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ERISA 2019: The Evolving World

Speaker(s): Alicia C. McCarthy, Allison E. Wielobob, Andrew L. Oringer, Arthur H. Kohn, Audrey Jean, Bruce D. Gallant, Christina Y. Lee, Darren Cohen, Dennis Simmons, E. Philip Bush, Emily S. Costin, Erin K. Cho, Garrett A. Fenton, Gretchen Harders, Ian L. Levin, Jay Dinunzio, Jeanne Klinefelter Wilson, Jeffrey A. Lieberman, Jon W. Breyfogle, Judith R. Rom, Kendra Kosko Isaacson, Lisa J. Bleier, Lori E. Bostrom, M. Matthew Mannion, Matthew T. Rutchik, Nicole Rosser, Norma Drelich Mero, Patricia Anne Kuhn, Phyllis J. Zanghi, Rhonda Prussack, Sarah E. Downie, Sarah L. Burt, Sarah N. Lowe, Shannon Barrett, Veronica M. Wissel, William E. Ryan III
Recorded on: Aug. 5, 2019
PLI Program #: 252939

Alicia C. McCarthy is Counsel in the Executive Compensation and Benefits Department at Wachtell Lipton.  Ms. McCarthy advises clients with respect to executive compensation and employee benefit matters involving mergers and acquisitions, spin-offs, joint ventures, financings, litigation as well as plan compliance.  Her experience includes ERISA’s fiduciary rules and the investment of plan assets with an extensive background representing financial institutions, fund sponsors and ERISA investors.  She also advises on executive compensation matters including performance-based compensation plans, nonqualified pension plans, and employment, severance and change in control agreements.

Ms. McCarthy chairs the Committee of Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.  She speaks frequently on executive compensation and ERISA topics for the Practicing Law Institute where she co-chairs the ERISA Investment Fiduciary Basics program.  She is the recipient of the Pro Bono Publico Award (2010, 2011 and 2014) for her services to The Legal Aid Society.  She is also recognized in Best Lawyers of America (2012-2021) in Employee Benefits (ERISA) law and New York Super Lawyers (2013-2021).  She recently co-authored the articles “DOL Proposes New Rules Regulating ESG,” The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation (July 7, 2020) and “Sun Capital Redux:  Private Equity and Pension Liability,” The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation (April 5, 2016).

Ms. McCarthy received her B.A. in 1981 from Georgetown University and her J.D. cum laude in 1984 from Brooklyn Law School, where she was a member of the Journal of International Law.

Allison Wielobob is General Counsel at the American Retirement Association.  Allison brings nearly 20 years of experience—both in government service and private practice—with a broad range of employee benefits issues under ERISA and the Code.  Allison served as a legislation counsel for the Joint Committee on Taxation of the U.S. Congress and was on the staff of the Office of Regulations and Interpretations of the Employee Benefits Security Administration.  After leaving the Labor Department, Allison worked at Eversheds Sutherland (US) in Washington, DC.

Andrew L. Oringer is a partner and the co-chair of the Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Group at Dechert LLP.  He is the co-chair of the Employee Benefits Committee of the American Bar Association’s Business Section, Emerging Issues Coordinator of the Employee Benefits Committee of the American Bar Association’s Section of Taxation and chair of the New York State Bar Association Committee on Attorney Professionalism.  Mr. Oringer is a charter member of the Practical Law Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Advisory Board and was a long-standing member of the Advisory Board for the Bloomberg BNA Benefits Resource Practice Center and for the Tax Management Compensation Planning Journal.  He is a Fellow of the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel, a Senior Fellow from Practice for the Regulatory Compliance Association and an adjunct professor at the Maurice A. Deane Law School at Hofstra University.  He is co-editor of a leading treatise on ERISA fiduciary law and has authored two of its chapters, and has authored a chapter in a leading treatise on the taxation of nonqualified deferred compensation and.  Mr. Oringer is highly rated by a number of key ranking organizations, has been repeatedly included in a widely disseminated list of the Top 100 lawyers in New York City across all practice areas and is a member of The Legal 500 Hall of Fame.

Arthur Kohn is General Counsel – ERISA, Compensation and Benefits at Citigroup.  Prior to joining Citigroup, Arthur was a partner at Cleary Gottlieb Steen and Hamilton LLP. His practice focused on compensation and benefits matters, including executive compensation, pension compliance and investment, employment law and related matters.

