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Defined Contribution

7 honored with Excellence and Innovation Awards from P&I

Seven winners were announced Monday for Excellence and Innovation Awards at Pensions & Investments West Coast Defined Contribution conference in San Diego.

This is the sixth year that P&I and the Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association have recognized efforts by plan sponsors to improve the retirement security of participants. This year, judges recognized three sponsors for innovation and four sponsors for excellence.

The innovation winners are:

  • Katie Archer, director of global benefits, Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc., New Haven, Conn., for creating a retirement readiness review for participants that takes into account country-specific information about cost of living, expected retirement age, average life expectancy and retirement income as a percentage of pre-retirement earnings.
  • Sandy Blair, director of retirement readiness, California State Teachers' Retirement System, West Sacramento, for updating and expanding 403Compare, the unique state-sponsored program that serves as a clearinghouse for information about investment fees, services and performance for 403(b) plans offered to public school districts, community colleges, charter schools and county offices of education.
  • Deborah Goldberg, treasurer and general receiver of Massachusetts, Boston, for shepherding the creation of a statewide ERISA multiple-employer 401(k) plan for private-sector employees. The plan is offered to non-profit employers with 20 or fewer employees.

The excellence winners are:

  • Nora Alvarado, manager of health and welfare administration and deferred compensation, Employees Retirement System of Texas, Austin, for implementing a "Stay in the Family'' campaign that reached out to pre-retirees with the goal of highlighting the benefits of remaining in the Texa$aver 401(k) and 457 plans during retirement. That effort put a spotlight on the plans' competitive fees, options for account consolidation and ongoing access to Texa$aver education counselors, Texa$aver adviser service and other account management tools.
  • Aimee Dodson, thrive director, Movement Mortgage LLC, Indian Lands, S.C., for directing a campaign — #loseamillion — that aimed to help employees become financially secure by shedding $1 million collectively in personal debt. The strategy included weekly videos on finances, workshops and sending personal finance books to employees.
  • Kathleen Long, vice president for human resources, the Farfield Co., Lititz, Pa., for supervising a campaign that included replacing paper communications with an online approach, improving auto-enrollment and auto-escalation features to the company's 401(k) plan and arranging for one-on-one financial counseling for participants.
  • Cliff York, head of pensions & benefits, Americas, at BP PLC, Houston, who offered a financial wellness program complete with personalized financial planning and a series of financial education components which, if completed successfully, would enable employees to qualify for a more flexible health plan than that offered to most employees.