Employee Spotlight: Shannon Lastyona, Underwriting Manager

Shannon is no stranger to AMERIND, having worked with the organization for 20 years and counting. What started as a temporary position for the company turned into an internship opportunity while attending New Mexico State University.

In 2003, Shannon was offered a permanent position with AMERIND as a Claims Technician. Growing up in the tribal community of Zuni, the job was eye-opening as she learned about all the tribes AMERIND served throughout Indian Country.

“Throughout my internship, I dabbled in many different areas and got to see what each department did. There was always something new to learn,” she explained. “I had to learn a lot from a business aspect because I had never worked within an organization before.”

Working in the claims department for 14 years as a Claims Technician and Claims Representative, Shannon had to acquire the ability to balance the emotional strain of her work as she handled customer claims and collected necessary information from individuals who were experiencing considerable loss and hardship.

“Anytime someone is filing a claim, something unfortunate has happened,” she explains. “Someone’s calling because their house burnt down, and they’ve lost everything they own. I had to develop communication

skills that showed empathy and compassion for our customers when taking those types of calls.”

Currently, Shannon serves as the Underwriting Manager, responsible for overseeing the department and the pricing of commercial, workers comp, and homeowners’ insurance policies. She says the transition from distributing insurance proceeds in claims to collecting premiums in underwriting and managing a team has pushed her outside her comfort zone, but she’s risen to the challenge.

As Shannon reflected on her years at AMERIND, she says another challenge has been the company’s rapid growth, often exceeding expectations. AMERIND has had to quickly adapt and expand product offerings, services, and coverage, to meet the increasing needs of Indian Country over the years.

“We were expected to grow at a certain rate each year,” she explains, “But we exceeded expectations and grew faster than anticipated. That’s good, however one of the challenges was making sure we continued to adequately service every account by leaning on the team, our operating systems, and procedures through those transitions.”

Shannon says one of the best aspects of working for AMERIND has been the opportunity to visit almost every Tribal community they serve. She’s experienced many Native cultures and homelands. “One trip that stands out is when I saw the Northern Lights as I was arriving in Montana late one night, during my four-hour drive from the airport to the hotel,” she shared. “The experience was even more memorable when I learned the next day, that in some cultures, the lights represent past ancestors dancing in the sky and that to look at them directly is taboo. This is related to our cultural beliefs in Zuni as well.”

Shannon says the past two decades with AMERIND have been an incredible journey that has provided her the ability to immerse herself in Indian County, an opportunity she knows wouldn’t be available elsewhere. She looks forward to what’s yet to come.

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