Celebrating the Women of Empyrean

Celebrating the Women of Empyrean

Women’s Equality Day commemorates August 26, 1920, the day the 19th amendment was signed into law giving women the right to vote in the United States.

Today and every day, we celebrate the women who make Empyrean great. We asked some of these amazing women to reflect about what workplace gender equality means to them and to share their perspectives on everything from women who have inspired them to advice they would give anyone growing their own careers.

Colleen Waymel
Chief Operating Officer
Empyrean team member since 2012

What does Women’s Equality Day mean to you?

Women’s Equality Day means taking time from our busy lives to remember, be thankful, and celebrate the incredible distance we have (all!) come and the remarkable people and events that have made that progress possible. 

It means acknowledging the many incredible people – women and men – who have inspired us to be who we are today. And it means keeping our sights set on the future that we need to aspire to achieve for ourselves and for our children and grandchildren.

Who are some females that have inspired you during your life – both personally and professionally?

There are so many amazing women I can point to, but my grandmother and mother stand out as they were both STRONG working professionals, great moms (but not perfect people), and anything but conventional. 

I grew up never questioning my opportunities as a woman because I saw the two of them doing what they did with so much class, strength, and care. My grandmother was a college graduate, a divorcee (when divorce wasn’t prevalent), and independent working mother of two. To add to the mix, my father worked from home (before working from home was a thing) so he could be with my three siblings and me while my mother worked outside the home in an active career in politics.

What moment made you most proud to be a woman of Empyrean?

I am proud to introduce myself as COO of Empyrean and to be in a position of influence over such a great organization and team of people. I recognize there is still room for continued growth for more women at Empyrean, and my role gives me the unique opportunity to represent others and show strength for women in leadership – not just at Empyrean but in the market as well.

I’m incredibly proud to not only represent Empyrean, but also all women with the hope that I am inspiring someone in the same way my grandmother and mother inspired me.

What does workplace gender equality mean to you?

It means we all freely share our thoughts, views, and opinions without the typical stereotypes associated with gender. It means we find creative ways to support our working parents/caregivers so they can continue to contribute and thrive at work. 

Do you have a special message you’d like to share with the group?  

We all face obstacles of some kind. We can’t always control what happens around us, and we may not fully eliminate the obstacles, but we should never let them stand in our way. This quote from Christian D. Larson says it all – “Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.”

Trisha Martinez
Team Manager, Service Center
Empyrean team member since 2015

What does women’s equality mean to you?

To me, women’s equality means that I can be who I am as a person and not feel like I am beneath anyone else. I can express my values and passions, and ultimately meet my individual goals without facing the stigma that I cannot do something just because I am a woman.

Who are some females that have inspired you?

My mother has been my biggest inspiration. I would not be the dedicated, hardworking, and intelligent woman I am today without her continuous support. Growing up, my mother transitioned from a stay-at-home mom to a hard-working woman in the workforce holding multiple jobs. Seeing her grow and achieve her goals inspired me to be the best version of myself – and made me realize that I can achieve anything I set out to do in life.

What’s something (in life or at work) that makes you feel empowered?

I feel empowered by positivity. Whether that’s in the workplace or not, giving and receiving positivity every day boosts my motivation and pushes me to do better and go farther than I have before.

Valenda Chancey
Compliance Manager
Empyrean team member since 2014

Who are some women that have inspired you during your life – both personally and professionally?

Personally, I give full credit to my mother for inspiring me from a young age. She was my first example for how to exhibit grace, tolerance, and patience when facing adversity. (Now, I’m not saying I’m successful in doing all these things at all times, but as the saying goes ‘Momma tried!’)

She was a stay-at-home mom and raised four children while my dad was the ‘breadwinner’. We had much more time with mom as a result, and she provided many life lessons that remain ingrained in me today. 

Professionally, I vividly remember the first time I had a female manager early in my career. It was in the 80’s, when it wasn’t as common to see women in leadership roles. My manager was the only female Vice President in the company, and her reputation preceded her – she was tough!

In hindsight, I recognize that she was tough for good reason. She led her team by example – always. She was a great mentor at a time when we still wore business suits to work daily, complete with closed toe high heel shoes and hose! While times (and dress codes!) have changed, the work ethic and life skills I learned early on, from two great women, still inspire me today.

