October 31, 2012

Prominent Phoenix Business & Community Leaders Serve as Sun Life Rising Star Awards Program Judges

Distinguished panel of experts to help award $110,000 in grants and scholarships tooutstanding students & nonprofit organizations in greater Phoenix

Wellesley, Mass. (October 31, 2012) – The U.S. business group of Sun Life Financial Inc. (NYSE:SLF, TSX:SLF) today announced that four prominent Phoenix business and community leaders will serve as judges for the Sun Life Rising Star Awards program, the financial services company's signature national philanthropic initiative.

The Sun Life Rising Star Awards program recognizes nonprofits that redress low high school graduation rates and honors outstanding students who have overcome significant obstacles to succeed. The program also promotes financial literacy as a means to achieve life-long financial wellness and stability. The judges will help Sun Life award $110,000 in grants and scholarships to exemplary Phoenix students and nonprofit organizations committed to enhancing educational opportunities for under-served youth. Each winning organization receives a $50,000 grant and selects an exemplary student they work with to receive a $5,000 college scholarship. Since the program’s inception, Sun Life has granted nearly $3 million to 54 students and 47 nonprofit organizations across the country.

The distinguished panel is comprised of some of Phoenix’s foremost government officials, community and business leaders. Judges include:

  • Mike Barberio, Vice President, CBIZ Benefits & Insurance Services, Inc.
  • Joanne Mizell, Senior Vice President, Willis
  • Dr. Trino Sandoval, Senior Policy Advisor, Office of the Mayor, City of Phoenix
  • Vernon Slaughter, Esq., Principal/Entertainment Attorney, Vernon L. Slaughter, PC

“We are thrilled to have some of Phoenix’s foremost community and business leaders help us select this year’s Sun Life Rising Star organizations from the pool of outstanding applications we’ve received,” said Sun Life Financial U.S. President Wes Thompson. “Their keen understanding of the local education landscape provides us an invaluable resource to promote financial literacy by helping incredibly talented students, and the organizations that help them, embark on a path to a sound financial future.”

This year, Sun Life Financial expanded the program to seven cities from five in 2011, and will award grants and scholarships to outstanding students and nonprofit organizations in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix and South Florida.

Judges will evaluate applications and student nominations based on the following criteria:

  • Nonprofit’s commitment to developing and promoting skills that directly translate to educational engagement and matriculation rates for secondary school youth under the age of 21
  • Nonprofit’s demonstrated partnership with a secondary or post-secondary educational institution
  • Nonprofit’s documented ability to respond to the needs of specific groups of youth in a manner yielding measurable results
  • Student nominee’s plan to pursue post-secondary education, leadership qualities, commitment to his or her community, and a 750-word essay on how financial education contributes to future success

In addition to monetary support, the Sun Life Rising Star Awards program provides winning organizations with educational curriculum and resources to increase financial literacy among students. Sun Life recently partnered with dfree®, a movement developed by Dr. DeForest B. Soaries Jr. to galvanize the public to overcome the culture of debt and attain financial self-sufficiency. As part of the partnership, Sun Life and dfree® will provide Sun Life Rising Star Award students and organizations with the Breaking Free Workbook, which includes interactive activities and evaluation tools to encourage debt-free living using the program’s core principles and financial strategies. Soaries will also address winning organizations and students at a series of educational seminars in select Sun Life Rising Star cities throughout the fall.

Sun Life will surprise winning students with their $5,000 scholarships at a special presentation at the Phoenix Suns game on November 14. The students will be recognized on the court during half-time and take their photo with a current Suns star, before watching the team take on the Chicago Bulls.

Sun Life Rising Star Awards Program 2012 Phoenix Judging Panel

Mike Barberio

Mike is responsible for new business development for the Arizona Business Unit of CBIZ and joined the company as a Vice President in the Phoenix office in March of 2011.  Prior to joining CBIZ, Mike spent more than 27 years in various sales and management roles with a regional wholesale insurance brokerage.  Mike’s specialty is in plan design, risk analysis and placement of Excess Loss Insurance for self-funded benefit plans.  He holds a BS in Business and Economics from the State University of New York at Oneonta, NY and currently resides in Scottsdale, AZ.

Joanne Mizell

Joanne joined Willis of Arizona in February of 2012 after 26 years in various sales and management positions at Aetna.  Joanne has extensive health care background and more than 30 years of industry experience, primarily focused on finding solutions for Fortune 1000 companies, most self-funded and each with unique characteristics and concerns.  Joanne started her career at Prudential while still attending California State University, Fullerton.  She relocated from Los Angeles to Arizona with Aetna in 1998 to establish and run Aetna’s National Accounts franchise in the southwestern states.

Dr. Trino Sandoval

Dr. Trino Sandoval is the Senior Policy Advisor, Office of the Mayor, City of Phoenix. In his role, Sandoval convenes and facilitates stakeholders around the Mayor’s education agenda, which includes strengthening pre-school programs, expanding afterschool programs, improving secondary and post-secondary alignment and collaboration, and seeking a greater university presence in Phoenix. Dr. Sandoval continues to teach a class at Phoenix College. Since 1996, Dr. Sandoval has taught Spanish and Latin American literature classes in the college’s Department of Liberal Arts. Dr. Sandoval received his Ph.D. in Spanish from Arizona State University in 2003 and also has a Master’s of Arts in Spanish from ASU.

Vernon Slaughter, Esq.

A Music Industry veteran with nearly 40 years experience, Vernon Slaughter’s career began at age 18 as a college rep for Stax Records and CBS Records (now Sony Music). He created and managed several new departments for CBS Records during his 16 year tenure before going to law school in 1986. He has represented numerous new and "superstar" recording artists in negotiations and re-negotiations with major record companies for recording agreements. He attended Whittier College School of Law and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


About Sun Life Financial
Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing a diverse range of protection and wealth accumulation products and services to individuals and corporate customers. Chartered in 1865, Sun Life Financial and its partners today have operations in key markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China and Bermuda. In the United States and elsewhere, insurance products are offered by members of the Sun Life Financial group that are insurance companies. Sun Life Financial Inc., the holding company for the Sun Life Financial group of companies, is a public company. It is not an insurance company and does not offer insurance products for sale in the United States or elsewhere, and does not guarantee the obligations of its insurance company subsidiaries. In the United States, Sun Life Financial provides a range of products and services to employers and their employees, including group and voluntary life, disability, dental and stop-loss insurance products. These products are issued by Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada in all states except New York. In New York, these products are issued by Sun Life Insurance and Annuity Company of New York. Product offerings may not be available in all states and may vary depending on state laws and regulations. For more information please visit Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under the ticker symbol SLF.

Media contact
Keith Gainsboro, elevate, 857-234-1481,

SLPC 24348 07/2012 (Exp. 07/2013)