Members share enthusiasm for Academy’s 2022 priorities including Economic Security, Workers’ Compensation, and COVID-19

On Thursday, January 13, the National Academy of Social Insurance held its annual membership meeting, with a focus on the multi-year Pathways to Economic Security campaign. Over 120 Members participated throughout the packed 6-hour agenda. 

Board Chair Renée Landers opened the meeting by reaffirming the Academy’s commitment to incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusivity into every aspect of our work to elevate social insurance. Membership Committee Chair Robert Espinoza introduced this year’s 48 newly-elected Members, who reflect that commitment. Then Three Biden-Harris Administration appointees – Abigail Zapote (Social Security Administration), Kathleen Kennedy-Townsend (Department of Labor), and Michele Evermore (Department of Labor) – described how they are drawing on Academy expertise to elevate social insurance as part of the Administration’s overall agenda (watch the opening segment). 

2022 Policy Priorities 

While there is always a lot going on at the Academy, this year really stands out! Just as we are wrapping up a major study panel on economic security, the Academy also launched three Task Forces in 2021, with work continuing into 2022. The Academy’s long-standing Data Panel on Workers’ Compensation has also shifted into a Study Panel, reflecting the need for a comprehensive look at this key pillar of the nation’s social insurance infrastructure. Study Panel and Task Force Members who presented at the meeting: 

Rebecca Vallas – Economic Security Study Panel 

Ben Gitis – Unemployment Insurance Task Force 

Alaine Perry – Older Workers Retirement Security Task Force 

Jewel Mullen – COVID-19 Task Force 

Doug Holmes – Workers’ Compensation (WC) Study Panel 

In addition to providing brief descriptions of each initiative, presenters discussed the interconnected nature of work across initiatives and how we are intentionally engaging with a range of stakeholders, which is a key facet of the Pathways to Economic Security campaign (watch the session).  

The meeting featured a special session celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Workmen’s Compensation Commission, and illustrated how work on health care, disability policy, workers’ rights, and other areas are closely linked. Outgoing Study Panel Chair Les Boden, incoming Chair Jennifer Wolf-Horejsh, and John F. Burton Jr., the “grandfather” of workers’ compensation, walked participants through the full century of WC history, culminating in a presentation of the Academy’s ambitious plans for 2022 and beyond, including the establishment of a new WC internship in John Burton’s honor! 

Participation was another key theme of the 2022 meeting. Members Joel Eskovitz of AARP and Calvin Colbert of Challenger, Gray & Christmas shared insights about translating ideas into initiatives with a real impact. Lynette Rawlings and Darrick Hamilton also described what to expect from the new Kilolo Kijakazi Fellowship Program launching in 2022. In breakout rooms, Members further delved into participation options including: providing subject-matter expertise to Task Forces; authoring a commentary; leveraging professional networks to increase visibility of issues, and more. Key takeaway: We will need all 1,200-plus Academy Member hands on deck to make the Pathways campaign a resounding success! 

The meeting culminated in an interview and discussion with Ken Feinberg, Special Master September 11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) talked with CEO Bill Arnone. Ken’s work was recently depicted in the 2021 Netflix film, Worth. Watch the 30 min conversation to find out whether the VCF offers lessons for the challenges facing social insurance programs today, especially in light of the impacts of COVID-19. 

Watch the full meeting here.

Posted on: January 19, 2022

Keywords: News About NASI

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