He repeatedly has been recognized for his work on behalf of clients by the business and legal press, including Best Lawyers, which named him its 2014 New York Employee Benefits (ERISA) Lawyer of the Year. He has also been recognized for his work in employee benefits and executive compensation law by Chambers USA, The Legal 500, Super Lawyers of New York and others.

He is frequently invited to speak about executive compensation, taxation and corporate governance matters across the United States. Arthur is an adjunct professor at New York University School of Law and a regular guest lecturer at Columbia Law School.

Arthur received a B.A. from Columbia University and a J.D. from Columbia Law School, where he was admitted into the Accelerated Interdisciplinary Legal Education program, was appointed a Harlan Fiske Scholar and received Phi Beta Kappa honors.

Audrey serves as in-house counsel for AARP, the largest social mission tax-exempt organization serving the fifty-plus and retirement community, with 38 million members. Audrey works with departments across the organization, including public policy, government affairs, membership management, state and local offices, and AARP Foundation. Audrey oversees data privacy compliance for AARP and advises on privacy trends and legislation affecting older Americans. In addition, Audrey advises AARP Innovation Labs, an in-house venture capital and innovation center which invests in and develops new products and services for fifty-plus consumers. 

Previously, Audrey worked in the legal department of Bloomberg BNA, where she advised on 401(k), pension plan, retiree health and other benefits compliance issues, and served on the company’s Pension Administration Committee, in addition to providing general corporate counsel on privacy, compliance, technology, media, commercial, employment and other matters. Prior to Bloomberg BNA, Audrey was in-house at Discovery, Inc. advising the television and streaming video content distribution teams for US networks. Audrey began her career in private practice with the law firms Chadbourne & Parke (now Norton Rose Fullbright) and DLA Piper. 

Audrey holds a BA in History from Princeton University and a JD from Georgetown University. Audrey is an Advisory Board Member of the Future of Privacy Forum and serves on the Women’s Leadership Network for the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. She was recently recognized by DCA Live as Top 40 Corporate Counsel and by ACC National Capital Region as a finalist for Outstanding In-House Counsel in 2018, and has spoken on various topics for ACC and Bloomberg Law.

Bruce D. Gallant is Of Counsel at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP.  Prior to joining Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP in 2016, Mr. Gallant was Managing Director and Associate General Counsel at JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., supporting the JPMorgan institutional investment management and related business units with primary responsibility for ERISA and general fiduciary matters.  He was also responsible for advising clients on new products, portfolio investment transactions and business practices, participation in legal and business staff training and education and providing general legal advice.  Prior to joining JPMorgan in 1996, Mr. Gallant worked at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton from 1981, where his responsibilities included representations of broker-dealers, investment banks and other financial institutions, investment managers and other corporations. Mr. Gallant is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School, in 1977 and the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1981.

Christina is lead ERISA counsel for the institutional broker dealer and the asset management businesses of Morgan Stanley.  Prior to joining Morgan Stanley in 2011, Ms. Lee was an attorney at Allen & Overy LLP, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP and Proskauer Rose LLP, representing clients in all aspects of employee benefits and executive compensation.  

Christina received her JD from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, where she was an editor of the Law Review and a Bachelor of Science, with distinction, from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Ms. Lee is admitted to practice in New York.

Darren Cohen is the Regional Director of the U.S. Department of Labor’s New York Regional Office of the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA). He is responsible for overseeing the Regional Office’s civil enforcement program, which obtains compliance with the fiduciary, reporting, and disclosure provisions of Title I of ERISA.  He is also responsible for the Office’s criminal enforcement program, which is handled in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s Offices and state and local prosecutors. Prior to joining EBSA, Mr. Cohen was the Deputy Regional Solicitor and ERISA Counsel in the New York Office of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Solicitor. Prior to joining the U.S. Department of Labor, Mr. Cohen worked at two New York law firms and clerked for the Honorable Cecilia M. Altonaga, U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Florida. Mr. Cohen received his J.D. from Yale Law School and his B.A. from Columbia University.

Dennis Simmons is the Executive Director of CIEBA, the Committee on Investment of Employee Benefit Assets. CIEBA represents more than 100 of the country's most experienced chief investment officer fiduciaries, with CIEBA Members managing over $2 trillion of defined benefit and defined contribution plan assets. As the largest organization of corporate investment officers, CIEBA represents the interests of fiduciaries as they carry out their daily responsibilities on behalf of over 17 million participants and retirees worldwide.

