SPARK Institute Elects New Governing Board Officers

SPARK Institute is announcing Joseph Smolen, Executive Vice President of Core & Institutional Markets at Empower, has been elected Governing Board Chair succeeding Kevin Collins, former Head of Retirement Plan Services and now Head of U.S. Intermediaries at T. Rowe Price.

“We are thrilled to welcome Joe as our incoming Chair and deeply appreciate all the time and dedication Kevin has shown to the SPARK organization. Since November 2022, when Kevin’s tenure began, the SPARK Institute has made significant strides forward – most notably with the creation of three new industry committees on Retirement Income, Financial Literacy and Fraud Prevention. In addition, SPARK has also seen an increase in membership under Kevin’s leadership,” said Tim Rouse, Executive Director of the SPARK Institute.

“SPARK serves as a true thought leader and advocate for the entire workplace retirement system. This system is the result of a tremendous public and private partnership and SPARK gets credit for leading the way toward better retirement policy,” said Chair Joe Smolen, who gave high praise to his predecessor. “I’ve worked with Kevin for several years as a member of SPARK’s Governing Board and learned a lot from his leadership. I am honored to now move into my new role as the Chair of the SPARK Governing Board and look forward to continuing SPARK’s tradition of advocacy for the retirement system and the millions of retirement investors who depend on it to help create future financial security for their families.” Smolen added.

Smolen noted that through SPARK’s historical advocacy in Washington recent advances in retirement legislation, such as SECURE and Secure 2.0, offer great promise for retirement plan participants. “I look forward to helping SPARK members navigate the road ahead as new and better policy opportunities await us.”

Todd McGrath, Managing Director & COO, Corebridge Financial Retirement Division, has been elected Vice Chair and will support Smolen in helping guide SPARK’s Governing Board. “I look forward to working with Joe and contributing to the great work this organization does for our industry,” said Todd McGrath.

Michael Miller, Managing Director, Head of DC Solutions, PGIM, has been elected Treasurer and will succeed William Byerly, EVP, General Manager, FIS Global. “We thank Bill and appreciate his years of service as Treasurer for SPARK”, said Tim Rouse, Executive Director of the SPARK Institute.

For more information, please contact Tim Rouse at

The SPARK Institute is managed by a Governing Board of twelve firms represented by: Allspring Global Investments, Ameritas Life Insurance Corp, Ascensus, BlackRock, Corebridge Financial, Empower, FIS Global, J.P. Morgan Asset Management, Lincoln Financial Group, PGIM, SS&C Technologies, and T. Rowe Price.

About SPARK Institute
The SPARK Institute represents the interests of a broad-based cross section of retirement plan service providers and investment managers, including members that are banks, mutual fund companies, insurance companies, third-party administrators, trade clearing firms, and benefits consultants. Through the combined expertise of its member companies, the Institute provides research, education, testimony, and comments on pending legislative and regulatory issues to members of Congress and relevant Government agency officials. Collectively, its members serve approximately 100 million participants in 401(k) and other defined contribution plans.

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