Chief Membership & Marketing Officer, Insured Retirement Institute
Shani Armon is the Chief Membership & Marketing Officer for the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI). IRI is the leading financial services trade association for the retirement income industry. Members represent the entire supply chain of insured retirement strategies, including Insurers, Banks, Asset Managers, Broker-Dealers, Distributors, Financial Advisors, Law Firms and Solution Providers.
Armon is responsible for creating and accelerating IRI’s marketing strategy and brand recognition. She is focused on driving the association’s vision of championing retirement security for all Americans through leadership in advocacy, awareness, research, and advancement of technology solutions within a collaborative industry community. Armon provides overall strategic and operational leadership for marketing efforts targeted to various audiences, including members, nonmembers, the industry, and the public. She ensures accurate, consistent messaging in the organization’s marketing initiatives.
Armon also possesses overall responsibility for the organization’s membership operations, which include recruitment and retention, member services including management of the organization’s Premier Alliance Program, a high-level marketing and branding strategy membership program. Armon directs the planning and execution of the organization’s conferences, including logistics, vendor relations and contract negotiations and sponsorship acquisition.
Armon leads IRI’s diversity equity and inclusion work with internal partners and a subset of the Board of Directors to gain input and build buy-in on the strategy and approach for DEI efforts throughout IRI’s membership communities.
Previously, Armon served as the Senior Manager of Sponsorship and Sales for Industrial Designers Society of America and was responsible for strategic sourcing, third-party risk management and for ensuring a beneficial end to end sponsorship experience for service providers and member firms. Armon also served as an advisor to the CEO, driving strategic IDSA initiatives. She also served as the Senior Meeting Planner and Sponsorship Specialist for Investment Company Institute where she partnered with member firms to create the first Women in Leadership platform and brought in $1M in sponsorship revenue year over year.
Armon is a graduate of the University of Virginia and holds a BA in Psychology. Armon is a member of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Cultural Foundation where she leads fundraising and efforts.
Chief Legal & Regulatory Affairs Officer, Insured Retirement Institute
As Chief Legal & Regulatory Affairs Officer at the Insured Retirement Institute, Jason Berkowitz provides leadership and support for IRI member company priorities before federal and state policymakers, including the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the Department of Labor (DOL), the state insurance and securities departments, and state legislatures.
Berkowitz leads industry efforts on major regulatory initiatives applicable to the lifetime income industry and is the primary author of IRI’s comment letters regarding various regulatory proposals. He led IRI’s engagement with respect to the DOL fiduciary rule, and he remains at the forefront of IRI’s engagement on standard of conduct activities at the SEC, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), and across the states.
Berkowitz joined IRI in October 2012, serving as the association’s Vice President & Counsel for Regulatory Affairs until March 2019, when he was promoted into his current role.
Partner, Faegre Drinker
Bennett B. Borden is Chief Data Scientist of Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath, a partner in its Commercial Litigation Group and Chair of the Privacy, Cybersecurity and Data Strategy Group. He is also CEO of the firm’s technology services subsidiary, Tritura IG, which provides state of the art analytics technology and services to the firm’s clients. Bennett is a globally recognized authority on the legal, technology and policy implications of information. Bennett advises clients on the development and use of analytics models that enable insight, data storytelling and economic value generation. Bennett also builds machine-based learning models to transform and improve legal outcomes in key corporate events including mergers and acquisitions, information governance program development and enforcement, litigation and investigations and business intelligence.
Expert in Body Language, Human Behavior and Communication
Mark Bowden is a world-renowned body language expert, keynote speaker and bestselling author. Voted Global Gurus #1 Body Language Professional in the world, Mark’s unique GesturePlane system of nonverbal communication helps audiences maximize the power of using their own body language to stand out, win trust and gain credibility every time they communicate.
Founder of communication training company TRUTHPLANE®, Mark’s live and virtual keynote speeches and training prove invaluable to business leaders and teams from some of the most innovative companies in the world including Zoom, Shopify, and AMD; major organizations such as Toyota, KPMG, Amex, the US Army and NATO; and prime ministers of G7 powers. Mark has years of experience training business and political leaders across the globe on how to use their body language both live and over digital media most effectively for superior communication.
His bestselling books on body language and human behavior, translated into multiple languages, are: Winning Body Language, Winning Body Language for Sales Professionals, Tame the Primitive Brain, and Truth & Lies, What People are Really Thinking. Mark is on faculty for Kellogg-Schulich, Canada’s #1 ranked Executive MBA, and he is President of the National Communication Coach Association of Canada.
Mark’s highly acclaimed TEDx talk “The Importance of Being In-Authentic” reaches millions of people, as does his own YouTube Channel and the weekly YouTube sensation “The Behavior Panel,” also as seen on The Dr. Phil Show. He is a go-to media commentator on the body language of politicians, celebrities and public figures, appearing regularly on CNN, CBS and Global News, and quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and GQ Magazine.
Visit www.TruthPlane.com to learn more.
Chief Operating Officer, Insured Retirement Institute
Christina is Chief Operating Officer of the Insured Retirement Institute. With more than 15 years of experience managing membership-driven businesses, she is passionate about bringing strategy to life, delivering outsized value to customers, and building unparalleled workplace culture. At IRI, Christina oversees the organization’s strategy, finance, operations, IT, HR, communications, and research functions.
Prior to joining IRI in 2020, Christina served as chief of staff to the CEO and managing director of operations for the Advisory Board Company, a 500-person research organization within Optum and under the banner of UnitedHealth Group (UHG). In this role, she led operations for a business focused on research, market trends, and best practice sharing in the health care industry. An expert in operational outcomes and strategy setting, the organization achieved record profit margins, launched several new product lines, and laid the groundwork for a multi-phase strategy pivot under Christina’s leadership.
Prior to her years in operations and strategy, Christina worked in research roles, exploring how U.S. hospitals and health systems can implement best practices to advance their organizational goals. During this time, Christina worked in and led several custom research teams in addition to facilitating research on health system strategic planning.
At IRI, Christina has continued to build on these skills and experiences. Her passion for aligning organizational strategy to maximize member value and her laser-focus on the organization’s mission ensures IRI pivots where members most need support, while her background in research has been instrumental in expanding IRI’s content partnerships.
President & CEO, Texas Association of Life & Health Insurers
Jennifer Cawley is the President & CEO of the Texas Association of Life & Health Insurers (TALHI) with twenty-five years of engagement in crafting public policy in Texas. As the leader of TALHI, Jennifer leads an industry whose mission is to help Texans lead better lives by achieving financial security and certainty.
