Our Story2023-07-12T19:18:32+00:00

September 1965


Theresa was born in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.  Growing up in a small town where her family had settled and where everyone knew everyone else (and a lot were related).  She graduated from Pocono Mountain High School spending most of her extracurricular time in the band and chorus with her focus on being a majorette in marching band (including captain in her senior year).  Following high school, she went to college at the University of Scranton and graduated with a BS in Public Administration.  During high school she met her person, Peter, and they have been together for 40 years and married for 37 years!

May 1988


After graduating from college, Theresa (& Peter) left Scranton for Philadelphia. Theresa got a job with William M. Mercer working as an assistant for an actuary.  She had no idea what an actuary was but her relationship with her boss and mentor, started her career in defined contribution plans. After working for Mercer for 4 years, she went on to work for The Barclay Group (which became Bisys and has since become Ascensus).  She specialized in daily valuation processing and plan takeovers/conversions.  After a few years, Theresa & Peter decided to move to AZ (mostly to get out of the snow and winter cold).  Theresa took a position as Director of Administration for Universal Pensions running their AZ office.

July 1998


In 1998, Theresa started Sunwest Pensions. While growing her own client base, initially she started by focusing on doing work for other third party administrators (TPAs).  During her 25 years of owning Sunwest Pensions, she helped many clients with plan design and plan corrections.  In addition, she started several subsidiaries including Sunwest Actuarial Services and 3(16) Retirement Solutions.  In 2023, Sunwest Pensions was acquired by July Business Services to continue to service the clients and financial advisors that Theresa had built over the years.

July 2000


Theresa has always felt that keeping up with the industry was important to herself and the others around her. In the early 2000’s she joined both ASPPA and NIPA.  Within ASPPA she obtained her QKA (Qualified 401(k) Administrator) designation and in the year 2014, she also became a member of NAPA and NTSA.  In 2019, she obtained her CPFA (Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor) designation.  Within NIPA, she obtained her APR (Accredited Pension Representative) designation.  She also immersed herself with NIPA’s volunteer opportunities including the NAFE (annual conference) and was on the board of directors for 11 years (including 18 months as President).  In 2011, Theresa worked with both ASPPA and NIPA on a joint task force with the IRS to develop the ERPA (Enrolled Retirement Plan Agent Program).  Once she was off the rollout of the ERPA, she also then obtained her ERPA designation.  NIPA awarded Theresa with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017.  These days, she continues to speak on industry topics at both NIPA and ASPPA events.  In 2019, Theresa helped to start the AZ Chapter of WIPN (We.Inspire.Promote.Network) and served in the chapter co-chair role for 3 years. In 2021 Theresa was one of the founding members of The Cerrado Group – a members only trade association made up of a group of the leading TPA business in the nation. She also served on the associations executive committee. In 2022, Theresa joined the WIPN Board of Directors working on Research and National Programming and continues in that role today.  Theresa is also famously active online with constant retirement industry and business consulting blog posts which she shares with her more than 4000 followers on LinkedIn. Theresa is also known for contributing articles throughout the year in many of the retirement industry’s leading publications and newsletters.

May 2022


In 2022, Theresa became a certified life coach and business consultant – something she has always wanted to do. Upon selling her business in 2023 Theresa was already planning for her next chapter – and unsurprisingly that is not retirement. Theresa is continuing all of her retirement industry involvement – including speaking engagements, writing articles and being a very visible and active member of the industry. Now that she has run the full cycle of being an entrepreneur – from starting a business, to growing it to be very successful and then selling it – she can share that knowledge with others to help them start a business, grow their existing business or plan an exit strategy.

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