Premal Amin | Interim Administrator, Austin Fire Fighters Relief & Retirement Fund
Premal Amin is the Interim Administrator for the Austin Fire Fighters Relief & Retirement Fund, which is a defined benefit pension plan with an AUM of over $1.25 billion.
Mr. Amin was born in Gujarat, India, raised in Closter, New Jersey, and began working at age 12, launching his vast edification in work ethics and business. After earning a degree in Chemistry, Mr. Amin quickly realized his passion was for business and finance. With a knack for quickly crunching numbers, cultivating and maintaining relationships, and natural leadership and collaborative skills, Mr. Amin found his niche.
Following his years working for various entities, ranging from Dell Technologies to starting his own businesses, in 2010 Mr. Amin became the Director of Operations for the Austin Firefighters Association for 7+ years. In 2017, after receiving immense recognition for his accomplishments with the AFA, Mr. Amin effortlessly moved to his current role with the Austin Fire Fighters Relief & Retirement Fund.
In addition to his career, Mr. Amin currently serves as Chairman of the Austin Firefighters Outreach Fund, and has served board seats for the City of Austin Community Development Commission, 100 Club of Central Texas, First Night Austin, and Pratham USA (Austin Chapter).
With a strong track record and extensive knowledge in finance and management, Mr. Amin can be found traveling across the country as a recognized speaker in the areas of fiduciary responsibilities, importance of securities litigation, investor due diligence, and portfolio risk management.
Donald Kendig, CPA | Retirement Administrator, Fresno County Employees’ Retirement Association (FCERA)
Donald C. Kendig, CPA, Retirement Administrator for FCERA, has 14 years of retirement plan administration experience, previously serving as Retirement Administrator for VCERA (Ventura), and serving as Trustee on the Board of Retirement for SBCERS (Santa Barbara). In addition to 14 years in retirement plan administration, Mr. Kendig served 8 years as the Business Manager/CFO for the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District (SBCAPCD). While serving at the SBCAPCD, he was responsible for all aspects of the administrative, facility, and financial activities of the SBCAPCD, also serving as the Safety Officer, Risk Manager, Purchasing Manager, and labor contract negotiator. Prior to joining the SBCAPCD, Mr. Kendig served at the County of Santa Barbara for over 8 years, starting as an Internal Auditor for the Auditor-Controller, then Budget Analyst for the CEO, then Administrative Analyst for the Superior Court, and ultimately a Financial Systems Analyst for the Auditor-Controller, where he created the County’s first grants management system (GMS) and helped design and test the County’s in-house payroll system.
Mr. Kendig’s education is comprised of a B.A. in Business Economics with Accounting Emphasis at UC Santa Barbara, and an A.A. in Liberal Arts & Sciences at Palomar College. He is a Certified Public Accountant, License No. 78000. Supplemental executive education includes certificates for Hedge Funds, Real Estate, and Other Alternative Investments; Advanced Investment Management; Fundamentals of Money Management; Principles of Pension Management; Fiduciary Law; Public Pension Investment Management; Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People; Crucial Conversations; Abilene Paradox, Labor Relations and Arbitration; and Leadership Principles and Practices.
Mr. Kendig’s extracurricular activities include Toastmasters, Mankind Project (MKP), fathering his growing girls (Savannah and Sierrah, ages 19 and 14), hiking and biking, and exploring all that California, America, and the world have to offer.
Nick O’Keefe | Investment Counsel, Texas Municipal Retirement System (TMRS)
Nick O’Keefe joined TMRS as Investment Counsel in June 2012 and serves as Lead Investment Counsel to the System, overseeing all investment-related legal and compliance functions of the System’s $35 billion investment portfolio.
Prior to joining TMRS, Mr. O’Keefe was in-house counsel for derivative trading firms, and in private practice representing investment firms, public plans, and trading groups on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Chicago Board of Trade.
