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Anna Hargis, Director of Advertising, Shelter Insurance

Job description:

Responsible for the co-op advertising program for 1,300-plus Shelter Insurance agents in 15 states as well as overall corporate advertising, social media, and brand protection for the companies.

Years lived in Mid-Missouri:

35 years.

Original hometown:

Washington, D.C.


Bachelor’s in journalism and master’s in communication from MU.

Favorite volunteer/community activity:

Insurance Marketing and Communication Association, Chamber Ambassadors, singing in a music group at the St. Thomas More Newman Center, and volunteering with my son’s school and his Boy Scout troop.

Professional background:

I joined a startup ad agency right out of college for a few months before going to KOMU 8 as a promotion writer and producer. I spent 11 years at KOMU, and when I left, I was the marketing and promotion director. I then joined Shelter Insurance as director of advertising and will celebrate 20 years there in March 2019.

A favorite recent project:

I have a special love for the creative side of the business. We recently created two new commercials with local production company Chimaeric. We usually have six to eight weeks of pre-production work before we start shooting a commercial, but our latest project was pushed up. We did our pre-production work in two weeks, and while it was hectic and crazy, I was so proud of my team.

A Columbia businessperson I admire and why:

Nancy Allison. We worked together at Shelter’s corporate office when I first joined the company and I was amazed at her extensive knowledge of insurance. When she was considering leaving the security of the corporate world to become an agent, we talked about it and I was so impressed with her for making the leap. She’s an amazing businesswoman and community supporter.

Why I’m passionate about my job:

I love helping Shelter’s agents succeed and watching our brand grow. The agents are the reason I get a paycheck, so it’s important to make our advertising program work well for them. I love working with them to find a marketing mix that works, and it’s so rewarding when they call and tell me how much my team or I helped them succeed as a business owner.

If I weren’t doing this for a living, I would:

I wish I could say that I’d be a professional singer or actor, but I don’t think I’m that good at either. I enjoy both, so it would be fun to try.

What people should know about this profession:

The insurance profession tends to attract people who want to help others, and that makes for a very rewarding career choice. As far as the advertising profession, it’s constantly changing and you have to work hard to stay relevant without constantly chasing after the latest fad that might not work out in the long run.

The next challenge facing my industry:

There are several, but one we’re watching closely is the projected number of retirements coming. I’ve heard a figure of 400,000 baby boomers retiring in the next five years. The loss of knowledge and experience is a big challenge, but it’s also a great opportunity for people who are willing to learn and work hard. While we need agents, we also need people in claims, underwriting, IT, accounting, and so much more.

My next professional goal:

I haven’t set one for 2019 yet. But I set a goal a few years ago to become a leader in the Insurance Marketing and Communication Association. It’s the oldest organization devoted to insurance marketing and communication, and it’s been a great resource for me. I hadn’t led a major industry organization like that, so it was an honor when I was asked to join the executive board. I just finished my time as chairwoman and I’m currently immediate past chairwoman. I’m finishing some key projects for the organization, but plan to stay involved as a member once my term is up.

Biggest lesson learned in business:

Do the right thing. No matter what. There are temptations to cut corners at times and I’ve seen people do it through the years. Hold on to your integrity and you’ll always be on the right track.

How I want to impact the Columbia community:

I surprised myself by staying in Columbia after attending MU. I’d like to think I’ve made a small impact through my work and volunteer activities, I’m also proud to be part of one of the major employers in the community and I’m going to work hard to keep Shelter strong and growing so we continue to have amazing career opportunities.

Greatest strength:

My communication skills.

Greatest weakness:

Not saying no to things.

What I do for fun:

Spending time with my family and friends. Also traveling, reading, listening to music, and watching movies.


My husband, Dave, and our 13-year-old son, Scotty.

Favorite place in Columbia:

Shelter Gardens. I love walking there in every season.

Accomplishment I’m most proud of:

My son is adopted, and it was a difficult three-year process. My husband and I made it through the extensive paperwork and setbacks, and we’ve had the privilege of raising this terrific young man. Being the best parent I can possibly be is my greatest accomplishment, so I’m still a work in progress.

Most people don’t know that I:

I enjoy spending time in wilderness. I married an Eagle Scout who loves to canoe, hike, and generally wander around in the wilderness, and I’ve grown to love it too. We’ve had some crazy adventures (ask me about getting chased by a moose), but we’ve got some fun stories to tell.

You were part of the inaugural 20 Under 40 class of 2001, what does that mean to you:

It was such an exciting surprise. I was recognized with a great group of people, and I remember thinking how special it was to be part of that group.

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