History & Mission

OUr story

The Foundation was organized in 1990 to memorialize the legacy of former Deputy Director, Ken Smith, at the Illinois Department of Insurance. Ken made many contributions to insurance regulation in Illinois as well as nationally through the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

The IREF seeks to provide timely, relevant and impactful educational opportunities for insurance regulators throughout the country and internationally so that insurance regulators may continue to support the mission of the department of insurance in which they serve.


The Foundation

In 1990, The Kenneth W. Smith Memorial Foundation was created honoring the memory of Ken Smith. At the time of his death, Mr. Smith was the deputy director of the Property and Casualty Division of the Illinois Department of Insurance. 

At his funeral, a group of friends from regulation and the insurance industry hatched the idea to create and oversee a university-based educational program exclusively for insurance regulators from across the country. Today, the Board of Directors consists of several past Illinois Directors of Insurance, all serving without remuneration, who understand the value of an insurance department staff that is well informed.

In 2011, the foundation changed its name to the Insurance Regulators Educational Foundation. Also in that year, the foundation established a Hall of Fame to recognize outstanding insurance regulators. The first inductee was Larry Gorski, Life Actuary in the Illinois Department of Insurance, who made significant contributions to regulation through service at the Department and The National Association of Insurance  Commissioners and the actuarial profession.



The foundation holds an annual golf outing to help defray costs of the program. It is attended by insurance industry representatives, consultants and lawyers, along with many others who support an educational program specifically geared for insurance regulators. The Regulatory community, the insurance industry and the public are best served by regulators who are well trained in insurance matters and are as well informed as possible on cutting edge issues. 

The all-day event starts with lunch then it's on to the golf course for an 18-hole scramble. After an afternoon enjoying golf our golfers are treated to dinner, along with a brief program reporting on the yearly events of the Foundation, the educational program and related insurance matters.

The Foundation welcomes contributions to support the educational program.

The Foundation is pleased to recognize and thank the following, who annually contribute to the Foundation: