Kristen Chavez shares her passion for injured worker advocacy
Kristen Chavez shares her passion for injured worker advocacy

I recently caught up with Kristen Chavez, president ,and CEO of WorkCompCentral. You can Tweet her @NchavezKristen. She’s also on Instagram and SnapChat and after that, IDK. Let’s just say she’s well connected on social media!

Kristen has agreed to contribute a monthly post on the topic of injured worker advocacy, a topic that is gaining traction in the workers’ compensation industry. So, grab your favorite beverage, a snack if you like, and spend a few minutes with me and the WCC Pres…

Q: Why is injured worker/claim advocacy important to you?

A: Injured workers are the reason we are all here, in the workers’ compensation industry. I think people forget that. It is the reason David DePaolo launched the Comp Laude® event. He wanted to see the injured worker put back in the center of the conversation. Even I tend to forget sometimes that the reason we do what we do is that there are people that are affected by a work injury. Unfortunately, all too often, it is a negative experience and that tends to be what everyone focuses on…the negative stuff. So I have to remember that WorkCompCentral is not just here to sell a subscription or a product to someone in the industry. I remind myself and the staff to be mindful of “How does what I do today help someone do a better job, so they, in turn, can help someone that really needs it?” An injured worker is ultimately the person who will be affected by interacting with the WC system and I’d like to play a part in making that a more positive experience within our industry.

Q: Why do you think others in the workers’ compensation industry should embrace advocacy for injured workers?

A: Because when you get down to it, we are a benefit delivery system. Our system delivers benefits to people who have been injured on the job. A wise man I know, William Zachry, said…”Advocating for the injured worker is the right thing to do. Period. When we focus on doing what’s right, everyone wins.”

Q: Tell me about some initiatives that you are involved with that have to do with injured worker advocacy.

I support and work with the Alliance of Women in Workers’ Compensation; I work with AWWC to ensure they have a half-day at the Comp Laude® event, an event that WCC produces each year, to do a workshop on whatever topic(s) they want to present. Generally, the discussions they put together have to do with advocating for the injured worker on some level. Last year, the topic was “Rethinking Pain Management” and much of the discussion was focused on advocacy on behalf of the injured worker.

Also, I work with the Kids Chance of California as an advisory council member. I really love working with Kids Chance. For example, Dwight Johnson’s son…Trent…I first met him when Dwight received his first Comp Laude® award as an injured worker in 2014. Seeing him grow into a young man, understanding the struggles he and his family have lived through, and knowing first hand how a Kids Chance scholarship is helping him achieve his academic goals is extremely rewarding for me. I am so proud to participate in this organization that makes this happen for young adults whose lives are severely impacted by a parent’s accident while at work.

In addition, I’m talking to injured workers I have come to know through Comp Laude®. Every year I meet new extraordinary people who have overcome difficult, life-changing injuries and are shining examples of how our industry does wonderful things when it works as it was intended. We are talking about creating a bigger forum/community of injured workers and other industry professionals where they can talk and network with each other, get guidance and feedback that is beneficial not only to them but to other injured workers.

Q: That’s amazing Kristen. So what are your plans for raising awareness of issues related to injured worker advocacy?

I’m making it a point to keep this concept at the center of the Comp Laude® event each year. I want to continue to include injured workers in the discussion there and look for other ways to include them in discussions beyond Comp Laude®. WorkCompCentral will develop webinars and other events that include injured workers; I am seeking to work with other individuals and companies who also want to focus on / raise awareness of injured worker advocacy and how this can be done within the workers’ compensation system. There will be some exciting things announced later this year.

Q: Oh! You are teasing us with what’s to come. In the meantime, what resources are there for professionals in the workers’ compensation industry who want to help contribute to injured worker advocacy?

Here are a few to start. Also, I want readers to know that WorkCompCentral offers free subscriptions to injured workers. Refer them to us and be sure to tell them to let us know they are an injured worker and they’ll be granted free access to our news and information.

In the coming months, I will share additional resources and more ways to get directly involved with advocacy for injured workers.

Thank you, Kristen, for taking a few minutes out of your busy schedule to share with us what’s on your mind about in regards to injured worker advocacy. This is exciting and I can’t wait to hear more from you in the coming months!