How has workplace gender equality evolved during your career? 

Goodness – where do I start?!? Things have evolved and changed significantly from when my career began to now! 

I think we’re seeing more positive changes play out in a big way in recent years, with actions such as not requiring gender designation at all, or making it an optional disclosure on everything from surveys, to job applications, to benefit election sites.  

What moment made you most proud to be a woman of Empyrean?

I just realized my 8-year anniversary working with Empyrean earlier this month. I use the word ‘with’ rather than ‘at’ or ‘for’ because my experience here has consisted of (and continues to involve) collaboration with so many different teams and talented co-workers. There’s the saying, “there is no ‘I’ in teamwork.” In my experience at Empyrean, there is no gender relevance in teamwork either. We are all working toward one common goal, and that’s to provide our clients with stellar service.

Vinita Tyagi
Benefits, Compensation, & HRIS Manager
Empyrean team member since 2017

As our Benefits, Comp & HRIS Manager, is workplace equity important in the work you do? If so, why?

I think that compensation and benefits are the lead indicators of how much value a company puts on workplace equity. Our policies and practices are guiding us to ensure that Empyrean is a place where a woman (or for that matter any individual) can come in and put in their best work without being held back by their gender identity.

I can proudly say working at Empyrean each day I am able to reinstate our organization’s belief in workplace equity.

Who are some women who have inspired you?

I have been privileged to know many strong women in my life. Some are part of my family, others are close friends, some I have known professionally and have the honor to work with. Each of these women have inspired me, taught me, and guided me in the interactions I have had with them.  

Do you have a special message you’d like to share with the group?

To all my fellow ladies – the strength that we seek is within us. Spend your energy and resources in developing yourself and not in external validation.

Olivia Lopez
Sr. IT Project Manager
Empyrean team member since 2022

Who are some females that have inspired you?

My mother and older sister have inspired me so much. My mother always taught us to be strong women and encouraged us to do and pursue whatever we wanted to in life. She supported us every step of the way – including whatever decisions we made professionally and in our personal life.

My sister is one of the strongest people I know. She has worked tremendously hard – and continues to work hard – for everything she has earned in life. She is one of the first few Spanish captioners in the U.S. and also owns her own successful business!

What moment made you most proud to be a woman of Empyrean?

Honestly, the day I was offered this position. Knowing Empyrean believed in me enough to come into a new EMPO to manage a variety of complex projects was an incredibly meaningful day for me.

Do you have any advice for women entering career paths / industries that have been historically male dominated?

Don’t doubt your worth or your own potential to achieve your goals. No matter what obstacle you may face, you can get through it if you work hard enough and want it bad enough.

What is the most important piece of advice you were given during your career?

This may seem simple, but these words of advice from a CIO that I previously worked under have stuck with me throughout my career – “Be intentional in whatever you do.”

Carla Kimble
Sr. Implementation Manager
Empyrean team member since 2016

What does workplace gender equality mean to you?

Workplace gender equality means that everyone has access to the same opportunities, and that those opportunities are based on your qualifications, abilities, and contributions – not your gender.

Who are some females that have inspired you?

My grandmother and mom are my biggest inspirations. They both became mothers in their teens, but they didn’t let that stop them from accomplishing their goals. They both attended college and surpassed all the stereotypes that one would project on a teen mom.

My grandmother became the first black RN in neurosurgery at the VA hospital in Dallas, TX, and my mom has traveled to over 14 different countries as a PM. Both while married and raising their children. They are the epitome of perseverance and proof of just how much you can accomplish with a lot of hard work and determination.

What is your proudest Empyrean work accomplishment?

My proudest work accomplishment at Empyrean is not limited to one moment. I feel like my role as an Implementation Manager suits me perfectly in that each successful go-live/project completion is an accomplishment.

Every project presents a unique set of challenges. Each challenge presents opportunities. To be able to navigate both with the client to achieve a positive outcome is always an accomplishment.  

Alysah Leos
CSR Lead

Empyrean team member since 2020

What does women’s equality mean to you?

Women’s equality means having the security and support to take up space. Having the freedom to BE and flourish as a human – without social judgement, financial disparity, or fear of harm by others. Being whoever you want to be and being represented.

