MINNEAPOLIS, May 28, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Voya Financial, Inc. (NYSE: VOYA), which has rebranded from ING U.S., recently appointed Heather Lavallee as president of its Employee Benefits business. The business unit operates as a part of the company's Insurance Solutions organization. In this newly created and expanded role, Lavallee is now responsible for all aspects of the group and voluntary insurance business, including strategy, product management, underwriting, actuarial and distribution. Previously, Lavallee was head of distribution for Employee Benefits, and also a former western regional vice president and general manager. Before joining the company in 2008, Lavallee held senior sales and marketing management roles for other large group life, disability and stop-loss insurance providers. "Our industry is at an important crossroads in helping Americans prepare for and define what it means to be ready for retirement," said Michael Smith, CEO of Insurance Solutions, Voya Financial. "We're thrilled to have Heather in this new position — she's a strong, proven leader who has delivered results for this strategic and growing business. As individuals take on more responsibility for their retirement readiness planning, employee benefits at the workplace will play an increasing role in helping them achieve greater emotional and financial security." The Employee Benefits business represents a growth opportunity for Voya Financial and the company continues to invest in this business as an important component to its overall retirement readiness strategy. Results for the first quarter of 2014 included a 42% increase in operating earnings over the prior year, as well as annualized in-force premium of $1.4 billion, which was up 7% from a year ago. As part of Voya Financial's enterprise-wide rebranding program, the Employee Benefits business began marketing to prospective clients under the Voya brand on May 1, 2014. Employee Benefits plans to complete its rebranding work on September 1, 2014, when the company's remaining operating businesses and legal entities will make their respective transitions. "Voya is uniquely positioned as a leader in benefits solutions that can help employers attract and retain their workforce while protecting the incomes, retirement assets and lifestyles of employees," said Lavallee. "With a refined business structure and a new brand, we have a fresh platform for introducing the power of employee benefits products and services to meet the needs of our current and future clients."