An Interview with Tom Ferguson
An Interview with the President of Staying Put in New Canaan, February, 2009
Our President of Staying Put, Tom Ferguson, seems uniquely qualified for his new role, with diverse experience consulting in human resources, insurance and healthcare. Prior to retiring in 2002, Tom spent 15 years with Mercer Human Resources Consulting, where he was a Worldwide Partner and the Northeast Regional Leader of the firm's healthcare and benefits practice. His consulting assignments spanned a range of issues including employee benefit strategy and design, retiree medical issues and managed care. His clients included Verizon, GTE, Eli Lilly, Unisys, PepsiCo and General Electric. From 1969 through 1987 Tom worked at Equitable Life in a variety of actuarial and management roles including seven years as Vice President of Marketing for the group health insurance division.
Tom has served as Vice President of Staying Put since its inception in 2007, and he is also a director of the United Way of New Canaan and serves on the Town of New Canaan Health and Human Services Commission. An avid tennis player, he is treasurer of the Lake Club.
Tom and his wife Karen have lived in New Canaan since 1987. Karen, now retired, had a career in banking, most recently as a senior banker in the Citigroup Private Bank. Tom and Karen met while attending Brown University where Tom received a B.S. in Applied Mathematics in 1967. Their son Matthew, now a NY attorney, attended Saxe Middle School and graduated from New Canaan High School in 1994.
When Tom heard about the formation of a committee to launch Staying Put, he volunteered his help and quickly became involved in a major way. He notes that the dues charged for Staying Put membership amount to about half the cost of running the organization and providing services. In order to retain low membership fees (in relation to similar organizations on the East coast), he says "we'll need the generosity of citizens and foundations to supplement our dues. We want more people to join."
"A large population of our people over 60 should join", he continues. "They'll find we are very inclusive. Also, we really do want to identify people in need and support them with scholarships, which are totally confidential. And the more members we have, the more special events we can plan. We recognize that the need for socialization is especially important to our members as they grow older, often living alone. Staying Put provides the opportunity to make new friends to replace old ones no longer here."
In building membership, Tom mentions the issue of people who say 'We don't need it yet.' "If everybody waited until they really needed it, we wouldn't be able to provide all the services. It's like buying an insurance policy just before you become very ill." On the positive side, Tom adds, "We have a very good rate of membership renewals. We also have a very active Board of 25 people and many volunteers. Our director Jane Nyce and her assistant Donna Simone excel in their caring for people. If I had a problem, I can't think of any two people I'd rather call on. They have a very personal connection with each member. That's what makes Staying Put the success that it is."
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