This includes allowing men to take up space as well, and share responsibility for roles that may have at one time been viewed as outside of “traditional gender roles”. It means supporting others and sharing responsibilities that should not be defined by gender.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Be unapologetically you!

What’s something (in life or at work) that makes you feel empowered?

Learning makes me feel empowered. Whether it’s learning a new client at work, new disc golf techniques, or learning how to better myself as a human. Gaining knowledge and having the ability to pass it on is one of the most rewarding and empowering things I do for myself.

Katie Carroll
Sr. Consumer Marketing Manager
Empyrean team member since 2022

What does Women’s Equality Day mean to you?

It means treating everyone with fairness and respect and recognizing that every single person has unique needs.

It means that my daughters won’t be told something they are passionate about or interested in is “for boys”…like I was.

In your role, you speak directly to participants using our platform. Do you feel like your work helps women overcome inequities in healthcare?

I myself have had trouble navigating the healthcare system in the past, and that has influenced how I guide our participants. For example, I still have large hospital bills for the birth of my second child. I’m also navigating how to cover occupational therapy costs for my 4-year-old.

At a bare minimum, my focus is to ensure that every participant understands what benefits are available to them and how to use them. From there, we can help women learn how to use benefits to their advantage and enable them to thrive both physically and mentally. I think we have become so accustomed to just surviving that we have lost sight of what it means to truly thrive.

As a working mother, how does Empyrean support you?

I’m given the space to not feel pressured to figure out a “work/life balance”. I have many things going on in my life and working for Empyrean is just one of them. Some days this means working during baby nap times or not having to worry when preschool is closed (again) and I have both kids at home. If the work is moving forward, then I am empowered to balance my schedule as needed. I wish every parent had this type of support, especially in the early years of parenthood.

What is the most important piece of advice you were given during your career?

Your voice is your superpower, and your voice is more powerful that you realize.

Speak up, share those new ideas, fail, learn, it’s all part of the human experience. Stop worrying about what people think, they are too busy dealing with their own things anyways. 

Happy Women’s Equality Day!

Pet Insurance Enrollments Surged by 56% in 2022

Pet Insurance Enrollments Surged by 56% in 2022

Today is National Dog Day, which was first celebrated in 2004 across the country to increase awareness about dogs in need of rescue and to encourage pet adoption.

Now celebrated annually on August 26th, members of the 69 million U.S. households who have at least one dog recognize the day by taking to social media to post photos of their pups and share information about local animal shelters and pet rescues. 

As a nation, why are we so obsessed with our pets?

The benefits of pet ownership are evident. According to a pulse survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), 75 percent of pet owners surveyed reported that spending time with their pet helps them manage stress levels while increasing their sense of well-being.

From the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, pets quickly emerged as the ultimate work from home companions. Office closures, social distancing, and lockdowns forced Americans to spend much more time at home, leading to a surge in new pet adoption and ownership across the country.

As of March 2021, more than 23 million American households had brought home a new pet since the start of the pandemic. With more than 70 percent of U.S. households owning pets, the majority of which pay more than $2,000 annually in pet care, many employers are offering supplemental benefits to assist employees with pet care costs.

Data from the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA) shows that there has been yearly double-digit growth in pet insurance enrollments since the mid-2010s. Empyrean’s 2022 enrollment data shows a dramatic 56.37 percent increase in pet care benefit adoption over 2021, with almost 35 percent of plan participants offered the benefit electing coverage.

As more U.S. households welcome pets home each year, employers can expect employees to continue to seek ways to offset the financial costs associated with pet ownership – especially during times of economic uncertainty.

Pet Benefit Solutions – An Empyrean Preferred Partner

Pet Benefit Solutions is a valued partner in our carrier network, integrating directly with the Empyrean platform to create simplified administrator and employee benefit experiences. Comprehensive coverage under Pet Benefit Solution’s Total Pet Program includes veterinary care, pet product savings, and pet care services.

There are several key advantages for employers looking to offer pet insurance benefits through Empyrean’s partnership with Pet Benefit Solutions, including:

  • Simple and straightforward employee enrollment directly in the Empyrean platform
  • Easy setup and streamlined administration
  • Coverage for all pets with no pre-existing condition exclusions, waiting periods, or deductibles
  • Flat rate family pet plan coverage for multiple pets
  • Simple billing processes with no reconciliation needed
  • High employee participation and engagement rates

Please contact our team at info@goempyrean.com with any questions regarding the Empyrean platform or our ability to integrate with your preferred pet insurance carrier.

