Karen Ferguson, president and founder of the Pension Rights Center, has died at age 80.
In 1976, Ms. Ferguson founded the center, a national consumer organization that works to protect the retirement security of workers, retirees and their families. She died from cancer on Dec. 23, according to a PRC news release.
"We will miss her deeply for the rest of our lives," said Karen Friedman, PRC's executive director, in the release. "Karen Ferguson was one of the smartest and most compassionate people I have known, and it was a privilege and an honor to work with her. She was an amazing leader and inspired all of us.
"While she is irreplaceable, the Pension Rights Center will continue to work as hard as ever to keep her vision of a better and fairer pension system going and growing and it's an honor of a lifetime to build on her remarkable legacy."
For 45 years, Ms. Ferguson was involved in practically every piece of pension legislation in Congress, often generating ideas to provide greater fairness and security for the American people, according to the release. She also founded the PRC's legal program, which serves as the resource center to six pension counseling and information programs.
Ms. Ferguson was well known on Capitol Hill and testified at many congressional and regulatory hearings.
"Karen brought passion and a depth of knowledge to her work, and her work improved the lives of so many — most recently, retirees from multiemployer pension plans who were at risk of losing everything they had worked for," said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. chairwoman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, in a statement. "The world lost a pension superhero, and she will be greatly missed."
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., said in a statement that "our country lost a true champion for the rights of pensioners" with Ms. Ferguson's passing. He added, "As a tireless advocate, Karen dedicated her life to securing workers' hard-earned pensions and I saw this first-hand as we worked to enact the Butch Lewis Act.
"I join the millions of pensioners around the country in my gratitude for Karen's tenacious fight. She will be deeply missed and my heart is with all who loved her."
In March 2021, Democrats passed the American Rescue Plan Act, which included the Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act, a bill to create a federal assistance program for struggling multiemployer funds.
The Pension Rights Center will hold an event later this year to celebrate Ms. Ferguson's legacy, according to its news release. In lieu of flowers, Ms. Ferguson's family has asked that donations be made to the Pension Rights Center.