Prior to joining CIEBA in 2017, Mr. Simmons led global retirement savings public policy strategy as senior principal in the International Legal team at Vanguard, one of the world’s leading investment management firms. In that role, Mr. Simmons worked through Vanguard’s global regional offices in London, Brussels, Paris, Hong Kong, Beijing, Melbourne, Toronto, and Latin America, leading Vanguard’s efforts in shaping global retirement savings policies and initiatives.

Prior to leading international retirement savings policy strategy, Mr. Simmons served for over ten years as Vanguard’s lead ERISA counsel, heading Vanguard’s ERISA Legal and Fiduciary Services Group and Vanguard’s Plan Sponsor Strategic Consulting Group, specialized units providing business-focused, legal compliance and consulting support for Vanguard’s over $2 trillion U.S. defined contribution, defined benefit, executive compensation and individual retirement plan businesses. Mr. Simmons also served as lead counsel on boards and committees responsible for Vanguard’s trustee services and the design and administration of global retirement and health and welfare programs, including programs benefitting Vanguard’s 15,000+ employees.

Mr. Simmons has been handling global retirement savings policy, tax, and legal issues for over two decades and he is a frequent conference speaker on retirement savings matters. He has been active on legislative committees for prominent retirement savings industry groups, such as the American Benefits Council, the Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association, the Plan Sponsor Council of America, and the Investment Company Institute (ICI), serving as the past Chairman for both ICI’s Global Retirement Savings Committee and ICI’s States Pension Committee.

Mr. Simmons also served on the US Department of Labor’s ERISA Advisory Council, the council established under U.S. federal law to give recommendations to the Secretary of Labor on important policy issues affecting retirement savings and welfare plans.

Mr. Simmons earned a B.A. in economics and a BS in business administration from Roanoke College, and a J.D., cum laude, from Widener University School of Law.

Emily Seymour Costin is a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Alston & Bird LLP, and the leader of the firm’s ERISA Litigation team. Emily primarily represents employers, plan sponsors, insurers, and fiduciaries in employee benefit disputes and advises on litigation avoidance strategies. She has experience defending a variety of individual, mass action, and class action claims for benefits and breach of fiduciary duty under ERISA, including those involving investments, excessive fees, employer stock, actuarial factors, benefit termination, and health care matters.  Emily also represents clients in related disputes that include employment, securities, insurance, breach of contract, professional malpractice, and government contract matters. She also assists clients responding to government audits, investigations, and subpoenas.

Emily was one of five lawyers named a “Rising Star” by Law360 in the field of employee benefits in 2018, and was most recently recognized by The Best Lawyers in America© in Litigation – ERISA. Emily is the former chair of the American Bar Association’s Joint Committee on Employee Benefits (JCEB), a member of the editorial advisory board of the Benefits Law Journal, and a contributing author to the BNA treatise ERISA Litigation.

Erin K. Cho is a partner in the Employment & Benefits Group at Mayer Brown focusing on ERISA Title I fiduciary matters. Erin has extensive experience advising financial institutions, asset managers, insurance companies and other retirement plan service providers with respect to the many and varied services and financial products (including complex structured products and derivatives) they offer to U.S. pension plans. She counsels hedge funds and private equity clients on the consequences of accepting investments by benefit plan investors, as well as plan assets and prohibited transaction concerns arising in connection with venture capital investments and corporate transactions.

She counsels plan sponsors on all aspects of ERISA fiduciary compliance, including plan governance, plan expense issues, and the selection and monitoring of plan investment options. Erin also represents clients in connection with audits and investigations as well as advisory opinion and exemption requests before the Department of Labor. Erin regularly writes on pension investment matters for a variety of publications. She is a frequent speaker on ERISA matters and is the co-chair of the Practising Law Institute’s annual conference, “ERISA: The Evolving World.”

Erin received her J.D. cum laude from Harvard Law School and her B.A. Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude from Yale University.

Garrett Fenton is a Senior Corporate Counsel in Microsoft’s Corporate Legal Group who specializes in all aspects of employee welfare and retirement benefits, executive compensation, and HIPAA compliance.

Garrett received his undergraduate degree from the University of Washington, his Juris Doctor degree (magna cum laude) from Southwestern University School of Law, and his LL.M. in Taxation (magna cum laude) from the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law. Prior to joining Microsoft in 2017, Garrett was an equity partner at Miller & Chevalier Chartered in Washington, D.C., where he assisted primarily large employers and insurers with a broad range of employee benefits, executive compensation, and tax issues.

