New York is famous as a city of potential and promise, so it’s fitting that native New Yorker Kathleen Navarro is helping ensure that New York Life Insurance Company employees have the opportunity to maximize their potential. Last December Navarro, a vice president at New York Life, was appointed chief diversity officer of the venerable company.

Navarro, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree from New York University’s Stern School of Business with a double major in statistics and management, joined New York Life in 1994. She was initially attracted to the company because “as a life insurer, New York Life is in an inherently socially responsible business.” In 20-plus years with New York Life, she has held a variety of roles encompassing financial reporting, strategy, and operations.

Now responsible for overseeing all aspects of New York Life’s diversity program, Navarro is enthusiastic about her new role and the supportive culture in which she operates. “Everyone is encouraged to bring their own perspectives to the table—whether it’s cultural background, generational beliefs, or personal style,” she says. Noting that her predecessors “laid a very strong foundation for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion,” Navarro hopes to continue to work on unconscious bias, promote inclusion, and further embed diversity into the business, while helping the company’s seven Employee Resource Groups plan strategies to link their efforts.

Guiding the diversity initiatives for one of the world’s largest insurance companies is no small task, but Navarro is prepared for the challenge. “I use the skills I learned in my MBA program every day,” she says with confidence. “Baruch prepared me to take on bigger roles in my career.”

—Sally Fay

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