Anna M. Rappaport was honored Tuesday with the Employee Benefit Research Institute's annual Lillywhite Award for lifetime contributions to the country's economic security.
Ms. Rappaport is well-known for her retirement research and education that counsels retirees on seeking personal well-being as well as financial well-being.
Lori Lucas, president and CEO of EBRI, announced the award at the Pensions & Investments West Coast Defined Contribution in San Diego. The award is named for the late Ray Lillywhite, praised by EBRI as a pioneer in public pension administration.
Ms. Rappaport was unable to attend the conference. However, she expressed her thanks via a videotaped presentation.
Ms. Lucas said in a prior telephone interview that granting the Lillywhite Award to Ms. Rappaport represented an honor for "the right person at the right time" because Ms. Rappaport "has advanced the conversation about retirement beyond financial security."
At EBRI, "the No. 1 topic is spending in retirement," Ms. Lucas added. "We do the qualitative work. She has done the quantitative work."
Ms. Lucas pointed to Ms. Rappaport's work with the Society of Actuaries conducting focus groups with retirees to assess the strategies and practices for achieving a successful retirement.
Ms. Rappaport said in a separate telephone interview she got a running start on what she calls "phased retirement," thanks in part to her 28-year career at Mercer Human Resource Consulting.
"I was working with companies helping employees think about retirement," she said,
She found several ideas about phased retirement during her research "but no common definition." Some employees figured they would work for their employer in a less-than-full-time capacity. Her definition was "anything you do between your full-time job and before you exit permanently from the labor force."
When she retired in 2004, her original idea was to concentrate on her painting and be an artist.
"But there were so many (retirement) issues to do, so I set up an independent consulting firm," she said. Her eponymous firm's clients include not-for-profit organizations, government groups and businesses on topics such as an aging workforce, retirement needs for women and benefits planning. Her website includes retirement strategy tips as well as samples her art.
"I would like to see more retirement planning that goes beyond money," she said. "Money is critically important, but it's not the end of the story." Health and social engagement are important factors, too, she said.
"Be aware of this early," she added. "Retirement is a time of freedom and experimentation."