U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. October 9, 2016. U.S. Capitol Building. (Photo: Mike Scarcella/ALM)

With retirement issues looming large for the 116th Congress, the American Retirement Association announced Tuesday that it has revamped its government affairs leadership team by hiring veteran ERISA attorney Allison Wielobob as its general counsel and Will Hansen to fill the new role of chief government affairs officer.

“We are thrilled to have retirement industry professionals like Will and Allison join our advocacy team at this critical time,” said Brian Graff, ARA’s CEO, in a statement. “Their combined experience on the Hill, familiarity with the regulatory environment, their knowledge of our members’ concerns, and their passion for strengthening American workers’ retirement will be essential. The importance of the nation’s retirement plan system has never been more evident, and we anticipate an even higher level of retirement policy activity in the coming years.”

Wielobob will join ARA on Jan. 28 from her current post as of counsel at the Washington office of international law firm Eversheds Sutherland. She replaces current ARA general counsel Craig Hoffman, who will join the San Francisco-based law firm of Trucker Huss APC in April.

Prior to her role at Eversheds Sutherland, Wielobob spent ten years an attorney with the Labor Department, where she was on the staff of the Office of Regulations and Interpretations of the Employee Benefits Security Administration.

During her tenure at Labor, she worked on ERISA fiduciary issues and many of the department’s major initiatives, including retirement plan fee disclosure and default investment alternatives.

In comments to ThinkAdvisor, Wielobob said that she expects to this to be a busy year on the “retirement policy front. With the breadth of its membership, the ARA brings to the Hill and the various regulatory agencies valuable insight as they develop the policies that impact working Americans’ retirement.”

As 2018 came to a close, “both congressional bodies seemed to be positioning to negotiate on retirement proposals,” Wielobob said. “These will continue to be a priority on the Hill. I also think that we will see movement from DOL on a variant of the fiduciary rule in the coming year — perhaps something that dovetails with the SEC’s work” on its advice-standards package.

Wielobob, who has her Master of Laws (LL.M.) in taxation from Georgetown University, and her J.D. from the James E. Beardsley School of Law at Temple University, also served as a legislation counsel for the Joint Committee on Taxation of the U.S. Congress and as an attorney-advisor in the Office of Chief Counsel of the Internal Revenue Service.

Hansen, an attorney with an LL.M. in employee benefits from The John Marshall Law School, joins from The ERISA Industry Committee, where he was the senior vice president of retirement and compensation policy, leading ERIC’s efforts to develop and advocate for retirement and compensation public policies priorities at the federal, state, and local levels.

He joined ERIC from the Holland America Group, where he was senior manager of global employee benefits overseeing employee benefit programs for five cruise brands under the Carnival Corporate umbrella.

Hansen previously was executive director of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, as well as legislative counsel for Sen. Robert Casey Jr., D-Pa., advising on tax, pension, budget and Social Security issues, and as legislative director for Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis. He also has experience as an employee benefits attorney with McDermott Will & Emery LLP, where he focused on qualified and nonqualified retirement plans.