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2019 Public Policy Forum Speaker Information

Toni Brown

Senior Defined Contribution Specialist
America Funds

Toni Brown is a senior defined contribution specialist at American Funds, part of Capital Group. She has 24 years of investment industry experience and has been with Capital Group for less than one year. Prior to joining Capital, Toni was the director of U.S. client consulting and the U.S. defined contribution leader for Mercer Investment Consulting. Before that, she was a senior investment consultant at Callan Associates with management responsibilities for the San Francisco consulting office and the firm’s defined contribution practice. She holds an MBA from Arizona State University and a bachelor’s degree in general business from the University of Denver. She also holds the Chartered Financial Analyst® designation. Toni is based in San Francisco.

Drew Carrington

Senior Vice President
Head of Institutional Defined Contribution
Franklin Templeton Institutional

Drew Carrington is a Senior Vice President, and leads Franklin Templeton's defined contribution business within the U.S. institutional large market segment. His responsibilities include presenting the firm's capabilities to existing and prospective DC clients and their consultants, as well as understanding and communicating the complex, evolving regulatory landscape of DC plans.

Prior to joining Franklin Templeton in 2013, he served as head of the Defined Contribution and Retirement Solutions Group at UBS Global Asset Management, focused on developing investment solutions for large DC plans, particularly in the target date and retirement income categories. He joined UBS in 2005, as a senior fixed income client portfolio manager for UBS, where he worked closely with their Asset-Liability Investment Solutions team to design and implement the fixed income and duration overlay portions of asset-liability management strategies. Before joining UBS, he was a principal at Mercer Investment Consulting, where he worked with both public and private DB and DC clients. He began his career in the financial services industry in 1988.

Mr. Carrington is former chair of the Retirement Income Committee and current member of the Retirement Research Board of the Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association (DCIIA), a nonprofit association dedicated to enhancing the retirement security of American workers. He is a frequent speaker at DC industry conferences on retirement income, diversification opportunities and risk mitigation. Mr. Carrington holds Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) designations, is Series 7 and 63 licensed and holds a bachelor of arts from Harvard University.

Paul Francisco

Chief Diversity Officer
Head of Workforce Development
State Street Corporation

Paul is the Chief Diversity Officer and Head of Workforce Development programs at State Street Corporation. In these roles, Paul leads the implementation of State Street’s global diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies. He also oversees the execution of workforce development strategies and the Affirmative Action planning.

Prior to joining State Street, Paul was a Managing Director and co-founder of Foster & Francisco LLC, an executive search and diversity consulting firm based in Boston. Before Foster & Francisco, Paul led recruitment and Consulting and Relationship Management functions at Bank of America, as well as Fidelity Investments, respectively. Early in his career he led recruitment efforts at Amica Mutual Insurance, and The Gillette Company.

Paul graduated from Boston University with a BA in Political Science. In 2018 he received a Doctor in Humane Letters Degree (Hon) from Fisher College. He resides in Dorchester, MA, with his wife and two daughters.

Kara Getz

Counselor to the Chairman
Ways & Means Chairman Richard E. Neal

Kara Getz is Counselor to the Chairman for Ways & Means Chairman Richard E. Neal. Prior to joining Ways & Means, Kara was Senior Tax Counsel for the Senate Finance Committee and Tax Counsel and Legislative Director for Congressman Richard Neal. Kara also worked as Chief Counsel for the Senate Special Committee on Aging and Tax Counsel for Senator Gordon Smith. Her private sector experience includes working as the Director of Congressional Affairs for ASPPA and as a Senior Manager in the National Compensation and Benefits Group of Ernst & Young LLP’s Human Capital practice.

Micah Hauptman

Financial Services Counsel
Consumer Federation of America

Micah Hauptman is the Financial Services Counsel at the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), a nonprofit association of nearly 300 national, state, and local pro-consumer organizations. At CFA, he performs research and engages in advocacy on investor protection issues. Prior to joining CFA, Micah worked on a broad range of banking and tax issues at Public Citizen. Prior to joining Public Citizen, he worked as a prosecutor for the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office. Micah graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law.

