Karen Ferguson, director, Pension Rights Center
Why she's a hero: Ferguson -- who founded the Washington, D.C., nonprofit in 1976 with $10,000 in seed money from Ralph Nader -- has fought to protect employee pensions from multiple threats.
Two of her watchdog group's successful crusades: strengthening the rights of widows and divorcees, and reining in plan changes that halved benefits for older workers.
A 1990s campaign led to free pension-counseling programs, now available in 30 states. "The most satisfying part of what we do is pension counseling: helping someone get the benefits they've earned and are wrongly denied," she says.
Her current passion: Establishing a new retirement savings plan -- one supplementing Social Security -- that would provide lifetime income and be funded jointly by employers and employees.
When lives were disrupted by flood or fire, these MONEY heroes jumped in to help rescue their neighbors' finances.