Re-Envisioning Retirement Security: Speaker Biographies

Featured Speakers Anna Burger, hailed by Fortune Magazine as "the most powerful woman in the labor movement," has served since 2005 as the first chair of America's newest labor federation, Change to Win. She also serves as International Secretary-Treasurer of the Service Employees International Union. Change to Win, founded four years ago by SEIU and six other major unions representing six million workers, is developing joint industry-based organizing campaigns aimed at ensuring that workers, not just CEOs, benefit from today's global economy. Burger is a longtime strategist who oversees SEIU's national political operations. In 2008, Burger led SEIU’s grassroots election work, which helped elect President Barack Obama and brought unprecedented victories for pro-worker candidates from across the country. An outspoken voice on the critical role unions can play to restore economic fairness in America and rebuilding the American dream, Burger was named in February 2009 to the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, a diverse group of economists, academics, business and labor leaders who were chosen to help guide the President’s economic recovery policies. David Cay Johnston is an investigative journalist and national best-selling author who received a Pulitzer Prize for beat reporting for his 2001 coverage of tax issues in The New York Times, where he was senior tax reporter for 13 years. David’s two most recent books – both bestsellers – feature chapters on pension abuses: Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense and Stick You with the Bill and Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich - and Cheat Everybody Else, which won the Investigative Reporters and Editors 2003 Book of the Year award.  David teaches a course on the history of regulation of trade and business at Syracuse University College of Law, does commentaries for National Public Radio, and writes columns for Tax Notes and The Nation. His next investigative book, The Fine Print, is scheduled for publication next year. 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. Congressman George Miller is chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee and chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee. He is a leading advocate in Congress on education, labor, the economy, and the environment. He has represented the 7th District of California in the East Bay of San Francisco since 1975. Miller is a leader in the effort to protect retirement and health security for all Americans. He is sponsoring legislation to better disclose fees charged in 401(k) plans. Miller was the author of the first bill signed into law by President Barack Obama on January 29 of this year – the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act – which overturned a Supreme Court ruling that restricted a woman’s right to challenge her employer on the basis of pay discrimination. He is part of a team working together with the White House to draft national health care reform legislation. In 2007, after Democrats were elected to a majority in Congress after 12 years of being the minority, Miller was the author of legislation that increased the minimum wage for the first time in 10 years, from $5.15 an hour to $7.25 an hour. Secretary Hilda L. Solis is the 25th Secretary of Labor, serving in the Obama Administration since February 2009. Prior to confirmation as Secretary of Labor, from 2001 to 2009, Solis was a member of the House of Representatives for the 32nd Congressional District in California, a district representing East Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley. In Congress, Solis’ priorities included expanding access to affordable health care, protecting the environment, and improving the lives of working families. Solis became the first woman to receive the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in 2000 for her pioneering work on environmental justice issues. Solis served in the California State Assembly from 1992 to 1994. In 1994 she made history by becoming the first Latina elected to the California State Senate. As the chairwoman of the California Senate Industrial Relations Committee, she led the battle to increase the state's minimum wage from $4.25 to $5.75 an hour in 1996. Solis worked in the Carter White House Office of Hispanic Affairs and was later appointed as a management analyst with the Office of Management and Budget in the Civil Rights Division. Richard L. Trumka was elected president of the AFL-CIO by acclamation at the federation’s 26th convention in Pittsburgh in September 2009. Prior to his election, Trumka served 15 years as the AFL-CIO’s Secretary-Treasurer. He rose to top of the nation’s largest labor federation from humble beginnings in the small coal mining communities of southwest Pennsylvania. He was first elected Secretary-Treasurer in 1995 as part of an insurgent campaign to reinvigorate the American labor movement.  