Member Spotlight

June 2021 Member Spotlight

Karen Witham (She/Her)

Vice President, Communications & Marketing at DCIIA

Is WIPN a force for change? If so, how? Gathering women together with a shared sense of purpose and mission is a guaranteed way to create a force for change, and WIPN is no exception! With WIPN’s refreshed focus and branding I see even more powerful impacts on the horizon.

How did you find out about WIPN? And, how would you describe WIPN to a peer or colleague? I found out about WIPN about three years ago from one of our members. We almost immediately started to see synergies around DCIIA’s nascent diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and in that role I reached out, and soon saw the benefits to having my own WIPN membership. I’d describe WIPN as a member-led organization with incredibly strong leadership and the support of many leading retirement industry organizations.

What changes do you hope to see for women in the retirement industry in the next 5 -10 years? Across all industries, I’d like to see women finally achieve pay equity. In the retirement industry, I hope to see women in more portfolio management and C-suite roles and placing even more of a priority on mentoring other women and supporting each other each day.

How important is it for you to be a role model for the upcoming generations of women in the retirement industry? I think all of us, regardless of our job title or the size of our organization, can be role models for other women. Much like parenting, being mindful that someone might be watching and learning from you can help you show up with your best self.

My favorite quote is … “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” —Maya Angelou 

This quote really sums up some key touchstones for life in one phrase and it’s from one of my favorite authors.

Cheryl Aboussie

Relationship Manager at The Standard

What changes do you hope to see for women in the retirement industry in the next 5 -10 years? More opportunities for growth and management roles would be wonderful. The industry has been lead primarily by men since I started in the industry in 1990. I think there has been a shift over the past 10 years, but would love to see more women in leadership positions. Also making a larger footprint as financial advisors working one-on-one with women and minorities to increase their wealth in retirement and educating them on their financial status and options at different life stages.

How important is it for you to be a role model for the upcoming generations of women in the retirement industry? It is very important for me to do my part and try to be a leader and/or role model to younger women. I’ve been in the retirement industry over 30 years and have seen it develop from a male-dominated industry to a more commingled environment. I would like that to continue, but I think it is important for women to demonstrate their strength as well. This is one area I think I can help others with if they need motivation.

How do you see WIPN affecting positive change in your career? Can you share a WIPN-inspired story that influenced your professional career? Since I joined during the pandemic last year, I might not be experiencing WIPN like others have pre-pandemic when we could have face-to-face interactions, etc.  However, that said, WIPN has been inspiring to me with each and every event or webinar I attend. To hear other women sharing their stories of where they came from to their triumphs.  It is pretty motivating!  In addition, women who have spoken about deep challenges in their life that they have overcome. It helps keep me grounded. Seeing the powerful women in this group has encouraged me to further my career and seek out industry designations.  Last year I completed my Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor (CPFA)) exam through the National Association of Plan Advisors (NAPA), and am currently studying for the Fi360 Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF®) designation.

Is WIPN a force for change? If so, how? Yes, by providing opportunities for growth and management roles for women in the industry. I believe through WIPN we can make that happen! If we keep networking, sharing stories, sharing successful strategies, and encouraging each other—the industry will be filled with rock-solid female leaders!

My favorite quote is … “Take the first step in faith.  You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”    -Martin Luther King Jr.

I love this quote because it puts things in perspective and encourages moving forward and taking action in a simple way.


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