Meet the TIAA Difference Maker 100 being honored for their work in their communities
“I don’t feel near retirement, but I’m someone who plans and thinks ahead.”
Karen Hammerness | Educator and educational researcher | 48 years old
Participant since 2012
Participant since 2012
Get to know Karen Hammerness
Karen works as an educator and an educational researcher
Tell us about your work.
“My research focuses upon how adults and students learn. I also do research internationally, focusing on programs and policies that support teaching and learning, in countries like Finland and Norway.”
What are you passionate about?
“My vision is that students have opportunities everywhere—in school, out of school—to encounter interesting ideas, and to do work that excites their curiosity, sustains their interest, and motivates them to ask deep questions about the world.”
How are you saving for retirement?
“I had a TIAA employer-sponsored retirement account [at a former job]. But because I work outside the country, we set up a SEP IRA [with TIAA] so that I could contribute to it from my consulting work.
“Even though I can’t contribute to the [former employer’s] retirement account anymore, I continue to contribute to the SEP IRA because I continue to do research internationally.”
What does retirement look like to you?
“Some of my mentors have formally retired, but have found smart ways to keep deeply involved in their educational work. They continue to work with faculties. They travel to learn more and to share ideas. They keep writing and doing research.”
“While I’d like to have more freedom, I imagine continuing my research.”
How has TIAA helped you?
“I wanted to do work that was meaningful and could have some (even if small) impact. Knowing TIAA was founded to help teachers retire securely is extremely important to me.”
Parents’ financial stability
Karen comes from a long line of educators. Her parents saved with TIAA and are now enjoying living in retirement.
Karen is balancing important goals
"[I’m] investing and setting aside funds that will allow me to do the kind of work I want to keep doing and that will help support my girls in leading the kind of lives they want to pursue."
- Saving for her daughters’ education
- Enjoying today, but saving for tomorrow’s adventures
- Managing her retirement savings in a 403(b) and SEP IRA
- Helping protect her family’s future with the right level of insurance