Effective January 1, 2019, WiPN will welcome several new faces to its Board. We invite you to get to know a little bit about each of them and encourage you to say hello when you see them at upcoming events!
Val Ferrara, Incoming Director of Local Chapters
What do you want our membership to know about you? I feel like the luckiest person in the world. I love every day and am so excited to be a part of WiPN to help grow the chapters.
How did you first get involved in WiPN? I have been a co-chair of WiPN’s New York City Chapter, and I expressed interest in getting more involved with the board.
What are your goals and aspirations for WiPN as you step on to the Board? We have such powerful women on the board and on the various committees, that together I know we will be able to help the organization continue to grow and to provide even more meaningful outcomes to our members.
What is a hobby or interesting / quirky thing about you? I have already completed two life goals: 1) Visit every MLB ballpark and 2) Run a half marathon on every continent. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2019 brings!
Book recommendation and why? I prefer to use whatever free time I have to do yoga, go for a run, or catch up on sleep!
Cindy Kennedy, Incoming Director of Mentorship
What do you want our membership to know about you? I’m in financial services because it’s a social service role backed by Fortune 100 tools and resources. I worked on the plan administration side before being motivated by peers to take on a sales role as DCIO. I am where I am because others encouraged me, and I value the time I spent over an 18 year career lifting others to their next steps, too.
How did you first get involved in WiPN? At national conferences as a sponsor, then as Local Chapters started in Cleveland and Nashville as a contributor.
What are your goals and aspirations for WiPN as you step on to the Board? I’d enjoy seeing women in our membership feel motivated by our content and network to the extent they go into their own communities and draw talented women to this industry. Be the change we’d like to see in the world by helping others see their potential in our field.
What is a hobby or interesting / quirky thing about you? I’m listening to 5-8 podcasts a week on a variety of topics. An excellent way to learn about new things, it makes my weekly mileage by car or plane meaningful. I’m a big fan of Death, Sex & Money, Hidden Brain, and Kind World.
Book recommendation and why? “ To Sell is Human” by Daniel Pink. Women are in the two leading industries that require persuasion (selling) skills: Education and Healthcare. This book is a great read to recognize selling is a natural skill for most women and we should be seeking roles that compensate us for that ability.
Charmaine Hughes Lee, Incoming Director of Special Projects
What do you want our membership to know about you? I’m passionate about our business and like many of our members, I came into it by invitation vs. seeking a career working with retirement plans. Over the course of my almost 30 years’ experience, I’ve stayed because I love it. I knew I wanted to be in financial services, but working with retirement plans has given me the opportunity to earn a generous income while performing meaningful work. We have the opportunity to make a difference for millions of Americans and their families, bringing them closer to a financially secure and dignified retirement. Whether our roles are strategic in nature or include personal interactions with plan participants and investors, we play an important role and leave a positive, lasting impact.
How did you first get involved in WiPN? I joined Women in Pensions Network in it’s very early stages. It’s been exciting to watch the network build over the years, adding both senior level executives and young professional women in roles across our industry. Having served on the Marketing Committee for two years, it was a wonderful opportunity to support WiPN and “pay it forward”.
What are your goals and aspirations for WiPN as you step on to the Board? The WiPN benefits such as professional mentors, webinar series, job boards, and the local chapters are hugely successful and continue to grow at a rapid pace. As Director of Special Projects, I’m looking forward to developing WiPN thought leadership and helping to develop additional member resources to support and drive our mission of helping female retirement plan professionals develop their careers and prepare for leadership positions.
What is a hobby or interesting / quirky thing about you? My family is a very traditional, Midwestern family from Wisconsin. My parents knew each other since grade school and married after being high school sweethearts. Ironically, my siblings and I all married someone born in a different country. My older sister’s husband is originally from Germany, my younger brother’s wife is from Thailand, and my husband was born and lived in Hong Kong before he immigrated to America as a toddler. We are a melting pot, we are all American. Between our extended families and all of the international students my kids bring home from college, it’s a United Nations Summit at holiday time and it’s so much fun!
Book recommendation and why? I’m an avid reader and have so many favorites, it’s hard to pick just one. A few of my favorites are The Lost City of Z, Billionaire’s Vinegar, and the Harry Potter Series. I love a good adventure or mystery.
Jean Martone, Incoming Director of Membership
What do you want our membership to know about you? I have been in the 401(k) business for over 30 years working on the corporate side, recordkeeping and consulting. I had my own consulting business for several years. I have 2 grown children – a son and daughter both in their 20s. My husband is a chef who owns a cooking school so I never have to cook.
How did you first get involved in WiPN? I know I joined WiPN several years ago in an effort to network with women in the industry and am so happy to see all of the progress you all have made in the last few years!
What are your goals and aspirations for WiPN as you step on to the Board? I am hoping to advance more women in our industry especially in leadership. I think there are so many opportunities now; I feel I can be a mentor to younger women.
What is a hobby or interesting / quirky thing about you? I would not really describe myself as quirky – I love to be outdoors biking, running – just enjoying time with my family.
Book recommendation and why? I read a lot. Two recent books were: “The Sense of an Ending” by Julian Barnes, because I loved his writing and the story is so compelling; and “Call Me by Your Name” by Andre Aciman, a very moving love story.
Lisa Smith, Incoming Director of Events and Partnerships
What do you want our membership to know about you? As a career oriented woman who has worked for the same company for 28 years, expanding my personal and professional network has always been a priority and a passion. I am grateful for the friendships and connections made through WiPN over the years and have fully leveraged that support system in both my personal and work life. I am so humbled and excited to be a part of this amazing organization and to have the opportunity to pay it forward!
How did you first get involved in WiPN? I was part of the original small group of members at the beginning stages of this organization under Anne Schleck’s leadership. I continue to be amazed with what a group of smart, driven women are capable of!
What are your goals and aspirations for WiPN as you step on to the Board? I would like to see more women in our industry taking advantage of these cost effective resources and engaging in their personal and professional development, so a focus on expanding our membership is certainly a priority. As I think about the course of my career, I’m struck by how many male sponsors and advocates have influenced my journey and success. I believe it’s important that as an organization we think about how to engage and involve our male counterparts in our mission. Finally, as Chair for Events and Partnership, I want to insure that our time together is meaningful and productive for both our members and our sponsors. I will be interested in your feedback!
What is a hobby or interesting / quirky thing about you? Travel, food, wine and the beach are my favorite things – preferably all at the same time! I have backpacked around Europe many times and always around the fiesta of San Fermin in my beloved Spain. My father had run with the Bulls for 30+ years and my son and I have adopted this tradition. We have each run once so far!
Book recommendation and why? I’m a big fan of work-life balance and as such when I read outside of work, it is purely for my guilty pleasures. Given the hobbies noted, my reading tends to be focused on travel, food and wine books and magazines. As for a particular book, I’m a big fan of the Dan Brown series….they allow me to escape back to Europe with such wonderfully descriptive passages of the sights and museums that I adore in a suspenseful thriller. What could be better than that??