Member Spotlight

WIPN 2022 Board Spotlight

Mindy O’Connor

Head of Business Development, Retirement

Ascensus

Why did you choose to step forward and join the WIPN Board for 2022?
Being a long-time member of WIPN and watching the evolution of the organization over time inspired me to want to participate more in the future growth.  Watching the support WIPN was able to provide as well as the networking opportunities to allow members to connect over the past year couple years in a virtual world was amazing and to be admired.  By joining the board, I believe my years of experience in the industry as well as the many life lessons I have learned will bring value to the organization.  I have the pleasure of leading a team of incredible individuals every day and I know what can be accomplished when you come together with passion, dedication, and the drive to march towards common objectives.  I am honored to be part of the WIPN leadership team that will come together to continue the success and growth of the organization.

What is your vision for the role in 2022?
The key focus will be on the retention and expansion of WIPN Corporate Sponsors by continuing to promote the value WIPN brings to their organizations.  In addition, we will work to increase the percentage of Sponsor memberships in collaboration with Membership.  The growth in both areas has been terrific and the Sponsorship committee is dedicated to continuing the momentum into 2022.

Tell us about a WIPN-inspired success story that influenced your professional career.
Several years ago, I remember going to a WIPN event prior to the start of an industry conference and listening to several guest speakers that were part of the program.  I wrote something down one of the speakers said that was simple yet profound regarding being an advocate for yourself, “If you know what you want as the next step in your career, stand up for yourself and ask for it.”  In my next meeting with my leader, I did just that.  I told him I wanted his job and asked for his guidance in how I prepare for that role when he moved on.  Two years later, he left the organization and I was prepared to compete for the role thanks to his support.  Happy ending as I was afforded the opportunity to lead the team.

Is WIPN a force for change? If so, how?
I believe WIPN is definitely a force for change.  Bringing together over 5500 subscribers and over 1400 members nationally and growing, we have strong representation in all segments of the retirement services industry that together can continue advocating for positive change.  We can help support our collective goals by bringing awareness through research and being a catalyst for change by leveraging all the great resources made available by WIPN.

If you could distill all that is WIPN down to one word or phrase, what would it be and why? 

Opportunity!
WIPN offers women the opportunity to grow professionally and personally, to network, to influence change, to support each other, to be empowered, and to promote diversity equity and inclusion throughout our industry!

Mindy O'Connor

Lisa Allen

Chief Revenue Officer for Advisor2X

Why did you choose to step forward and join the WIPN Board for 2022?
2021 marks my 25th year working in our industry. (It is hard to wrap my mind around that being possible!) I have worked in compliance, advisory services, sales, marketing and operations and have gained knowledge from so many: recordkeepers, TPAs, RIAs and broker-dealers, DCIOs, financial advisors, coaches, marketers, and those working for our industry’s association.

Early on, I was laser focused on my own career progression. Today, I understand that a wider focus is directly linked to career success as well as finding joy in your work. I attribute that partly to maturity, but much to working for Ross Marino for the past several years as well as with my colleague, Trey Dowdy. Ross’ focus on total wellbeing in our workplace was why I accepted my current role, but I never anticipated that it would provide me with such a focus on personal wellbeing. I now understand the connection between the two and the impact of one on the other. Having the space and encouragement to focus on my own wellness has led to such enormous changes in my life in the past several years. I am a far better employee, mother, and wife and a much happier and healthier person.

The pandemic has placed a spotlight on the disproportionate caretaking weight placed on women. I have developed such a passion for personal wellness through my own background and experiences and have talked to so many women in our industry who are battling real burnout. Wellness has now become a passion for me (one I see as a continual learning process for the rest of my life). I see WIPN as a path to helping women in our industry who are managing professional careers, families and caretaking responsibilities and I want to help make that difference in women’s lives.

What is your vision for the role in 2022?
Joining the Board as Secretary will be a new challenge for me. As someone who typically leans into sales and marketing, it will allow me to strengthen the operational side of my brain! Working for a small firm has provided me with new skills around creating operational efficiencies, and our firm has been very successful doing so. I know I am stepping into big shoes left by Jillian White who has rocked the Secretary role for years, but I hope to help the organization by taking a fresh look at how we can run more efficiently.

Tell us about a WIPN-inspired success story that influenced your professional career.
A few years ago, I was someone in my mid-40’s who was likely headed toward an early heart attack. I was professionally burned out, managing a career and a family (including a child with a chronic illness). I was doing the very best I could, but I knew I was headed toward a breaking point. I truly did not even recognize myself. I had a phone call with a WIPN Board member. That heartfelt and generous conversation gave me both perspective and the courage I needed to make changes in my life. WIPN offers so many personal and professional development opportunities, but what I find most valuable is the ability to get help from other women when managing difficulties which are uniquely women’s issues.

Is WIPN a force for change? If so, how?
No organization or company can be a force for change. It is the people who make up the organization who are the force for change. I can say with surety as a member of WIPN and a volunteer, the women who make up WIPN are passionate and goal-driven. WIPN has already changed the lives of so many women and has grown exponentially. The future for WIPN is so bright with all these smart, successful and driven volunteers and members behind it!

