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The 2015 Pension 40: Damon Silvers

No. 13 Damon Silvers, Director of Policy and Special Counsel / AFL-CIO

Damon Silvers
Director of Policy and Special Counsel /
Last year’s rank: 7

Pensions and retirement security continue to be key issues for the AFL-CIO and Damon Silvers, the union’s director of policy and special counsel. “We have a long-term, accelerating retirement crisis in the U.S.,” says Silvers, 51. “The AFL-CIO is focused on solutions that address the full breadth of the crisis for all working Americans.” That effort got a boost in November, when the Department of Labor gave the go-ahead for states to develop their own retirement savings plans for private sector workers. Silvers says there’s a growing recognition of the need for new pension models: “There’s been a change over the past five years, where most people familiar with retirement security policy recognize that the conversion to 401(k) savings accounts has not worked and we need to do something different.” Silvers is a die-hard believer in the labor movement. The son of an English teacher and a chemistry professor, he got his first taste of organized labor as an undergrad at Harvard University, when some of his fellow cafeteria workers went on strike; Silvers became part of the negotiating team. He then participated in the South Africa anti-apartheid divestment efforts. After studying history at the U.K.’s University of Cambridge, Silvers worked as a labor organizer before earning a joint JD and MBA from Harvard. He joined the AFL-CIO in 1997. Though pensions are only part of Silvers’ portfolio, they remain a passion, along with the fight for Social Security and health care benefits. Silvers also has a sophisticated understanding of finance theory: He currently serves as a member of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s investment advisory committee, the Treasury’s financial research advisory committee and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board’s standing oversight and investor advisory groups. Even by Washington standards, that’s a lot of committees and a lot of contact with Wall Street. But Silvers understands the importance of capital markets to his members and their retirement savings.

The 2015 Pension 40

1. Bruce Rauner
2. John & Laura Arnold
Laura and John Arnold Foundation
3. Chris Christie
New Jersey
4. Randi Weingarten
AmericanFederation of Teachers
5. Phyllis Borzi
U.S. Department
of Labor
6. Kevin de León
7. Alejandro García Padilla
Commonwealth ofPuerto Rico
8. Laurence Fink
9. Rahm Emanuel
10. Sean McGarvey
North AmericanBuilding Trades Unions
11. John Kline
12. J. Mark Iwry
U.S. Treasury
13. Damon Silvers
14. Jeffrey Immelt
Electric Co.
15. Joshua Gotbaum
Brookings Institution
16. Robin Diamonte
United Technologies Corp.
17. Mark Mullet
18. Terry O'Sullivan
Laborers' International Union of North America
19. Raymond Dalio
Bridgewater Associates
20. Ted Wheeler
21. Thomas Nyhan
Central States Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Fund
22. Karen Ferguson & Karen Friedman
Pensions Rights Center
23. Randy DeFrehn
National Coordinating Committee forMultiemployer Plans
24. Robert O'Keef
Motorola Solutions
25. Caitlin Long
Morgan Stanley
26. Kenneth Feinberg
The Law Offices
of Kenneth R. Feinberg
27. Orrin Hatch
28. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend
Center for Retirement Initiatives, Georgetown University
29. Ian Lanoff
Groom Law Group
30. Joshua Rauh
Stanford Graduate School of Business
31. Ted Eliopoulos
California Public Employees' Retirement System
32. Edward (Ted) Siedle
Benchmark Financial Services
33. Teresa Ghilarducci
New School for Social Research
34. Denise Nappier
35. W. Thomas Reeder Jr.
Pension BenefitGuaranty Corp.
36. Hank Kim
National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems
37. Paul Singer
Elliott Management Corp.
38. Bailey Childers
National PublicPension Coalition
39. Amy Kessler
Prudential Financial
40. Judy Mares
U.S. Labor Department

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