Garrett is a frequent speaker on employee benefits matters, and has authored and co-authored numerous articles and treatises as well. He also serves on the Boards of Directors of the ERISA Industry Committee and the In-House Benefits Counsel Network.

Gretchen Harders is a Member of the Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation and HealthCare and Life Sciences practice group of Epstein Becker & Green, in the New York office.  Ms. Harders counsels a broad range of clients on executive compensation and employee benefit issues, tax-qualified and non-qualified plans, 401(k) plans, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, deferred compensation, executive incentive compensation plans, executive employment and severance agreements, Section 409A compliance, equity-based compensation plans, multiemployer plans and health and welfare plans and trusts.  Ms. Harders’ clients include Fortune 500 companies, financial services institutions, health care providers and tax-exempt organizations.

Ms. Harders is a frequent speaker on various employee benefit and executive compensation issues and developments and has authored articles on various topics of ERISA and employee benefits law.  She is on the editorial board of the Bloomberg BNA Compensation Planning Journal and has been recognized by The Best Lawyers in America and New York Metro Super Lawyers and Top Women lists.  Ms. Harders received her B.A. from the University of Chicago and her J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School (cum laude).

Ian L. Levin is a partner in Schulte Roth & Zabel’s M&A and Securities Group. Ian’s practice covers a broad range of executive compensation and employee benefits matters, including the associated tax, securities, corporate, employment and labor issues. Ian’s practice routinely involves:

  • Structuring private equity and hedge funds and other investments in compliance with ERISA
  • Advising private and public companies, in particular private equity sponsors, regarding executive compensation and employee benefits issues arising in mergers and acquisitions, initial public offerings, joint ventures and other transactions
  • Representing executives and management teams in negotiating employment and incentive compensation, particularly in connection with corporate transactions
  • Advising clients as to the design and establishment of virtually all types of executive compensation, equity, deferred compensation and other benefit arrangements
  • Advising companies and their boards regarding governance and disclosure requirements
  • Representing lenders and borrowers in various corporate financing transactions

Ian has been recognized as a leading employee benefits attorney by Chambers USA, The Legal 500 US, New York Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers. Chambers USA describes Ian as “highly experienced in advising clients on the benefit and executive compensation issues associated with various business transactions” and noted that clients regard Ian as “very proactive” and “an excellent lawyer with strong technical knowledge.” The Legal 500 US has noted that he “operates at a very high level across many areas, but brings a particularly unique set of skills to ERISA Title I matters in his representation of private investment funds.”

Ian serves as a member on the Advisory Board and as chair of the Center for Transactional Law and Practice Advisory Board at the Emory University School of Law. He also serves as an adjunct professor at New York Law School.

Jay Dinunzio is a Principal in Mercer’s Financial Strategy Group focused on consulting with clients on pension risk transfer (PRT) strategies including retiree lift-out and plan termination annuitizations.  Jay has nearly 20 years of experience navigating strategic and tactical aspects of insurance based transactions involving retirement plans.

Jay has led over 100 pension risk transfer transactions since 2013, and is well versed in communicating and managing the settlor and fiduciary issues which naturally compete with each other in a PRT transaction. Additionally, Jay is proficient in asset-in-kind annuity funding, mortality experience data, insurer negotiation, and independent annuity expert/DOL 95-1 “safest available annuity” analysis.

Prior to joining Mercer Jay worked at a leading national retirement consulting firm, within the annuity consulting practice. Additionally, Jay spent the first portion of his career working within the pension risk transfer business units for two different leading life insurance companies.  Jay holds a B.A. political science from Syracuse University, and also holds Life, Accident and Health Insurance Licenses in all 50 states.

Jon Breyfogle is an expert on ERISA’s fiduciary rules and government regulation of health insurance, including the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  In his practice, Jon counsels numerous financial services firms, health insurers, and their D.C.-based trade associations on retirement and health matters. His practice includes advice on regulatory and legislative strategies, compliance, and defense of federal and state investigations. Jon has testified before Congress and at Department of Labor hearings on both retirement and health issues.