Kendra Kosko Isaacson

Senior Pensions Counsel
Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions

Kendra Kosko Isaacson serves as Senior Pensions Counsel to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions, where she advises Ranking Member Murray and other committee members on ERISA and retirement issues. Kendra joined the HELP Committee after working in the Employee Benefits Security Administration at the Department of Labor where she worked in the Office of Policy and Research. Kendra holds an LL.M in Taxation with a certificate in Employee Benefits from the Georgetown University Law Center, a J.D., with honors, from the Catholic University Law School and a B.A. from Dartmouth College.

Melissa Kahn

Managing Director
Retirement Strategist, DC

Melissa is the Managing Director for Retirement Policy for the Defined Contribution team. Melissa leads the DC team in developing and communicating the team's public policy positions as they relate to the retirement market, and is responsible for cultivating relationships with key retirement policy decision-makers.

Melissa is based in Washington, D.C., and in Boston. She works closely with State Street's Regulatory, Industry, and Government Affairs (RIGA) group, which is responsible for coordination of overall State Street public policy positioning and advocacy.

Melissa is an attorney with extensive experience in developing and implementing policy and strategies on domestic and international employee benefits legislation and regulation, as well as Social Security reform. Importantly, she has worked for many years on Retirement Income policy. Immediately prior to joining SSGA, Melissa was a consultant providing strategic planning, policy analysis and advocacy work on a variety of issues, including retirement, long-term care, Social Security, and global employee benefits to financial institutions and large plan sponsor clients in the US. Previously, Melissa worked at MetLife, where she spent 12 years in the company's Washington D.C. government relations office. Melissa also has worked for the Retirement Strategies Group, the American Council of Life Insurance and the Equitable Life Assurance Society of America.

Michael Kreps

Groom Law Group

Michael P. Kreps is a principal at Groom Law Group, where he counsels employers, unions, plan sponsors, financial institutions, trade associations, and coalitions on retirement and health matters. Michael specializes in issues relating to retirement and health policy, fiduciary responsibility, and pension plan funding and restructuring.

Previously, Michael served as the Senior Pensions and Employment Counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions from the 111th through the 114th Congresses. In that role, he managed all aspects of the Committee’s retirement agenda and had primary staff responsibility for pension legislation, including the pension investment provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the funding stabilization and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation reform provisions of the MAP-21 Act of 2012, the Pension Relief Act of 2010, and the CSEC Pension Flexibility Act. He also led the Committee’s oversight of regulatory activities involving employee benefit plans.

Michael is a frequent speaker and writer on retirement and health policy. He holds a JD, with honors, from The George Washington University Law School and a BA, with distinction, in history and art history from the University of Colorado. He is active in his local community as a member of the Alexandria Commissions on Aging and Human Rights and is member of the Sorensen Institute Political Leaders Program’s class of 2015.

Lisa Massena

Vice President, Government Savings Division

Lisa Massena, CFA, is a vice president in the Government Savings division. In this role, she partners with states and governments that are in the process of developing and implementing retirement programs to address the retirement savings gap of residents. She is also responsible for establishing industry partnerships and collaborating to build government-based programs to support retirement savings.

Lisa brings more than 30 years of financial services and investment management experience to this role. She previously served as the founding executive director of OregonSaves, where she led the launch of the nation's first state-sponsored retirement program for private sector employees. She has also held executive positions at State Street and mPower.

Lisa holds a B.A. in Business Administration from Portland State University and is a Chartered Financial Analyst.

Jonathan McBride

Managing Director

Jonathan McBride, Managing Director, is the Global Head of Inclusion and Diversity and also a member of the firm's Global Operating Committee.

