IAIABC Convention Attendees Treated to Two Inspirational Welcome Addresses


The IAIABC Convention convened October 21-24 with the reflection that the IAIABC community is a master of making room for the better to improve workers’ compensation for workers and employers around the world. Professionals from 42 jurisdictions and 95 organizations carried on a 105-year tradition of gathering to consider, experiment, and debate new ideas and solutions.

On Tuesday, October 22, opening remarks by Abbie Hudgens, IAIABC then-President and Administrator of the Tennessee Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, urged conference attendees to embrace the conference theme, Rewire, and use the time in Pittsburgh to gather “fresh ideas and new frames of reference in order to take on challenges that can be conquered for a brighter future.”

The remarks were especially poignant as Pittsburgh was the site of the “The Pittsburgh Survey” by Crystal Eastman which tracked work injuries and deaths that occurred in Allegheny County in 1907. The work rewired laws and business attitudes which improved working conditions for hundreds of millions of workers in the past century.

In what will go down as one of the most inspirational addresses in IAIABC history, Mr. Bill Strickland shared his message of hope and transformation during the Convention keynote on Wednesday, October 23. Mr. Strickland founded the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild in Pittsburgh in 1969, at the age of 21, which partnered with the Bidwell Training Center in 1971 to become the Manchester Bidwell Corporation.

Through Mr. Strickland’s leadership and inspiration, Manchester Bidwell has helped thousands through youth and adult educational and career training programs in art, science, design, medicine, music, and much more. Mr. Strickland has built partnerships with local leaders and industries that believe in the mission of Manchester Bidwell and see extraordinary results as the Corporation helps to bring out the best in its students and the surrounding community.

As Mr. Strickland shared, “If you treat people like human beings, they treat each other the same. The sun is for everyone.” The culture of hope and limitless possibility fostered at Manchester Bidwell has fueled a movement throughout the world as Mr. Strickland works tirelessly to share the model the Corporation built. Said one IAIABC Convention attendee, “I’ve never felt more inspired. I wish I had a million dollars to give him.”

Finishing to a standing ovation, Convention attendees sought out Mr. Strickland to thank him for sharing his positive message, and many eagerly looked forward to bringing his message home with them.

These two welcoming addresses truly hit the Convention theme of “rewire” as the IAIABC challenged attendees to think differently about workers’ compensation – and their place in the industry and the world.

About the IAIABC

The IAIABC is an association of government agencies that administer and regulate their jurisdiction’s workers' compensation acts. Along with these government entities, various private organizations involved in the delivery of workers' compensation coverage and benefits participate in the IAIABC. Since its inception in 1914 the IAIABC has worked to improve and clarify laws, identify model laws and procedures, develop and implement standards, and provide education and information sharing. The IAIABC strives to gather the best resources available to solve the practical administrative and operational problems of its members.