For Immediate Release | November 17, 2021


Kristine Quinio (202-2437008) or

Kilolo Kijakazi, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA), and Robert (Bob) Greenstein, founder of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), each received the 2021 Robert M. Ball Award from the National Academy of Social Insurance at a hybrid event held on November 9th. Nearly a hundred and fifty guests (all required to provide proof of full vaccination) attended a reception held at the Kennedy Center including: Wendell Primus, Gene Sperling, Earl Pomeroy, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, Ellen Nissenbaum, Lisa Mensah, Debra Whitman, Renée Landers, Indi Dutta-Gupta, Jason Fichtner, Rebecca Vallas, William Arnone, Ramsey Alwin, Maya MacGuineas, Lynette Rawlings, Chris Jennings, and Rosa Maria Castañeda.  

Speakers described to in-person guests and attendees via Zoom how Greenstein and Kijakazi make innovative contributions to social insurance and related policy issues to help improve the well-being of millions of people. Wendell Primus, senior policy advisor to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, speaking as part of the award presentation to Kijakazi, said: “She has applied a critical and much needed equity lens in order to understand and address social issues within social insurance…Resoundingly, she is known as a true champion of low-income [people] and families of color, with particular attention to how they can build wealth and financial security while they are in the labor market and after they retire.” 

Gene Sperling, senior advisor to President Biden and White House American Rescue Plan Coordinator, who spoke as part of the award presentation to Greenstein, said: “In a city that is defined by ego, power, and money, Bob gave the poorest citizens [and] non-citizens in our country the most effective advocacy I have ever seen. His money – his power – was the currency of world-class analyses… It is hard to think of another person who has moved more resources to those without power and in the most need.” 

Since 2004, the Academy has presented the Robert M. Ball Award to individuals whose recent work have made a significant impact on the U.S. social insurance system. This award honors Robert M. Ball, Commissioner of Social Security (1962-1973) and Founding Board Chair of the Academy. For over 60 years, Bob Ball worked tirelessly to advance our nation’s social insurance programs.

Kilolo Kijakazi became Deputy Commissioner for Retirement and Disability Policy at SSA in January 2021, bringing her expertise on social insurance and retirement to lead the department’s policy development and research activities. In July 2021, she was named Acting Commissioner by President Biden. Bob Greenstein’s leadership built CBPP, which he founded in 1981 and led through 2020, into a major force for helping shape federal and state policy on public programs, from Medicaid to Unemployment Insurance to Social Security and more. Photos from the event are available on the Academy’s website 

Since the National Academy of Social Insurance was founded in 1986, it has provided rigorous inquiry and insights into the functioning of our nation’s social insurance programs – Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment Insurance, and Workers’ Compensation. Now comprised of over 1,200 of the nation’s top experts in social insurance and related policies and programs, the Academy studies how social insurance will meet the changing needs of American families, employees, and employers. The Academy also looks at new frontiers for social insurance, including areas of uninsured or underinsured economic risks. To learn more about the Academy’s work, please visit, or follow @socialinsuranceon Twitter. 

See related news: News About NASI

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