Jodie Papa, ’05: Making a Name for Herself
January 3, 2017 by Lisa McMahon, MA'09
At 34, Jodie Papa, ’05, has already achieved success in the male-dominated field of public insurance adjustment. And, although she is following in the footsteps of her father and grandfather, industry icons Ron Papa, ’74, and Frank Papa (president and chairman of National Fire Adjustment Co., Inc., respectively), her path has been forged through hard work and her desire to learn the business from the ground up.
Jodie’s first foray into the family business came when she was a young girl.
“Every Sunday after church, we’d load into the car and spend the day chasing fires with my dad,” she explains. “Watching what he would do to help these people was just amazing, and I really wanted to get into it.”
Over the years, Jodie learned more about the business by going to the office with her dad and eventually traveling with him to out-of-state offices, where she observed how losses like hurricanes and floods were handled. By the time she was in college, she was working for the company on a part-time basis.
“I started off at the bottom,” she says. “I did contents inventory, worked with the accountants here, and helped with loss of income claims, so I really tried to learn all the different areas.”
After graduating from Niagara with an accounting degree, Jodie worked for an investment banking firm in New York City for a year to “broaden (her) horizons” before returning to Buffalo and joining the family business full time. A licensed adjuster since 2006, she was named manager of the NFA’s Buffalo office in 2015. That same year, she was elected secretary and member of the executive board of the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters. In 2017, she was named NAPIA's fourth vice president. She is also a member of the New York Public Adjusters Association.
As a licensed adjuster, Jodie guides homeowners and business owners through the process of submitting insurance claims to maximize their settlement after a loss. Because she is one of the few females working in the industry, she sometimes has to push through some daunting negotiations. But the rewards of her work balance the occasional difficulties. She recalls a loss she handled for a single woman living on the East Side of Buffalo, whose house had been damaged during a fire that occurred at a neighbor’s house. Jodie helped her receive a settlement for five times what the insurance company had originally offered.
“When I told her what the settlement was, she broke down into tears and almost collapsed,” Jodie recalls. “To her, it was like collecting a million dollars.”
Working with her family has also been rewarding, Jodie notes. She enjoys having her grandfather across the hall so she can seek his advice when necessary, and says that working with two of her sisters has brought them closer together.
“I love the fact that we see each other and we run things off of each other,” she says.
Jodie also volunteers with nonprofit organizations in her community, including serving as a member of the board of directors of the Heritage Centers Foundation, which raises funds to support services and activities for people with disabilities and their families. It’s a cause that is close to her heart: one of her three sisters is disabled, and her daughter has special academic needs.
Her professional success and her service to the community were recognized recently when she was named to the 2016 class of Buffalo Business First’s 40 Under 40. She notes that she was both shocked and pleased when she was notified of the honor.
In the years since gradation, Jodie has successfully made a name for herself in both the family business and in the insurance adjustment industry, following a path that began on Sunday mornings chasing fires with her dad.