Previously, Jennifer served as Deputy Commissioner for the Life, Health & Licensing Program at the Texas Department of Insurance. In that capacity she oversaw the regulation of a wide range of life, annuity, accident and health insurance, and related coverages offered by insurance companies, in addition to the licensure of insurance agents and adjusters in Texas. Prior to that Jennifer acted as General Counsel for Governor Rick Perry’s Office of Budget, Planning, and Policy. In that capacity, she advised the Governor on policy and budget issues primarily related to insurance and the workers’ compensation system. Jennifer has also served as general counsel and legislative aide to two state senators.
A graduate of Texas Tech University with a B.S. in Agricultural and Applied Economics, Jennifer received her law degree from the University of Texas School of Law.
President and Chief Executive Officer, Insured Retirement Institute
Wayne is president and CEO of the Insured Retirement Institute. After nearly three decades of experience with major life insurance companies, Chopus is a respected retirement income industry executive and recognized for expertise across annuity product distribution and broker-dealer engagement.
A business leader of high-profile initiatives to respond to evolving consumer demands and industry competition, Chopus understands the challenges and opportunities of this vibrant industry. As an active member of IRI’s Board of Directors for several years, Chopus has been active in industry affairs to address serious public policy issues and he has established a strong professional network of senior industry leaders, key broker-dealers and other stakeholders.
As IRI’s leader, Chopus will focus on advancing public policy goals for the retirement income industry, enhancing the member experience across the entire value chain and leading industry efforts to create optimal digital solutions to streamline business solutions and enrich the customer experience.
Prior to joining IRI in January 2019, Chopus worked at Prudential Financial for nearly a decade where he served as the senior vice president of Strategic Relationship Management (SRM) for the Individual Solutions Group. In this role, he was responsible for the oversight of external account management and back-office operations for all Annuities and Life Insurance retail sales distribution channels.
In addition to his relationship management responsibilities at Prudential, Wayne concurrently led Sales Operations and the Sales Strategy-Business Intelligence team, which focused on competitive intelligence and the use of data and technology to drive new business opportunities. He also oversaw Prudential’s Subadvisor Relationship management function along with affiliated industry Sponsorship Programs.
Chopus joined Prudential from The Hartford where he was vice president and national sales director of the Wirehouse division. Wayne’s team supported the sales effort of The Hartford’s mutual mutual fund, annuity, retirement plans, and life insurance lines of business in the Wirehouse channel.
Partner, Faegre Drinker
Jo Cicchetti provides legal and advisory services to the insurance industry, focusing on insurance regulatory and corporate issues, privacy and cybersecurity. She has represented insurance companies, producers, third-party administrators, record keepers, investment managers, broker-dealers and other insurance market participants.
Jo leads the Firm’s Insurance Privacy and Cybersecurity team, guiding its efforts to provide data privacy and cybersecurity guidance. She advises on regulatory issues, current best practices in data privacy, breach preparation and breach response, and cybersecurity insurance. She counsels InsurTech entities on corporate and insurance regulatory issues, and has over 20 years’ experience advising clients in the retirement market, including BOLI, COLI, IOLI, 401(k), 457 and 403(b) products. She also advises on the development and distribution of individual life and annuity products.
Jo brings to each engagement skills and experience from a diverse background in the law, which includes general corporate, public and private offerings, mergers and acquisitions, reinsurance transactions, securities regulation, investment management, and broker-dealer and state insurance regulation. She also has managed large teams of lawyers to conduct risk assessments and best practices reviews for her clients.
Senior Policy Advisor & Of Counsel, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, and Former Chairman, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
Jay Clayton is a Senior Policy Advisor and Of Counsel at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, advising companies on strategic, crisis management, capital markets and corporate governance matters. Mr. Clayton served as the Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission from May 2017 to December 2020. He also is the Non-Executive Chair and Lead Independent Director of Apollo Global Management, an Adjunct Professor at both the Wharton School and the Carey Law School of the University of Pennsylvania and has advisory roles with several privately held companies and non-profit organizations.
As Chairman of the SEC, Mr. Clayton focused on modernizing the regulation and oversight of our equity and fixed income markets, concentrating on the interests of long-term investors. Under his leadership, the SEC updated dozens of rules and regulations, many that had not been revised in decades. The SEC also addressed various market developments and emerging risks, including the digitization of assets and financial transactions, the COVID-19 economic shock, the Brexit and LIBOR transitions, and various cybersecurity matters. Mr. Clayton testified before Senate and House Committees on various occasions and regularly met and corresponded with members of the Senate Banking and House Financial Services Committees. He was an active member of the Financial Stability Board, the International Organization of Securities Commissions, the Financial Stability Oversight Council and the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets.
Prior to Mr. Clayton’s time at the SEC, he was a member of Sullivan & Cromwell’s management committee, co-managing partner of its General Practice Group and co-head of its Cybersecurity Group. Over his career Jay has been the lead lawyer in an array of complex M&A and capital markets transactions, as well as regulatory and governance matters, in the financial, telecoms, energy, transportation and ecommerce sectors. Mr. Clayton also advised a number of individuals, families and closely-held companies in connection with their public and private investments as well as succession planning matters.
Mr. Clayton earned a BS in engineering from the University of Pennsylvania (summa cum laude), a BA and MA in Economics from The University of Cambridge (Kings College; Thouron Scholar) and a JD from The University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School (cum laude; Order of the coif).
Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID)
Ranking Member, United States Committee on Finance
As a lifelong Idahoan, Mike Crapo has learned that a willingness to listen makes for a more effective leader and lawmaker. Mike’s commonsense approach and collaborative, creative problem-solving have enabled him to achieve lasting solutions to issues of importance to Idahoans and the nation. Mike ranks 13th in overall Senate seniority in the 117th Congress.
Finance Committee— Senator Crapo joined the Senate Finance Committee in 2005, and became the top Republican on the Committee in February 2021, giving Idaho a strong voice in legislation relating to federal tax policy; federal social safety net; health care programs; and implementation of reciprocal foreign trade agreements. Senator Crapo strongly supports free market policies that fuel economic growth. Building on the successful 2017 tax reform law, increasing access to quality, affordable health care and promoting the U.S.’s global competitiveness through free and fair trade are among his top priorities.
