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Chairperson's Corner

By Grace Barbieri

Retirement Section News, January 2021

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The election is over and the results are in! The Retirement Section Council welcomes its newest members—Lee Gold, Robert J. Reiskytl, and Hal Tepfer. Welcoming new members is exciting, as it brings fresh ideas, fresh eyes, and fresh perspective. Lee, Rob and Hal have already joined us for a few of our monthly council calls and attended their first of three annual “face-to-face” (be it virtual) meetings of the council. Lee, Rob and Hal will transition into the respective roles of social media coordinator, secretary, and treasurer and, similar to many other council members, will also serve as “liaisons” to our Retirement Section committees and teams. We also thank Ruth Schau and Mathieu Laurendeau for all of their contributions over the past three years. And while Ruth and Mathieu are transitioning off the council, we are not saying formal goodbyes as we will continue to hear from them through their work while volunteering on other committees and project oversight groups.

My name is Grace Barbieri, and I am the newest chairperson of the Retirement Section Council. I have spent my professional career working with single employer defined benefit and postretirement benefit plans. What makes me more qualified to be a section council chairperson than you? Nothing, really. I just raised my hand and asked, “how can I help?”

I joined the council a bit over a year ago and, like other council members before me, expect that this will be one of many volunteer roles in my future. I ran for the council in 2019 after a discussion with a mentor about my personal goals for the year, which were (1) to meet new people—outside of my employer—that are in my professional field, (2) to continue learning, and (3) to contribute more broadly to something bigger than me. The council has been a way to check all three boxes through networking, broadening my knowledge, and volunteerism.

The Retirement Section Council is comprised of nine volunteers with various backgrounds and expertise. Including these different perspectives helps to round out the Retirement Section to ensure that our work covers many aspects of the various challenges and unique circumstances that are faced within the retirement industry. Over the past 15 months, our council has met on a monthly basis and we’ve had four face-to-face meetings (which are now held virtually in our “new normal”). The council provides for a forum in which we can each share our unique experiences and encourages knowledge to freely flow as we learn about each other’s specialties. While networking within this group, we discuss the ongoing work spearheaded by the Retirement Section committees—Research, Continuing Education, and Communications—to adapt to changes within the retirement industry and aid in the professional development of the Retirement Section members.

We are constantly looking for insights and volunteers in the Retirement Section committees to produce content that benefits the members of the broader Retirement Section, and will be eagerly awaiting new candidates to run for the council next spring. There are many opportunities—so raise a hand (or two!), as many hands make light work. If you are interested, please reach out!

Statements of fact and opinions expressed herein are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Society of Actuaries or the respective authors’ employers.


Grace Barbieri, FSA, EA, FCA, MAAA, is a principal at Mercer. She can be contacted at grace.barbieri@mercer.com.