Happy National Dog Day!

Empyrean Adds Kelly Knick to Channel Enablement Group  

Empyrean Adds Kelly Knick to Channel Enablement Group  

Houston, TX. [Aug. 19, 2022] Empyrean (www.goempyrean.com), a leading technology and service-focused employee benefits administration provider, has announced that Kelly Knick has joined the growing organization as a Director of Channel Enablement. In this role, Knick will focus on building and nurturing broker and carrier relationships across the country.

“Kelly has been a wonderful addition to our organization and has been able to make an immediate impact with our broker partners and carriers,” said Chris Rossi, Empyrean’s VP of Sales. “She will be instrumental in spearheading our channel enablement efforts alongside the rest of our channel enablement team.”

Knick is an industry veteran, spending the majority of her career in the BenAdmin technology and service space. Prior to joining the Empyrean team, she served in sales roles at both Benefitfocus and Nayya.

“I am excited to get to focus on our Channel Partnerships here at Empyrean,” Knick added. “If there is anything I have learned working with large employers, it’s how much value and trust there is in an employer’s established broker and carrier relationships.”

The addition of Knick comes at a time of sustained growth for the organization, including the continued development of strong partnerships across the benefits ecosystem.

Throughout 2022, Empyrean has had a continued focus on creating tailored, personalized, and connected benefit experiences that result in better outcomes for participants, employers, and brokers and advisors across the country. This focus has included the development and enhancement of several Empyrean technologies and services, including updates to employee mobile experiences, rollout of new communication platforms, and enhancements to Pilot+, Empyrean’s decision support and healthcare navigation tool.

Knick earned a B.A. from the University of Maryland.

About Empyrean

Since 2006, Empyrean has provided employers of varying size, industry, and benefit plan complexity with the innovative technology and best in class service necessary to accelerate their benefit strategies and bring their benefit programs to life.

Empyrean’s platform and services were designed to create connected employee benefit experiences that enrich lives, strengthen employer brands, and improve workplace cultures. Focused on total employee health and wellness, Empyrean is dedicated to delivering scalable and tailored experiences that empower participants to better understand, access, and engage with their benefit programs not just at enrollment time, but on a year-round basis.

Today, more than 4.6 million participants across the U.S. rely on Empyrean’s cutting-edge platform and top-notch support teams to inform and guide their benefit enrollment and utilization decisions.

Headquartered in Houston, TX, Empyrean has additional office locations in Minneapolis, MN and Nashville, TN, as well as remote teams located throughout the U.S.

Empyrean is a subsidiary of Securian Financial (www.securian.com).

Brienne Driscoll
Head of Content & Communications

Empyrean Announces EVOLVE\23 – April 12 – 14 in Savannah, GA

Empyrean Announces EVOLVE\23 – April 12 – 14 in Savannah, GA

Connecting Benefits, Enriching Lives

Empyrean is excited to announce that EVOLVE\23 will be held from April 12-14 at Savannah’s Hyatt Regency along the city’s historical riverfront.

The theme for our upcoming EVOLVE conference is “Connecting Benefits, Enriching Lives”, a topic closely aligned with our mission to deliver optimized and connected benefit experiences to the over 4.6 million people who rely on the Empyrean platform every day.

Conference programming will be developed and presented by HR and benefits industry experts, with content anchored around the realities that employee populations are made up of real people, each with a unique background and personal story. These stories determine what employees need from their benefits program to thrive both inside and outside of work.

Our dynamic sessions will provide participants with the strategies and insights they need to tackle the ongoing challenges tied to supporting individual benefit needs while also addressing populations with economic efficiency.

EVOLVE\23 will also explore how to ensure employees understand how to choose and use their benefits, including how to create personalized, connected, life-enriching benefit experiences that result in high levels of employee trust, psychological safety, and physical wellness, all leading to happy, energized employees and successful organizations. 

DATE: April 12-14, 2023
Hyatt Regency – Savannah, GA

Event registration will open in Fall 2022, and additional conference details will be shared at that time. For now, we invite our clients to mark your calendars for this engaging event!