Mr. O’Keefe received his BS in Business Administration from Spring Hill College, an MBA from Loyola University Chicago, and his JD from the John Marshall Law School, where he was a member of its Law Review. Mr. O’Keefe is a member of the State Bar of Texas, the American Bar Association, the National Association of Public Pension Attorneys, the Texas Association of Public Pension Attorneys, and the Institutional Limited Partners Association.
Michael D. Herrera | Senior Staff Counsel, Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association (LACERA)
Michael D. Herrera joined the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association (LACERA) in 1999. As a Senior Staff Counsel, Mr. Herrera serves as a legal advisor to the fund, its Boards, and staff. He also represents the fund in complex litigation and administrative proceedings and assists in overseeing the fund’s global securities litigation program, including evaluation and prosecution of domestic and international securities cases. With over 180 thousand members and nearly $70 billion in assets under management, LACERA is the largest county retirement system in the United States.
Mr. Herrera is a frequent speaker on various retirement, technology, and investment-related topics, and is widely recognized for his work in the area of securities litigation and corporate governance. He is a past President, Vice President, and Executive Board Member for the National Association of Public Pension Attorneys, and currently serves as co-chair of the Securities Litigation Working Group. His prior public and non-profit service includes stints with the U.S. National Labor Relations Board and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Policy & Management, cum laude, from the University of Southern California, and a law degree from UCLA School of Law.
Amy Crane | General Counsel, State of Rhode Island Office of the General Treasurer
Amy Crane, Esq. currently serves as General Counsel for the State of Rhode Island Office of the General Treasurer. As General Counsel, she provides legal guidance to, and oversees outside counsel for, the Employees’ Retirement System of Rhode Island, the State Investment Commission, and the Public Finance Management Board, as well as other Treasury boards and commissions and Treasury Departments.
As General Counsel, Ms. Crane’s responsibilities include management of all securities, derivative, and antitrust-related litigation. Ms. Crane has served as General Counsel for the Office of the General Treasurer since 2016 after serving as Deputy General Counsel to Retirement.
Prior to her tenure with the Office of the General Treasurer, Ms. Crane served as Senior Assistant City Solicitor for the City of Providence in Rhode Island. She resides in Rhode Island with her husband and two sons.
Jon Feigelson | General Counsel, GMO
Jon Feigelson is GMO’s General Counsel. Prior to joining GMO, he served as General Counsel and head of Human Resources for iCapital Network, Inc. Previously, he was Senior Managing Director, General Counsel, Head of Regulatory Affairs, and Director of Corporate Governance for TIAA-CREF, Managing Director and General Counsel for ABN AMRO Bank’s North American Wholesale and Investment Bank, and Vice President and Global Director of Equity Derivatives Compliance for Goldman Sachs & Co. Mr. Feigelson earned his B.A. in American History from Harvard University, his Master’s in International Relations from The London School of Economics, and his J.D. from Columbia University.
Harry Keiley | Board Chair, California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CALSTRS)
First elected in 2007, Harry Keiley currently serves as chair of the Teachers’ Retirement Board, which administers the California State Teachers’ Retirement System. With $308.6 billion in assets under management as of June 30, 2021, and more than 975,000 members and beneficiaries, CalSTRS is the largest educator-only pension fund in the world.
In 2020, Mr. Keiley served as chair of the CalSTRS CEO Search Committee. This global search, conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulted in the system’s first new CEO in 20 years and the first female to lead the organization.
Previous leadership positions held at CalSTRS include chair of the Compensation Committee and chair of the Investment Committee. Investment policy adoptions under Mr. Keiley’s leadership included a $2.5 billion allocation to a passively managed low-carbon index fund, an allocation to Risk Mitigating Strategies to reduce portfolio volatility during public equity downturns and the formation of an Infrastructure division at CalSTRS.
In addition to his work inside the CalSTRS boardroom, Mr. Keiley completed the UCLA Anderson School of Business program for trustees, the NACD Program, and the Board Effectiveness Program at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. He has served on the City of Santa Monica Parks and Recreation Board and the advisory board of The Line, an online education publication. He currently serves on the board of Step Up, a nonprofit committed to housing chronically homeless and mentally ill individuals, including U.S. military veterans.
