The Journey to My “Why”


I am a 23-year-old woman and I manage one of the only Black owned insurance agencies in New Orleans, LA. Days are often extremes of frustration and pride knowing that I have the opportunity to take a successful business, introduce my vision and direct it where I know it has the potential to go. Like any administrator, I’m responsible for implementing our strategic vision while simultaneously managing personnel and assuring that client’s needs are being met. As this series progresses, I will dive into details of why insurance is such a vital tool that is rarely utilized and how to use it. Before we begin, lets talk about how I got here.

In many ways, this is my birthright.

I grew up in the insurance industry working after school and summers since the age of 11. I was always apprehensive to make insurance my career path, which I can attribute mostly to fear. My grandparents started the Swanson Insurance Agency at a time where there were hardly any Blacks in insurance, let alone ownership, and fought tirelessly to secure a future for our family. The areas where my grandparents and various black businesses flourished have since been covered by interstates and looked over for development, often times intentionally. The mission of Swanson Insurance Agency was to offer a home where Black residents could feel comfort in knowing they were communicating with professionals that understood their needs and cared about their well-being.

Despite my admiration of my grandparent’s values, I tried to find every reason as to why this was not for me. I’m not a sales person (I majored in Accounting so that I wouldn’t have to deal with people) and I defied almost every ounce of guidance my grandfather tried to give me. It was always his intention to create a legacy that could be passed down for several generations. I was so determined to avoid the family business that I even started out as a Veterinary Medicine major in college. Clearly that did not work out; I took one look at the cows and changed my mind. It wasn’t until I completed an internship for Halliburton during my senior year of college that I began to understand the importance of the legacy that my grandparents intended to leave to the family.

While working to fulfill someone else’s vision, I realized that structured hours were not for me and that I had the opportunity to fulfill my own dreams. All I had to do was say YES. This allowed me to acknowledge the lack of Black entrepreneurship in my home town of New Orleans and why it needs me, a young Black professional woman in finance.

Generational wealth, that’s the key. — Jay Z

It’s simple human nature to fear what we don’t understand, which leads to much of the community shying away from learning how to protect their assets and future. Homeownership is typically the first major asset that a young adult acquires. How do we protect this asset? INSURANCE, yet the average person is unaware of how much their house is actually worth and if they have enough coverage to protect this value. Let’s fix this!

My transition into becoming an insurance professional and future agency owner where I am one of a handful of Blacks has not been an easy one, but it is one I embrace. My goal is to show other young minorities that there are endless opportunities to grow in this $1.1 trillion industry.

I invite you to follow me on this journey as I continue to grow in the insurance industry while helping my community learn the value of protecting assets and guaranteeing a prominent future.

Jasmine Henderson