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The 2015 Pension 40: Kathleen Kennedy Townsend

No. 28 Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Chief Executive / Center for Retirement Initiatives / Georgetown University

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend
Chief Executive / Center for Retirement Initiatives / Georgetown University
Last year’s rank: 32

“I’m not afraid of ERISA,” says Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, chief executive of the Center for Retirement Initiatives (CRI) at Georgetown University. The 64-year-old Townsend, who also is a managing director of Washington-based investment and advisory firm Rock Creek Group, says her investment management experience gives her a more optimistic view of how ERISA can benefit retirement savings even in states that resist federal oversight. In her position at CRI and as chair of Maryland’s task force on retirement security, Townsend — former lieutenant governor of Maryland and Robert Kennedy’s eldest child — says, “I’ve been pushing a different viewpoint, which is that I think it’s important to have the consumer protections that ERISA offers.” Her hope: Over the next few years, more states will embrace those protections; if that doesn’t occur, a single statute might make the most sense. So far, more than 20 states have tried to write their own statutes, often — as in the case of Connecticut — using ERISA language, but Townsend points out the difficulty of regulating and implementing those efforts. The Maryland task force plans to introduce legislation that will allow employers to contribute to multiemployer plans, unlike the individual retirement account model that has taken hold in other states. “I think [multiple-employer plans] will grow as a more attractive option in coming years, because the Department of Labor will make it clear, I hope, that they are a viable option and people will understand that we want to encourage a greater contribution than 3 percent.”

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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