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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) presented three awards at its 2024 annual conference in Nashville, Tennessee, to recognize industry leaders among its members and IRI staff.

This year’s Leadership Award recipient is Colleen Tycz, Senior Vice President, Head of Strategic Accounts & Insurance Distribution with Franklin Templeton. Joe Caruso, Assistant Vice President, Government Relations and Public Policy with Jackson Financial, is the first recipient of IRI’s Rising Star Award. This year’s Chairman Award recipient is Shani Armon, Chief Membership and Marketing Officer at IRI.

“Our industry has an immense wealth of leadership talent, which is crucial to the ability to help tens of millions of workers and retirees plan for a financially secure retirement,” said Wayne Chopus, IRI President and CEO. “We are thrilled to celebrate our Leadership and Rising Star award recipients and their accomplishments. Colleen and Joe have made exemplary contributions to our industry, IRI, and their companies. We’re also excited to have Joe be the inaugural recipient of our Rising Star Award and look forward to his future accomplishments.”

The IRI Leadership Award recognizes industry leaders who have made exemplary contributions to advancing one of IRI’s strategic pillars in advocacy, operations and technology, diversity, equity, and inclusion, member engagement, and other critical areas.

Those nominated for the Leadership Award must be a chair or vice chair of an IRI committee or working group. Nominees must demonstrate leadership skills that facilitate and encourage favorable outcomes for the industry and IRI and be committed to IRI’s mission and vision to advance policies to help America’s workers and retirees achieve a dignified retirement.

Colleen Tycz’s leadership on IRI’s Asset Manager Committee and Research Committee has been instrumental. Her efforts helped develop IRI’s first-ever Asset Manager Symposium, which has become an annual event for this critical IRI membership category.

“Colleen is often the first to raise a hand to offer assistance whenever needed,” Chopus said. “She’s proven to be a strong leader and has contributed to IRI’s efforts to address  the unique needs of IRI’s asset manager community and create a more valuable member experience.”

The Rising Star Award recognizes an emerging leader who shows exemplary service to their profession, colleagues, and the insured retirement industry. Nominees must have significantly contributed to IRI or the member organization and demonstrated the potential for leadership and continuing service.

Rising Star Award recipient Joe Caruso has a solid foundation in securities and insurance law. After six years of experience in this highly regulated industry, he understands how legislative and regulatory proposals may impact American retirement savers.

He is dedicated to staying current on the insured retirement industry’s emerging issues and trends. He regularly seeks opportunities to share his insights with others as a trusted thought leader and is highly collaborative in advocating for solutions to benefit various stakeholders.

The IRI Chairman Award recognizes an IRI team member who has shown leadership and commitment to facilitate outcomes that advance the mission and vision of IRI and the industry.

“Shani Armon possesses a deep understanding of the strategies and approaches needed to build an engaged membership community that delivers outsized value to each participant,” said Phil Pellegrino, Managing Director, Head of Wealth Planning & Insured Solutions at UBS, and Chairman of the IRI Board of Directors. “That understanding has translated to incredible results for IRI.”

“Everyone at IRI is thrilled to celebrate this honor with Shani,” Chopus said. “Her leadership, professionalism, and accomplishments in revamping our membership services, co-leading our DEI efforts, and transforming our annual conference into the premier event for our industry are nothing short of spectacular. Congratulations, Shani, on this well-deserved recognition.”

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Contact: Dan Zielinski


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