Banking Committee— In addition to serving on the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Crapo is a current member and former Chairman (115th and 116th Congresses) and Ranking Member (113th Congress) of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, which has jurisdiction over efforts to promote the stability of the financial system and responsible lending to families and businesses. He has been a member of the Committee since the beginning of his Senate service in 1999. He serves on three Banking Subcommittees:
- Securities, Insurance and Investment;
- National Security and International Trade and Finance; and
- Housing, Transportation and Community Development.
His strong background and interest in the finance arena has led to his leadership role in making inroads in the areas of regulatory relief, expansion of homeownership, trade and securities and investment. As Chairman of the Banking Committee, he successfully ushered important bipartisan bills into law, including:
- legislation to right-size regulation for smaller financial institutions;
- legislation to strengthen and expand economic sanctions against Russia; and
- legislation to protect our nation’s critical technologies from foreign competitors, among others.
In early 2020, Crapo served as one of the lead negotiators in crafting major COVID-19 relief legislation, shaping many of the provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act designed to provide significant economic support to severely distressed sectors of the U.S. economy.
Budget Committee—In 2003, Mike was selected to serve as a member of the Senate Budget Committee, which is responsible for crafting Congress’s annual budget plan, monitoring action on the budget and overseeing the operation of the Congressional Budget Office. Mike’s fiscally- conservative principles guide his continued efforts to rein in federal spending and address our nation’s fiscal health.
Joint Committee on Taxation—Senator Crapo also continues serving on the Joint Committee on Taxation, a bipartisan committee with members of both the House and Senate who work collaboratively on the tax legislative process.
Judiciary Committee—From the start of the 115th Congress through the 116th Congress, Mike served on the Senate Judiciary Committee. As a former practicing attorney in Idaho Falls before entering public service, Mike assumed an active role on the Committee responsible for criminal justice policy and other related matters and remains engaged in any issues before the Committee—as with other committees on which he has served.
During his service on the Committee, the Judiciary Committee advanced a historic number of judges, including three Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. The Debbie Smith Act, which supports state and local crime laboratories in processing cases and uploading DNA profiles into the Federal Bureau of
Investigation’s (FBI) DNA database, was among the Crapo-backed legislation under the Committee’s jurisdiction signed into law during his Committee service. His oversight involvement on the Committee included joining fellow Judiciary Committee members in questioning then-Attorney General William Barr about the Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Indian Affairs Committee—Mike served on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs for 12 years. Idaho is home to five Native American Tribes, contributing to the richness of Idaho’s history and the State’s future. The Indian Affairs Committee is tasked with addressing the unique challenges of the native peoples of our country, including health care access, education, economic development and land management, and considering any necessary legislative solutions.
Environment Committee—Mike served on the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee from 2009 to 2017, having served on it previously from 1999 to 2005. The EPW Committee has jurisdiction over environmental policy, nuclear energy regulation, water issues, fisheries, highway funding, wildlife and other issues. Previously, Mike served as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife. Idaho is defined, in part, by its vast natural resources and the environmental issues that often accompany them, and Mike is heavily involved in natural resources related issues ranging from efforts to update and strengthen the Endangered Species Act to clean water to salmon recovery. Mike has also led on a number of bipartisan, nuclear-related proposals, including the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act (NEICA), Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (NEIMA) and American Nuclear Infrastructure Act (ANIA).
Agriculture Committee—From 2001 to 2008, Mike served as a member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee and advanced the needs of Idaho’s agriculture and timber industries during the crafting of the 2002 Farm Bill and the 2008 Farm Bill. During his service on the Committee, he served as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Rural Revitalization, Conservation, Forestry and Credit, with jurisdiction over rural development; conservation; stewardship of natural resources; state, local and private forests and general forestry; and agricultural and rural credit.
Caucuses— Mike leads or serves on many caucuses, which provide an organized forum to join with others in advocating for a wide range of issues important to Idahoans:
- Founder and Co-Chairman, Senate Nuclear Cleanup Caucus;
- Co-Chairman, Heart and Stroke Coalition;
- Co-Chairman, Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Caucus;
- Founder, Congressional Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Caucus, reinforcing his role as a champion of men’s and women’s health issues;
- Senate National Guard Caucus;
- Air Force Caucus;
- Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus;
- Senate Western Caucus;
- Co-Chairman, Senate Impact Aid Coalition;
- Senate Working Forests Caucus;
- Senate Recycling Caucus;
- Career and Technical Education Caucus;
- Canada-U.S. Interparliamentary Group;
- Senate National Laboratory Caucus;
- Congressional TRIO Caucus;
- Senate Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Anti-Semitism and others.
Leadership—Mike’s sensible approach has earned him the respect of his colleagues, and he has been selected to serve in various leadership roles. Mike continues to serve as Chief Deputy Whip among Senate Republicans for the 117th Congress. During Mike’s tenure in the House, he served on House Leadership as New Member Leader, Strategic Planning Leader and Deputy Whip for the Western Region.
Idaho Legislature—Before being elected to the United States Senate in 1998, Mike served three terms as the 2nd District Representative for Idaho in the U.S. House of Representatives. Previously, he served in the Idaho State Senate from 1984 to 1992, and spent his final four years in the Idaho Legislature as Senate President Pro Tempore.
Experience and Education—Prior to his service in Congress, Mike was a partner in the law firm of Holden, Kidwell, Hahn & Crapo. He is a member of the Idaho and California Bar Associations and the Bar of the U.S. Supreme Court. He received his Juris Doctorate cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1977, and he graduated summa cum laude from Brigham Young University in 1973 with a B.A. in political science. Following graduation from law school, he served a one-year clerkship with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Priorities—In addition to supporting free market policies that fuel economic growth; building on the successful 2017 tax reform law; increasing access to quality, affordable health care; and promoting the U.S.’s global competitiveness through free and fair trade; Mike’s many objectives for the 117th Congress include:
- Making continued progress on eliminating unnecessary federal regulations
- that restrict the ability of Americans to turn their ideas into jobs;
- Standing firm against federal overreach jeopardizing western values; and
- Advancing locally-driven collaboration as the best means of addressing many of our environment and public lands issues.
Principal, Retirement Products, Edward Jones, IRI Board of Directors
John M. Davis, a principal in Retirement Products, is responsible for the firm’s retirement business, including the strategy and delivery of all products and solutions for IRAs, retirement plans and annuities.
He was named an Edward Jones principal in 2017.
