Women’s History Month: Celebrating Women at Work

BY LINDSEY GRIZZELLE, SENIOR COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER

 

Maria del Consuelo Kerford working at her desk as an assistant underwriter in the late 1930s.Maria del Consuelo Kerford working at her desk as an assistant underwriter in the late 1930s.

 

It was June 4, 1934, at USAA’s offices on Grayson Street when the woman who would become USAA’s first female officer walked into the building near Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. She arrived as a temporary worker, not a high-profile start to what became a 42-year USAA career.

 

“It was during the depression, and I needed a job,” said Maria del Consuelo Kerford. “For the first three months at USAA, I was checking policies before they were mailed. Those three months seemed like three years.”

 

Thankfully, she stuck it out and soon found herself doing much more engaging work for a company that respected talented women — and put them in charge of key areas. 

 

In the late 1940s, Kerford was elevated to the post of secretary to the Board of Directors and Executive Committee. 

 

first-female-VPs2.jpgUltimately Kerford would go on to be elected USAA’s secretary in 1956 — the first woman to serve as an officer of the corporation, and one of the first at any insurer. Due to USAA’s then-policy of restricting the title of “vice president” to former military officers, she had to wait five more years to become one of the company’s first three female vice presidents — alongside Stuart Gwyn and Meta Nemkey Willis.

 

In the decades since, those pioneering women have been followed by a parade of others in key leadership and executive roles. Moving into our next 100 years, USAA will continue to celebrate the contributions and advancements of women. By driving inclusive behaviors that address unconscious bias, we can foster a strong talent pool and enable women to maximize their potential.

 

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