At LACERA, we strive to be a premier retirement system as we service one of the largest retirement populations in the United States. We are viewed as industry leaders for our administrative practices, innovative strategies, advanced technological applications, and general expertise.
LACERA encourages learning. In order to best service our members, we believe it is important for staff, management, and Board members to be up-to-date on retirement-related issues and information. We attend, participate, and support other county and state-wide retirement associations; giving presentations regarding investments, benefits, communications, legal issues, and as volunteer officers and members of our strategic partner’s boards and committees.
We acknowledge and celebrate our individual and collective accomplishments. This page honors the accomplishments of Team LACERA.
Board Members Kehoe and Pryor Reelected
In August, elections were held for LACERA’s Board of Retirement and Board of Investments. Incumbent trustees Shawn Kehoe and William Pryor were reelected as the Seventh Member and Alternate Safety Member of the Board of Retirement, respectively. Mr. Kehoe was also reelected as the Fourth Member of the Board of Investments. They will begin their new terms on January 1, 2020, and serve through December 31, 2022.
Mr. Kehoe currently serves as the Board of Investments Chair, Operations Oversight Committee Chair, Joint Organizational Governance Committee Vice Chair, and also sits on the Audit Committee. Mr. Pryor currently sits on the Disability Procedures and Services Committee.
This election marked the first time the County utilized telephonic and online voting for LACERA’s elections. Future use of this voting technology will be evaluated by the County, with input from LACERA’s Boards.
Board and Staff Members Participate in Fall SACRS Conference
The State Association of County Retirement Systems (SACRS) Fall Conference was held November 12 through 15 in Monterey this year. SACRS is composed of 20 independent county retirement systems created as part of the County Employees Retirement Law of 1937 (CERL), and it holds two networking and educational conferences per year.
On November 12, Board of Investments member Gina Sanchez moderated the trustee training “Building a Stronger Board Culture Through Effective Leadership.” Subject matter experts Sevan Simonian (Retirement Benefits Specialist III, Benefits Division), Theodore King (Section Head, Benefits Division), and Arlene Owens (Acting Assistant Division Manager, Quality Assurance and Metrics Division), presented and moderated the Disability/Ops Breakout session “Are You Providing Good Member Service? How Do You Really Know?”
On day two, Senior Staff Counsel Frank Boyd moderated the Attorney Breakout session; Principal Auditor Leisha Collins was a panelist for the Internal Auditors’ Pension Fraud Breakout session; and Members Services Section Head Carlos Barrios moderated the Ops/Benefits and Disability Breakout session “Reciprocal Disability: Lessons Learned Over the Past Year.”
Both of the “Reciprocity, Do I Get It?” sessions on November 14 included LACERA participants. Legislative Affairs Officer Barry Lew was a speaker, and Senior Staff Counsel Fern Billingy was a moderator for part one, focused on legal issues. For part two, Benefits Section Head Louis Gittens spoke on the panel. Also that afternoon, Assistant Executive Officer JJ Popowich spoke at the meeting of the Education Committee, which he chairs.
LACERA representatives play ongoing leadership roles in SACRS, currently serving in the following capacities: Trustee Vivian Gray is the SACRS Vice President, Program Committee Chair, and sits on the Bylaws Committee alongside Herman Santos and Johanna Fontenot; Leisha Collins is on the Audit Committee; JJ Popowich is the Education Committee Chair; and Steve Rice is on the Legislative Committee.
LACERA Receives PPCC Award
In November, the Public Pension Coordinating Council (PPCC) awarded LACERA with the Public Pension Standards 2019 Award, in recognition of meeting professional standards for plan funding and administration as set forth in the Public Pension Standards. These standards are intended to reflect minimum expectations for public retirement systems management and administration and serve as a benchmark by which all defined benefit public plans should be measured. LACERA is a 17-time recipient of this important award.
LACERA Marches Together in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s
On the morning of November 2, LACERA staff members, friends, and family walked 2.2 miles through the Los Angeles Zoo to make a difference in the lives of those affected by Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s Association organizes the annual event with the stated goal of raising awareness and funds for research and support. Boasting 28 members, Team LACERA helped raise $2,660, 25 percent higher than its goal.
LACERA Receives Institutional Trailblazer Award
On November 19, LACERA received the Institutional Trailblazer Award from the Toigo Foundation at a gala in Los Angeles. The Toigo Foundation’s mission is to “foster the career advancement and leadership of underrepresented talent by creating mechanisms for greater inclusion from the classroom to the boardroom.” Two LACERA staff members in the Investments Division, Cindy Rivera and Didier Acevedo, are Toigo Fellows.
LACERA Honored for Continued Excellence in Financial Reporting
For the 29th consecutive year, LACERA has been awarded the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for LACERA’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2018. The GFOA award represents the highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting. In addition, our annual Popular Annual Financial Report (PAFR)—a condensed version of the CAFR that we send to all members with their December newsletter—has earned the GFOA award for Outstanding Achievement for the 21st consecutive year. Congratulations to the LACERA employees who contributed to the annual reports for earning these prestigious national awards.
Serving the Community One Meal at a Time
On June 15, 33 LACERA staff, along with 14 friends and family members, participated in the Fourth Annual Employee Volunteer Day at the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank in Commerce.
Organized by Senior Human Resources Analyst Connie Chan, LACERA staff worked as an assembly line to pack meals for needy families in the community. Describing why she began the event as an opportunity to give back, Chan said, “We started the LACERA Volunteer Day because it was a perfect fit for our culture and values. The L.A. Food Bank is a great cause that provides us an opportunity to work together and make a difference in the community we live in.”