Prior to joining Edward Jones in 2016, he served as president and chief executive officer of United Retirement Plan Consultants, a national, third-party administration (TPA) firm providing retirement-plan design, consulting and administration services for small- and medium-sized businesses.
Prior to joining United Retirement, John had a 20-year career at Nationwide Insurance, where he held numerous leadership positions within the firm’s Life Company and its Retirement Plans division, including president of the Private Sector Retirement Plans business.
John is a graduate of the Ohio State University and earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and computer science.
He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the LIMRA LOMA Secure Retirement Institute (SRI) and Insured Retirement Institute (IRI).
Chairman of Albertson’s, Former CEO of Starbucks, & Former CEO of Extended Stay Hotels, & Former CEO of Pathmark Supermarkets
The former CEO of Starbucks, Pathmark Supermarkets, and Extended Stay Hotels, and currently the co-chairman of the board of Albertson’s, Jim Donald is a seasoned executive of large, multinational companies with a distinguished career in retail. Exclusively represented by Leading Authorities speakers bureau, he has been named one of the “Top 25 CEOs in the World” by The Best Practice Institute and one of Business Travel News’ “25 Most Influential Business Travel Executives” in 2013. Donald earned a reputation for turning around financially ailing companies early in his career. It was this reputation that prompted Extended Stay Hotels to seek him out after emerging from its bankruptcy proceedings in 2010. The hiring marked the rare choice of an outsider to lead a U.S. hotel company, and he led its successful $565 million IPO. He then joined Albertsons Companies in March 2018 as president and chief operating officer, before being named chief executive officer of the large chain in 2018.
Leading Through Uncertainty. Coined “the vagabond CEO” by the North Carolina Business Journal, Donald is known for his personal, hands-on approach to leadership and ability to effectively lead in different, often unfamiliar, business environments – and shares the leadership and management techniques that have earned him his stellar reputation. In talks that can be tailored to all levels of an organization, he discusses his experience as a leader focused on innovation, communication, quality, service, strong relationships within the community, and risk-taking with the freedom to fail.
Business Strategies Good to the Last Drop. Jim Donald joined Starbucks in 2002 as president of its North American division, and he later served as president and CEO from 2005–2008, while the company saw some of its most rapid global expansion. During this period, Starbucks experienced record financial performance and growth, attributable largely to its success in North America, as customers continued to embrace the Starbucks Experience. Donald believes that the human connection between customers and baristas accounted for each Starbucks store becoming a neighborhood gathering place. He also continued Starbucks’ strong commitment to corporate social responsibility with efforts to develop ethical sourcing practices for products, fund water projects in developing countries, and reduce the company’s environmental footprint.
Supermarketing. In 2019, Donald transitioned from CEO of Albertson’s, the nation’s second largest supermarket operator, to co-chairman of the board. He has almost 50 years of experience in the supermarket industry. He began his career in 1971 as a trainee with Publix Super Markets. Joining Albertson’s in 1976, he quickly rose through its managerial ranks and was head of operations in Arizona. After 16 years at Albertson’s, Donald’s reputation in grocery operations spurred Walmart founder Sam Walton to personally recruit him to help the company’s then-struggling grocery business in 1991. Handpicked and with the goal to build a major presence in the supermarket business, Donald was a key executive in the company’s development and expansion of the Walmart Super Center, supervising all merchandising, distribution, store design, and real estate operations.
Donald later served as president and manager of Safeway’s 130-store Eastern division from 1994 to 1996. He was responsible for a $2.5 billion business, 10,000 employees comprised of 130 stores and two distribution centers. With a clear vision and inspiring front-line leadership, he reversed a four-year trend in declining same-store sales. Donald then joined Pathmark Stores in 1996 as chairman, president, and CEO. Donald served as CEO of Haggen Food & Pharmacy from 2009 until 2011.
In addition to serving as co-chairman of Albertson’s, Donald also currently serves on the board of directors of Nordstrom’s.
Chief Operating Officer, Jackson National Life Insurance Company
IRI Board of Directors
Dev Ganguly is executive vice president, chief operating officer of Jackson Financial Inc. (“Jackson”). In this role, he has strategic oversight of Jackson’s operations, enterprise technology, digital, data and information security functions. He also serves as an executive sponsor of the company’s diversity and inclusion program.
Dev previously served as chief information officer at Jackson, a role he held from July 2018 until assuming his present role in February 2021. In this position, he directed all aspects of application development, infrastructure engineering, IT service management and enterprise architecture. He also led the company’s digital transformation and was responsible for its overall technology strategy. Previously, Dev served as vice president of Jackson’s Systems Innovation Group since 2013 and, before that, he held a variety of roles in the IT group, including director and assistant vice president.
Dev joined Jackson in April 2000 from global software firm Infosys®, where he was responsible for leading major technical initiatives for Nordstrom, one of the company’s top retail clients. He earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering, electronics and power from Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology in India.
Founding Partner, Forbes Tate Partners
Founding Partner Jeff Forbes is a 20-year veteran of political campaigns at every level. Mr. Forbes began his involvement in politics more than 25 years ago, during then-Senator Al Gore’s 1988 Presidential bid. Since that time, he has worked with and coordinated more than nine different campaigns, ranging from municipal candidates to the U.S. Congress, as well as the White House.
Prior to starting Forbes Tate Partners, Mr. Forbes was a Founding Partner at FTP’s predecessor, Cauthen Forbes & Williams. He served as the Democratic Staff Director for the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance in 2003. Before assuming this role at the Committee, he served as Chief of Staff to former Senator Max Baucus from 1999-2002. Beyond his knowledge of the intricacies of tax and trade, Forbes is a veteran strategist for the Democratic National Committee. From 1993-1995 he served as Midwest Political Director. Mr. Forbes later served the national committee as Chief of Strategy in 1999.
A stalwart of the Clinton-Gore Administration, Mr. Forbes was the New Hampshire Field Director for then-Governor Clinton’s 1992 Presidential campaign. In President Clinton’s 1996 re-election bid, Forbes was Deputy Political Director and Director of Delegate Selection. Following the campaign, Mr. Forbes went on to serve as a Special Assistant to the President and Staff Director for Legislative
Affairs in 1997. From 1998-1999, Mr. Forbes served as the Deputy Assistant to President Clinton and was the Deputy Director of Scheduling at the White House. Mr. Forbes also served as Senior Advisor to the Obama for President Campaign in New Hampshire in the 2008 presidential election. Mr. Forbes was a member of the Democratic National Committee’s special Democratic Change Commission to improve the presidential delegate selection process and has been a member of the DNC since 2009.
