President's Message

Backing Our Future: Fostering Collaboration and Innovation

Greetings from the City of Bridges…Pittsburgh, PA--a nickname that refers to the city's 446 bridges, more than any other city or region in the world!

First, allow me to congratulate Past President Patrick Pribyl and his Annual Meeting Program Committee for an excellent conference in Austin, TX, with a record turnout of attendees, along with a record turnout of producers. To our Affiliates and Associates, we appreciate your engagement and support.

As President, my vision is to foster collaboration and innovation. As we look back, we realize the sudden onslaught of the COVID pandemic constituted an inflection point for society and for volunteer organizations, such as NASBP, as profound disruptions and changes resulted. This time of upheaval also provided an opportunity for our executive team to consider and conceptualize the future, given the benefit of a fresh lens and diminishment of previously held assumptions.

Thus, throughout this year, you will hear me talk much about the NASBP strategic plan, NASBP Vision 2028, which includes the following platforms: advocacy, technology, membership, and education. All of which are the foundation of my theme for the coming year, "Backing Our Future."

In late April, our Executive Committee traveled to Washington, DC, for the 2024 SFAA Annual Meeting. Congratulations to Ryan Work on becoming the new SFAA CEO and to Mike Keimig, who now chairs the SFAA Board. A special “shoutout” to Bob Murray, outgoing SFAA Board Chair and long-time Head of Surety Zurich North America, who retires this month. Our industry owes Bob a debt of gratitude!

NASBP and SFAA will jointly provide the February 26-27, 2025, Federal Legislative Fly-In to educate congressional offices about the importance of surety to the economy and the nation. Please save the date for this event on your calendar. Soon NASBP will have more information about how you can participate in helping to advocate for surety in DC in February. 

Speaking of Washington, DC, I would be remiss if I did not note the efforts of NASBP CEO Mark McCallum and Director of Government Relations Larry LeClair with respect to their ongoing efforts related to the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program, which is a federal program that is providing $42.5B in funding to expand high-speed internet access in the United States. The BEAD Program has been funded by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). In November 2023 NTIA announced it would permit the use of performance bonds on NTIA-funded infrastructure projects. The BEAD Surety Working Group, comprised of NASBP and SFAA volunteers and staff, developed two sample bond forms, a contract template and bondability letter. Next step is to share the second (new) bond form and meet with NTIA.
I appreciated the opportunity to speak at the Surety Association of Pittsburgh Spring luncheon in early May. Thirty-five producers, underwriters, and surety support personnel attended—some having traveled from Hartford and Philadelphia. It was my honor to share the vision of our Association and address the industry opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. In terms of opportunities to network, collaborate, and advance your surety career, keep the following NASBP events in mind as you plan your 2024 schedule:
Summer Surety School, Reston, VAAug 4-9 Registration is now open. 
West Meeting, Carlsbad, CASept 11-13 Registration is now open. 
Sales Workshop, New Orleans, LASept 24-25 Registration is now open. 
East Meeting, New Orleans, LASept 25-27 Registration is now open. 
With respect to our Fall Meetings, we do expect a record turnout, so make sure you book your hotel immediately and register for these Meetings.  
The NASBP Sales Workshop is a one and a half-day event (September 24-25) held in conjunction (on the front end) of the East Meeting. This unique Sales Workshop is designed to help surety bond producers and surety company underwriters define and hone their sales and marketing process by learning the strategies and practices used by the top producers in our industry. Participants will complete the MCORE assessment to identify their unique pattern of motivated behavior. Participants that complete the Workshop will leave with clear, actionable practices that can be implemented immediately. See the related article in this issue about building sales skills.
In closing, I want to circle back on the education platform noted earlier. Beginning with our Fall Meetings, you will continue to hear more about the conceptual program, “Making Surety A Career. In early May, our executive leadership team met with Professor Kurt Krogull, who piloted the initial surety curriculum in a business finance class at the University of Kansas this past spring semester. By all accounts, the 40 participating students were engaged in the surety subject matter, with a couple expressing an interest in a surety internship. Our goal is to attract the next generation of surety professionals, who will not have stumbled their way into this industry, by facilitating sustained classroom awareness and outreach like this.  
If you have a thought, suggestion, or idea that relates to “Backing Our Future,” don’t hesitate to contact me at       

#BackingOurFuture #MakingSuretyACareer 

Zach Mendelson is Principal, Bonds/Insurance/Construction, EPIC/Edgewood Partners Insurance Center, Pittsburgh, PA. He can be reached at or 412.274.1707.