Mr. Keiley served four terms as president of the Santa Monica Classroom Teachers Association. Other leadership positions include multiple terms as chair of the Political Action Committee for the California Teachers Association. Mr. Keiley began his career as a U.S. Government and Economics teacher in 1987, and in 1999 was recognized as the Most Inspirational Teacher by his students and colleagues.
Josh Zinner | CEO, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility
Josh Zinner has been CEO of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility since 2016, overseeing programs and operations for the organization. ICCR is a nearly 50 year-old coalition of more than 300 institutional investors that collaboratively engage corporations on environmental, social, and governance issues. Mr. Zinner has more than 25 years’ experience as a non-profit leader, coalition-builder, policy advocate, and public interest lawyer. Prior to ICCR, Mr. Zinner co-directed the New Economy Project, an organization on the forefront of the fight against discriminatory financial practices. Among earlier roles, Mr. Zinner founded and ran the Foreclosure Prevention Project at South Brooklyn Legal Services and helped create and lead New Yorkers for Responsible Lending, a broad policy coalition which fielded successful campaigns to achieve groundbreaking legislation and regulation to curb financial abuses. Previously, Mr. Zinner also worked with Oxfam America on private sector campaigns, and as a housing lawyer representing low income tenants. Mr. Zinner was a member of the Consumer Advisory Board of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Nell Minow | Vice Chair, ValueEdge Advisors LLC
Nell Minow is Vice Chair of ValueEdge Advisors. She was Co-Founder and Director of GMI Ratings from 2010 to 2014, and was Editor and Co-Founder of its predecessor firm, The Corporate Library, from 2000 to 2010. Prior to co-founding The Corporate Library, Ms. Minow was a Principal of LENS, a $100 million investment firm that took positions in underperforming companies and used shareholder activism to increase their value. Her other professional experience includes serving as a Principal of LENS Investment Management, as President of Institutional Shareholder Services, Inc., and as an attorney at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Department of Justice. Ms. Minow was named one of the 30 most influential investors of 2002 by Smart Money magazine and, in 2003, was dubbed “the queen of good corporate governance” by Business Week online. In 2007, she was named one of the 20 most influential people in corporate governance. In 2008, she was the sole recipient of the International Corporate Governance Network award for exceptional achievement in the field of corporate governance. She has authored over 200 articles and co-authored three books on corporate governance with Robert A.G. Monks, most recently the 5th edition of an MBA textbook titled Corporate Governance, published in 2011. Ms. Minow is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and the University of Chicago Law School.
Stephen P. McCourt, CFA | Managing Principal/Co-Chief Executive Officer, Meketa Investment Group
Stephen P. McCourt joined Meketa Investment Group in 1994 and has over 25 years of investment experience. Mr. McCourt is a Managing Principal and Co‑Chief Executive Officer of the firm. He serves as the lead consultant for several institutional funds, with public, Taft‑Hartley, endowment, and non‑profit plan sponsors. His consulting work includes investment policy design, strategic and tactical asset allocation modeling, asset‑liability modeling, investment education, and investment manager analysis. In addition, Mr. McCourt sits on the firm’s Board of Directors and is a member of the Private Markets Policy, Meketa’s Fiduciary Management (OCIO) Investment, and Diversity Leadership Committees.
Mr. McCourt sits on the Steering Committee of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Economics Roundtable. He is also a member of the UCSD Economics Leadership Council, which strives to bridge research theory with practical real‑world experiences. He speaks at numerous industry events, including the Investment Education Symposium, the Corporate Funds Summit, the Endowment and Foundation Forum, the Global Investing Summit, the Private Equity Summit, and the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) Annual Employee Benefits Conference. Mr. McCourt’s research papers entitled “Monitoring Investment Managers” and “Pension Fund Investing and the State of American Public Finance” have been published in the IFEBP’s Employee Benefit Issues publication.
