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Leading Experts and Public Policymakers Convene in Washington, DC to Discuss Racial Disparities in Retirement Savings


May 27, 2010

CONTACT: Merrillyn J. Kosier, Executive Vice President, Ariel Investments:  312-726-0140

AARP Media Relations, 202-434-2560




AARP and Ariel Education Initiative host retirement conference in Washington, DC featuring Mellody Hobson, representing Ariel Education Initiative, and Michael Davis of the Department of Labor

WASHINGTON, DC – AARP and Ariel Education Initiative will host a retirement symposium, African American & Hispanic Retirement Savings Behavior at the Workplace, on May 27, 2010.  This event is the first of its kind to explore the role race plays in achieving retirement security.  Leading experts and public policymakers will discuss the various barriers and behavioral differences that exist in retirement savings across racial lines. 

“Ariel has spent years researching and highlighting this critical issue.  We are grateful that AARP, a world-class leader in this area, is joining the fight.  During good economic times, minorities have severely lagged in creating wealth and retirement security.  Coming out of this recession, our community finds itself even further behind than ever before.  Unless we address this issue head-on, large portions of our society will find their retirement in jeopardy,” said Mellody Hobson, representing Ariel Education Initiative.  Hobson will speak about the research Ariel has conducted regarding African American savings and investing patterns.

“Retirement insecurity is becoming more problematic among all Americans, but for African and Hispanic Americans this is especially problematic,” remarked Jean Setzfand, Director, Financial Security, AARP.  “AARP is proud to work with Ariel Education Initiative in convening this esteemed group to help us not only shine a light on the disparities that exist but to also identify the solutions to eradicate the problem.”

The conference will also feature the Department of Labor’s Deputy Assistant Director, Michael Davis who will discuss how the Administration can tackle these disparities and improve retirement security for all Americans.  Following the keynote speeches, the conference will conclude with a panel of experts offering new and effective solutions for closing the racial wealth gap.  Panelists include: Alison Borland, Principal, Hewitt Associates; Eric Rodriguez, Vice President, National Council of La Raza; Wilhelmina Leigh, Senior Research Associate, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies; and David John, Senior Research Fellow, Heritage Foundation.  The panel will be moderated by Christian Weller, Senior Research Fellow, Center for American Progress.

“The private pension system has provided essential retirement security for millions of American workers – but far too many Americans are still being left behind. African Americans and Hispanics are a major factor in the U.S. economy and it is critical that we have a retirement system which enables all of America’s workers to retire with the dignity they have worked so hard to achieve,” said Michael Davis, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Employee Benefits Security Administration.  “The Labor Department has developed a variety of resources to enhance retirement security for diverse communities nationwide and is delighted that broader discussions around these important issues are taking place.”

In addition to the organizations participating in Thursday’s conference, many members of Congress have been working to enhance financial literacy, increase transparency around retirement plans and ensure that Americans are given the necessary tools to make the best decision for their futures.

“As the co-founder and co-chair of the House Financial and Economic Literacy Caucus, I know first hand how important it is to be well-informed when it comes to your finances, and especially your retirement savings.  Historically, minorities have been at a disadvantage,” stated Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, a senior member of the House Education and Labor Committee. “I am working closely with my colleagues in Congress on proposals to establish financial literacy centers in districts throughout the country as well as a nationwide multi-media, multi-lingual financial literacy campaign.”


About Ariel Education Initiative

Ariel Education Initiative, the nonprofit affiliate of Ariel Investments, was founded in 1989 by John. W. Rogers, Jr. (Founder and Chairman of Ariel Investments, LLC) as a private operating foundation with a mission to strengthen the neighborhoods and cities in which we live and work.  Ariel Investments is a Chicago-based money management firm and mutual fund company that serves individual investors through its no-load mutual funds and manages separate accounts for institutional clients.

About AARP

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with over 35.7 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP VIVA, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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