"The Wizard of Oz" is my favorite movie. I especially love the end, when the Wizard offers gifts to the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion because for one, who doesn't love presents? And two, you realize all he presented them with were physical symbols of traits they had inside themselves all along.

I'm no wizard, but I've long admired the work that you do on behalf of your employees and their families, and it would be my joy to present you with a physical symbol of that great work - specifically, a 2012 Benny Award or i-COMM Award.

The Bennys recognize excellence in the employee benefits/human resources field. Awards are granted to employee benefit or human resource practitioners directly involved in the management of employee benefit programs. Benefits professionals may nominate themselves, co-workers and/or work groups. Benefit vendors or consultants may nominate their clients. Only one person or team per company may be nominated.

The Benny Awards have four categories: Benefits Professional of the Year, Benefits Leadership - Health Care, Benefits Leadership - Retirement Planning, and Benefits Leadership - Judges' Choice.

The Benefits Professional of the Year is presented to the person who has demonstrated a pattern of creativity and achievement in plan design, administration, communication and/or staff management, as well as contributions to the benefits profession overall.

The Leadership Awards in Health Care and Retirement Planning go to professionals who've demonstrated excellence in developing and managing programs yielding measurable impacts on the cost and/or quality of these benefits. The Judges' Choice winner is drawn from a wider spectrum of benefit programs and areas of professional responsibility.

The i-COMM Awards recognize the best in internal communication of benefits. EBN honors initiatives that advance the objectives of the benefits/HR department and the strategic goals of an organization, including increasing employees' benefit participation, helping employees derive greater value from benefits, improving employee satisfaction and/or achieving cost savings.

Submissions should be based on active websites, emails, intranet pages, print and other communications. The i-COMM Awards are open to all companies that have an HR/benefits department and/or employee communications division. The i-COMMs are awarded in four categories: Best Overall Communications Campaign, Best Use of Social Media, Best Intranet/Employee Portal Design & Usability, Best Print or Online Employee Newsletter.

A panel of EBN editors, former award winners, and other industry leaders will evaluate nominees. Judging criteria include recent achievements involving innovative multiyear projects, professional recognition and depth of experience. Nominations for the Benny Awards must be submitted online at benefitnews.com/bennyawards by Friday, June 8 at 5 p.m. ET. Nominations for the i-COMM Awards must be submitted online at benefitnews.com/icommawards by Friday, June 8 at 5 p.m. ET.

Supporting documentation of achievements or letters of support from colleagues/business contacts may be submitted via email to kelley.butler@sourcemedia.com or by snail mail to my attention at: Employee Benefit News, c/o SourceMedia, 4401 Wilson Blvd., Ste. 910, Arlington, VA, 22203.

Winners will be notified by June 30, profiled in the Sept. 1 issue and announced at the 25th annual Benefits Forum & Expo, to be held Sept. 9-11 at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge in Phoenix. Good luck!

Send letters, queries and story ideas to Editor-in-Chief Kelley M. Butler at kelley.butler@sourcemedia.com.

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