About the Speakers

About the Speakers

Steve Abrecht is Director of Benefits and Capital Stewardship for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).  He is a Deputy Trustee of the SEIU Master Trust.   From 1996-2000 he was Research Director at SEIU and from 1990-1996 worked for the Communication Workers of America.  Prior to 1990 he was a consultant to trade unions.  From 1975 to 1985 he was Co-Director of Corporate Data Exchange, a non-profit research firm.  He is a former member of the Board of the Council of Institutional Investors and current Chair of its Activism Committee. He is a graduate of Yale University.

Ross Eisenbrey, Vice President of the Economic Policy Institute, is a lawyer and former commissioner of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Prior to joining EPI in 2002, he worked for many years as a staff attorney in the House of Representatives, as legislative director for Rep. William Ford, and as a committee counsel in the U.S. Senate. He served as policy director of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration from 1999 until 2001.

Karen Ferguson has directed the Pension Rights Center since its founding in 1976. She is co-author of The Pension Book: What You Need to Know to Prepare for Retirement, and a charter member of the BNA Pension & Benefits Reporter Advisory Board, the National Academy of Social Insurance, and the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel. Before starting the Center she worked as a lawyer for the National Labor Relations Board, the law firm of Bell, Boyd and Lloyd, the Public Interest Research Group, and the UMWA Health and Retirement Funds. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School.

Maria P. Freese joined the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare in September, 2003, and is currently Director of Government Relations and Policy where she oversees strategic planning and advocacy initiatives on Social Security and Medicare.  Maria is an attorney with 17 years legislative experience in employee benefits, individual income taxes, and retirement security and pensions.  She served as Democratic Tax Counsel for individual tax issues for the Senate Finance Committee, Legislative Director for Rep. L. F. Payne, D-VA, and Legislative Assistant for Rep. Norm Dicks, D-WA.  Maria holds a B.A. from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida and a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center.

Barbara B. Kennelly, President and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, has spent 25 years in public service at local, state and federal levels, including 17 years as a member of the U.S. Congress.  A former ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee's Subcommittee on Social Security, Mrs. Kennelly was the first woman to serve as Chief Majority Whip and she was Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus. She was also the first woman to serve on the House Committee on Intelligence. Throughout her career, Mrs. Kennelly has advocated for Social Security, Medicare and other health and retirement issues. After leaving Congress, she served as Counselor to the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration.  Mrs. Kennelly served on the 2005 White House Conference on Aging.  In 2006, Mrs. Kennelly was appointed to the Social Security Advisory Board by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Mrs. Kennelly resides in Hartford , Connecticut and Washington DC .

Norman Stein is the Douglas Arant Professor of Law for the University of Alabama School of Law and is a consultant to the Pension Rights Center.  Professor Stein has written extensively on employee benefits.  He is a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance and is a charter member of the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel, where he currently serves on the Board of Governors.  He has served on the Department of Labor's ERISA Advisory Council and was a delegate to the White House Conference on Retirement Savings.  He received a B.A. degree from New College in Sarasota, Florida, and a J.D. degree from Duke University.