Growth in Benefits Plan membership leads to a new externally facing division
by Lea Sitton, Board of Pensions | Special to Presbyterian News Service
PHILADELPHIA — The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has further refined its organization to better serve the Church. As Benefits Plan membership continues to grow, it has moved management of relationships with all employers into one division.
The reorganization encompasses the Church Relations team, as well as the supporting functions of meeting planning, marketing, and communications. Also included in this new externally facing division are the Board of Pension’s longstanding education and assistance programs.
“Since the start of 2017, the number of active employees in the Benefits Plan has grown 31.7 percent,” said the Rev. Frank Clark Spencer, agency President. “Affiliated employers are driving the growth. And our membership is becoming more diverse as organizations such as colleges and retirement communities bring employees into the plan.”
Executive Vice President Linda Jacobsen is leading the new division. Jacobsen joined the Board of Pensions five years ago as Vice President, Growth Strategies and Solutions. The agency was poised to introduce a redesigned Benefits Plan, on January 1, 2017. Her charge was to oversee marketing of the plan’s expanded options and new flexibility among affiliated employers.
“Bringing more employers into the Benefits Plan means providing access to Board of Pensions offerings to a growing number of ministers and employees,” Jacobsen said. “We want to have the biggest impact possible within the scope of our mission.”
The agency’s assistance and education programs, which are responding to a more diverse membership, are now under Jacobsen’s direction. Although financial support for members provided through assistance grants has doubled over the past few years, work is under way to further expand eligibility. Access to education programs is widening as well, with the expansion of online opportunities and offerings in Korean and Spanish.
The consolidation of communications and marketing functions under the new division is designed to ensure consistent messaging. The goal is to be sure that all members know about and can access the agency benefits and programs, which promote wholeness in four key areas: spiritual, health, financial and vocational.
“Alignment of messaging is critical as we represent the Board and its work to all constituencies — externally and internally, to our own employees,” Jacobsen said. The agency has hired a Vice President, Tracy Pou, to oversee this alignment. She will report to Jacobsen.
“Tracy has extensive strategic communications and marketing experience, specifically in health care, and she has worked in mission-based organizations,” Jacobsen said. “She has a deep understanding of how to motivate plan members to action and develop health-equity programs for diverse cultural and linguistic needs.”
Pou brings more than two decades of combined journalism and senior-level marketing, communications, brand management, and stakeholder engagement experience to the Board of Pensions. An accredited business communicator, she has spent much of her career in the health insurance sector, recently working as a corporate communications leader for AmeriHealth Caritas, a Philadelphia-based national payer that coordinates health care services for underrepresented groups across the country. There she was responsible for strategic account management and supporting brand awareness and enrollment growth in 13 states and the District of Columbia.
“Tracy’s experience will prove valuable in ensuring that our benefits and programs are accessible to all our members,” Jacobsen said. “And her marketing leadership will help us see continued growth in employer plan participation, both Church and affiliated.”
“I’m excited to be joining the Board during this significant transition,” Pou said. “I look forward to leading and shaping a communications and marketing team that will be a valuable partner in ensuring equity of service and in supporting continued plan growth.”
“Consistency is key to making sure all plan members are aware of and have access to what we offer,” Spencer said. “Our benefits and programs foster wholeness. God wishes that for every one of us.”
As one of six national PC(USA) agencies, the Board of Pensions administers the denomination’s Benefits Plan and provides financial assistance and educational opportunities to plan members. It serves PC(USA) congregations, agencies, and mid councils. And it serves employers with PC(USA) affiliations — including educational institutions, camps and conference centers, retirement and senior housing communities and human services organizations.
Lea Sitton is agency writer at the Board of Pensions, which supports wholeness in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) community and care for Benefits Plan members. For information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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