2023 Crystal Globe Awards & Summit Summary

The 2023 Crystal Globe Awards honored three pension defenders whose passion and hard work are an inspiration to all in the defined benefit world.

Edward A. Kelly, general president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, was presented with a Crystal Globe Award for his dedication to promoting the value of defined benefit pensions across the country and in the halls of government.

“The mission of CORPaTH is the righteousness that’s represented by the collective might in this room,” Kelly said. “The collective might of intellect, of energy and of funding to combat those who would try to get rid of defined benefit pensions.”

Kelly was introduced by Mark DeVincentis, the head of capital formation and investor relations at Avance Investment Management, who called Kelly “our colleague in the fight for fairness for working people around the world.”

In a special presentation, CORPaTH saluted Fran Drescher, the members of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and the Writers Guild of America for their determination and solidarity during their strikes in 2023.

SAG-AFTRA Executive Vice President Linda Powell was in attendance to accept the honor. She said maintaining adequate funding for workers’ benefits and pension plans were a high priority during the extended summer negotiations.

“They called it a ‘hot labor summer’ for a reason — unions are having a moment,” Powell said. “We are proud at SAG-AFTRA to be playing our part in that moment, standing shoulder to shoulder with everyone standing up for job protections, for fair wages, for safe working conditions and also for fair benefits.”

William T. McDonough, CEO of Southwest Service Administrators, was the final recipient of a 2023 Crystal Globe Award. In his acceptance speech, he called for renewed vigor in confronting the mounting challenges facing defined benefit pension plans.

“We have to use the experts in this room to find ways to reduce the risk and redefine expectations by making plan design changes,” McDonough said. “There is hope — it’s already started. But there is still a lot of work to be done.”

McDonough was introduced by UFCW Local 99 President Jim McLaughlin, who praised the strong team McDonough assembled at Southwest Service Administrators to protect members’ pensions and his ability to inspire all those who work around him.

Comedian and author Derek Richards entertained the Crystal Globe Awards attendees as master of ceremonies. Ron Auer, executive director of CORPaTH, welcomed the audience prior to handing out the awards.

Prior to the Crystal Globe Awards ceremony, Ron Auer and CORPaTH Director of Trustee Outreach Ron Lind hosted a trustee roundtable, wherein pension trustees from across the country gathered to discuss strategies for 2024 and beyond.

Summit

Ron Auer greeted attendees at the start of the 2024 CORPaTH Summit and gave a preview of the upcoming panels before introducing Jacques Loveall, president of UFCW 8-Golden State and chair of the UFCW Trust in Northern and Central California.

Loveall commended the 2023 Crystal Globe winners for their work to protect defined benefit pensions and highlighted the diversity of the CORPaTH audience, which came from many different corners of the financial world for a common cause.

“What we all share is support for one another, celebrating one another and most importantly, coming together to solve big problems and make things better,” Loveall said. “I’m proud of what this organization has become.

“Every worker wants a defined benefit pension plan but not everyone has one,” he continued. “What is preventing them from having one? That’s the puzzle we solve.”

Loveall unveiled the solution: a variable defined benefit hybrid pension that will provide a monthly lifetime retirement benefit for vested participants. Titled the CORPaTH Lifetime Income Security Accrual Fund, or CORPaTH LISA, it is a pension plan that addresses the barriers preventing wider acceptance of defined benefit pensions.

“We addressed unfunded liability, portability, ease of access and ease of subscription,” Loveall said.

He invited Mike DiManno, CEO of Samuel Hale, a “home” for gig workers, and Ron Auer to the stage to sign a subscription agreement between CORPaTH and Samuel Hale to bring retirement security to nearly 11,000 gig workers through the CORPaTH LISA plan.

Auer and DiManno signed the agreement surrounded by others who were instrumental in its creation, including Segal Group, NEPC, MSH Law, Premier Benefit Solutions and Bleiweiss Communications Inc.

The Defined-Benefit Plans Panel, moderated by William T. McDonough, featured Tyler Bond, research director for the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS); David Brenner, a senior vice president at The Segal Group; Hank Kim, executive director and counsel for the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems (NCPERS); and Jason Russell, senior vice president and actuary at The Segal Group.

The panelists discussed trends in the defined benefit pension world, from recent high-profile announcements at IBM to new pension design structures, as well as the ways longstanding DB plans are adjusting to meet the challenges of the future.