He received his graduate degree, a Master of Liberal Arts (ALM) in History, from Harvard University, and his undergraduate degree in Economics and Political Science from the University of Vermont. Mr. McCourt received the Chartered Financial Analyst designation from the CFA Institute and is a member of the CFA Society of San Diego. He is also a member of the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.
Herman B. Santos | Chairman of the Board of Retirement, Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association (LACERA)
Herman B. Santos began his first term on the Board of Investments in January 2004 and has been re-elected several times. He is also an attorney at the Law Offices of the Los Angeles County Public Defender. He has received his Labor and Work Life Certificate from Harvard Law School, Fiduciary College Certificate from Stanford University Law School, and Investment Management Certificate from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Mr. Santos is also the Recipient of the 2016 Felony Trial Achievement Award. He earned his JD and BSL at Glendale University College of Law, and his BBA at the City University of New York, Baruch College. Mr. Santos served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1970 to 1973.
Jason A. Forge | Partner, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP
Jason Forge is a partner in Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP’s San Diego office. He specializes in complex investigations, litigation, and trials. As a federal prosecutor and private practitioner, Mr. Forge has conducted and supervised scores of jury and bench trials in federal and state courts, including the month-long trial of a defense contractor who conspired with Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham in the largest bribery scheme in congressional history. He recently obtained approval of a $160 million recovery in the first successful securities fraud case against Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. in City of Pontiac General Employees’ Retirement System v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. In addition, Mr. Forge was a member of Robbins Geller’s trial team in HsingChing Hsu v. Puma Biotechnology, Inc., a securities fraud class action that resulted in a verdict in favor of investors after a two-week jury trial.
After the trial victory over Puma Biotechnology and its CEO Alan Auerbach, Mr. Forge joined a Robbins Geller litigation team in a securities case against American Realty Capital Properties that had defeated 12 motions for summary judgment against 40 defendants and was about to depose 17 experts in the home stretch to trial. Mr. Forge and the team used these depositions to disprove a truth-on-the-market argument that nine defense experts had embraced. Soon after the last of these expert depositions, the Robbins Geller team secured a $1.025 billion settlement and other defendants that included a record $237 million contribution from individual defendants and represented more than twice the recovery rate obtained by several funds that had had opted out of the class.
Mr. Forge was a key member of the litigation team that secured a historic recovery on behalf of Trump University students in two class actions against President Donald J. Trump. The settlement refunds over 90% of the money thousands of students paid to “enroll” in Trump University. He represented the class on a pro bono basis. Mr. Forge has also successfully defeated motions to dismiss and obtained class certification against several prominent defendants, including the first federal RICO case against Scotts Miracle-Gro, which recently settled for up to $85 million. He was a member of the litigation team that obtained a $125 million settlement in In re LendingClub Securities Litigation, a settlement that ranks among the top ten largest securities recoveries ever in the Northern District of California.
In a case against another prominent defendant, Pfizer Inc., Mr. Forge led an investigation that uncovered key documents that Pfizer had not produced in discovery. Although fact discovery in the case had already closed, the district judge ruled that the documents had been improperly withheld and ordered that discovery be reopened, including reopening the depositions of Pfizer’s former CEO, CFO, and General Counsel. Less than six months after completing these depositions, Pfizer settled the case for $400 million.
While at the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the Central and Southern Districts of California and the Eastern District of Virginia, Mr. Forge was a key member of prosecution teams that led dozens of grand jury investigations and successfully prosecuted many ground-breaking cases in addition to the Cunningham bribery case, including: the first search of an executive office at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia, which was part of an investigation that led to the conviction and imprisonment of the CIA’s Executive Director (the highest-ranking federal law enforcement or intelligence officer ever imprisoned); the nation’s largest fraudulent mortgage origination scheme; and the nation’s largest baby-selling ring (led by a nationally renowned attorney). Mr. Forge has also taught trial practice techniques on local and national levels, and has written and argued many state and federal appeals, including an en banc argument in the Ninth Circuit. He also teaches White Collar Crime at the University of San Diego School of Law.