Mr. Forbes was born in Cleveland, Ohio and raised in Northfield, Minnesota. He earned a BA in Political Science with an Economics minor from Denison University in Granville, Ohio, in 1987.
Mr. Forbes and his wife live in Chevy Chase, Maryland with their three sons.
Executive Vice President and Head of Retail, Athene USA, IRI Board of Directors
Christopher Grady serves as Executive Vice President and Head of Retail. In his role, he is responsible for overseeing Athene’s retail annuity business, driving continued growth through the development of strong partnerships. Mr. Grady was instrumental in building Athene into a market-leading provider of consumer retirement solutions under the Athene brand. Mr. Grady brings more than 35 years of field sales and home office leadership experience to Athene.
Before joining Athene, Mr. Grady was President of Distribution and Marketing for the Genworth Financial life insurance companies. He oversaw a diverse, multi-channel sales and marketing organization that produced nearly $4.7 billion in annuity sales and more than $550 million in premiums in life and long-term care insurance products in the U.S. market. Mr. Grady spent 13 years in senior leadership roles at Merrill Lynch, ultimately serving as Managing Director and National Sales Manager for Merrill’s Consumer Finance Group. He spent 16 years at Mass Mutual and held various sales management positions, including Director of Advanced Sales. Amongst numerous company accolades and industry awards, Mr. Grady qualified for life membership in the Million Dollar Round Table.
He received a Bachelor of Science degree from the State University of New York College at Cortland.
Nick Hooten, CFA
Regional Head of Client Investment Solutions – Americas, Franklin Templeton
Nick Hooten is the regional head of client investment solutions (Americas) for Franklin Templeton Investment Solutions.
Mr. Hooten is responsible for designing, managing, and maintaining multi-asset investment solutions for institutional clients in the Americas.
Prior to joining Franklin Templeton, Mr. Hooten was head of investment solutions for QS Investors, a quantitative multi-asset and equity manager, where he was responsible for leveraging the breadth of QS’ capabilities in the creation of new and custom investment strategies. QS Investors combined with Franklin Templeton Multi-Asset Solutions in October 2020 to create Franklin Templeton Investment Solutions.
Before joining QS Investors in 2014, Mr. Hooten was a vice president and investment analyst with Transamerica Asset Management. At Transamerica, he held manager selection and product development responsibilities. Previously, he worked at BNY Mellon, Concord Advisory Group, and Merrill Lynch, focusing on investment selection and analysis, performance analytics, and trade execution within institutional portfolios.
Mr. Hooten holds a bachelor of science in marketing from Pennsylvania State University and an MBA with a concentration in accounting, finance and global business from the Stern School of Business at New York University. He also holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation.
President & CEO, Life Insurance Council of New York
Richard Loconte is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Life Insurance Council of New York (LICONY). He oversees the organization’s operations and works directly with the LICONY Board of Directors to develop and guide the strategic mission of the organization. LICONY is the leading life insurance organization in New York, representing more than 70 life insurer member companies and more than 20 allied professional firm members. Its mission is to create and maintain a legislative and regulatory environment in the State of New York that encourages the members of LICONY to conduct and grow their life insurance businesses.
Prior to joining LICONY, Rich served as a Vice President of Government Affairs at Oscar Health Insurance, where he led the company’s governmental and regulatory engagement at the state and federal levels. At Oscar, he designed and built the company’s government affairs function to meet the demand of a growth stage startup that has expanded across the country to become the third largest individual health insurer in the nation.
Before joining Oscar, Rich served as Executive Deputy Superintendent of Communications and Strategy for the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS). At DFS, he led the Department’s external relations functions including legislative affairs, communications, media relations, consumer outreach, education, and complaint processing. In this role, Rich also counseled the Superintendent and other senior staff on the Department’s regulatory and legislative initiatives and enforcement, served as liaison to the Governor’s office, and worked closely with key financial services trade associations, including LICONY. His insurance career also includes working at American International Group, Inc., where he was Deputy Head of Government Affairs and Associate General Counsel. There, Rich represented AIG before regulatory agencies and other government bodies on legislative and regulatory issues related to the insurance industry and the broader financial services sector and was instrumental in reestablishing the company’s federal government affairs office in Washington, DC.
A New York City native, Rich is a graduate of Fordham University and Brooklyn Law School. He is admitted to practice in New York and New Jersey and before the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.
President, Sammons Institutional Group℠, Inc.
Bill is President of Sammons Institutional Grou℠, Inc. (SIG), a member company of Sammons Financial Group. SIG provides individual retirement solutions to financial professionals in banks and broker/dealers through its wholesale divisions, Sammons Retirement Solutions® and Midland Retirement Distributors℠. Prior to joining Sammons Financial Group in 2011, Bill spent 17 years at ING in a variety of leadership roles. In his over 35 years in the financial services industry, Bill has managed a broker/dealer, run 401(k), IRA, and annuity businesses, and has a successful track record creating and distributing 401(k)s, variable annuities, fixed annuities, life insurance, mutual fund products, and managed accounts.
Bill has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Computer Science from Doane College. He has participated in executive programs at Dartmouth and the University of Chicago, and completed the CEDEP General Management Program at Insead in Fountainebleu, France. He is a General Securities Principal, Investment Advisory Representative, Chartered Life Underwriter, Chartered Financial Consultant, and Fellow of the Life Management Institute. He is currently on the boards of the Insured Retirement Institute in Washington, D.C. and Freedom for Youth in Des Moines, Iowa.
AVP Government Affairs, Empower Retirement
Keith Mancini is Assistant Vice President of Government Affairs for Empower Retirement. In his role, he monitors state and federal legislation and regulation that is relevant to internal and external stakeholders of Empower. He also represents the organization in advocacy groups.
Keith joined the firm in 2004. He has experience with all retirement plan types and previously worked in the Empower legal department, where he provided legal and compliance support for the development of group annuity, lifetime income, and stable value investment products.
Keith holds a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and a Juris Doctor degree from Stetson University College of Law. He is licensed to practice law in Colorado. Keith is also a board member of the Colorado Life & Health Insurance Protection Association.
Hollie Mason, Esq.
Senior Consultant, The Brattle Group
Hollie Mason has more than 15 years of financial industry experience, involving Securities litigation and regulation.
