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Agency Nation Meets: Joan Woodward

Joan Woodward is president of the Travelers Institute and the trailblazing host of the “Wednesdays with Woodward" webinar series.
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agency nation meets: joan woodward

Get to know the individuals that ignite the insurance industry as they answer our icebreaker questions.

In 2009, Alan Schnitzer, CEO of Travelers, asked Woodward to create a public policy division for the company. She started the Travelers Institute and has led thoughtful and constructive conversations about challenges facing the industry.

Fast forward to 2020, Woodward became a trailblazer again with the “Wednesdays with Woodward" webinar series, which started as a pandemic pivot and has grown into one of the most impactful programs in the Institute's history. Each week, Woodward and her team invite leaders to appear on weekly webinars that address pressing topics at the intersection of insurance, business and public interest, covering everything from the economy to geopolitical risks to lessons in leadership.

Joan, thanks for joining us! So, who was your first celebrity crush?

It was a tie between David Cassidy and John Travolta.

Speaking of music, if you could travel back in time to see a band play live, who would it be and why?

I would see Prince again—he was my first concert at the age of 16.

So, what is your favorite season and why?

All of the seasons. Winter, so I can ski. Spring and fall, so I can golf. And summer, so I can spend time with my family and water ski at our lake house.

That's one way to answer the question, I guess. You golf?

I love sports, especially golf, which is why I helped establish SHEGolfs at Travelers in 2022. In the past six months, we've held 15 clinics and taught more than 200 women in insurance how to golf.

Awesome! This industry really needs more golfers ... but we get it. Where would you go during a zombie apocalypse?

Wherever there are no zombies.

That's cheating. I hope you don't cheat at golf too. Do you have any tattoos?

Not yet.

Never say never! What phrase or cliché do you most live by?

Always take a risk on yourself.

Hopefully you don't ask that of your insureds. If you could appear on any show, which one would you choose?

“Dancing with the Stars." I had to take tap and ballet lessons growing up. I could put those to good use.

As you grew up, what is the moment that you realized you were an adult?

Coming home from college my freshman year, I got a flat tire while driving my 10-year-old Dodge Omni in the pouring rain. I unloaded my entire dorm room contents on the side of the road and changed the tire!

And if you could stop aging at any age, what age would it be?

90 years old with no wrinkles.

And hopefully a few tattoos at that point. What's one thing you can't say no to?

An agent or broker who asks me to speak at one of their conferences or events.

We can't stand people who say no to speaking at those things, so you're welcome here anytime. What's your biggest pet peeve?

People who are not efficient or frugal—I don't like to waste time or money.

Time is money. Lastly, what's something you're looking forward to?

This year's lineup of “Wednesdays with Woodward" webinars. We are having conversations with speakers that will cover the hottest issues of importance to the property & casualty industry and beyond.

We'll be tuning in! Thanks, Joan!

This is a new monthly column for Independent Agent magazine and To be featured, email

Wednesday, November 1, 2023
Diversity & Inclusion