Loris Lucas (Photo: EBRI)

Lori Lucas is now the head of a think tank that shapes how people in Washington think about health insurance and retirement savings programs.

The board of the Employee Benefit Research Institute has named her to be the group’s new president and chief executive officer.

Lucas succeeds Harry Conaway, who has been EBRI’s interim president since 2015.

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EBRI is a Washington-based research institute that was founded in 1978. Both Republicans and Democrats rely on EBRI’s survey data and economic analyses to understand how employers’ benefits programs are working, or not working.

In recent years, for example, EBRI reports have helped policymakers’ understand how workers have been using health savings accounts, and how many workers in each age group have started preparing for retirement.

The group’s reports influence federal work on individual retirement accounts and other individual retirement savings programs as well as federal efforts to improve employer-sponsored retirement plans.

The Future

Lucas said in a statement that she’d like to see EBRI do research on financial security benefits, such as student loan benefits and emergency fund benefits, as well as on traditional health and retirement benefits.

She also talked about the need to maintain EBRI’s reputation for objectivity.

“My goal is to continue EBRI’s focus on unbiased data and research that is critical in today’s evolving employee benefits environment,” Lucas said.

Lucas’s Past

Lucas has a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University and a master’s degree from the University of Illinois. She started out as an analyst at Morningstar Inc.

Later, she served as a pension benefits consultant, and then as director of retirement research, at Hewitt Associates, when Hewitt Associates was a major provider of benefit plan data in its own right. In 2005, for example, she was talking about many U.S. employers’ general lack of interest in retirement benefits.

In 2006, Lucas became the head of the defined contribution plan practice at Callan, a San Francisco-based institutional investment consulting firm.

Lucas has been involved with EBRI since 1999. She recently served as the group’s vice chair.

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