Prior to joining Brattle she served as senior enforcement counsel at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), where she was responsible for ensuring that its members complied with FINRA and Securities & Exchange Commission regulatory requirements. Ms. Mason was also a certified FINRA dispute resolution arbitrator for over 10 years. She spent several years as senior in-house legal counsel for a large broker-dealer, where she handled complex litigation and compliance matters, including matters that involved auction rate securities, market manipulation, margin requirements, supervisory systems, and suitability obligations.
Ms. Mason’s professional experience involves, among other things, presenting multifaceted securities cases before arbitration panels and regulatory bodies, determinations of compliance and causation, rule interpretation, market and trading analysis, and risk assessment. Given her unique experience, Ms. Mason provides expert testimony and analysis as well as consulting services concerning securities markets and regulation, regulatory compliance and risk management.
Ms. Mason holds a J.D. from Creighton University School of Law and is licensed to practice law before the Supreme Court of the United States, and in Nebraska and Iowa.
Director of Examinations, FINRA
Nicole McCafferty is an Examination Director at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). FINRA is a self-regulatory organization that writes and enforces rules governing registered brokers and broker-dealers in the United States. FINRA’s mission is to safeguard the investing public against fraud and bad practices.
In her current role, Nicole oversees a team of managers and examiners that execute examinations of FINRA member firms who primarily service retail customers. Throughout her 12-year tenure at FINRA, Nicole has held positions ranging from Examiner, Examination Manager and now Examination Director. Nicole began her career at the NYSE as a Sales Practice Examiner in 2005 (merging into FINRA in 2007), joined Morgan Stanley’s Internal Audit Department in 2009 and then rejoined FINRA in late 2012. She received her B.S. in Finance and Management from Manhattan College.
Joe Patracuollo, CFA
Vice President, Product Strategy, Jackson National Life Insurance Company
Joe Patracuollo is Vice President of Investment Product Strategy for Jackson. He leads a select team of professionals who specialize in investments. The group helps Wholesalers and financial professionals better understand the many investment choices available within Jackson’s variable annuities and provides thoughtful support for portfolio construction. The group is also integral to the investment strategy for the distribution company.
Prior to joining Jackson, Joe led a team of investment specialists for Nationwide devoted to increasing the success of variable annuities and variable life businesses with sales partners. The team simplified investment conversations and drove new VA business. Joe coached his team and used his skills to drive best-in-class investment product menus. Prior to that, Joe was Vice President of Research and Gatekeeper for Budros, Ruhlin & Roe, Inc. and the AVP of Funds Research for the Enterprise Group of Funds.
An alum of the University of Massachusetts, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree. Joe also earned an M.B.A. from Georgia State University. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst® charterholder and holds FINRA Series 6, 7, and 24 registrations.
Philip J. Pellegrino
Executive Director, Head of Insured Solutions, UBS Financial Services, Inc.
IRI Board of Directors
Phil joined UBS in December 2001. He currently serves as Head of Insured Solutions, responsible for the firm’s insurance and annuities platform. Prior to his current role, Phil was Head of Product & Platform Management for Wealth Planning, responsible for business analysis and project management functions across financial planning, retirement, insurance & annuities, and personal trust businesses.
Before joining UBS, Phil worked for Salomon Smith Barney, a unit of Citigroup’s Global Corporate and Investment Bank, where he held home office positions supporting financial consultants and institutional money managers. Phil began his career as a financial advisor with Morgan Stanley Dean Witter in New York.
Phil has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in finance from the College of New Jersey. He holds several FINRA securities licenses. He is a board director of the Insured Retirement Institute. Phil resides in Hoboken, New Jersey, with his wife and son.
#1 Bestselling author & keynote speaker, Founder & Owner, Equalman Studios
#1 Best Selling Author and Keynote Speaker Erik Qualman has performed in 55 countries and reached 50 million people.
His Socialnomics work has been on 60 Minutes to the Wall Street Journal and used by the National Guard to NASA. His book Digital Leader propelled him to be voted the 2nd Most Likeable Author in the World behind Harry Potter’s J.K. Rowling.
What Happens in Vegas Stays on YouTube helped Qualman be listed by Forbes and Fortune as a Top 100 Digital Influencer. His business books are used in over 200 universities and he has received an honorary doctorate for his groundbreaking work.
How to Sell on LinkedIn is becoming mandatory reading for sales teams. Qualman was formerly a sitting professor at Harvard & MIT’s edX labs.
“His depth of insight and breadth of examples have prompted us to shift our thinking on leadership.” — Starbucks
Chief Technology & Innovation Officer, Insured Retirement Institute
Jim is the Chief Technology and Innovation Officer at IRI. Jim is responsible for driving innovation and positive advisor experiences via automation and simplification. He is a future facing leader in the Operation and Technology Community and has been active with IRI for many years before joining their leadership team through extensive work with the IRI Operations and Technology Committee, Senior Steering Committee and a past co-chair of the Operations and Technology Conference. He has a comprehensive background in the financial services arena, having held prevalent senior leadership roles at UBS, Jackson, Allianz Life, and Voya Financial. Jim currently sits on the ACORD Life & Annuity Program Advisory Council and has also been active with the Operations Managers Roundtable (past chair), Advisory Board for Operations at DALBAR and the DTCC Senior Advisory Board.
Chief Government & Political Affairs Officer, Insured Retirement Institute
Paul has 35 years of experience working in both government and the private sector where he has directed federal and state government affairs programs. Currently, Paul serves as the Chief Government and Political Affairs Officer at the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) where he leads the association’s legislative and political strategy for all efforts before Congress and the Administration.
IRI is the leading association for the retirement income industry and is the only association that represents the entire supply chain of insured retirement strategies. IRI members include life insurers, asset managers, and distributors such as broker-dealers, banks, and marketing organizations. IRI members account for more than 90 percent of annuity assets in the U.S., include the top 10 distributors of annuities ranked by assets under management, and are represented by financial professionals serving millions of Americans. IRI champions retirement security for all through leadership in advocacy, awareness, research, and the advancement of digital solutions within a collaborative industry community.
In 2020, Paul was recognized by the Advocacy Association as one their “Top 20 in 20” advocates for having proven that he has led the way in innovation and helped advance the profession through thought leadership and mentoring the advocacy community. Paul’s advocacy leadership was also instrumental in IRI’s advocacy work being recognized by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) with their “Power of A” Gold Award for Advocacy in 2020 for IRI’s efforts to enact the SECURE Act and their “Power of A” Silver Award for Advocacy in 2021 for IRI’s development of a five-point plan to help America’s workers and retirees recover from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prior to joining IRI, Paul has served as the Vice President of Government Affairs at the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations; the Director of Federal Affairs for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs at NSI, Inc. a national government affairs firm representing fortune 500 clients; and Vice President of State Government Affairs at the Mortgage Bankers Association.
