me or my background. Every industry presents its challenges, but the financial sector is unique in that there were many barriers for entry (non-paid internships, industry specific course work, commission only compensation, etc.) that narrow the field for those without safety nets, dual income households or trust funds. So when I committed to a career in insurance, I promised I would be a resource to those who needed guidance and mentorship.
What is the best part of your job and why?
I do what I do because I love helping people. After completing my CPCU, I invited some friends out to my 3rd Friday improv show at Stagecoach Theater. My best friend was there with her husband and in-laws who greeted me post show with a bottle of champagne as a congratulations. After explaining what the designation was, I found out they were renewing in 7 days and were still waiting on quotes! Of course, I jumped in to offer my services and started working on it the next day. Long story short, the other 5 brokers had 3 months to review and I came in with only 5 days of prep to win the business with a savings of over $20,000 and broader coverage. We all love a win, but especially when you take the extra time and care to do it right and show up for your insureds when they need you most.
What is it like doing business in Loudoun?
Doing business in Loudoun feels you’re marketing to 2 different countries within miles of each other. The Eastern side of the county is bustling with growth and technology. Like anywhere, growth and innovation can lead to some aches and pains, but I feel this area is uniquely suited for continued expansion. The Western side is deeply routed in tradition and their rural identity. The focus is more on agribusiness and preservation. There is definitely room for both with the understanding that change is the only constant in life, and we learn to appreciate and respect both vantage points. Loudoun is not without its issues and much like the broader backdrop of the United States, is still reconciling its past with its vision of the future, and we hope that everyone’s voice will have the opportunity to be heard.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History Month was every month in my house growing up. I was read to sleep with stories of Mae Jemison, Ida B. Wells, and Huey Newton. My parents were passionate about preserving our culture and our stories at home because they weren’t being taught in the classrooms. But it is too easy to separate these heroes as other, but they are very much American. Black History in this country is American History. They are not separate and distinct, but one total picture of the same history. To carve out parts that are painful or uncomfortable is doing a disservice to the wellbeing of this nation and its future.
Favorite things to do when you are not working?
I enjoy comedy because the best jokes come from those who are really paying attention to the world around them and the subtle nuances of everyday life. I also love to travel, I have been to several countries (see photo above in London) but open to suggestions as my list continues to wane.
Thank you Veneé for all you do for the Chamber, as an Ambassador and LeadShare President!