I am pleased to announce that we are about to launch our new website, and I take advantage of this opportunity to send you my reflections on the last year and a half of the work of the IDB Retirees’ Association.
In May of 2016, we were blessed to succeed a President I regard as a model of leadership of the Bank’s retirees, and to have inherited a legacy of camaraderie among our members and a spirit of cooperation with the Bank in support of our interests. We have also been blessed by a Board of officers and members with a keen sense of the gifts that have come from our lives and careers in an institution with a mission so close to our hearts and a commitment to honor that tradition and work to assure we receive all the benefits we worked so hard to earn.
At the outset of each term, we as a board have agreed on a number of priority goals to guide our work, the new website being one of them. Orlando Reos and subsequently Marta Calderon have led this process and they deserve a round of hearty applause. Please let us know what you think.
Another goal has been to strengthen all our Chapters and promote the creation of new ones, an effort that included a meeting in Lima in October of 2016, organized and supported by the Association, an occasion that brought together the leaders of all Chapters and those officials of the Bank’s headquarters most directly responsible for our interests: Kurt Focke, Secretary of our Retirement Plan, Diego Murguiondo, Chief of the Division of Compensation and Benefits, and Chip Lusk, President of our Credit Union. We are most grateful to those officials, who provided detailed information on the status of the services and benefits under their charge which allowed the meetings’ participants to report back to their respective Chapter memberships. It bears mentioning that this meeting of the Chapters received a rating of satisfaction by its participants of 4.6 on a scale 1 to 5. And it is our intention to continue in this same tradition, with a meeting of the Chapters scheduled for the second week of April of next year.
Another measure related to the last was the approval of a change in our bylaws, approved by a significant margin last April, that stipulates that at least two members of our board be residents of a country outside the United States. This change was designed to assure representation within our board that was reflective of the global institution to which we belong, a vision long promoted by board member and President of the Chilean Chapter, Alvaro Beca, and actively supported by Michael Woscoboinik, our previous Vice President. Alvaro also deserves credit for his work in helping to organize our meeting in Lima last year, along with Peru Chapter President Guillermo Lopez and Secretary María Elena Ramirez.
As with previous administrations of the Association, we assign highest priority to the sustainability of our program of medical benefits, its guarantee to continue to provide us with adequate protection, its most efficient and effective use by beneficiaries, and an open channel of timely communication between our members and the Bank’s administration. We on the board maintain a close and continuous relationship with the Division of Compensation and Benefits and invite the retirees’ representatives on the Review Committee to attend the meetings of our own Committee of Health and Life Insurance Administration. Retirees’ questions regarding specific claims have of course been addressed directly to the appropriate offices within the Bank, but we have stood ready to help out when necessary. General questions regarding policies and procedures we have strongly encouraged be channeled through the Association, as we take very seriously our responsibility to serve as the principal means of communication between our members and the Bank’s administration on such matters. Given his vast experience in the management of this program, Michael Gagnon’s contribution in this area has been of particular value.
Other areas that have deserved our special attention are:
- Increasing our membership from 62% of all retirees to 75%, a goal whose fulfillment would be facilitated if non-members would give the Office of the Staff Retirement Plan permission to share with us their contact information.
- Supporting the widows and widowers of our members by continuing to give them the same support we did to their member spouses, collaborating with the Bank to provide information on pension benefits, health insurance and tax payments and reimbursements. In this process, we have encouraged surviving spouses to become members of the Association, and intend to strengthen those efforts. In addition to her invaluable support and leadership as Vice President, Patricia Bermudez’s previous experience within the Bank gives her a very special advantage in these areas.
- Improving our strategy of communications, creating a page on Facebook, and possibly adopting the practice to do all of our mailings by internet.
- Creating an obituary list of all former members.
- Improving the efficiency of the board and the front office in the timely fulfillment of the procedures and responsibilities stipulated in the bylaws.
- Establishing a program to allow members to tell their stories, recording their reflections and sharing them on our website.
My own reflections would be less than complete if I were to leave the impression that it has all been smooth sailing over the last 18 months. We have indeed had some disagreements, and I take my share of responsibility for some of them and commit myself to work to avoid them in the future. In that spirit, we on the board stand ready to organize encounters between our members, within and without the Washington, D.C. area, and officials of the Bank’s administration, to address matters such as tax reimbursements, pensions and health insurance. Requests for such encounters should be addressed to the board, which will in turn work with the corresponding Bank officials to arrange for mutually convenient times and places and to agree on appropriate agendas. On that basis, I am sure that we can continue to build a spirit of community among our members in such a way that all feel the value of the Association as an instrument of support in uniting us around a unique shared experience.
In conclusion I would like to thank, in addition to those named above, German Paraud and Lupe Calderon for keeping us on a sound financial track and Guillermo Collich for providing support in the same area, Rigoberto Ordoñez and Jorge Lamas for helping to organize our meetings and record our proceedings, Gabriela Vega for her special sensitivity to relations with all our members, Rodrigo Mayen for his appreciation of the regional nature of our organization, north and south, and Laura Bocalandro for her work to fulfill the vision of our Association as expressed at the end of the last paragraph. And of course the front office, Pedro Labarca, Clarissa Westphal Nogueira, and Bruce Quiñones, under the trusty leadership of our office manager, Angelita Papotti, who fortunately provides a much better face for this organization than my own.
IDB Association of Retirees