With respect to ERISA, Jon frequently represents clients in front of the Department of Labor, seeking and obtaining a variety of advisory opinions, information letters, and prohibited transaction exemptions. Jon works with a wide range of financial services firms on the products they offer to the 401(k) market and to IRAs.  He regularly counsels large employers, supporting plan investment and administrative committees by providing fiduciary training, fee and expense analyses, reviews of plan governance and administrative practices, and assistance regarding frozen or eliminated company stock funds.

As part of his health practice, Jon represents the nation’s largest health insurers and their trade associations on ACA and other federal and state laws that regulate health insurance. He regularly engages in advocacy on behalf of the firm’s clients before Congress and the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Treasury. Jon’s practice also includes defending insurers on state and federal government investigations relating to the ACA, federal mental health parity, ERISA and state insurance law.

Currently, Jon is the Chair of Groom and is the leader of the firm’s Health Services Practice Group. Jon also is a member of the firm’s Retirement Services and Employers Practice Groups.

Prior to joining Groom, Jon served in political and civil service positions at the Office of Management and Budget, Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, and the Department of Labor.

Kendra Kosko Isaacson serves as Senior Pensions Counsel to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, where she advises Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and other committee members on ERISA and all retirement-related issues. She is also a member of the Committee’s Oversight Team where she assists with nominations and financial conflicts of interest.  Kendra also advises Senator Murray on all tax-related matters.

Kendra received her B.A. in Government from Dartmouth College, a J.D., with honors, from the Catholic University Columbus School of Law, and an LL.M in Taxation with a certificate in Employee Benefits from the Georgetown University Law Center.  After law school, Kendra was an Associate with Slevin & Hart, P.C. and also with Venable LLP in Washington, DC. Before joining the HELP Committee, Kendra worked in the Employee Benefits Security Administration at the Department of Labor where she worked in the Office of Policy and Research. 

Kendra speaks frequently on retirement policy.

Lisa J. Bleier is Managing Director and Associate General Counsel at SIFMA, and head of the Private Client, Retirement & State Government Affairs teams. In this capacity, she supervises and coordinates SIFMA’s outreach to members of Congress and government regulators on retirement and senior investor matters, as well as managing the teams engaged in state issues and retail issues.

Ms. Bleier is also on the Board of the NAPSA National Institute on Elder Financial Exploitation, Co-Chair SIFMA’s Senior Investor Protection Initiative, and the Co-Chair of the American Bar Association Section on Taxation Employee Benefits Legislation and Litigation Subcommittee.  In addition, she is on the planning board for the National Aging and Legal Conference.  She has testified on retirement plan matters in Oregon and Connecticut.  Further, she has testified on ERISA fiduciary matters in Nevada and Maryland.

Ms. Bleier has been published in Trust & Investment Magazine, having authored “Overhauling ERISA for Today’s Marketplace,” and “The State of Play for Today’s Directed Trustee.” 

Previously, Ms. Bleier held positions with the American Bankers Association, the American Society of Pension Actuaries, and Congresswoman Marge Roukema of NJ.

Ms. Bleier holds a J.D. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and a B.A. from the University of Michigan.

Lori E. Bostrom is Managing Director and Chief Legal Officer of Newport Trust Company, which serves clients with fiduciary services in retirement and investment management.  Lori manages the legal work for Newport Trust, and is also on the senior team responsible for new business engagements.  She previously served as Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel at OFI Global Asset Management, Inc. (OppenheimerFunds) for over 10 years, heading a team of 30 attorneys, paralegals, and marketing compliance professionals covering investment product distribution. Previously, Lori spent 9 years in-house at Prudential Financial, Inc. and The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, specializing in investment products and initiatives, having started her legal career at large and midsize law firms. She has served on various committees of financial industry and benefits trade associations, focusing on retirement policy and investment product distribution. Lori has a B.A. from Skidmore College and a J.D. from Cornell Law School. 

Matt Mannion has been with AIG since 2007.  As the Vice President, Fiduciary Liability Claims, in the Financial Lines Group, Matt manages a team of five analysts who handle multi-million dollar insurance claims, which involve all aspects of ERISA litigation.  Before AIG, Matt was a practicing commercial litigation attorney in New Jersey.  Prior to his legal career, Matt was an intelligence officer in the U.S. Army and was awarded the bronze star for service with the First Infantry Division during Desert Storm.  Matt earned his B.A. from Rutgers University and his J.D., with honors, from the University of Baltimore.

