This is our inaugural list of Top DEI Leaders. This prestigious list recognizes the outstanding individuals who have demonstrated exceptional leadership, vision, and commitment to driving diversity, equity, and inclusion within their respective industries.
Charles H. Watkins is the Chief DEI Officer and Equity Partner at the Law Firm of Kubicki Draper where he serves as Chief Diversity Officer and Co-Chair of the First Party Practice Group.
Charles has deep roots in the insurance industry. Before becoming a lawyer, his first career was managing claims in insurance where he worked his way through law school. Today, with a law practice of over 30 years, Charles is an accomplished trial attorney and has represented insurance companies and their policy holders in over 70 jury trials. His practice encompasses everything from wrongful death, serious injury claims, to large first party losses.
Ensuring diversity in the legal and insurance world is a driving force behind everything Charles does. As one of the National Chairs of the Diversity Committee for the Claims and Litigation Management Alliance, Charles helped host two National Annual Diversity Forums in New York City. He is intimately involved in promoting diversity education both at Kubicki Draper and to the larger community as demonstrated by his participation in the John Kozyak Minority Mentoring Picnic for numerous years. Additionally, he is a founding board member of the National African American Insurance Association, Florida Chapter and serves as its Treasurer. To add to this already long list of accomplishments, Charles is an elected member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) and holds memberships in the National Black Lawyers Top 100 in Florida and The Litigation Counsel of America.
Beyond his many years of experience in law and insurance, Charles is passionate about providing career opportunities through education. For the past 18 years, he has chaired the Pioneer Community Church’s Scholarship Committee administering scholarship awards in excess of $85,000 to several qualified college students helping them to achieve their dream of acquiring a college degree.
Charles brings his experience and dedication to contribute to the success of the NAAIA Florida (National African American Insurance Association) and its scholarship program. The program sets out to address the staffing issues the insurance industry by targeting talent at the college level. To accomplish this, NAAIA Florida has created a scholarship program that affords outstanding African-American students the opportunity to engage in risk management studies. The scholarship has been established at Florida State University (“FSU”), the number one risk management program in the United States, and FSU’s co-op program with Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (“FAMU”), one of Florida’s premier HBCUs.
Charles has been an important part of helping secure scholarship funding and to date, the program has five scholarships secured.