Bring Your whole self to work, focus on disability awareness: interview with steven shiner, senior vice president claims, executive sponsor, being MAPRE committee

Bring Your Whole Self to Work: An Interview with MAPFRE’s Steven Shiner, Senior Vice President Claims & Executive Sponsor, Being MAPFRE Committee

Work Without Limits is always proud to highlight the wonderful work being done by the  inclusive employer sponsors in our Disability:IN Massachusetts network. This month, we are featuring the great effort initiated by MAPFRE USA’s Being MAPFRE Committee. To raise disability awareness and foster a culture of inclusion within the company, the Being MAPFRE Committee began as a dedicated way to increase disability inclusion and is now the Diversity & Inclusion Council. In 2018, the company launched ‘Bring Your Whole Self to Work’, an interactive online forum for employees to be able to express their individuality. As part of ‘Bring Your Whole Self to Work’, the Being MAPFRE Executive Sponsors, Francois Facon, Executive Vice President and CFO and Steven Shiner, Senior Vice President, Claims, wrote articles focused on Disability Awareness. Below you will read the interview with Steven Shiner and the important emphasis MAPFRE USA puts on being a diverse and inclusive employer.


 In the spirit of MAPFRE’s Disability & Inclusion 2018 theme of Bring Your Whole Self to Work, can you share a little about yourself?  What are some fun facts or interesting information about you that you’d like to share with employees?

I’ve been bringing my whole self to work at MAPFRE for a very long time! I started my career with Commerce Insurance in 1985 shortly after graduating from Nichols College. This past January marks my 33rd year with the company. I started out as a Claim representative working in what was a very small department at that time. We had fewer than 30 employees in the Claim department and I was assigned to handle all claims from policyholders whose last name started with a “K”. Yes, believe it or not, that’s how we distributed claims in those days. We also had one computer at the end of each isle shared by 8 – 10 employees.  I can’t remember what we used the computer for but obviously, it wasn’t very much! We’ve come a long way since then and I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have been part of the continued growth and success of this company. But the best part of working here for so many years is the hundreds of great people that I’ve gotten to know and the many friendships that I’ve developed.

Outside of work I have a lot of interests. I enjoy skiing, cycling, gardening, spending time at the Cape and traveling, but my passion has always been golf. It’s one of life’s most humbling activities but it keeps me out of trouble on weekends. My wife and I have been blessed with three children; two boys and a girl. Two of the three are out on their own pursuing their careers and our third is a sophomore in college. Our eldest, a daughter, just recently gave us the best gift ever, a beautiful granddaughter. So now I have a new passion!

Why did you choose to be an Executive Sponsor of the Being MAPFRE Committee? Why is being a part of this work important to you?

It was actually one of my colleagues, Mary Singas, who approached me about our diversity and inclusion initiative at MAPFRE. Mary was involved in the program and mentioned the group was looking for an executive sponsor and wondered whether I’d be interested. I loved the idea of becoming part of a team focused on making our work environment more welcoming and inclusive, as well as easier for people with physical disabilities to navigate. But most compelling was the possibility of helping people with disabilities (people who may have had difficulty finding employment elsewhere) build a successful career at MAPFRE.

What does workplace inclusion mean to you, whether it’s about disability inclusion or other types of diversity?

I envision a working environment where our dedicated, hard-working, employees can be completely comfortable being who they are at work; where diversity is recognized as an organizational strength and where we, as employees, continuously work at focusing on the positive attributes of our fellow employees and celebrating their strengths, rather than perceived differences or limitations.

To our employees who identify as having a disability, what would you like them to know?

Through my participation in this group, I have come to learn that we have many employees with various types of disability. I know it’s a very personal decision, but for those who identify as having a disability, I’d want those employees to know that we are here to offer our support, any time they need it.

Why do you think groups like the new Caregiver’s Network are important to have? What value do you see in affinity groups?

