In 2007, in response to Alaskas switch from a defined benefit state pension plan to a defined contribution retirement system, a handful of the biggest and most important U.S. unions banded together to form the National Public Pension Coalition. The Washington-based NPPC provides funding and other aid to grassroots coalitions in states and municipalities where public defined benefit pension funds are under siege; its also orchestrated a national campaign to defend those plans. We have millions of teachers, safety workers and public employees who are under attack, says Jordan Marks, 34, who was named executive director in 2011. Groups like the Laura and John Arnold Foundation ( No. 3) and the Pew Charitable Trusts ( No. 22) want to cut the pensions of these workers many of whom do not have Social Security so they will retire in poverty, Marks contends. That is what this fight is really about. A graduate of Temple University in his home state of Pennsylvania, where he majored in political science, Marks spent his early career in Democratic Party politics. After serving on Pennsylvania governor Edward Rendells staff and as Pennsylvania policy director for Hillary Clintons 2008 presidential campaign, he worked for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and was campaign manager for a congressional race in California.
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