Before his election as an officer of the AFL-CIO, he was President of the United Mine Workers of America. Trumka led the creation of the AFL-CIO Capital Stewardship Program in 1997 to promote the retirement security of America’s working families. Under his leadership, the program promotes corporate governance reform, investment manager accountability, pro-worker investment strategies, international pension fund cooperation and trustee education and support. In 2009, President Barack Obama named Trumka to the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board, chaired by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul A. Volcker. Biographies of Other Speakers Steve Abrecht is the Director of Benefits and of the Capital Stewardship Program for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).  He is the Director and Deputy to the Chairman of the Board of the SEIU Master Trust and its three associated pension funds. From 1996 through June 2000, Abrecht was the Research Director at SEIU; and, from 1990 through 1996, he was a Research Economist at the Communication Workers of America.  Prior to 1990, he was an independent consultant to trade unions specializing in the financial analysis of corporations.  From 1975 to 1985 he was Co-Director of Corporate Data Exchange, a non-profit research firm which provided data services on corporate ownership and pension fund investments.  He is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Council of Institutional Investors and of the Center for Working Capital.  He is the current Chair of the Activism Committee of the Council of Institutional Investors.  He is a graduate of Yale University. Nancy J. Altman, who has a thirty-year background in the areas of Social Security and private pensions, is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Pension Rights Center. Altman is also on the Board of Directors of the Foundation of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, as well as the National Academy of Social Insurance, a membership organization of over 800 of the nation's leading experts on social insurance. From 1983 to 1989, Altman served on the faculty of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and taught courses on private pensions and Social Security at the Harvard Law School.  In 1982, she was Alan Greenspan's assistant in his position as chairman of the bipartisan commission that developed the 1983 Social Security amendments.  She is the author of The Battle for Social Security: From FDR’s Vision to Bush’s Gamble (John Wiley & Sons, 2005).  Altman has an A.B. from Harvard University and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.    Algernon Austin, a sociologist, is Director of the Race, Ethnicity and the Economy program at the Economic Policy Institute. Prior to joining EPI, he was Assistant Director of Research at the Foundation Center and a Senior Fellow at Dēmos, a public policy research and advocacy organization. From 2001 to 2005, he served on the faculty of Wesleyan University. Austin is the author of Getting It Wrong: How Black Public Intellectuals Are Failing Black America and Achieving Blackness: Race, Black Nationalism, and Afrocentrism in the Twentieth Century. He has published scholarly articles in Ethnic and Racial Studies, Qualitative Sociology, the Journal of African American Studies, and Race, Gender and Class. Glenn Beamer is the Director of Public Health Programs and Associate Professor at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. His research has focused on community development and income support and health policies. Beamer’s scholarship about retirement security includes: “Sustaining the Rust Belt: A Retrospective Analysis of the Employee Purchase of Weirton Steel,” which appeared in Labor History.  His articles have appeared in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy, and Law, Policy Studies Journal, State Politics & Policy Quarterly, Labor History, and the Review of Policy Research.  His first book, Creative Politics: Taxes and Public Goods in a Federal System, was published by the University of Michigan Press. Glenn’s current research connects retirement security and community development and has resulted in a book manuscript, Cities of Steel: A Worker-based Model for Retirement Security and Community Investment.  This manuscript is under review at the Russell Sage Foundation. Beamer received his doctorate in political science from the University of Michigan, and he was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholar in Health Policy Research at the University of California at Berkeley and San Francisco from 1997 through 1999.   Margot Brandenburg is Associate Director at the Rockefeller Foundation, where she works on program initiatives that pertain broadly to economic development, including the Foundation’s Campaign for American Workers initiative, which focuses on the economic security of low-income U.S. workers. A significant part of the Campaign for American Workers strategy focuses on improving the retirement security of low- and moderate-income workers, with a focus on both Social Security and the private retirement system. Prior to joining the Foundation, Brandenburg worked in the fields of community development finance and microfinance, mostly in sub-Saharan and North Africa. She has held positions at the African Development Bank and the Microfinance Information eXchange (MIX), and has spent extended periods of time providing technical assistance to microfinance and community development institutions in the United States and Africa. Brandenburg received a Masters in Public Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton, and her B.A. in International Relations from Stanford University. She also