Prior to joining BlackRock, Mr. McBride served as Director of the Presidential Personnel Office in the White House, a role he was appointed to in July 2013. He joined the administration as a Special Assistant to the President and the Deputy Director of the Presidential Personnel Office in August, 2009. In February, 2012 he was promoted to be a Deputy Assistant to the President. Prior to serving in the White House, Mr. McBride was the Chief Strategy Officer with Universum, a global Employer Branding company, and served as the company's most senior consultant to companies and agencies looking to attract and recruit top talent. In 2000, Mr. McBride co-founded Jungle Media Group. Jungle's magazines, websites, and live events served a variety of audiences including MBAs, JDs, college students, African American young professionals, and Hispanic young professionals. The content focused on the career lifestyle and informed its readers about how to best navigate current and future career moves. Mr. McBride also worked for Goldman Sachs from 1997 to 2000 and U.S. Senator Herb Kohl from 1992 to 1995.

Joan McDonagh

Senior Director, Legislative and Regulatory Affairs
Empower Retirement

Joan McDonagh is the Senior National Regulatory Policy Director for Empower Retirement. Her areas of expertise include law in the employee benefits area as well as ERISA compliance with an emphasis on fiduciary requirements.

Joan joined the organization 1988, when she worked for Great-West Financial® subsidiary EMJAY Corporation.

Joan holds a Juris Doctor degree from American University Washington College of Law and is a member of the Wisconsin Bar Association. She is on the Government Relations Committee of the Society of Professional Asset-Managers and Record Keepers (SPARK) and is past chair of the Public Policy Committee of the Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association (DCIIA). She is also a member and past Vice President of Wisconsin Retirement Plan Professionals, Ltd.

Joan has written numerous articles and presented a variety of seminars on retirement plan issues. She is a contributing author of the 401(k) Answer Book, which is published by Aspen Publishers, a division of Wolters Kluwer Law and Business.

David E. Morse

Employee Benefits Partner
K&L Gates LLP

David E. Morse is an employee benefits partner in the New York City office of K&L Gates LLP. He advises states and cities on the legal and practical issues involved in establishing MEPs (multiple employer plans), Auto-IRAs (otherwise known as “Secure Choice”), and other retirement programs for the private sector. Mr. Morse has testified before numerous state and local legislative committees and assisted in the drafting of enabling legislation. Most recently, he has advised on multi-state collaborations. Mr. Morse is a frequent commentator on the implications of ERISA, tax and securities laws for state and city initiatives, having written more than 60 articles, white papers and blogs, as well as a book on retirement plan issues. Since 2002, he has served as Editor-in-Chief of the Benefits Law Journal and is a Fellow of the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel. Mr. Morse holds a J.D. from Vanderbilt Law School and an LL.M. from New York University School of Law and is a certified public accountant.

Tommy Nguyen

Staff Director
Office of Senator Johnny Isakson (GA)

Tommy Nguyen serves as the Staff Director for Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee’s Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety. His professional responsibilities include overseeing the Subcommittee’s agenda and promulgating legislation within its jurisdiction, including workforce development, labor, and pension related issues. In addition to this role, Tommy serves as Sen. Isakson’s Defense Advisor where he counsels the Senator on issues of national security, defense, and intelligence.

A native of Houston, TX, Tommy joined Senator Isakson’s staff in 2011. He previously worked for Sen. Michael B. Enzi (R-WY) from 2007-2011. Tommy has a BA from the University of Maryland, MA from the Air Command and Staff College, and has completed the Congressional Security Scholars program at the Truman National Security Institute.

In addition to his civilian profession, Tommy serves as a military intelligence officer in the Georgia Army National Guard. He is a veteran of combat in Afghanistan with Army special operations forces and is a recipient of the Bronze Star and Parachutist Badge among other awards.

Aliya Robinson

Senior Vice President, Retirement and Compensation Policy
The ERISA Industry Committee

Aliya Robinson is Senior Vice President of Retirement and Compensation Policy. She leads ERIC’s efforts to develop and advocate for retirement and compensation public policies priorities for ERIC member companies at the federal, state, and local levels.