As a team, LACERA staff packed 4,368 meals for families in need across Los Angeles in a frenetic but fun environment, alongside volunteers from other organizations and nonprofits. In addition, LACERA staff donated a bin of nonperishable food items weighing 75 pounds. On the importance of volunteering at events like this, LACERA employee Percy Petrov said, “I have received food from the Food Bank and other organizations in the past, so it was important for me to give back. Also, I recognize that other families in a similar situation have needs. I am happy that LACERA gives us the opportunity to give back.”
The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank has distributed more than 1 billion pounds of food since it began in 1973. With the help of 37,000 volunteers, like LACERA staff, the Food Bank is able to serve more than 300,000 people in need on a monthly basis.
Check out our video from this year’s event.
LACERA Shines as Co-Host of International Benchmarking Conference
From Monday, May 13 to Thursday, May 16, LACERA co-hosted the CEM Global Pension Administration Conference, held in downtown Los Angeles this year. The CEM firm specializes in benchmarking cost and performance of investments and administration.
On Tuesday, May 14, 140 international, national, and statewide conference participants were given a tour of LACERA, which was skillfully coordinated and planned by staff members from Quality Assurance and Metrics, Benefits, and Member Services. About 50 LACERA staff members from various departments helped host the event, pitching in to serve as ambassadors and onsite help—handling everything from food delivery to room setup to tech support. Guests were provided four 45-minute workshops presented by our in-house experts on the topics of Member Services: Call Center and Outreach; Benefit Protection; Quality Assurance and Benefits Process Management; and Disability Retirement.
Feedback from guests was overwhelmingly positive. Many commented that the presentations provided valuable information that they would take home to their own organizations and that LACERA’s employees were friendly and professional.
Later that evening, CEM held a reception and dinner at the California Science Center in the hangar that houses the Space Shuttle Endeavor. The event was designed to inspire the audience to apply innovation and united efforts to accomplish their respective missions by drawing from the Endeavor’s 2012 journey from LAX to its new home—a 12-mile, 68-hour urban journey coordinated by a team of 100 people.
Congratulations on a job well done by the following LACERA team members, who pulled together to show our organization in the best light:
- Coordinators/planners: Derwin Brown, Alexandra Hollis, Vanessa Gonzalez, Stephanie Kawai, Indee Brooke, and Louis Gittens
- Ambassadors: David Bayha, Samantha Garcia, Renee Copeland, Dmitriy Khaytovich, Valery Ptacek, Dina Lejano, Josh Wong, Percy Petrov, Giselle Jaimes, Theodore King, Veronica Yi-Martinez, and Maria Calderon
- Presenters: Ricki Contreras, Angel Calvo, Patricia Nunez, Michael Peterson, Vanessa Gonzalez, Valerie Quiroz, Arlene Owens, and Louis Gittens
- Food Delivery: Carlos Barrios and Jackie Boute
- Day-of-Event Help: Daisy Miranda-Joanico, Sonia Garcia, and Isabelle Teegardin
- Room Setup/Supplies: Facilities Team, Lindsay Knight, Roxanne Martin, Remigio Feliciano, Jay Fullwood, Ana Ronquillo, and Debra Rendon
- Communications: Cynthia Martinez, Veronica Yi-Martinez, Joshua Smalley, and Brittni Haile
- Tech Support: Van Bonifacio, Alex Yin, and Jay Lee
- Miscellaneous: Sevan Simonian, James Beasley, Bonnie Nolley, and Linda El-Farra
Stepping Up for Charity
LACERA staff members made great strides for kids in two recent charity walks. First, on Sunday, April 7, Team LACERA joined more than 750 supporters in Pasadena’s Central Park for a 2.3-mile walk to raise funds for the Pasadena Ronald McDonald House, which provides a home environment and services to families facing the illness of a child. Team LACERA raised $570 toward the event total of over $102,000. Participating for LACERA were John Nogales and family, Sevan Simonian, Alex Hollis and family, Kathleen Horning (whose family also donated), Srbui Vartanian and family, Giselle Jaimes, Kerri Wilson and family, Percy Petrov, and Donna Hansen and friend. Staff members Rosalie Baker, Laura Fuentes, and Maggie Luong were not able to participate in the walk but donated to the team.
Just a few weeks later, on Saturday, April 27, Team LACERA did it again, meeting in Grand Park to hike three miles through downtown in the March of Dimes’ March for Babies. The March of Dimes provides programs that support healthier pregnancies as well as services for premature babies. Team LACERA included captains Donna Hansen and Sevan Simonian, Gina Marie Massarotti, Maggie Luong, Steven Rice, Percy Petrov, Flora Zhu, Natalie Ng, Srbui Vartanian, Alex Hollis, Rosalie Baker, Giselle Jaimes, and Kristina Sun, who all together raised $1,589.
LACERA’s Daughters and Sons Join the Team for a Day
On April 24, LACERA hosted a group of 40 children between the ages of 8 and 12 as part of the annual Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. This year’s theme was “Workforce Development for All” and centered on fostering skills that are essential for joining the workplace. The employees’ kids participated in a wide range of fun activities across several departments that were focused on exposing them to a variety of career paths. In addition, the kids were able to gain insight into their parents’ jobs and see what a typical day at work looks like.
After being welcomed by an Executive officer, our visitors had the opportunity to learn more about LACERA operations by visiting with the Communications, Human Resources, FASD, Disability Retirement, and Legal departments. The group took part in specialized activities and games at each stop on the tour and were treated to lunch and ice cream.
The committee for Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day includes Andrea Ellison, Justin Chiu, Lauren Decoudreaux, Michelle Yanes, Sevan Simonian, Soledad Cortez, and Stephanie Ashley.
A non-profit educational program in its 27th year, Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work is focused on empowering children by having them participate in hands-on activities outside of a traditional educational setting. Every year, LACERA is proud to be one of the millions of organizations across the country to take part.