Women’s Leadership Series: Dawn Minter

This article is part of a series of posts from National Life’s Women’s Inclusion Network. WIN is a concentration of bright and forward-thinking women (and men!) who collaborate on the leadership development, diversification, and empowerment of National Life’s female field affiliates and home office employees.

Dawn Lee Minter is the Executive Assistant to the Chairman, CEO & President and Administrative Lead of National Life Group. She is passionate about her chosen profession and is inspired every single day by the people she works beside. As a member of National Life’s Executive Management Team, Dawn believes in balancing the needs of multiple stakeholders through open communication, collaboration and being kind. Not afraid to color outside of the lines, Dawn is an integrator, advisor and anchor.

Dawn delivers results with purpose, focus and a no-nonsense attitude. She lives to serve not only her profession but also her community, family and friends.

It’s been almost a year of working remote within the COVID-19 Pandemic… How are you doing?

Thank you for asking. My family is gratefully healthy and doing well. At the outset of the pandemic my husband was laid off but thankfully re-hired about a month later. I have two grown sons and a daughter. Our daughter is at university and we have not seen her since New Year’s Day of 2020 when she flew back to Vancouver, British Columbia. My two sons are more local and we see them often.

I miss my mom. In a typical year, she lives with us for the warmer six months here in Vermont. She was not able to be with us in 2020.

I have adapted well to the virtual environment, taking advantage of National Life’s IT resources. That said, I prefer to be in the office. I really miss my National Life family. I can’t wait to be together again!

What do you like most about what you do at National Life?

The shared respect and love of the National Life family. The moment I walked in the door I felt the warm embrace—especially from the Distribution Field Leaders. They kindly took me under their wing, showed me the ropes and I have been learning and growing ever since. Administrative Professionals at National Life have a seat at the table and are valued for their contributions. We don’t just schedule and manage calendars, which are very important, we are the gateway not the gatekeeper.

In honor of women’s history month, is there a woman who has inspired you in your life?

I have had the good fortune to have many strong inspiring women in my life—quite a few right here at National Life: Mary Putnam, Ruth Smith, Katherine Prince, Darlene Flagg, and Karen Larsen just to name a few. I do have to say that my Nana—my father’s mother—is at the top of the list. She was born in 1906 and when I was 21, heading out into the world, she was almost 80. I grew up hearing her life stories. She was the first in her family to attend college (Rider College in NJ). She moved to and worked on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. in the roaring 20s… at the Library of Congress and the at the Department of the Navy. She was so very proud to be a working woman before, during and after World War II.

You are the Executive Assistant to our Chairman, CEO & President Mehran Assadi.  How do you Co-Lead with one another?

It may seem obvious but consistent communication is key to prioritization and execution and ultimately achieving targets and goals. My seat provides an enterprise wide vantage point and insight that helps me to support Mehran, the Executive Management Team and the Board of Directors as we collaboratively make decisions to benefit the company and our clients.

Mehran and I are business partners with a foundation of mutual respect. It takes time to build a solid relationship and we have worked together for more than 11 years. The life and business of a Chairman, CEO & President is incredibly complex. There are multiple business areas at various growth stages, challenges to solve across the enterprise, fragile distribution relationships to nurture and don’t forget finding time enough to be human with a life outside the company. I help him to prioritize, balance and -occasionally- create space to unplug.

What advice would you give to young women who are just beginning their careers?

Be yourself but know who that is. Self-awareness is crucial to success. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Be intentional and mindful—you are in the driver’s seat.

What leadership quality do you most admire and aspire to?

Integrity, hands down. In my humble opinion, integrity is the guiding light to how we function in the world. It aligns what you say and do with your values, promises and vision.

I believe that we are all leaders. I aspire to bring value to others—make our organization, and world for that matter, a better place. Collectively we can make a difference.

Do you have a cause or a favorite “Do good” passion?

Playing a role and being engaged with my small village community is my passion. I have immersed myself, established roots and volunteer where there is a need, which has been a moving target over my 22 years in Waterbury. Revitalizing Waterbury needed to raise money to restore the train station to its former glory, so I joined the Board. The Children’s Room drop-in child center I frequented when my children were young needed help, so I joined the Board. Most recently I joined the Board of the Vermont Children’s Trust Foundation and am excited to help them move the needle on community-based programs for families and children.

What attracted you to National Life and what would you tell someone who is considering an opportunity with us?

I am a true believer in life insurance and have seen firsthand how it protects families. When looking into National Life, I was intrigued both by the rich history of doing well by our policyholders and the opportunity to be a part of that continuity and legacy.

National Life is a place of opportunities where you can learn, develop and grow. There is no glass ceiling here.  

Any other words of wisdom that you’d like to share?

Be kind. Treat others how you want to be treated.

Thank you, Dawn!