Mr. Lieberman’s practice is focused on the fiduciary responsibility provisions ERISA. He has over 20 years of experience advising a wide range of clients regarding such matters, including asset managers, investment advisers, banks, hedge funds, plan sponsors, recordkeepers, private equity funds, pooled investment funds, insurance companies, sponsors of CLO and other securitized vehicles and servicers to such vehicles, issuers of various types of securities, underwriters and trustees. 

Mr. Ryan is President and Chief Fiduciary Officer of Newport Trust Company, and served as President and Chief Fiduciary Officer of Evercore Trust Company, N.A., prior to the acquisition of Evercore Trust’s institutional trustee and independent fiduciary business by Newport Trust in 2017. Prior to Evercore Trust, Mr. Ryan was with Morgan Stanley, where he was an Executive Director in the Legal and Compliance Division and Head of ERISA Law, responsible for coordinating ERISA and qualified tax issues for Morgan Stanley's Institutional Securities Group (Institutional Brokerage), Morgan Stanley Investment Management (Asset Management), and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney (Retail Brokerage). Prior to joining Morgan Stanley, Mr. Ryan was the Chief ERISA/Benefits Counsel for Prudential Financial, Inc. from 1995 through 2004, handling ERISA-related HR, compensation and product issues for Prudential Insurance, and was in private practice in New York from 1987 through 1995, specializing in ERISA issues. On behalf of various industry groups, Mr. Ryan has met with and testified before the U.S. Department of Labor, the Treasury Department, the White House, and various state regulators on fiduciary and other retirement issues. He has also served on various industry groups, including the SIFMA Retirement Committee (where he served as co-chair from 2010-2013). Mr. Ryan holds an A.B. Degree in History from Princeton University in 1984, a J.D. from Stanford Law School in 1987 (where he was an editor of the Stanford Law Review), and a Masters in Taxation (LL.M.) from New York University School of Law in 1995.

Ms. Wissel is a partner in Davis Polk’s Corporate Department, practicing in the Executive Compensation Group. She advises clients on a variety of compensation-related matters, including the design and implementation of equity, retention and incentive plans, compensation, disclosure and regulatory compliance, and employment negotiations with senior executives, with a particular emphasis on compensation and benefits issues relating to mergers and acquisitions transactions. Additionally, she advises clients with respect to the ERISA aspects of the investment and management of pension plan assets in private funds and other products and arrangements, including hedge funds and private equity funds, and she advises asset managers and broker dealers with respect to the financial products they offer to U.S. pension plans and compliance with ERISA’s fiduciary rules.

Nicole Rosser is a member of BlackRock’s Legal & Compliance Department, responsible for ERISA matters for BlackRock.  Nicole advises the firm with respect to ERISA’s fiduciary responsibility and prohibited transaction rules in connection with BlackRock’s asset management business.  

Prior to joining BlackRock in 2013, Nicole worked at the law firm of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP, where she was an associate since 2007.  Nicole received a B.S. from the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia in 2004, and a J.D. and LL.M from New York University School of Law in 2007 and 2010, respectively.

Norma is an Assistant General Counsel at Warner Media Group, LLC (formerly known as Time Warner Inc.).  She is an employee benefits lawyer responsible for Time Warner employee benefit plans, including the 401(k), pension plan, excess and deferred compensation plans, health and welfare benefits, COBRA, HIPAA etc.  In addition, she provides fiduciary advice to the Investment Committee and acts as a liaison to the Administrative Committee.  Norma works closely with Corporate Benefits, divisional benefit departments and collaborates with other attorneys within the legal department on contracts, litigation and securities matters.

Prior to joining WarnerMedia almost 16 years ago, Norma practiced employee benefits law at Morgan Lewis & Bockius in New York and Washington D.C.  Before that, she worked as a senior tax consultant in the Compensation and Benefits practice at KPMG, and Deloitte Touche.  She received a JD/MBA from Emory University and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania.

Norma is a co-founder and board member of the Charity Chess Championship, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to raising money for charitable causes.  2019 was the third year of the charity and 100% of all net proceeds from the chess event will be donated to the David M. Rubenstein Center for Pancreatic Cancer Research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to fund research for the early detection and prevention of pancreatic cancer.

Norma lives in New York City with her husband and son, a chess aficionado.

Patricia is a member of the bank’s Legal Department. She provides advice and guidance on ERISA, fiduciary and other employee benefit plan and retirement issues to the Global Wealth and Investment Management business.  Her responsibilities include supporting institutional and individual retirement programs and services and non-qualified deferred compensation and equity plans.

