Excellence and Innovation Awards
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EXCELLENCE AND INNOVATION AWARDS

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What are the Excellence and Innovation Awards?

DCIIA and Pensions and Investments (P&I), co-sponsor this annual award for excellence and innovation by defined contribution plans and their executives. These two organizations partnered to create the Innovator Awards in 2012 and by 2014, they were a recognized standard for plan sponsor excellence and a signature part of the P&I DC West Conference.

"The quality and range of initiatives in the nominations we received this year was truly amazing, and is a real testament to the growing focus in the plan sponsor community in helping to ensure employees' retirement security," said Lew Minsky, president and CEO of DCIIA.

"Over the years, we noticed that there were executives and companies achieving great outcomes by going the extra mile with their plans," said Amy B. Resnick, editor of P&I. "The program now recognizes both innovation and excellence.

Seven winners were announced for the 2017 Excellence and Innovation Awards at Pensions & Investments West Coast Defined Contribution conference in San Diego. This is the sixth year that P&I and the Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association have recognized efforts by plan sponsors to improve the retirement security of participants.

2017 Excellence and Innovation Awards Winners


Katie Archer, director of global benefits, Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc.
, New Haven, Connecticut, for creating a retirement readiness review for participants that takes into account country-specific information about cost of living, expected retirement age, average life expectancy and retirement income as a percentage of pre-retirement earnings.

Sandy Blair, director of retirement readiness, California State Teachers' Retirement System, West Sacramento, for updating and expanding 403Compare, the unique state-sponsored program that serves as a clearinghouse for information about investment fees, services and performance for 403(b) plans offered to public school districts, community colleges, charter schools and county offices of education.

Deborah Goldberg, treasurer and general receiver of Massachusetts, Boston, for shepherding the creation of a statewide ERISA multiple-employer 401(k) plan for private-sector employees. The plan is offered to non-profit employers with 20 or fewer employees.

Nora Alvarado, manager of health and welfare administration and deferred compensation, Employees Retirement System of Texas, Austin, for implementing a "Stay in the Family'' campaign that reached out to pre-retirees with the goal of highlighting the benefits of remaining in the Texa$aver 401(k) and 457 plans during retirement. That effort put a spotlight on the plans' competitive fees, options for account consolidation and ongoing access to Texa$aver education counselors, Texa$aver adviser service and other account management tools.
 
Cliff York, head of pensions and benefits, Americas, at BP PLC, Houston, assembled a financial wellness program that puts health care on same level as financial goals. It covers five qualified savings plans, 25,000 employees and their spouses or partners, and 17,000 pre-Medicare retirees and their spouses or partners. The goal is to increase awareness and participation for both concepts of wellness.

Aimee Dodson, thrive director, Movement Mortgage LLC, Indian Lands, S.C., for directing a campaign — #loseamillion — that aimed to help employees become financially secure by shedding $1 million collectively in personal debt. The strategy included weekly videos on finances, workshops and sending personal finance books to employees.

Kathleen Long, vice president for human resources, the Farfield Co., Lititz, Pa., for supervising a campaign that included replacing paper communications with an online approach, improving auto-enrollment and auto-escalation features to the company's 401(k) plan and arranging for one-on-one financial counseling for participants.

View previous award winners here.

2017 Innovation Awards Winners from left: Deborah Goldberg, Massachusetts treasurer; Sandy Blair, CalSTRS; and Katie Archer, Alexion Pharmaceuticals. 2017 Excellence Awards winners: Aimee Dodson, Movement Mortgage; Cliff York, BP; Nora Alvarado, Texas ERS; and Kathleen Long, The Farfield Co.