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Conseco Names 2010 Step Up Volunteer Award and Grant Winners

CARMEL, Ind., March 2 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Conseco, Inc. (NYSE: CNO) today announced grants to six community nonprofit organizations as part of its annual Step Up awards program.

"Conseco's employee volunteers are leading change in their communities," said Conseco CEO Jim Prieur. "In 2009, they donated more than 13,000 hours of volunteer service.  The Step Up awards program honors their outstanding work as volunteers by offering up to $20,000 of annual cash grants to the community organizations where they volunteer. Through Conseco's partnership with the nationally acclaimed Jefferson Awards for Public Service, each Step Up winner also receives a Jefferson Award."

Conseco's highest Step Up award for 2010 - the "Award of Excellence" - carries a $10,000 grant from Conseco to the nonprofit organization, plus a trip for the winner to Washington, DC this summer to represent Conseco at the national Jefferson Awards Ceremony.  The award went to:

  • Jo St. John (nonprofit agency: Newborns in Need). Newborns in Need provides essentials for babies during the first 30-60 days of life to insure that they have strong and healthy starts.  Jo has been a volunteer since 2001, and serves as president of the Indianapolis chapter.  Under Jo's leadership, the chapter has grown from five to 75 volunteers and has become one of the largest and most active chapters in the U.S., now including four independent women's groups and cooperative efforts with the Women's Prison and the Pendleton Correctional Facility. Jo's work groups have donated nearly 200,000 items to needy babies, serving over 150 families a month who live below the poverty line. Jo also works with high-school age students to provide insight into the risks of teen pregnancy and serves as webmaster for the national organization.


The "High Achievement" award, carrying a $5,000 grant from Conseco to the nonprofit organization, went to:


  • Amy Schlegel (nonprofit agency: Chicago Cares, Inc.). Chicago Cares works to bolster the capacity of hundreds of agencies and schools across the city through more than 200 group volunteer programs aimed at improving the lives of children, teens, seniors, the homeless, and others at risk. Amy has been a dedicated volunteer and volunteer leader since 2001, participating in or leading more than 112 agency projects and serving more than 370 hours. In 2009 alone, Amy was an important part of 26 volunteer projects and served on the organization's leadership council.


The following honorees earned "Merit" awards, and each of their nonprofit organizations will receive a $1,000 grant from Conseco:


  • Aaron Kramer (nonprofit agency: Interfaith Refugee and Immigration Ministries of Chicago, Ill.).  IRIM is a refugee resettlement agency that provides for refugees' immediate survival needs for three to six months while they advance through a cultural orientation program, English classes, job training classes, and job placement program.  Aaron has served as a committed volunteer mentor for two hours each week since 2007, and his personal fundraising efforts in 2009 allowed the organization to pay the school bus fee for a young Eritrean boy whose single mother could not afford the cost. 
  • Patricia Lavelle (nonprofit agency: AIDS Fund of Philadelphia, Pa.)  AIDS Fund supports HIV/AIDS education, prevention and services in the Delaware Valley region by raising dollars and increasing public awareness about the impact of HIV on its communities.  Patricia has been committed to the fight against AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic in the 1980s and has served as a fundraiser, spokesperson, volunteer recruiter and coordinator, and also as a member of the organization's board of directors.
  • Donna Lewellen (nonprofit agency: American Red Cross of Greater Indianapolis, Ind.). The Greater Indianapolis Chapter of the American Red Cross is a volunteer-led organization that provides relief to victims of disasters across 18 counties in central Indiana and helps residents prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. Donna serves on Marion County's Disaster Action Team and Mobile Feeding Response Team, and also serves as an Emergency Response Vehicle driver. She is "on call" to respond to local disasters and provide emergency assistance such as food, clothing, shelter, basic health care and emotional support to the individuals and families who are affected.
  • John Reid (nonprofit agency: American Red Cross of Greater Indianapolis, Ind.).  In 2009, John donated more than 570 volunteer hours serving the Red Cross on the Hamilton County Disaster Action Team and as a member of the team that staffs Red Cross first aid stations at events throughout the community, including the Indiana State Fair, 500 Festival events, and Indianapolis Indians home games.
  • Paul Richard (nonprofit agency: Arthritis Foundation, Indiana Chapter). The chapter serves the 1.4 million adults and 6,400 children in Indiana who live with arthritis. Paul is a key volunteer and fundraiser, serving as captain of Conseco's Jingle Bell Run team in 2008 and 2009, and leading the team in 2009 to rank among the top 25 fundraising teams in the nation, while also serving as a member of the event planning committee.


Conseco's Step Up awards honor employees who make a special impact in their communities, demonstrate strategic involvement and dedication to getting results, and maintain a compelling and enduring commitment to their agencies. The awards also encourage participation in activities that link directly to Conseco's insurance business:


  • We make a difference in the lives of seniors
  • We reach out to help our neighbors prepare for the unexpected
  • We support and celebrate community heroes who look out for their neighbors and those who continue on, in spite of hardships.


Conseco's award winners were selected by a panel of nine associates representing all of the company's major locations and departments. Awards were presented by Conseco Insurance Group President Steve Stecher at today's "Celebrate Indianapolis" Jefferson Awards event.  The event was sponsored by the Indianapolis Star and hosted by Conseco and four other Indianapolis companies that serve as Jefferson Award Champions:  Citizens Energy Group, Clarian Health, Eli Lilly & Co. and RCI LLC.


About Conseco

Conseco, Inc.'s insurance companies help protect working American families and seniors from financial adversity: Medicare supplement, long-term care, cancer, critical illness and accident policies protect people against major unplanned expenses; annuities and life insurance products help people plan for their financial futures.  For more information, visit Conseco's website at

SOURCE Conseco, Inc.