Mr. Forge has been selected as a Local Litigation Star by Benchmark Litigation, a Top Plaintiff Lawyer and a Top 100 Lawyer by the Daily Journal, a Plaintiffs’ Lawyer Trailblazer by The National Law Journal, named to the Best Lawyers in America and the Southern California Best Lawyers lists by Best Lawyers®, and has been honored as a Litigator of the Year by Our City San Diego. He has also been named a Leading Plaintiff Financial Lawyer by Lawdragon.
Mr. Forge earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, graduating with high distinction. He then earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Michigan Law School, graduating magna cum laude, where he was a member of the Order of the Coif and was a Contributing Editor to the Michigan Law Review.
John Hoeppner | Head of U.S. Stewardship and Sustainable Investments, LGIM America
John Hoeppner is the Head of U.S. Stewardship and Sustainable Investments at LGIM America. He is the U.S. representative of the Corporate Governance team. Mr. Hoeppner is charged with shaping the firm’s corporate engagements and driving demand for sustainable investing strategies in the U.S. market.
Prior to joining LGIM America in 2018, he led the Impact Investing practice and launched an ESG data and consulting business at Mission Measurement. Prior to this, he held multiple senior product positions in the asset management divisions of UBS and Northern Trust. Mr. Hoeppner championed a range of corporate and product related sustainable investment efforts. Mr. Hoeppner started his investment career at Cambridge Associates on the capital markets research team.
Mr. Hoeppner earned a BCom from McGill University in Montreal, Canada.
Amy Borrus | Executive Director, Council of Institutional Investors (CII)
Amy Borrus became executive director of the Council of Institutional Investors (CII) in July 2020. She joined CII in 2006 as deputy director, and was interim executive director in 2015-2016. She serves on the boards of the CII Research and Education Fund and the Sinai Assisted Housing Foundation. Ms. Borrus also serves on the Best Practice Principles Oversight Committee, which will monitor principles underpinning services of leading proxy advisory firms. Prior to CII, she was a correspondent for Businessweek magazine for more than 20 years. Her journalism career included multi-year assignments in London, Tokyo, and Washington, D.C. She earned an MSc. in International Relations from the London School of Economics and a B.A. in History and English from the University of Pennsylvania.
Bruce Raynor | Principal, R & S Associates LLC
Bruce Raynor has had a 38-year career as one of the most respected labor leaders in North America. He served as President of the garment workers union UNITE, and UNITE HERE, the merger between the national garment union and the hotel and casino union. He served as the Vice President of the AFL-CIO and was a founding member of Change to Win, a separate labor federation of some 6,000,000 workers.
Mr. Raynor has been nationally recognized for his negotiating and organizing work throughout his career, usually with particular emphasis on the 20 years he headed his unions’ highly successful Southern organizing programs. He held virtually every position in the union, from educator, director, to organizer, manager, and Vice President and regional director. He forged mutually productive partnerships between large corporations and his union in the retail, clothing, textile industrial laundry, and hotel and food service industries. He worked on global union issues with particular attention to union relationships in Canada, Europe, Africa, and Australia.
Mr. Raynor graduated from the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations in 1972. As a member of the Cornell University Board of Trustees since 1988, he is one of its longest serving trustees. He received the Groat Award for Distinguished Alumni from the Cornell ILR School in 1999. He also chairs the advisory board of the Cornell University Project on Global Labor Rights involving corporate, union, and non-governmental organizations interested in this issue. Mr. Raynor serves on the boards of numerous social justice and civil rights organizations and is President of the Sidney Hillman Foundation, an organization that has been encouraging and rewarding socially responsible journalism since 1950. He also chairs the Rockland Boces Foundation, which serves the needs of children with developmental and educational disabilities.
Mr. Raynor is the Principal of the consulting firm R&S Associates, based in New York City. He works with financial organizations and corporations on labor friendly policies and advises unions on strategic issues in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, and Australia.
Henry Beck | Treasurer, State of Maine
In 2018, Henry Beck was elected by a Joint Convention of the 129th Maine Legislature to the Office of State Treasurer. Treasurer Beck's priorities include prudent cash pool management, protecting the earned benefits of Maine public workers and educators, and completing bond sales and public-private partnerships for the common good of all Maine people.
