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Risk Notes

Johnna Smith Joins Risk Management Services as SCMIRF Senior Claims Adjuster 

Johnna Smith, SCMIRF Senior Claims Adjuster 

Work Experience: Has over 30 years of claims handling experience as an examiner and supervisor. Most recently, handled claims at Seibels.  

Hometown: Batesburg-Leesville, South Carolina.   

Education: Midlands Technical College.  

Professional Experience: Former certified arbitrator for Arbitration Forums and former information sharing contact for SC fraud investigations and reporting to the SC Attorney General’s Office. 

Hobbies: Painting, playing piano and organ and spending time with family.  


Spotlight on Risk Management Services’ Board Members  

SCMIRF Board Member Stuart Bedenbaugh 

Stuart Bedenbaugh, SCMIRF Board Member

Elected in 2018, Stuart Bedenbaugh has served on the SC Municipal Insurance and Risk Financing Fund board for the past five years. He has been the city manager for the City of Aiken since 2018. He also served as purchasing director and assistant city manager for the City of Aiken from 2011 to 2018. Prior to his time in Aiken, he was the executive director for Aiken County Registration and Elections Commission from 1998 to 2011, auditor for South Carolina Legislative Audit Council from 1994 to 1998 and community development coordinator for Lower Savannah Council of Governments from 1993 to 1994. 

Bedenbaugh obtained both a bachelor’s degree and Master of Public Administration from the University of South Carolina. He is a member of the Aiken Rotary Club, a board member of the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Aiken County, Aiken Steeplechase Association and Aiken Training Track. In his spare time, he likes to travel and read. 

SCMIT Board Chair Shawn Bell 

Shawn Bell, SCMIT Board Chair

Elected chairman in 2023, Shawn Bell has served on the SC Municipal Insurance Trust board for the past three years. He has been the city administrator for the City of Fountain Inn since 2017. Previously, he was the city administrator for the City of Lake City from 2014 to 2017 and assistant to the city manager in Abbeville from 2013 to 2014. 

Bell obtained a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a Master of Public Administration from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. He is a member of the South Carolina City and County Management Association board of directors and professional development committee, South Carolina Community Development Association president and board of directors, Laurens County Development Corporation treasurer and board of directors, International City/County Management Association government affairs and policy committee member and Fountain Inn Rotary Club past president and Paul Harris Fellow. In his spare time, he likes to spend time with his wife and daughters, cheering for Mizzou football and basketball, St. Louis Cardinals and Blues, and the Greenville Triumph. 

Verbal De-escalation: Surviving Verbal Conflict Training 

verbal training
Risk Management Services' “Verbal De-escalation: Surviving Verbal Conflict” training.

In February, Risk Management Services offered “Verbal De-escalation: Surviving Verbal Conflict” training for members of the SC Municipal Insurance Trust and SC Municipal Insurance and Risk Financing Fund. The session was presented by Harry Dolan of the Dolan Consulting Group. 

Public service professionals in attendance learned different verbal de-escalation techniques to assist in maintaining professional composure in the face of verbal hostility and abuse. The training categorized three types of people: agreeable, challenging and manipulators. Once an employee recognizes the type of person they are dealing with, they can determine how to communicate with them. 

Dolan noted that when communicating with individuals, staff should use one of three means of persuasion to persuade residents or employees to comply with requests —ethos, logos and pathos. Ethos refers to being persuaded because it is the ethical or moral thing to do. It works when the individual trusts and perceives the communicator as credible. Logos refers to persuading by providing a logical explanation. Pathos refers to appealing to the person’s passion or emotions. It allows the individual to see how they will benefit if they cooperate. 

Dolan also provides simple techniques that can be used at work and at home: 

  • Wait 24 hours to have a discussion. If needed, reschedule a meeting to another day. This allows the individuals to avoid discussing an issue in the midst of anger. 

  • If there is a conflict between what the person is saying and their body language, watch their body language. 

  • Give up a desire to “have the last word” and let the other person have it. 

  • Treat everyone with dignity and respect.  

  • Use empathy to improve communication. 

  • Raise expectations by telling people “why.” Explain the reason for a decision, practice, policy or procedure. 

  • When debriefing after a conflict, always begin with something positive and then proceed to discuss what could have been done differently. 

The session also provided attendees with a workbook to study on their own to continue learning verbal de-escalation techniques. 

2023 Risk Management Services Training 

Mark your calendar for the upcoming 2023 training courses for SCMIT and SCMIRF members.  

Competent Person Trenching and Excavation Training [Risk Management Institute Core Course] 

The Law and Best Practices with Respect to Law Enforcement Use of Force and Pursuits Training [Risk Management Institute Elective Course] 

Fire Training [Risk Management Institute Elective Course]

RMS Annual Members Meeting [Risk Management Institute Elective Course]