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EMPOWER Earns National, State Recognition

Empower Award
Shelly Shueller (left) and Tarna Hunter

The EMPOWER campaign has garnered state and national attention for its creative, educational approach to engaging and inspiring women to save for retirement.

  • EMPOWER founders Tarna Hunter and Shelly Schueller received a 2015 Innovator Award presented by Pensions & Investments Magazine and the Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association. Hunter is ETF’s legislative liaison and Schueller is director of the Wisconsin Deferred Compensation Program.
  • Closer to home, the campaign garnered the State Council on Affirmative Action 2015 Diversity Award. This award is given annually by the Wisconsin Department of Administration and Division of Personnel Management to recognize state agencies, including the University of Wisconsin System campuses, for their work in support of the state’s affirmative action goals. The EMPOWER campaign’s motto is, “Guiding women of all cultures toward a strong financial future”.

EMPOWER is sponsored by the Department of Employee Trust Funds, the Wisconsin Deferred Compensation Program, and Affirmative Action Committees within more than a dozen Wisconsin state agencies.

With report after report concluding Americans overall have little to no retirement savings, why focus on women? Hunter says it’s because “women are at the epicenter of the crisis. A woman’s road to retirement is less financially secure and her post-retirement sources of income are lower – these include Social Security, private and public pensions, and personal retirement savings.”

Hunter cites a number of retirement issues unique to women, including:

  • Women earn less – 77% of men’s earnings, on average;
  • Women have shorter work histories, primarily due to part-time work and/or caregiving responsibilities – more time away from work means less in savings and pensions;
  • Women in general are living longer – therefore they spend more years living alone in retirement and are at a higher risk for living in poverty.

“Our primary goal is to get all working women to stay aware of these issues and take charge of their own retirement financial planning and security,” Schueller adds. “We have to do something now. Poor, elderly women are the largest growing segment of our population.”