Aflac Leader Visits NO, Highlights Social Robot for Kids with Cancer

Louisiana-native and Senior Vice President Chief ESG (Environmental, Social Governance and Communications Officer at Aflac), Catherine Hernandez-Blades, recently visited New Orleans. The Aflac executive connected with locals and recalled her Louisiana roots during the filming of In a Car with IPR, a video series produced by the Institute for Public Relations (IPR), highlighting public relations professionals who are on the IPR Board of Trustees.

Traveling by streetcar and featuring some of New Orleans’ most iconic locations, the video is a nod to the city and the Southern roots that have propelled Hernandez-Blades to her success today. She is one of Forbes’ 2019 Top 50 Most Influential Global CMOs.

Hernandez-Blades was the force behind My Special Aflac Duck™, a social robot designed to support children throughout their cancer journey. Aflac is providing these comforting companions to any child age three and older diagnosed with cancer in the U.S., free of charge.

“I’m thrilled to be back here in New Orleans to celebrate the greatest city in the world and hopefully spread a little bit of the tremendous inspiration I’ve been so fortunate to receive from these courageous young fighters battling cancer,” noted Hernandez-Blades. “The way New Orleanians care for one another, through thick and thin, is exactly the approach we’ve taken with our CSR program and with our entire business. Aflac is there when our policyholders need us the most.  We also see the impact of cancer every day, and realize that children need more than just medicine to cope with cancer, which is why we are committed to providing $3 million dollars annually to support the program. We have also, on top of My Special Aflac Duck™ efforts, donated more than $135 million dollars to the research and treatment of pediatric cancer.” 

In November of 2019, Aflac and Hernandez-Blades brought these special ducks to New Orleans’ very own Children’s Hospital. During her visit, she was able to re-reconnect with local My Special Aflac Duck™ recipient John Michael Rogers, and his mother Jessica Rogers, to discover how it is helping young patients cope with cancer.