Paul also has had a distinguished career in public service where he served in senior policy making positions during the Clinton Administration at the White House in the Office of the Vice President and at the U.S. Department of Labor in the Secretary’s office. Prior to coming to Washington, DC, Paul served as the Special Counsel for Economic Development to former New York governor Mario M. Cuomo.
He is a lawyer admitted to practice in New York, where he had received his Juris Doctor degree from Cardozo School of Law and his Bachelor of Arts degree cum laude from Brooklyn College, City University of New York.
Division of Enforcement, Asset Management Unit, Division of Enforcement, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
Corey A. Schuster is an Assistant Director in the Division of Enforcement’s Asset Management Unit. He supervises investigations concerning investment advisers, including those that involve offering fraud, undisclosed conflicts, performance advertising, subadviser due diligence, compliance issues, and trading practices. Prior to becoming an Assistant Director, Mr. Schuster served as a staff attorney and investigated matters relating to mutual fund performance, undisclosed compensation, misappropriation of investor assets, trade allocations, CDS manipulation, insider trading, and unregistered broker-dealer activity. Mr. Schuster joined the SEC from the law firms of Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP and Dickstein Shapiro LLP in Washington, D.C., where he practiced in those firms’ Securities Litigation, Regulatory, and Compliance practice groups, and he previously served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center. Mr. Schuster received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and his law degree from Vanderbilt University.
President & CEO, Association of California Life and Health Insurance Companies
John Shirikian began his career in 2005 in Washington, D.C. where he worked for a Member of Congress on Capitol Hill. In 2007, John left the nation’s capital to return home to California and began working at ACLHIC. John served as ACLHIC’s Political Director until 2013 when he left the association to join Pacific Life Insurance Company in Newport Beach, CA. During his time at Pacific Life, John represented the interests of the company as its Director of Government Affairs at both the state and national level. In 2017, John returned to ACLHIC and served as the association’s Vice President of Policy and Administration. In July of 2019, John was elected by the ACLHIC membership to serve as the association’s President and CEO.
John is a native Californian and lives in Sacramento with his wife Mary and son. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science, and a master’s degree in business administration (MBA).
Executive Director, DTCC
A leader in the insurance and annuity space, Barbara came to I&RS from Pershing LLC, as a Product Manager where she led the Insurance and Annuity Services business to triple its revenue. Prior to that, from 2005 to 2011, Barbara worked at National Financial Services, building out its annuity platform with new users and product-consulting with the firm’s broker-dealers. Early in her career she worked at several insurance carriers in a variety of roles.
In 1997, Barbara was an inaugural hire for DTCC’s new Annuity Processing Service, the predecessor to I&RS. Over the following eight years, she played a key role in developing the unit’s product offerings. She rejoined DTCC in January 2017 to lead the I&RS unit. With her outstanding track record in product management for annuities services, Barbara provides the essential leadership to drive creation and adoption of services that reduce costs and enhance productivity for DTCC clients.
Managing Partner, Forbes Tate Partners
Jeff Strunk is a Managing Partner at Forbes Tate Partners – he joined the firm in January of 2012. Mr. Strunk spent eight years on Capitol Hill, including six years with House Republican leadership – most recently serving as Deputy Floor Director to former Speaker of the House John Boehner. Jeff regularly works with Fortune 500 companies, trade organizations, and coalitions. He represents client interests on a range of issues, and brings particular expertise in regards to financial products and services, banking, energy, and telecommunications issues. He also operates at the nexus between these policy areas and tax and cybersecurity issues.
Prior to serving as Deputy Floor Director to former Speaker of the House John Boehner, Mr. Strunk spent three years as Floor Assistant. Prior to his time with Boehner, Mr. Strunk worked for former Congressman Patrick J. Tiberi, a previous Chairman of the influential Ways and Means Committee’s Subcommittee on Health.
During his time in House leadership, Mr. Strunk formed incredibly strong relationships with members of Congress from both sides of the aisle – and, also, their staffers. He developed expertise in parliamentary procedure, House Rules, and a thorough understanding of the inner workings of House leadership and Congress. Mr. Strunk’s roots connect him to a wide variety of House Committees. He frequently works with members of the House Ways and Means, Financial Services, Energy and Commerce, Judiciary, and Transportation and Infrastructure Committees. Jeff also maintains deep ties to both the House Intelligence and Homeland Security Committees.
Jeff has long been active in the Republican Party – both in Ohio and at the national level. He has worked on the campaign of Patrick J. Tiberi, as well as volunteered on numerous other Congressional campaigns. Strunk’s background also includes his ongoing role with an organized volunteer campaign effort in his home state of Ohio. For more than six years, he has led an independent GOTV program in the Buckeye State that helps to provide grassroots support to Republican candidates at the local, state, and federal levels.
A native of Columbus, Ohio, Mr. Strunk is a graduate of Xavier University, where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science.
He and his wife and three children live in Washington, DC.
First African American Army Surgeon General and Former Commanding General, US Army Medical Command
A trailblazer in leadership, Lieutenant General (Ret.) Nadja West is the 44th Army Surgeon General and the former Commanding General of US Army Medical Command. She is the first African American woman 3-star General in the Army’s history, and currently the highest-ranking woman to ever graduate from West Point.
West shares her story of grit, perseverance, strength, and breaking boundaries, even when faced with adversity. Taking audiences on her journey to becoming the Army’s first African American woman 3-star General, she motivates them to overcome challenges with self-belief, bravery, and balance. With more than 20 years of experience in executive leadership, crisis management, and disaster response — including her instrumental role in crafting the DOD medical response to the Ebola crisis — West speaks expertly on leadership tactics to effectively lead teams through times of uncertainty and crisis.
As Commanding General of MEDCOM, West managed an $11 billion budget and led an organization of more than 130,000 healthcare professionals. She supported more than 4 million people around the globe — responsible for medical centers, community hospitals, and clinics; dental, veterinary, and public health facilities; research, education and training platforms. Known for her decisive leadership, West led the Army Medical Department through the most comprehensive transformation that military medicine has seen in more than three decades, and throughout this transition, ensured that the medical readiness of the force remained high, medical support was timely, and that the quality of healthcare provided to move than 4 million lives remained outstanding. A graduate of George Washington School of Medicine, she completed residencies in Family Medicine and Dermatology, and has held various clinical, operational, and leadership positions throughout her 30+ year career as a soldier.
