Now in its fifth year, the program that began as the Innovator Awards got a new name for 2016.
When founded, the program aimed to recognize the DC plan executives who develop creative and unusual programs to help improve their participants' retirement incomes.
But the judges noticed there are multiple factors driving good outcomes, including innovation in design and excellence in execution.
“After years of focusing the awards solely on innovation, we decided to broaden out a bit this year to recognize plan sponsors that are at the leading edge of driving better outcomes for their participants,” said Lew Minsky, president and CEO of the Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association, co-sponsor of the newly named Excellence & Innovation Awards with Pensions & Investments.
In 2016, about 40 plan executives were nominated for the awards. Judges individually scored the online entries, trimming the list to 22 before convening in a conference call to select the winners.
“Making the finalist cut and choosing winners gets more difficult every year,” Mr. Minsky said.
The external judges were:
nKendall Frederick, senior manager of treasury, planning & analysis, Hanesbrands Inc., Winston-Salem, N.C.;
nCindy Franke, retirement plans manager at Snap-on Inc., Kenosha, Wis.;
nBarbara Kontje, director, Retirement America & Smart Savings, American Express Co., New York;
nMarla Kreindler, partner at Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP, Chicago;
nChris Lyon, partner at Rocaton Investment Advisors LLC, Norwalk, Conn.;
nJamie McAllister, vice president, defined contribution practice, Callan Associates Inc., Chicago,
nDina Pon, assistant vice president, human resources, Government Employees Insurance Co., Chevy, Chase, Md.;
nShelley Schueller, deferred compensation director, State of Wisconsin, Madison;
nPatrick Smith, managing director and chief investment officer, Cook Street Consulting, Greenwood Village, Colo.; and
nDavid Zellner, chief investment officer at the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits of the United Methodist Church, Glenview, Ill.
Mr. Minsky also was a judge. The P&I judges were: Amy Resnick, editor; Julie Tatge, executive editor; and Robert Steyer, reporter covering defined contribution.