Prior to Bank of America, Ms. Kuhn was a Managing Director at BlackRock in Legal and Compliance and a counsel at Shearman & Sterling LLC in the Executive Compensation & Employee Benefits Group.  She advised clients on issues arising under the Title I and Title IV of ERISA and other employee benefit plan and employment issues.

Patricia received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the State University of New York, College at Purchase in 1983, and a Juris Doctor degree from Boston University, cum laude in 1989, and she was a member of law review.

Philip Bush is a partner in the Dallas, Texas office of Locke Lord LLP.  His practice focuses on employee benefits and executive compensation.

He has served as an adjunct professor on qualified and non-qualified plans at SMU Dedman School of Law since 1989.

Philip received his J.D. in 1978 and received his LLM in Taxation in 1985 from SMU Dedman School of Law.  He is board certified as a specialist in taxation by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  

Philip has been recognized by Best Lawyers in the field of Employee Benefits. He is a frequent author and speaker on various topics related to employee benefits and executive compensation. He also is a Fellow of the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel. 

Phyllis Zanghi is Associate General Counsel and Tax Director for Brighthouse Financial in Charlotte, NC.  Phyllis heads both the Finance Tax team as well as the Law Department’s Tax/ERISA team. Phyllis’ main responsibilities include company tax strategy as well tax and ERISA compliance.  She is responsible for a team of accountants that focus on timely and accurate tax filings, tax projection, financial reporting and tax depositing as well as tax and ERISA audit work.  She also manages a group of tax/ERISA professionals responsible for all employee benefit (e.g. medical, pension, severance etc.) plans and executive compensation programs, as well as the tax and ERISA positions for all products.  Finally, Phyllis is a Board Member and General Counsel for the Brighthouse Foundation.  Prior to joining Brighthouse in 2016, Phyllis worked in the MetLife Law and Tax Department’s for 18 years.  Prior to joining MetLife, Phyllis clerked for the Honorable John F. Callinan in the Chancery Court in Cape May County, NJ.  Phyllis earned her LL.M in Taxation from New York University School of Law in 2002 and her law degree from St. John's University in 1997. 

Rhonda Prussack is Senior Vice President and Head of Fiduciary and Employment Practices Liability at Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance.  Ms. Prussack has been with BHSI for the last six of her thirty years in the insurance industry.  In her extensive career, Ms. Prussack has developed and brought to market state-of-the-art policy forms and innovative coverages for corporations, organized labor, municipalities, and not-for-profits.  She also oversees pricing, profitability, underwriting, and marketing of fiduciary and employment practices liability insurance products.  Early in her career, Ms. Prussack had roles at Dean Witter, Johnson & Higgins, and the New York City Employees’ Retirement System.  She has written articles for and been quoted in many publications and is a frequent speaker at ERISA, employment practices, and executive liability seminars around the U.S. and Canada.

Ms. Prussack received her B.A. from Brooklyn College. 

Originally from Brooklyn, Ms. Prussack is now based in New York.  She can be reached at

Sarah Burt is the Chief Legal Officer for the ERISA/Benefits team at Prudential Financial and leads a team of attorneys who provide advice to the businesses and human resources on ERISA, Internal Revenue Code, and other laws affecting benefit plans and IRAs. 

On a daily basis, Sarah and her team provide advice on a wide range of ERISA and Internal Revenue Code issues including, but not limited to, prohibited transaction exemptions, fiduciary requirements, and fund structure.  In addition, Sarah and her team provide advice on welfare, wellness, pension, severance, and deferred compensation plans.  Sarah’s clients include the Prudential businesses that sell products and services to ERISA plans and IRAs including Prudential’s broker-dealers, asset managers, and insurance companies. Sarah is also the lead lawyer for the Investment Oversight Committee of Prudential’s company plans.

Sarah joined Prudential in 2007 as a Director, Corporate Counsel.  After holding a number of positions within Prudential’s ERISA/Benefits team, Sarah become Chief Legal Officer for the ERISA/Benefits team in 2018. Before joining Prudential’s Law Department in 2007, Sarah was an attorney in Proskauer Rose LLP’s Employee Benefits Practice Group.  While at Proskauer, Sarah primarily provided ERISA and Internal Revenue Code advice to multi-employer pension and welfare plans (i.e., Taft-Hartley plans).