serves as a Board member of Brooklyn Cooperative Credit Union. Michael Calabrese, Vice President and a cofounder of New America Foundation’s Next Social Contract Initiative, has helped to lead this cross-cutting effort to develop and spark a national conversation about the principles, priorities, and policy solutions that should add up to a Next Social Contract. He also initiated New America’s efforts to promote universal pension coverage and retirement security for all Americans, and initially developed the foundation’s proposal for mandatory-but-affordable universal health insurance coverage. Michael has served previously as General Counsel of the Congressional Joint Economic Committee, as a pension and benefits counsel at the national AFL-CIO, and as director of domestic policy programs at the Center for National Policy. Calabrese is an attorney and graduate of Stanford Business and Law Schools, where he completed the joint JD/MBA program in 1984.  He received a B.A. in Economics and Government from Harvard College in 1979. He has published widely, including opinion articles in the Atlantic Monthly, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Washington Post.  Gail Dratch is Legislative Representative for the AFL-CIO Department of Government Affairs, responsible for retirement security issues, including Social Security and pensions, and corporate accountability. Previously, Dratch was with the National Council of Senior Citizens for nine years, first in the Legislative Department, and then as Political Director. In that role, she managed their electoral activities and directed the NCSC Political Action Committee. Dratch also served as National Political Director of the International Ladies Garment Workers’ Union, which has become UNITE-HERE.  In 1993-1995, she directed the Campaign for Health Security, the labor-consumer coalition supporting President Clinton’s Health Reform efforts.  She is a graduate of Hampshire College, in Amherst Massachusetts, and received her degree in gerontology and public policy.   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 the late Rep. William Ford (D-Mich.), 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 United Mine Workers of America Health and Retirement Funds. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School. Richard Ferlauto is the director of Corporate Governance and Public Pension Programs for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) where he is responsible for representing public employee interests in public retirement and benefit systems.  Ferlauto is a well-known shareholder activist and media commentator on corporate governance issues. He was recently named by Directorship Magazine as one of the most influential corporate governance activists and has been featured in Institutional Investor magazine. He is a speaker and is a frequent commentator on CNBC, Bloomberg TV and the Nightly Business Report. He is founder and Chairman of a nonprofit nonpartisan organizations that represents the interests of retail shareholders. He is a graduate of Georgetown University. Maria P. Freese is Director of Governmental Relations and Policy at the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. Since 2003, she has overseen strategic planning and advocacy initiatives on Social Security and Medicare. Freese 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. Karen Friedman is Executive Vice President and Policy Director of the Pension Rights Center. She has written articles for the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and Plan Sponsor magazine, has been quoted in every major publication, including the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and the Chicago Tribune, and has been featured on CBS Evening News, CNN, PBS Nightly Business Report, the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Good Morning America and NBC Nightly News. Among her accomplishments, Friedman developed and directed the Conversation on Coverage, an unprecedented seven-year-long national public policy dialogue to bring together experts of divergent views to develop common ground solutions to expand pensions and savings for American workers – particularly focused on low- and moderate-income wage earners. A graduate of Georgetown University, Friedman has also been Associate Legislative Director of the Human Rights Campaign and Media Director of the New Israel Fund, and has run her own consulting firm, the Center for Creative Action. Teresa Ghilarducci is the Irene and Bernard L. Schwartz Professor in Economic Policy Analysis at the New School for Social Research and the Director of Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis. She was most recently a Professor of Economics and Director of the Higgins Labor Research Center at the University of Notre Dame. Her book, When I'm Sixty Four: The Plot Against Pensions and the Plan to Save Them, for Princeton University Press, 2008, investigates the effect of pension losses on older Americans. She is a public trustee for the UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust and for the Goodyear Retiree Health Care Trust. She was a gubernatorial appointee to the Indiana Public Employee Pension Fund Board of Trustees and a presidential appointment to the Advisory Board of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. Her book Labor's Capital: The