West gratefully acknowledges the trailblazers who helped clear the path for her to follow and is continuing to blaze the path for others to follow. Among many Army firsts, she was the first woman selected to be the Division Surgeon for 1st Armored Division and the first woman selected as the Joint Staff Surgeon — advising the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on all things medical. West was also the first African American — man or woman — confirmed by the Senate to be the Army’s Surgeon General.
In addition to West’s many military accolades, she was named as one of Washington’s Most Powerful Women in Washingtonian Magazine, the recipient of the Daughters of the American Revolution Margaret Cochran Corbin Award, and awarded the Armed Forces Medical Advocate Award by Essence Magazine. West has also been honored by George Washington University with the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award and holds an honorary degree of Doctor of Public Service from the George Washington University and an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Methodist University.
West was a Hauser Leader at the Harvard Kennedy School Center for Public Leadership for the 2019-2020 academic year, and serves on the boards of directors for Americares, Johnson & Johnson, Nucor Corporation, and Tenet Healthcare Corporation. She is also a trustee of Mount St. Mary’s University, the Bob Woodruff Foundation dedicated to supporting our veterans, service members, and their families, and the National Recreation Foundation dedicated to enhancing the role of recreation as a positive force in improving the quality of life of youth.
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)
Chairman, United States Senate Committee on Finance
Commitment to Open Government, Bipartisanship and Innovation
Oregonians know Ron as a senator who listens and innovates. For example, Ron has secured landmark health care and economic wins for our workers and retirees. Always citing the need to “throw open the doors of government for Oregonians,” he holds an open-to-all town hall meeting in each of Oregon’s 36 counties each year. Thus far he has held more than 970 meetings, as well as several virtual town hall meetings sponsored by the nonpartisan Town Hall Project. Wyden’s dedication to hearing all sides of an issue and looking for common sense, nonpartisan solutions has won him trust on both sides of the aisle and put him at the heart of so many of the Senate’s most important debates. In 2011, the Almanac of American Politics described Wyden as having “displayed a genius for coming up with sensible-sounding ideas no one else had thought of and making the counter-intuitive political alliances that prove helpful in passing bills.” The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein wrote: “The country has problems. And Ron Wyden has comprehensive, bipartisan proposals for fixing them.”
In advocating for the needs of working families, Ron wants a tax code that gives small businesses and families an opportunity to get ahead, not one that rigs the rules for multinational corporations or the mega-rich. He led a pioneering expansion of unemployment benefits to help workers shoulder the economic burden of the COVID-19 health crisis, which economists say added more than $200 billion to the economy at a time when it was desperately needed. He updated the “Medicare Guarantee” with improved services for seniors with chronic illnesses, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, he secured Medicare coverage for telemedicine so homebound seniors could safely access medical care. Ron advanced the Family First Act to improve care for vulnerable families and kids, and was the first to promote internet policies that ensure free opportunities for Americans to learn and find good-paying jobs. Ron was also the first to introduce federal legislation to give all Americans the opportunity to vote by mail.
Moreover, when principles are at stake, however, Ron Wyden never shies away from standing alone, even when it means taking on powerful interest groups or his own party. His lone stand against the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) and its predecessor, the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeit Act (COICA), put a spotlight on the problematic legislation being fast tracked through Congress and served as a rallying point for the historic Internet protests that ultimately toppled the bills. He stood alone on the floor of the Senate to block right wing efforts to overturn Oregon’s Death with Dignity law; a law that Oregon voters have passed twice. He went head-to-head with the E.P.A. to reduce cancer-causing benzene in gasoline sold in Oregon, and key elements of Wyden’s Kinship Care Act were included as part of major reforms improving the nation’s foster care system. Wyden’s provisions recognized and strengthened support for kinship care, the full-time care and protection of children by relatives.
His relentless defiance of the national security community’s abuse of secrecy forced the declassification of the CIA Inspector General’s 9/11 report, shut down the controversial Total Information Awareness program and put a spotlight on both the Bush and Obama Administration’s reliance on “secret law.”
Wyden has taken the lead on policies that are helping to grow the economy in areas like improved infrastructure through his Build America Bonds program, micro and nano-technology, e-commerce, and through incentives for cleaner sources of energy.
He has won countless awards for his pioneering role in establishing a free and open Internet, is known for his commitment to an open government, having authored the “Stand By Your Ad” law and the resolution ending Senate Secret Holds, and he has been routinely recognized as one of the Senate’s foremost health policy thinkers.
Commitment to Oregon Values & Priorities
In Oregon, Wyden has authored laws extending permanent Wilderness protections to more than 400,000 acres including Mt. Hood, the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon’s Bull Run Watershed, Badlands, Spring Basin, Copper Salmon and Soda Mountain. He has championed the designation of 1,986 miles of Wild and Scenic rivers in Oregon “more than any other member of Congress, overall, for the contiguous 48 states” helping Oregon secure the most wild and scenic river designations in the lower 48 states. Since 2000, the Wyden-authored Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act, commonly known as the “county payments” law, has helped provide a stable source of revenue for historically timber-dependent communities and Wyden’s Combat Illegal Logging Act has helped protect Oregon’s hardwood industries from the import of illegally harvested timber products. Wyden has fought to expand rural access to health care. For example, Wyden secured the creation of a Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic in La Grande for veterans in Eastern Oregon.
Wyden serves on the Committees on Finance, Budget, Intelligence, and Energy and Natural Resources. He is Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and a senior member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Wyden began college at the University of California-Santa Barbara where he won a basketball scholarship and played in Division I competition for two seasons before transferring to Stanford University where he completed his Bachelors degree with distinction. He earned his law degree from the University of Oregon School of Law in 1974, after which he taught gerontology and co-founded the Oregon chapter of the Gray Panthers, an advocacy group for the elderly. He also served as the director of Oregon Legal Services for the Elderly from 1977 to 1979 and was a member of the Oregon State Board of Examiners of Nursing Home Administrators during that same period. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1981 until his election to the U.S. Senate.
Senator Wyden’s home is in Portland; he is married to Nancy Wyden, whom he married in September 2005. He has five children: Adam, Lilly, Ava, William and Scarlett.