I think it’s great that we are helping our employees that have common interests or challenges (such as caring for a loved one with an illness or a disability) develop a network and provide a forum where they can share experiences, ideas and suggestions. There is probably no better support system than to hear about the experiences of others who have walked in your shoes.

We’ve accomplished a lot of work in the last few years in respect to disability inclusion. What do you see as important to focus on now and in the future?

As I mentioned earlier, I’d like MAPFRE to be recognized as a company that provides employment opportunities to talented people with disabilities. In order to do this, we will have to leverage technology to make accommodations for people with physical disabilities, such as sight or hearing impairments.  It will surely take time for us to identify and adapt these technologies to our systems but as we go through our digital transformation I’d like to see us avail ourselves of these opportunities.


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man in front of powerpoint that says umass 4th annual disability mentoring day

4th Annual Disability Mentoring Day: A Record-Breaking Year!

On March 5th, 2019, UMass Medical School’s Work Without Limits initiative, in collaboration with the American Association of People with Disabilities, held the 4th Annual Disability Mentoring Day (DMD) in Massachusetts. DMD promotes career development for people with disabilities through hands-on career exploration and ongoing mentoring relationships.  A record number of participants participated in Massachusetts this year!  Ninety-five (95) Mentors were paired with 63 Mentees providing an invaluable experience advancing career development and personal growth – for both Mentee and Mentor!

This year, ten employers from Work Without Limits’ Disability:IN Massachusetts network enthusiastically signed on to participate in DMD. The companies that participated included Eastern Bank; Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston; John Hancock; MAPFRE Insurance; National Grid; Public Consulting Group (PCG); Raytheon; TD Bank; TJX Companies, Inc.; and UMass Medical School.

fourth annual disability mentoring day,; logos: work without limits, dmd logo, eastern bank, FHLBank boston, john hancock, mapfre insurance, nationalgrid, public consulting group, raytheon, td bank, tjx companies, university of massachusetts medical school

Thank you to our sponsors for participating!

In order to make the day successful, each employer designates a DMD Coordinator who is the liaison between the company and Work Without Limits. The DMD Coordinator role is crucial to making the day a success. They are responsible for planning the day’s agenda, arranging guest speakers, and most importantly securing company Mentors.  I can’t thank them enough for all of their efforts during this endeavor!

The Mentees who participate are any individual 18 years of age or older with a disability.  Mentees learn about DMD from a variety of sources:

The Mentees are paired with a career professional (Mentor) to experience what it is like to work at a particular company; observe a typical workday; identify necessary skills; enhance career development and, of course, network!

Each company has the autonomy to design their own mentoring day so, though they may be similar, they are not identical. One example is MAPFRE Insurance that took a unique approach to Disability Mentoring Day this year. They used the opportunity to announce their new partnership with Best Buddies Massachusetts and the launch of their pre-employment training program for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This program will offer employment training and corporate mentorship in Central Massachusetts to help develop students’ career ambitions.  This is a great example of how companies can partner with community-based organizations in their community.

group of mentors and mentees facing front watching speaker

MAPFRE and Best Buddies at Disability Mentoring Day!

5 participants of DMD posing for picture

This was the 4th consecutive year that John Hancock participated in DMD Massachusetts. Sofia Teixeira, Head of U.S. Diversity & Inclusion at John Hancock had this to say, “The most satisfying part of the day for me was not only seeing how much fun everyone was having, but also realizing that our employees learned as much as, if not more than, our Mentees did.  It strikes me that we use the terms “Mentees” and “Mentors” for DMD because the truth is that these moments are more like peer-to-peer mentoring experiences, when we are all learning from and inspiring each other.”

No matter how the day unfolds for Mentors and Mentees, the goals of DMD are clear:

  • promote disability as a central component of diversity recruitment for a more inclusive workforce
  • dispel employer fears about hiring people with disabilities
  • increase confidence among job seekers with disabilities
  • enhance internship and employment opportunities for people with disabilities and
  • serve as a launch pad to promote a year-round, national effort to foster mentoring and career exploration opportunities.
Mentor and mentee standing together and smiling

Mentor from UMass Medical School, Bob, with Mentee, Victoriahope.

