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The Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) presented its inaugural Leadership Award to Helene Rayder, Vice President, Federal Relations at Lincoln Financial Group, and Rhonda Wolverton, Director of Operations, Relationship Management at Jackson National Life Insurance Company. IRI Chief Government and Political Affairs Officer Paul Richman received the association’s first Chairman Award.

The awards were presented at IRI’s 2023 Annual Conference in Miami, Florida. The IRI Leadership Award recognizes industry leaders who have made exemplary contributions towards advancing one of IRI’s strategic pillars in advocacy, operations and technology, diversity, equity, and inclusion, member engagement, and other critical areas.

Those nominated for the award must be a chair or vice chair of an IRI committee or working group. Nominees must demonstrate leadership skills that facilitate and encourage favorable outcomes for the industry and IRI and be committed to IRI’s mission and vision to advance policies to help America’s workers and retirees achieve a dignified retirement.

Helene Rayder chaired IRI’s Government Affairs Advisory Committee, where she played an active role in the development of two of IRI’s annual Federal Retirement Security Blueprints.

Additionally, she has been a trusted advisor and counselor to IRI’s government affairs team in formulating strategies to advance Blueprint objectives before Congress and the Biden Administration.

Her leadership and participation during meetings with congressional staff and members of Congress enhanced IRI’s advocacy efforts. Her work helped IRI achieve its Blueprint legislative goals, notably the enactment of 15 of 33 Blueprint proposals in the SECURE 2.0 Act.

Rhonda Wolverton has been a highly engaged member of IRI’s Operations and Technology community and an instrumental leader who breaks down silos to effect and motivate change across the industry. She has bridged the business, operations, technology, and regulations communities and has chaired many initiatives at the task force, working group, and committee levels.

Her leadership has delivered solutions that streamline processes, reduce reliance on paper records, and decrease processing times from weeks to days. She has helped to pave the way to a streamlined, digital future.

“Our industry has a great wealth of talented leaders,” said Wayne Chopus, IRI President and CEO. “Today, we celebrate and congratulate Helene’s and Rhonda’s achievements and many contributions that have moved our industry forward. Their efforts have benefited their companies, our industry, and millions of America’s workers and retirees seeking a financially secure and dignified retirement.”

The IRI Chairman Award recognizes an IRI team member who has shown leadership and commitment to facilitate outcomes that advance the mission and vision of IRI and the industry to help America’s workers and retirees achieve a secure and dignified retirement.

“IRI is grateful for Paul’s advocacy and leadership in championing retirement security for America’s workers and retirees,” said Terri Fiedler, President of Retirement Services at Corebridge Financial, and Chair of the IRI Board of Directors. “Paul’s accomplishments, professionalism and strategic thinking have significantly advanced the IRI mission and vision.”

“Without a doubt, Paul’s contributions to IRI and our industry over the past year have been nothing short of spectacular,” Chopus said. “His leadership of IRI’s legislative advocacy program scored major accomplishments in the Secure 2.0 Act, which includes 15 specific IRI policy proposals. He is a consummate professional dedicated to IRI’s mission. We’re proud of Paul for this well-deserved recognition.”

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Contact: Dan Zielinski


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