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Sy Sternberg receives John Newton Russell Memorial Award.

Former Chairman earns industry’s highest honor.

Sy Sternberg, our former CEO and chairman of the board of directors, has received the 73rd annual John Newton Russell Memorial Award. The award, presented by the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA), is the highest honor accorded by the insurance industry. Sternberg is the eighth New York Life recipient of the award, another example of the company’s leadership in the industry.

He was presented with the award on September 7, 2014, at the NAIFA Career Conference and Annual Meeting in San Diego.

“The selection committee considered a very strong slate of nominees, but, ultimately, we were honored to unanimously select Sy as the 2014 John Newton Russell Memorial Award recipient,” said Terry K. Headley, LUTCF, LIC, FSS, chair of the 2014 John Newton Russell Award Committee.

“I know several recipients of the John Newton Russell Award and never considered the possibility that I would be asked to join this prestigious group,” Sternberg said. “The award is a truly unique and very special recognition because it’s awarded by a committee representing every facet of the industry—from Agents to life insurance companies, from educational organizations to research. All I can say is thank you for this great honor.”

Under his leadership, New York Life became one of the largest mutual life insurance companies in the U.S. and the world. He provided strong support for our Agents, instituting valuable training courses and resources for our field force and promoting improved communication between upper management and Agents.

He also was a strong advocate for the life insurance industry, playing a key role in shaping industry positions on such issues as regulatory reform and tax reform. His chairmanship of the American Council of Life Insurers encompassed the events of 9/11, upon which he encouraged insurance companies to pay claims quickly and without bureaucratic delays.

“During a period of rapid change in our industry, Sy did not waver in what he believed in and solidified New York Life’s commitment to remain a mutual life insurance company dedicated to its career Agents. It was considered a contrarian position at the time, but there’s no question that it was the right decision for us and we wouldn’t be the same company today if a different decision was made,” said CEO Ted Mathas.

John Henry Russell created the John Newton Russell Award in 1942 as a tribute to his father, an influential leader in the life insurance industry and an early advocate of agent education. John Newton Russell served as NAIFA (then NALU) president from 1916 to 1917 and was a contributing founder of LIMRA International, The American College and the Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) designation.