Both Mentors and Mentees provide us feedback on their experience and we are thrilled to share some of their impressions:

My Mentor is very kind and generous and a great listener. She was very open, willing and able to share about her personal life and honest feelings and thoughts about her experiences in her career. She is also very willing to communicate with me ongoing which is a great resource to me and very much cherished.


She has professional experience and connections relevant to my career interests, she tailored our visit based on what I wanted to accomplish, and she seems to genuinely want to help me succeed.


You get to understand the difficulties and hardships they endure just trying to find employment. It’s an eye opener for some of us who really don’t see this every day.


This was an excellent opportunity to put into practice many of the concepts we have been talking over the last couple of days regarding disabilities and incorporate individuals into the workforce. It was a great learning experience for me to create awareness and empathy for people that elaborates and process information in a different way.


We would like to thank the companies that participated, and all the DMD Coordinators, Mentors and Mentees for their participation. We could not have done it without you! We hope this experience accelerates the journey of disability inclusion in the workplace though awareness raising, skill building and networking. See you next year for the 5th Annual Disability Mentoring Day in Massachusetts!


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Kathy Muhr headshot

Meet the Work Without Limits Team: Kathy Muhr

What is your name, title, and role with Work Without Limits?

My name is Kathy Muhr. I am the Director of Community Engagement at Work Without Limits.

How long have you held this position?

I started working at UMass Medical School in 2007 and joined the Work Without Limits team in 2010.

kathy petkauskos, kathy muhr and dr david polakoff

Kathy Muhr being honored as a 10 year employee at UMass Medical School with Kathy Petkauskos and Dr. David Polakoff.

What is the best part of your job?

There are so many things I love about my job. First of all, I love being a member of the awesome Work Without Limits team. Though we are small in numbers we accomplish so much, thanks to everyone pushing up their sleeves and getting what needs to be done, completed! Secondly, our Community Partners are great. They know their job seekers inside-out and they work so hard to support them through their journey. Our Community Partners are faithful in sharing our employment events with their job seekers to help connect them with our employer network. Finally, our Employer Network is committed. Committed to hiring individuals with disabilities, committed to increasing their workforce’s knowledge around inclusion, and actively participating in Work Without Limits disability-related events and activities. What a privilege it has been over the years to see the number of employers in our network grow who truly are building a culture of diversity and inclusion in their workplace.

Do you have any special skills, interests or hobbies?  I love to watch and play sports.  I’ve been known to be driving down a road and stop at some random baseball game to watch the kids play.  I also love the challenge of playing golf. And, I’ve been playing on various softball teams for over 30 years (you’d think by now I would be good at it!).

5 members of the work without limits team at a table that says registration

Work Without Limits team members manning the registration table at one of our career fairs!

What is your best advice for job seekers?

Network, Network, Network!  Participate in various events such as Disability Mentoring Day; Meet and Greets; Open Houses; traditional Career Fairs and Virtual Career Fairs and make that connection with the employers. Also, I strongly recommend you have your resume reviewed by someone, a family member, friend, job coach, etc. prior to sending it to an employer. Does it look neat? Are words spelled correctly? Etc.

What is your best advice for employers seeking a more inclusive and/or diverse workforce?

Work Without Limits offers a number of opportunities for employers to connect with job seekers with disabilities. Become a sponsor today to start connecting with a talented group of individuals who are eager and ready to work!

What is your favorite place in the world?

My favorite place in the world is Aruba!  I’ve been there over 20 times and it never gets old. Great weather, awesome beaches, and very friendly people. It truly is ‘One Happy Island.’


If you are an educational institution or a disability serving organization who works with individuals with disabilities, and what to learn more about becoming a Community Partner contact Kathy Muhr here:

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