The Workers’ Capital Panel, moderated by Ron Auer, featured Tom Croft, managing director of Heartland Capital Strategies (HCS) and executive director of the Steel Valley Authority (SVA); Erin Hutson, director of LIUNA’s Corporate Affairs Department; Hugues Létourneau, associate director of the secretariat of the Global Unions’ Committee on Workers’ Capital; Mika Malone, managing principal and consultant at Meketa Investment Group; and Brandon Rees, deputy director of corporations and capital markets for the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).

Panelists on the Workers’ Capital Panel highlighted new initiatives that seek to ensure the goals of pension fund investors are aligned with the protection of labor rights, as well as the need to bring accountability to global asset managers and their support for labor-related resolutions worldwide.

The Trustees Panel, moderated by Ron Lind, featured Richard “Skip” Daly , a trustee for the Northern Nevada Laborers Pension Plan; Sharon Hendricks, the board vice chair for the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS); Ed Kelly, general president of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF); Jose Luis Pacheco of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) Board of Administration; and David Weissman, a member of the board of directors at Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC.

The panelists discussed challenges faced by pensions in different parts of the country, including the need to have a smart but also ethical investment portfolio, and the role of the trustee as the ultimate decision maker for the fidelity of a pension fund.

The Consultants Panel, moderated by Ron Auer, featured Thomas Garrett, managing director of strategic research at Verus; Brian Morandi, senior consultant at Alan Biller & Associates; John Elliot, partner at NEPC; Mika Malone, managing principal and consultant at Meketa Investment Group; John Marco, senior vice president at Segal Marco Advisors; and Tim McCusker, chief investment officer at NEPC.

Panelists on the Consultants Panel detailed several creative ways to maintain good investment returns, strategies for adapting to constantly shifting financial markets and portfolio tips that set up investments for long term growth.

The CORPaTH Summit concluded with a VIP reception for program participants and sponsors at the Champion Level and above.

The CORPATH Crystal Globe Awards and Summit are set to return to Caesars Palace Las Vegas on Dec. 10-11, 2024.

2023 Crystal Globe Awards & Summit Summary

The 2023 Crystal Globe Awards honored three pension defenders whose passion and hard work are an inspiration to all in the defined benefit world.

Edward A. Kelly, general president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, was presented with a Crystal Globe Award for his dedication to promoting the value of defined benefit pensions across the country and in the halls of government.

“The mission of CORPaTH is the righteousness that’s represented by the collective might in this room,” Kelly said. “The collective might of intellect, of energy and of funding to combat those who would try to get rid of defined benefit pensions.”

Kelly was introduced by Mark DeVincentis, the head of capital formation and investor relations at Avance Investment Management, who called Kelly “our colleague in the fight for fairness for working people around the world.”

In a special presentation, CORPaTH saluted Fran Drescher, the members of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and the Writers Guild of America for their determination and solidarity during their strikes in 2023.

SAG-AFTRA Executive Vice President Linda Powell was in attendance to accept the honor. She said maintaining adequate funding for workers’ benefits and pension plans were a high priority during the extended summer negotiations.

“They called it a ‘hot labor summer’ for a reason — unions are having a moment,” Powell said. “We are proud at SAG-AFTRA to be playing our part in that moment, standing shoulder to shoulder with everyone standing up for job protections, for fair wages, for safe working conditions and also for fair benefits.”

William T. McDonough, CEO of Southwest Service Administrators, was the final recipient of a 2023 Crystal Globe Award. In his acceptance speech, he called for renewed vigor in confronting the mounting challenges facing defined benefit pension plans.

“We have to use the experts in this room to find ways to reduce the risk and redefine expectations by making plan design changes,” McDonough said. “There is hope — it’s already started. But there is still a lot of work to be done.”

McDonough was introduced by UFCW Local 99 President Jim McLaughlin, who praised the strong team McDonough assembled at Southwest Service Administrators to protect members’ pensions and his ability to inspire all those who work around him.

Comedian and author Derek Richards entertained the Crystal Globe Awards attendees as master of ceremonies. Ron Auer, executive director of CORPaTH, welcomed the audience prior to handing out the awards.

