SAG Pension & Health Plan Names New CEO

11:13 AM PST 02/05/2014 by Jonathan Handel

Michael Estrada takes the lead at a time of flux for the union benefit plan.

The SAG Pension & Health Plans (SAG-PPHP) announced Wednesday the appointment of Michael Estrada as chief executive officer effective immediately. Estrada replaces Christopher Dowdell, who announced his plans to retire last year after 24 years with the Plans.

“The decision to appoint Michael Estrada to CEO followed an exhaustive search conducted by Korn/Ferry International and a selection committee appointed by the Board of Trustees of SAG-PPHP,” said David White, SAG-AFTRA national executive director and Chairman of the SAG-PPHP Board of Trustees. “Mr. Estrada’s track record with the Plans makes him the ideal candidate to guide the organization’s future and we are thrilled that he has accepted this position.”

The SAG-PPHP is one of two legacy organizations -- the other is the AFTRA Health & Retirement Funds -- that provide benefits for SAG-AFTRA members and their dependents. Although the unions merged two years ago, the two benefits organizations did not, which continues to make it difficult for some performers to meet the qualifications for benefits. The SAG-PPHP announced in December that its health plan would offer a limited reciprocity starting July 1 with the AFTRA plan, which is expected to ease the problem somewhat.

STORY: Motion Picture Industry Pension & Health Plan Appoints New CEO 

Also still separate are the two master television agreements, one SAG and the other AFTRA. Work done under those agreements helps fund the corresponding benefit plan (SAG-PPHP or AFTRA H&R). Merger of the two legacy agreements is expected to be an agenda item at the upcoming negotiations between the studios and SAG-AFTRA. Those talks are not yet scheduled, but will take place sometime between the end of the WGA’s negotiations (ongoing now) and the expiration of the current contract, on June 30, 2014.

Estrada joined the Plans in 2008 as director of investments and shortly after was appointed executive director, investments, a position he held until 2010. Most recently he served as executive director, investments and finance, where he managed a total of 45 staff and led efforts to reduce operating costs and improve internal financial controls. Currently, he also serves as the CEO of the SAG - Producers Industry Advancement & Cooperative Fund (IACF).

Prior to joining the Plans, he worked for Merrill Lynch & Co. and eMind LLC, a start-up, web-based compliance management software company for the accounting, banking, insurance and securities industries. In addition to an undergraduate degree in Business Administration, Estrada received an MBA from the Crowell School of Business at Biola University.

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