Sarah graduated cum laude from Cornell Law School.  She received her undergraduate degree from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University. 


Sarah Downie is an Executive Compensation & Benefits partner in Weil’s Tax Department and is based in New York. Ms. Downie advises clients on all aspects of compensation and employee benefits.

Ms. Downie has extensive experience in the executive compensation and employee benefits aspects of mergers, acquisitions and financings. She represents senior executives and companies in the negotiation and drafting of employment and severance agreements. She also advises as to the design and operation of executive and employee benefit arrangements including equity compensation and cash incentive plans, change in control and retention arrangements and nonqualified deferred compensation plans. In addition, Ms. Downie regularly advises employers on the design and operation of tax-qualified retirement plans, including 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans and 457(b) plans, as well as health and welfare benefit plans.

Ms. Downie advises clients on pension plan investment and compliance with ERISA’s fiduciary obligations and prohibited transaction rules. She regularly counsels private fund sponsors in connection with ERISA’s “plan asset” regulations and with VCOC, REOC and similar issues.

Ms. Downie is recognized for Employee Benefits by Super Lawyers and has been recommended for Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation by Legal 500 US. She served as Chair of the New York City Bar Association’s Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Committee and is a member of the Steering Committee of the New York Chapter of Worldwide Employee Benefits Network.

Sarah N. Lowe of Frost Brown Todd LLC focuses her practice on employee benefits, with an emphasis in the areas of qualified plans, related ERISA fiduciary issues and pension plan investments. She regularly reviews and negotiates provisions of pension plan investments on behalf of large pension funds, including hedge funds and other alternative investments. She also routinely assists structuring private investment funds and their portfolio investments so that they avoid being subject to ERISA fiduciary rules. As part of her practice, she regularly advises clients on compliance with ERISA’s rules regarding fiduciary duties and prohibited transactions.

Sarah also has significant experience in pension de-risking area, including both “lift out” and termination annuity transactions. Her experience includes representing plan sponsors, plan fiduciaries and independent fiduciaries in multiple complex annuity transactions.

Sarah has provided counsel to and negotiated on behalf of clients regarding employee benefit issues in connection with mergers, acquisitions, dispositions and other business transactions. She has also advised public and private employer clients regarding issues related to design, preparation, communication, administration and operation of qualified plans and the related funding vehicles, including pension and profit-sharing plans, 401(k) plans, rabbi trusts and cafeteria plans.


Shannon Barrett concentrates his practice on ERISA-related litigation and on providing advice relating to Title I of ERISA. He has been involved in litigating a broad range of ERISA matters at both the trial and appellate levels, with a particular focus on fiduciary issues. In addition to his litigation practice, Shannon has assisted clients in responding to regulatory investigations and has counseled clients, including financial institutions and plan sponsors, on ERISA issues such as fiduciary structure, fee disclosure, and compliance with ERISA’s prohibited transaction provisions. Shannon also has advised independent fiduciaries in their representation of employee benefit plans’ rights in connection with ERISA and securities settlements.

Shannon is a frequent thought leader on ERISA-related topics and serves as the co-editor of the ERISA Litigation Reporter. He is recognized by Chambers USA and Legal 500 in the ERISA Litigation (Nationwide) category.

As Acting Assistant Secretary, Ms. Wilson serves as agency head for the Employee Benefits Security Administration at the Department of Labor.   Ms. Wilson has served at EBSA since her initial appointment in November 2017.  Since that time she has served as Acting Assistant Secretary (from June 2020 to now, and previously from November 2017 to January 2018).  She also served as EBSA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy (November 2017 to May 2019), and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (May 2019 to May 2020).   

Before her appointment, Ms. Wilson served as counsel to plan sponsors and fiduciaries for over fifteen years. Prior to her graduation from law school, Ms. Wilson worked for seven years at a national accounting firm where she audited employee benefit plans and provided employee benefit plan compliance advice.

Judith Rom heads the Legal Department at DWS (Deutsche Bank’s Asset Management division) in the Americas. She was previously head of Legal for Wealth Management & Asset Management Americas at Deutsche Bank and also worked at Zurich Scudder Investments.  

Prior to working in-house, Ms. Rom was a lawyer at the law firm of Davis Polk & Wardwell. She received her J.D. from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where she was the Managing Editor of the Law Review, and her B.A. from Columbia University.  She is a member of the State Bar of New York.