Treasurer Beck's government service began when he was elected to represent his neighborhood on the Waterville City Council in 2005. In 2008, he was elected to the Maine House of Representatives representing parts of Waterville and Oakland during his senior year at Colby College. In the Legislature, Treasurer Beck authored nearly one dozen bipartisan bills that became law on issues from pharmacy audits to infant heart screening to Maine's overdose medicine act. Treasurer Beck was appointed House Chair of Joint Standing Committee on Insurance and Financial Services and to serve on the 2011 Commission to Apportion Maine's Congressional Districts.
Treasurer Beck attended the University of Maine School of Law and graduated on time while serving in the Legislature. As an attorney in private practice, Treasurer Beck represented Mainers and businesses involved in complex business disputes, serious criminal charges, insurance matters, and tax litigation. In 2018, Treasurer Beck successfully argued an appeal before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. Treasurer Beck also holds a Certificate of Graduate Study from the Muskie School of Public Service.
Curtis Loftis | Treasurer, State of South Carolina
Curtis Loftis is the State Treasurer of South Carolina. First elected in 2010, he is currently serving his third term as State Treasurer.
As Treasurer, Loftis serves as the “state’s banker,” managing, investing, and retaining custody of more than $55 billion in public funds. He also serves as administrator of the state’s Unclaimed Property Program, Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan, and Palmetto ABLE Savings Program, which provides eligible individuals with disabilities the opportunity to save and invest money while maintaining eligibility for important needs-based benefits.
Since taking office, he has returned more than $260 million in unclaimed funds to South Carolinians – more than all previous state treasurers combined – and has overseen significant growth in the Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan, with more than 200,000 accounts and total assets under management of more than $5.5 billion.
Treasurer Loftis is a fierce advocate for greater accountability, transparency, and fiscal management in state government. As Treasurer, he has championed a number of causes for the benefit of state government and all South Carolinians, including public pension reform and financial education in K-12 schools.
In addition to serving as State Treasurer, Treasurer Loftis is Chairman of the State Board of Financial Institutions, Vice Chairman of the State Fiscal Accountability Authority, Vice Chairman of the South Carolina Education Authority, and Vice Chairman of the South Carolina Tobacco Authority. He also serves on the South Carolina Financial Literacy Board of Trustees and the executive board of the College Savings Plan Network. In the past, he has held leadership positions with the National Association of State Treasurers and the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators.
As Treasurer, Treasurer Loftis has been honored for his work with various awards and recognitions, such as being named to Columbia Regional Business Report’s 2020 Class of “Icons and Phenoms,” the “2019 Charter School Champion of the Year” by the Public Charter School Alliance of South Carolina, and “Friend of the Taxpayer” by the South Carolina Association of Taxpayers.
His leadership has been featured in numerous publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Bloomberg, Institutional Investor and Bond Buyer. He is a sought-after speaker and has presented to groups such as the Wall Street Journal Private Equity Conference, The SkyBridge Alternative (SALT) Conference, and the World Pension Forum.
A native of Lexington County, Treasurer Loftis graduated from the University of South Carolina. He is a successful small business owner, as well as the founder and benefactor of the Saluda Charitable Foundation.
Jacob Olcott | Vice President, Communications & Gov. Affairs, BitSight
Jacob Olcott has spent his career helping investors and shareholders understand and manage cyber risk. He is currently Vice President of Communications and Government Affairs for BitSight, a cybersecurity ratings company. He previously served as legal and policy advisor on cybersecurity issues to the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee and U.S. House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee. In 2011, he led a congressional investigation into corporate cybersecurity disclosure practices that led the SEC to issue the first-ever cyber risk disclosure guidelines. Prior to BitSight, Mr. Olcott advised Fortune 1000 executives on cybersecurity governance and technology issues. He also served as an adjunct professor on cybersecurity at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. He holds degrees from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Virginia School of Law.