If you could distill all that is WIPN down to one word or phrase, what would it be and why?

Possibilities!
I wish every WIPN member could be on a phone call with the Board or any of the committees to hear the passion, energy and ideas that flow from the volunteers. There is such positive intention and everyone leads with their full heart. With the force of these women behind the organization, the possibilities are endless and I can’t wait to be a part of it!

Lisa Allen

Christina Tunison, CPFA, AIF®

Financial Advisor/ Retirement Plan Consultant

LPL Financial

Why did you choose to step forward and join the WIPN Board for 2022?
I had been a chapter chair for the past three years and a member of the DEI Committee and I was considering a change. I wanted to stay involved with WIPN and be challenged. Someone suggested the marketing position after the work with the DEI Summit, and I looked into it, and I thought it was an interesting challenge and more aligned with where I needed to be spending time with my business development too.

What is your vision for the role in 2022?
I want to continue to deploy the new WIPN brand, grow the organization, work towards communicating the new WIPN research that is being developed, and make and grow relationships with the Board and other members.

Tell us about a WIPN experience that influenced you?
One of my most memorable times in WIPN was being involved with the DE&I Summit this past fall, and working with Rosalyn Brown, Jessica Fox, the DEI committee and the tech support team. Quick story – on the third day of the Summit and moments from going live, the speaker signed in on the wrong side of the webinar. No matter what she did & what we could do – signing in/out, resetting her panelist credentials, etc., we could not get her moved from the speaker side of the webinar. Ultimately, we went live with the webinar at the top of the hour, re-classified her existing sign-in once the event was up and running, and the audience would not know about that challenging 15 seconds. It cemented to me that WIPN members can get ANYTHING done – with literal smiles on their faces!

Is WIPN a force for change? If so, how?
Absolutely – WIPN is what happens when you get super-motivated, powerhouse women together.

If you could distill all that is WIPN down to one word or phrase, what would it be?

Illuminating!
I like illuminating because its primary definition is “make (something) visible or bright by shining light on it,” and I believe that’s what WIPN does in the retirement industry. By making something — the lack of parity of women & POC in the financial services industry — visible by shining a light on it but also by lighting it up by the women in WIPN going out into the industry and doing amazing, needed work — we are introducing a different viewpoint to rigidly defined interpretations of success.

Christina Tunison

Theresa Conti, QKA, APR, ERPA, CPFA

President, Sunwest Pensions

Why did you choose to step forward and join the WIPN Board for 2022?
I am excited to join the WIPN board for 2022.  I feel that I can contribute to the ongoing vision of WIPN for our current members along with our future members. It is so important to me to give back to this industry that I have been a part of for 30+ years and this is just one way that I can do that!

What is your vision for the role in 2022?
My vision for 2022 is to continue our “story.” Working on our research to both provide our members with information that they can use today along with helping our future generation who are just joining the financial services industry be better prepared for their future is such an important part of our vision!

Tell us about a WIPN-inspired success story that influenced your professional career.
I have a lot of these stories of who has helped me in my career with guidance and advice!  But I think my biggest success is all the women that I hope would say that I have helped over the years. Having these awesome relationships that I have made with other wonderful women and also with women who I hope would say I have helped them is what is most important to me!

Is WIPN a force for change? If so, how?
Yes, I think our research will help us now and help our future generation(s) in more ways than we know!

If you could distill all that is WIPN down to one word or phrase, what would it be?
Michelle Obama’s quote is one of my favorites…” There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.”

Theresa Conti

Sheri Fitts, CVP

Founder | CEO | Entreprenuer

SHERI FITTS & CO.

Why did you choose to step forward and join the WIPN Board for 2022?
I was a member of the founding WIPN board wayyyyyy back when. Many of my dearest and most cherished friendships are from the original members of the first WiPN Board. I’ve continued to participate in WIPN events – and felt called to participate more deeply. It’s amazing to see what has transpired over the last decade! I wanted to be a part of it and offer my experience and energy to the passionate people in our industry!

What is your vision for the role in 2022?
There is nothing more compelling than to spend time with other driven individuals. Whether new to our industry, or a long-time contributor, everyone has something to offer. My hope is that we will have a chance to gather together – in person – at several large industry events and make our presence known. I am hopeful that those events can provide the momentum for ongoing conversations across our group.

Tell us about a WIPN-inspired success story that influenced your professional career.
In 2015 I launched a podcast called Women Rocking Wall Street. That podcast was an extension of my desire to be of service to women in our industry  To validate and acknowledge our experiences – and to provide a “pocket sized mentor” for the pension community and beyond!

Is WIPN a force for change? If so, how?
I look out to this amazing community and the conversations taking place regarding inclusion. I had a male client ask me about inclusive language the other day!! And I know that the WIPN community was one of the reasons for that request! WIPN is making it safe to raise a hand and say, “I am here to learn and change.“

If you could distill all that is WIPN down to one word or phrase, what would it be and why? 

Momentum!

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