On Wednesday RockCreek Senior Advisor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend led a lively discussion on women in power and solutions to the American retirement crisis at RockCreek’s headquarters.
Townsend, speaking to an audience of RockCreek women including the firm's Summer Analysts, began the conversation by exploring the relationship between women and power throughout history, from Adam and Eve to modern American politics. Citing her own longstanding career, Townsend spoke about how media outlets constantly discussed her appearance. “The first line of the article was about how I wasn’t wearing rouge,” Townsend recalled, “this was when I was elected as the first female Lieutenant Governor of Maryland.”
Her comments centered on the public’s increased scrutiny of powerful women, particularly in the United States, where there is no defined archetype of a woman in power. She pointed out, however, the strong examples of women in power at RockCreek, including Founder and CEO Afsaneh Beschloss, and Managing Directors Sherri Rossoff, Alifia Doriwala, and Maryam Mashayekhi, and Directors Anda Bordean, Nafees Clay, and Jackie Bleicher.
“The first line of the article was about how I wasn't wearing rouge... this was when I was elected as the first female Lieutenant Governor of Maryland.”— Kathleen Kennedy Townsend
Townsend turned the conversation to highlight how Americans, particularly millennials and women, fear retirement. Many have seen older family members incapable of retiring due to improper planning or investing, she said. She described how defined benefit pension plans are no longer being offered, leaving many scrambling to prepare for their futures.
Townsend pitched her idea for a new retirement plan designed to address this issue: workers set aside 1.5% of their income, which would be matched by their employers, and that money would be managed by professional investors, like RockCreek. When several thousand Americans were polled on the proposal, approximately 75% of both Republicans and Democrats voted in favor of the plan, said, adding that millennials polled at even higher percentages.
The lunch presented a great opportunity to brainstorm solutions that support women colleagues and benefit all of society moving forward. “Women have made great progress so far,” Townsend concluded, “but we’ve still got a lot left to do.”