Aliya has more than 20 years of experience. She previously served as the Executive Director of Retirement Policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce where she was responsible for developing, promoting, and publicizing the Chamber’s policy on employer-provided retirement plans, nonqualified deferred compensation, and Social Security. She led the Chamber’s efforts on several pieces of retirement legislation, most notably the Pension Protection Act of 2006 and the Multiemployer Reform Act of 2014.

Prior to joining the Chamber, Aliya practiced employee benefits law advising clients on issues relating to ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code for retirement plans, health and welfare plans, and fringe benefit plans. Additionally, she worked on multiemployer pension plan compliance under ERISA, the Internal Revenue Code, and various areas of corporate tax, including corporate restructuring, implementation of cafeteria plans, and compliance with tax reporting obligations.

Aliya is a fellow in the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel and is a member of the Tax Coalition and the ERISA Roundtable. She is the Qualified Plans Subcommittee Co-chair of the Employee Benefits Committee of the ABA Labor and Employment Section of the American Bar Association and a contributing editor to the American Bar Association Treatise on Employee Benefits Law.
Aliya is a graduate of New York University School of Law, where she also received a Master of Laws in Taxation. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and African studies from Yale University.

Nancy Ross

Mayer Brown

Nancy G. Ross is a partner in Mayer Brown's Chicago office and Co-Chair of the ERISA Litigation practice. She focuses her practice primarily on the area of employee benefits class action litigation and counseling under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). Nancy has extensive experience in counseling and representing employers, boards of directors, plan fiduciaries and trustees in matters concerning pension and welfare benefit plans.

Katie Selenski

Executive Director

Katie Selenski was appointed by California State Treasurer John Chiang to serve as the first Executive Director of CalSavers, the state’s pioneering retirement savings program. The program will provide a path to retirement security for millions Californians who currently lack access to a retirement savings vehicle at work.

Prior to taking the helm at CalSavers, Ms. Selenski was the State Policy Director for pension policy at The Pew Charitable Trusts in Washington, D.C., where she managed Pew’s efforts to help fiscally distressed states and cities undertake data-driven pension system improvements. Previously, she was a senior manager with the nonpartisan public sector consulting firm Harvey M. Rose Associates, based in San Francisco, where she advised policymakers on a wide array of budget, management, and policy matters, including pensions. She has also worked as a municipal bond rating analyst, a legislative fellow in the California Assembly, and the director of an historic statewide nonpartisan youth voter turnout initiative. Ms. Selenski previously served on the board of directors of California Common Cause. She is a graduate of the University of Chicago and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Mike Shields

Political Commentator

CNN Political Commentator Mike Shields brings to Convergence more than 20 years of strategic experience at the highest levels of campaigns, Capitol Hill and influential outside groups.

Shields served as Chief of Staff to the Republican National Committee in 2013-2014, overseeing the reform and build-out of a $175 million data and ground operation that led to the historic victory in 2016.

Most recently Shields served as the President of Congressional Leadership Fund – a 527 “SuperPAC” – that focuses on electing Republicans to Congress. In 2016 CLF raised a record $50 million and went 29-3 in the 32 house races it played in.

Shields also brings a depth of policy and management experience, having served as President of American Action Network, a 501c4 issue advocacy organization.

Prior to these posts Shields served as the Political Director and Independent Expenditure Director of the National Republican Congressional Committee. As IE Director in the historic 2010 congressional victory, Shields oversaw an operation that put up over 140 separate TV ads in 63 districts.

The American Association of Political Consultants recognized Shields’ expertise by naming him the 2012 election’s “Most Valuable Player” for his leadership in creating a messaging program to defend House Republicans.

Shields career began in earnest when he became the Political Communications Director to then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich. He also served as Chief of Staff to Congressman Dave Reichert of Washington State, helping steer him to upset victories in 2006 and 2008.

Born in the United States on a U.S. Air Force Base to an American father and British mother, Clyde and Wendy, Shields moved with his family to Great Britain as a child where he lived for 10 years. Understanding – and translating – the British political scene and the consequences of Brexit is a passion for Shields, as is helping to decode American politics for his British colleagues.

Shields lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with his wife Katie and his son Aidan.

