Our History

Today, the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans provides education, information and research services for individuals and organizations that work with employee benefits, compensation and financial literacy.

Internal Foundation established
Expanded into Canada
Research function established, setting groundwork for decades of primary research studies.
First public employee conference
Library opened, housing thousands of benefit texts, periodicals and digital resources
Certified Employee Benefit Specialist® (CEBS®) designation established, partnership with the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists (ISCEBS) formed
Training curriculum for specialized knowledge areas developed
Membership grows to 36,000
Annual Conference attendance exceeds 6,000
E-learning courses created
First Learning Management System (LMS) implemented
Acquired Health Benefits Conference & Expo
Aquired Art & Science of Health Promotion Conference

How It Began

The International Foundation’s roots stem from collectively bargained or multiemployer plans, which were established with the passage of the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947 (Taft-Hartley Act). Among its many provisions, the act made fringe benefits part of collective bargaining and allowed tax-free employer contributions to employee benefit trust funds operated by boards of trustees on which labor and management are equally represented.

The trustees responsible for these funds quickly realized they faced a daunting challenge to properly manage increasingly large sums of money and effectively provide benefits for covered employees and their families.

Against this background, representatives of 11 construction industry health and welfare funds from three states gathered in Akron, Ohio on April 2, 1954 for a meeting sponsored by the Tri-County Building Trades Health and Welfare Fund of that region. They met to discuss common problems and hoped to find solutions that would help them all do a better job in their new role as trustees.

That small but productive meeting was the birth of the National Conference of Health and Welfare Plan Trustees and Administrators, the original name of the International Foundation. In 1963, the organization was reorganized and named the National Conference of Health, Welfare and Pension Plans.

Growth Over the Decades

The 1960s were a time of rapid growth for the burgeoning organization. Regional seminars were initiated; the first Canadian conference was held in 1968 and the first public employee conference was held in 1969. A research department was also established in 1968 to conduct original studies and analysis. To reflect the increasingly diverse membership and services, the organization was renamed to the current International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans in 1973.

In the 1970s, the International Foundation expanded its services to the private sector by introducing the CEBS® program and establishing a corporate committee. New corporate educational programs were introduced and a library was established at headquarters.

Steady growth continued through the 1980s and 1990s with a record number of memberships and attendance at conferences. Tens of thousands of books on benefits were sold, several new periodical publications were introduced and an extensive database, called the EMPLOYEE BENEFITS INFOSOURCE™, was established. In 1993, Olivia Mitchell was named the first International Foundation professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. As the fields of benefits and compensation began to converge in the 1990s, the International Foundation responded by adding courses and informational resources in total compensation.


After 60 years, the International Foundation is 33,000 members strong—the largest association serving the employee benefits and compensation industry. We continue to provide unparalleled, objective, quality education to all of our constituents. Members include U.S., Canadian and other international representatives including

  • Trustees and administrators from multiemployer/Taft-Hartley trust funds
  • Benefits, compensation and HR directors from the private sector
  • Public employee plan managers, administrators and trustees
  • Service providers, including attorneys, actuaries, accountants and other consultants who work with benefit and compensation plans.

For More Information

Our services continue to grow and evolve to meet our members' needs. For more information about the International Foundation, contact Stacy Van Alstyne at (262) 373-7746 or [email protected].