Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the Secretary’s Representative for Pensions and Retirement at the U.S. Department of Labor, hosted a live program on Falmouth Community Television (FCTV) at 5:00 PM on Wednesday, October 26, entitled Making Good Financial Decisions at Every Age = Security in Retirement. Ms. Townsend was joined by a distinguished panel of retirement experts. The panel included Andrew Eschtruth, Associate Director for External Relations at the Center for Retirement Research (CRR) at Boston College; David C. John, Senior Strategic Policy Advisor at the AARP Public Policy Institute; and Pamela Hess, VP of Research at the Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association (DCIIA).
As the State of Maryland’s first woman lieutenant governor from 1995 to 2003, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend was in charge of a multimillion-dollar budget and had oversight of several major cabinet departments. Prior to being elected lieutenant governor, Townsend served as deputy assistant attorney general of the United States. She also led the Governor’s Retirement Security Task Force for the State of Maryland in 2014 and 2015, which helped spearhead efforts to enact a state-run retirement plan for workers not covered by a retirement plan at work. Ms. Townsend was the Director of Retirement Security at the Economic Policy Institute from 2018 to 2019 and also served as a research professor at Georgetown University, where she founded the Center for Retirement Initiatives.
“Over the last several years, I have worked… to advance state and federal policy to create accessible, portable retirement savings programs to help the most vulnerable save for a dignified retirement. It has been a challenge to bring this issue to the forefront. However, much progress has been made. Ten states have passed legislation to address the retirement crisis and make it easier to save. These have enabled thousands of Americans, and there is more to be done,” said Ms. Townsend upon accepting her current position at the U.S. Labor Department in 2021.
Andrew Eschtruth directs CRR communication activities, including publications, press relations, and social media, and manages relationships with the government, foundation, and corporate communities. He is the co-author (with Charles D. Ellis and Alicia H. Munnell) of Falling Short: The Coming Retirement Crisis and What to Do About It (Oxford University Press, 2014). Before joining the Center in 1999, Mr. Eschtruth was a senior research analyst with the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), specializing in Social Security, federal fiscal policy, and the economic implications of an aging population. While at the GAO, Mr. Eschtruth served on a special assignment as an aide to the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Mr. Eschtruth earned his B.A. from the University of Michigan and an M.A. in public policy from Duke University.
David C. John is a senior strategic policy advisor at AARP’s Public Policy Institute, where he works on pension and retirement savings issues. He also serves as a deputy director of the Retirement Security Project (RSP) at the Brookings Institution. Before joining AARP, Mr. John was a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation. He also has extensive public policy experience working for a money center bank, a law firm, a credit union trade association, and four members of the House of Representatives. He is co-author with J. Mark Iwry of the Automatic IRA, a small business retirement savings program. In addition, Mr. John is one of four coeditors of Automatic: Changing the Way America Saves (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press). He is a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance. He holds an ABJ in journalism, an MA in economics, and an MBA in finance from the University of Georgia.
Pamela Hess joined the nonprofit DCIIA in 2021, where she contributes to the organization’s many initiatives to improve retirement outcomes. Previously, she was with Aon Hewitt and served as their director of retirement research for a number of years, where she created and directed their retirement research efforts. Earlier in her career, Ms. Hess worked on the investment side at Aon Hewitt and Smith Barney. She has a bachelor’s degree in finance from The University of Illinois at Chicago and a master’s degree in business administration from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Ms. Hess is a CFA charter holder since 2002.