Bess Joffe | Head of Responsible Investment, The Church Commissioners for England
Bess Joffe is the Commissioners' Head of Responsible Investment and leads the team that engages across the Commissioners’ multi-asset investment portfolio. Ms. Joffe joined the Commissioners in 2020 from Lloyds Banking Group, where she held the position of Director of Investor Relations – ESG. Previously, Ms. Joffe led the stewardship team at TIAA (Nuveen) and held senior roles at Goldman Sachs and Hermes Equity Ownership Services.
Dr. Caroline Leaf | Communication Pathologist and Cognitive Neuroscientist
Dr. Caroline Leaf is a communication pathologist and cognitive neuroscientist. Since the early 1980s, she has researched the mind-brain connection, the nature of mental health, and the formation of memory. She was one of the first in her field to study how the brain can change (neuroplasticity). Her passion is to help people see how the power of the mind can change the brain and how the link between science and spirituality can help them control their thoughts and emotions, learn how to think and learn, and find their sense of purpose in life. She is the author of Switch On Your Brain, Think and Eat Yourself Smart, The Perfect You, and Think, Learn, Succeed, among many other books and journal articles, and her videos, podcasts, and TV episodes have reached millions globally. She currently teaches at academic, medical, and neuroscience conferences; churches; and to various audiences around the world. Dr. Leaf and her husband, Mac, live with their four children in Dallas.
Mark Solomon | Partner, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP
Mark Solomon is a founding partner in Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP’s San Diego office and leads its international litigation practice. Over the last 27 years, he has regularly represented United States- and United Kingdom-based pension funds and asset managers in class and non-class securities litigation in federal and state courts throughout the United States. He has been admitted to the Bars of England and Wales (Barrister), Ohio, and California, but now practices exclusively in California, as well as in various United States federal district and appellate courts.
Mr. Solomon has spearheaded the prosecution of many significant securities fraud cases. He has obtained multi-hundred million dollar recoveries for plaintiffs in pre-trial settlements and significant corporate governance reforms designed to limit recidivism and promote appropriate standards. He litigated, through the rare event of trial, the securities class action against Helionetics Inc. and its executives, where he won a $15.4 million federal jury verdict. Prior to the most recent financial crisis, he was instrumental in obtaining some of the first mega-recoveries in the field in California and Texas, serving as co-lead counsel in In re Informix Corp. Sec. Litig., in the federal district court for the Northern District of California, and recovering $131 million for Informix investors; and serving as co-lead counsel in Schwartz v. TXU Corp., in the federal district court for the Northern District of Texas, where he helped obtain a recovery of over $149 million for a class of purchasers of TXU securities. Mr. Solomon is currently counsel to a number of pension funds serving as lead plaintiffs in cases throughout the United States. For instance, he represented the Norfolk County Council, as Administering Authority of the Norfolk Pension Fund, in Hsu v. Puma Biotechnology, Inc. where, after three weeks of trial, the Fund obtained a jury verdict in favor of the class against the company and its CEO. Mr. Solomon also represented the British Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme and the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme in Smilovits v. First Solar, Inc. in which the class recently recovered $350 million on the eve of trial. The settlement is fifth-largest PSLRA settlement ever recovered in the Ninth Circuit.
Before working with the Firm, Mr. Solomon practiced at the international firm Jones Day in Cleveland, Ohio, followed by practicing at the Los Angeles office of New York’s Stroock & Stroock & Lavan. At these firms, his representations included the defense of securities fraud and other white-collar crimes, antitrust, copyright, commercial and real estate litigation, and reinsurance arbitration. While practicing in Los Angeles, acting for plaintiffs as sole counsel, he took to trial and won complex commercial contract and real estate actions in the Orange County and Los Angeles Superior Courts, respectively.
Mr. Solomon is a past chair of the American Bar Association Directors, Officers Liability Sub Committee and the Accountants Liability Sub-Committee, and is the author of the UK National Association of Pension Funds 2012 “Securities Class Actions made simple” and the 2015 “Securities Fraud and Investors Remedies made simple” guides.