Economics and Politics of Employer Pensions, MIT Press, won an Association of American Publishers award in 1992. She co-authored Portable Pension Plans for Casual Labor Markets in 1995. Teresa holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Berkeley. Her research has been funded by the Ford Foundation, The Sloan Foundation, the Department of Labor, and the Rockefeller Foundation. Carol Gold served as Director of Employee Plans at the Internal Revenue Service from 2000 to 2006, capping a 30-year career at the agency. She earned Commissioner Awards from three of the Internal Revenue Service’s four business operating divisions for collaborative cross-functional achievements and served five years on the IRS Senior Manager Executive Readiness Board. In 2007 she took leave from the IRS to be Executive in Residence at the federal Executive Institute in Charlottesville, Virginia. Gold received a B.A. from Duke University, a J.D. from Boston University School of Law and an MM.L. in Taxation from Georgetown University Law Center. She is a charter fellow and serves on the Board of Governors of the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel. Regina T. Jefferson is a professor of law at The Catholic University Columbus School of Law.  She teaches courses in individual income taxation, partnership taxation, and ERISA pensions. Her scholarly articles and papers address a variety of tax topics including the funding limitations of defined benefit plans, the risks of defined contribution plans, Social Security reform, the earned income tax credit, and health savings accounts. Prior to joining the faculty at Catholic University in 1992, Regina was a tax law specialist at the National Office of the Internal Revenue Service, where she specialized in qualified employee plans. She served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in 2000 and 2001 at Catholic University.  Professor Jefferson has a B.S. in mathematics from Howard University, a J.D. from The George Washington University Law School, and an LL.M. from Georgetown University Law Center. In 1998, Professor Jefferson was appointed by President Clinton as one of one hundred participants for the first National Summit on Retirement Income Savings.  Charlie Jeszeck is Acting Director at the U.S. Government Accountability Office.  He has spent over 23 years with GAO, leading research on retirement and labor policy issues, providing information to members of Congress and their staff on these matters. In the last decade, he has focused on a variety of retirement security issues, including Social Security reform, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation and defined benefit plan funding, participation in 401(k) plans and the employment of older workers.  His most recent report, Private Pensions: Alternative Approaches Could Address Retirement Risks Faced by Workers but Pose Trade-offs, GAO-09-642, July 2009, focused on a number of proposals to reform the U.S. private pension system as well as what could learned from the UK, Dutch and Swiss private pension systems. Before joining GAO, Jeszeck taught Economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and at Barnard College and worked in the research departments of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO.  He received a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1982. Gene M. Kalwarski, FSA, FCA, EA, MAAA, has been a top actuary, consultant and thought leader in the pension plans and retirement policy community for over thirty-five years.  As President and CEO of Cheiron Inc., he has served as consultant to many of the nation’s largest corporate, public sector, and Taft-Hartley pension plans. He has also developed federal policy while at the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation at the advent of ERISA. Since leaving that agency, he has continued to provide strategic guidance to the PBGC as well as the IRS, and the U.S. Department of Defense. Kalwarski has also provided counsel on retirement systems policy issues in testimony before committees of the U.S. Congress, and internationally, worked with the World Bank assisting the social security programs in Poland, Albania, and Bulgaria. Emily Kessler is Senior Fellow, Intellectual Capital of the Society of Actuaries (SOA). In 2005, with the SOA's Pension Section Council, she launched the Retirement 20/20 initiative, an effort to envision 21st century retirement systems. Kessler joined the SOA in 2003 as the retirement staff Fellow, where she worked with SOA members on research and education issues for actuaries whose primary practice is pension. Kessler worked on the implications of financial economics on the pension actuarial paradigm and in understanding the needs and risks faced by individuals post–retirement. In that role, she became interested in broader retirement issues and pensions. Prior to joining the SOA, Kessler was a consulting actuary at Towers Perrin for 14 years, where she worked with Fortune 500 clients on the design, administration and financing of pension and post–retirement medical plans. Kessler earned an undergraduate degree in mathematical methods in the social sciences, with an emphasis on sociology, from Northwestern University. David Madland is Director of the American Worker Project at the Center for American Progress. He has written academic articles, books, op-eds