Pete Swisher

Senior Vice President
Pentegra Retirement Services

Pete is Senior Vice President and National Practice Leader for Pentegra Retirement Services and is known nationally for his work on retirement plan governance. He is a prolific writer and speaker for the financial community and was the founding Chair of NAPA’s government affairs committee. In 1988 he graduated with a degree in Linguistics from the University of Virginia, where he was selected for the prestigious Echols Scholar Program. He served in the first Gulf War as Executive Officer of a U.S. Marine infantry company. He lives with his family in the horse country of Central Kentucky.

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend

Director, Retirement Security
Economic Policy Institute

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is Director, Retirement Security at the Economic Policy Institute. She Founded the Center for Retirement Security at Georgetown University where she is a Research Professor.

She has served with distinction in both the private and public arenas. She was Maryland’s first woman Lt Governor, and served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the United States.

Prior to serving at the Department of Justice, Ms. Townsend led the fight to make Maryland the first—and only—state to make service a high school graduation requirement.

She has been a Managing Director of Rock Creek the largest women owned asset management firm, with state pension funds, foundation, unions and corporate pension funds for clients.

She has been appointed Special Advisor at the Department of State. She is a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, has taught foreign policy at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Maryland and has been a visiting Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. In the mid-1980s, she founded the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.

She Chaired the Institute of Human Virology founded by Dr. Robert Gallo, which treats over 700,000 patients in Africa as part of the PEPFAR program, has chaired the Robert Kennedy Memorial, has chaired the Center for Popular Democracy, and has been on the Board of Directors of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. She Co-chairs Arizona State University’s School of Civic & Economic Thought Leadership. She also co-founded Civic Works, a non-profit that strengthens Baltimore’s communities through education, skills development, and community service for over 20 years.

She has served on a number of boards including the Export-Import Bank, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), the Wilderness Society, the Points of Light Foundation, the National Catholic Reporter and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, the Baltimore Urban League, the Center for American Progress, Lightbridge Corporation, and New Tower Trust, and . Ms. Townsend is also a member of the Council of Foreign Relations and the Inter-American Dialogue. She is the Vice-Chair of the Future of Science conference held in Venice Italy.

An honors graduate of Harvard University, Ms. Townsend received her law degree from the University of New Mexico where she was a member of the law review. She has received fourteen honorary degrees. Ms. Townsend’s book, Failing America’s Faithful: How Today’s Churches Mixed God with Politics and Lost Their Way has been published by Warner Books in March 2007.

Roberta Ufford

Senior Special Counsel
Analytics Office, Division of Investment Management
Securities and Exchange Commission

Roberta Ufford is a Senior Special Counsel in the Analytics Office of the SEC’s Division of Investment Management. The Analytics Office monitors trends in the investment management industry and carries out the Division’s outreach and examination program. Ms. Ufford also contributes to the work of the Division’s Rulemaking Office.

Before joining the SEC in 2015, Ms. Ufford was a principal of the Groom Law Group, Chartered, located in Washington, D.C., where she advised retirement plan sponsors and service providers about fiduciary and other issues arising under ERISA, federal securities laws and other laws. She earned her law degree from the George Washington University National Law Center, in Washington, D.C., graduating with High Honors, and her undergraduate degree from Goucher College, in Towson, Maryland. Before attending law school, she served as an active duty military intelligence officer in the U.S. Army, attaining the rank of Captain.

Michele Varnhagen

Senior Legislative Representative, Social Security and Retirement

Michele L. Varnhagen is the Senior Legislative Representative for Social Security and Retirement at AARP. Prior to joining AARP, Ms. Varnhagen served as Labor Policy Director for the US House Committee on Education and the Workforce from 1999-2013. Her responsibilities included all legislation related to retirement, health care, and workforce skills and training. Michele also worked as pension counsel to the US Senate Subcommittee on Labor from 1988-1994 and social policy advisor to USAID from 1995-1998. Ms. Varnhagen has a BA in economics from New York University and a JD from Catholic University.