Prior to the Crystal Globe Awards ceremony, Ron Auer and CORPaTH Director of Trustee Outreach Ron Lind hosted a trustee roundtable, wherein pension trustees from across the country gathered to discuss strategies for 2024 and beyond.

Summit

Ron Auer greeted attendees at the start of the 2024 CORPaTH Summit and gave a preview of the upcoming panels before introducing Jacques Loveall, president of UFCW 8-Golden State and chair of the UFCW Trust in Northern and Central California.

Loveall commended the 2023 Crystal Globe winners for their work to protect defined benefit pensions and highlighted the diversity of the CORPaTH audience, which came from many different corners of the financial world for a common cause.

“What we all share is support for one another, celebrating one another and most importantly, coming together to solve big problems and make things better,” Loveall said. “I’m proud of what this organization has become.

“Every worker wants a defined benefit pension plan but not everyone has one,” he continued. “What is preventing them from having one? That’s the puzzle we solve.”

Loveall unveiled the solution: a variable defined benefit hybrid pension that will provide a monthly lifetime retirement benefit for vested participants. Titled the CORPaTH Lifetime Income Security Accrual Fund, or CORPaTH LISA, it is a pension plan that addresses the barriers preventing wider acceptance of defined benefit pensions.

“We addressed unfunded liability, portability, ease of access and ease of subscription,” Loveall said.

He invited Mike DiManno, CEO of Samuel Hale, a “home” for gig workers, and Ron Auer to the stage to sign a subscription agreement between CORPaTH and Samuel Hale to bring retirement security to nearly 11,000 gig workers through the CORPaTH LISA plan.

Auer and DiManno signed the agreement surrounded by others who were instrumental in its creation, including Segal Group, NEPC, MSH Law, Premier Benefit Solutions and Bleiweiss Communications Inc.

The Defined-Benefit Plans Panel, moderated by William T. McDonough, featured Tyler Bond, research director for the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS); David Brenner, a senior vice president at The Segal Group; Hank Kim, executive director and counsel for the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems (NCPERS); and Jason Russell, senior vice president and actuary at The Segal Group.

The panelists discussed trends in the defined benefit pension world, from recent high-profile announcements at IBM to new pension design structures, as well as the ways longstanding DB plans are adjusting to meet the challenges of the future.

The Workers’ Capital Panel, moderated by Ron Auer, featured Tom Croft, managing director of Heartland Capital Strategies (HCS) and executive director of the Steel Valley Authority (SVA); Erin Hutson, director of LIUNA’s Corporate Affairs Department; Hugues Létourneau, associate director of the secretariat of the Global Unions’ Committee on Workers’ Capital; Mika Malone, managing principal and consultant at Meketa Investment Group; and Brandon Rees, deputy director of corporations and capital markets for the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).

Panelists on the Workers’ Capital Panel highlighted new initiatives that seek to ensure the goals of pension fund investors are aligned with the protection of labor rights, as well as the need to bring accountability to global asset managers and their support for labor-related resolutions worldwide.

The Trustees Panel, moderated by Ron Lind, featured Richard “Skip” Daly , a trustee for the Northern Nevada Laborers Pension Plan; Sharon Hendricks, the board vice chair for the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS); Ed Kelly, general president of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF); Jose Luis Pacheco of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) Board of Administration; and David Weissman, a member of the board of directors at Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC.

The panelists discussed challenges faced by pensions in different parts of the country, including the need to have a smart but also ethical investment portfolio, and the role of the trustee as the ultimate decision maker for the fidelity of a pension fund.

The Consultants Panel, moderated by Ron Auer, featured Thomas Garrett, managing director of strategic research at Verus; Brian Morandi, senior consultant at Alan Biller & Associates; John Elliot, partner at NEPC; Mika Malone, managing principal and consultant at Meketa Investment Group; John Marco, senior vice president at Segal Marco Advisors; and Tim McCusker, chief investment officer at NEPC.

Panelists on the Consultants Panel detailed several creative ways to maintain good investment returns, strategies for adapting to constantly shifting financial markets and portfolio tips that set up investments for long term growth.

The CORPaTH Summit concluded with a VIP reception for program participants and sponsors at the Champion Level and above.

The CORPATH Crystal Globe Awards and Summit are set to return to Caesars Palace Las Vegas on Dec. 10-11, 2024.

Highlights from the 2023 Crystal Globe Awards & Summit