and commentaries on a range of economic issues, primarily focused on retirement, jobs, and public opinion. He has a Ph.D. in government from Georgetown University and received his B.S. from the University of California at Berkeley. Madland's dissertation about the political reaction to the decline of the defined benefit retirement system was awarded the Best Dissertation Award by the Labor and Employment Relations Association. Prior to joining the Center for American Progress, Madland helped lead a range of advocacy campaigns as a consultant to labor unions and environmental organizations. Previously, he worked for Congressman George Miller (D-CA) on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce as well as the Resources Committee. He was political director of the environmental organization Save the Bay, policy director for the taxpayer watchdog Taxpayers for Common Sense, and research director for Michela Alioto for Congress. Amy K. Matsui, Senior Counsel for the National Women’s Law Center, works on economic issues affecting low- and moderate-income women and families, with special emphasis on federal and state tax policy. Her work on state and federal tax policies, including those pertaining to private-sector and public-sector retirement systems, consists of analysis and advocacy focusing on the needs of working women and spouses.  She has focused in particular on spousal protections in the context of employer-based retirement systems. She also analyzes federal and state tax credits available to working families, provides technical assistance to state advocates with regard to such credits, and coordinates the Center’s tax credits outreach campaign. Prior to working at the Center, Ms. Matsui practiced private commercial law. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and Stanford Law School.  Leticia Miranda is the Associate Director of the Economic and Employment Policy Project at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States. The Economic and Employment Policy Project provides NCLR’s perspective on employment, energy, retirement, and poverty policy at the federal level. Miranda worked at NCLR conducting research on Latino demographics earlier in her career. She also worked at Children’s Defense Fund, where she authored a widely-covered report on Latino child poverty in 1991. Miranda’s background also includes five years at Levi Strauss & Co., where she worked on a team that implemented the apparel industry’s first labor and environmental standards for global apparel contractors. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics at the University of California at Berkeley and an MBA at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Monique Morrissey joined the Economic Policy Institute in 2006. She previously worked at the AFL-CIO Office of Investment and the Financial Markets Center. Her areas of interest include retirement security, executive compensation, the Federal Reserve, and financial markets. She has a B.A. in Political Sciences and History from Swarthmore College and a Ph.D. in Economics from American University. Shaun O'Brien, Senior Vice President for Economic Security Strategy in AARP’s Office of Social Impact, leads strategic planning for AARP’s economic security agenda. Prior to joining AARP, he was the Assistant Policy Director in the AFL-CIO’s Legislation Department and a Staff Attorney for the Pension Rights Center. Mr. O’Brien holds a bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude, from American University and a law degree from Cornell Law School. Norman Stein is the Douglas Arrant 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.  John A. Turner is Director of the Pension Policy Center, which provides research and consulting on social security and pension policy. Previously, he worked in the AARP Public Policy Institute and the International Labor Office in Geneva, Switzerland. He has also worked in research offices at the U.S. Social Security Administration and the U.S. Labor Department, where he was the Deputy Director of the pension research office for nine years. He taught as an adjunct lecturer in economics at George Washington University and at Georgetown University in the Public Policy Institute. He was a Fulbright scholar in France. He has lectured and consulted in more than twenty countries. He has published 12 books and more than 100 articles. He has a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Chicago. Mark J. Ugoretz has been President and Chief Executive Officer of The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) since 1983 and has responsibility for managing the association's legislative, regulatory, and educational mission. ERIC is a Washington based association representing exclusively the employee benefits interests of America's largest employers. Prior to joining ERIC, Ugoretz managed the nationwide state legislative and regulatory interests of a consumer drug association, was Chief of Staff to a senior member of Congress and served as an attorney/advisor to the Chairman of the National Labor Relations Board. Ugoretz is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law School. He received his undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Wisconsin where he also did graduate work in industrial relations. View a printer-friendly version of the Speaker Biographies [PDF].