Schaumburg, IL (February 7, 2012) - Starting in 2010, Assurance began recognizing two Employees of the Year, and continuing with this new tradition, named Jennifer Bernal and Heather Hodgerson as its 2011 winners. Jennifer and Heather's achievements were announced at separate company-wide gatherings. As winners, their names are engraved on a commemorate award showcased at Assurance's headquarters just outside of Chicago. Additionally, both women will receive a crystal bowl, cash bonus and other special recognitions throughout the year for their continued commitment to achieving company goals.

Born in Rock Island, IL and currently living in Crystal Lake, Heather serves as an Account Manager for the senior living team at Assurance. She has earned her AIS and AINS designations and is working towards completing her CPCU designation. Heather also serves as co-chair on the Assurance Caring Together (ACT) committee, which is an employee-driven charity initiative that consists of both monetary and labor hour contributions. A graduate of Illinois State University, Heather came to Assurance through a college sponsored job fair and started as a Client Service Representative for the staffing industry. After moving to the senior living team, Heather was quickly promoted to Account Manager and has greatly enjoyed the opportunity learning about two different industries.

"I am very lucky to work for a company that truly cares about its employees. I love the culture at Assurance and how each day brings about new and exciting challenges,” exclaimed Heather. She continued, "We have many deserving and great employees, so I am very humbled to have been chosen as one of the Employees of the Year.”

Jennifer was born in Chicago, IL, but grew up in the western suburb of Glen Ellyn. Currently an Account Manager for Assurance Financial Services (AFS) – a wholly-owned subsidiary of Assurance that provides insurance for company-sponsored retirement programs – Jennifer started her career as an Account Coordinator for the Employee Benefits team. After working in conjunction with AFS for several projects, she transitioned into a new position that would help develop the team and its client offerings. Her determination and commitment to learning about AFS and its services propelled the team forward and culminated many successes in 2011. A graduate of DeVry University, Jennifer also holds her Series 6 and 63 licenses.

Commenting on her recent win, Jennifer stated, "Receiving this recognition means more to me than anyone could possibly know. The past few years have been quite challenging both professionally and personally, and if anything, I continue to persevere because of the amazing support of my fellow coworkers and mentors.”