The Legal 500 has named Mr. Solomon a Recommended Lawyer in its nationwide category of “Securities Litigation – Plaintiff,” citing his dual qualifications in English and U.S. law and his leadership of the Firm’s international litigation practice. He has also been named a Leading Plaintiff Financial Lawyer by Lawdragon and a Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers Magazine. He earned his law degrees at Trinity College, Cambridge University, England, Harvard Law School, and the Inns of Court School of Law in London.
Dr. Deborah L. Birx | World-Renowned Medical Expert, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator
Deborah L. Birx, M.D. is a world-renowned medical expert and leader whose long career has focused on clinical and basic immunology, infectious disease, pandemic preparedness, vaccine research, and global health. Her career began with serving the United States as an Army Colonel, and later turned into running some of the most high-profile and influential programs at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Department of State.
Most recently, Dr. Birx served as the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, where she used complex data integration to drive decision making, providing recommendations to Vice President Michael Pence and working closely with state officials across the country to provide state-specific advice and guidance. In 2014, Dr. Birx became an Ambassador-at-Large when she assumed the role of the Coordinator of the United States Government Activities to Combat HIV/AIDS. As the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, she oversaw the $6 billion annual budget of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the largest commitment by any nation to combat a single disease in history. She also managed all U.S. Government engagement with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.
Dr. Birx began her career with the Department of Defense (DoD) in 1985 as a military-trained clinician in immunology, focusing on HIV/AIDS vaccine research. She progressed to serve as the Director of the U.S. Military HIV Research Program (USMHRP) at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research from 1996-2005. Dr. Birx led one of the most influential HIV vaccine trials in history (known as RV 144 or the Thai trial), which provided the first supporting evidence of any vaccine’s potential effectiveness in preventing HIV infection. Then known as Colonel Birx, she was awarded two prestigious U.S. Meritorious Service Medals and the Legion of Merit Award for her groundbreaking research, leadership, and management skills during her tenure at the DoD.
From 2005-2014, Dr. Birx served as Director of the CDC's Division of Global HIV/AIDS (DGHA) in the CDC Center for Global Health. As DGHA Director, she led the implementation of the CDC’s PEPFAR programs around the world.
Dr. Birx was responsible for all of the agency's global HIV/AIDS activities, including providing oversight to more than 1,900 staff and more than 50 country and regional offices in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America. Recognized for her distinguished and dedicated commitment to building local capacity and strengthening quality laboratory health services and systems in Africa, in 2011, Dr. Birx received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the African Society for Laboratory Medicine. In 2014, the CDC honored her leadership in advancing the agency’s HIV/AIDS response with the highly prestigious William C. Watson, Jr. Medal of Excellence.
Dr. Birx has published over 230 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals, authored nearly a dozen chapters in scientific publications, and developed and patented vaccines. She received her medical degree from the Hershey School of Medicine, Pennsylvania State University, and trained in internal medicine and basic and clinical immunology at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Institutes of Health.
Earvin Magic Johnson | NBA Hall of Famer, Founder and CEO, Magic Johnson Enterprises, Founder, Magic Johnson Foundation
NBA Hall of Famer and member of the original Dream Team, Earvin “Magic” Johnson has become one of the most powerful and respected African-American businessmen and philanthropists in the world. In 1991, he founded the Magic Johnson Foundation, which serves as a single-disease organization that works to raise funds for community-based organizations dealing with HIV/AIDS education and prevention programs. Celebrating over 20 years of success, the Magic Johnson Foundation has become one of the most recognizable philanthropic organizations around the world.
Beyond his philanthropic work, Mr. Johnson has successfully parlayed his skills and tenacity on the court into the business world. Mr. Johnson is the founder and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises (MJE), a global empire that is a catalyst for fostering community growth and economic empowerment through high-quality entertainment and products and services that answer the demands of ethnically diverse communities. MJE has a wide range of business endeavors ranging from sports ownership to food service and facility management, produces quality works in film, television and publishing, and represents the biggest names in media and entertainment.
During his athletic career, Mr. Johnson earned five NBA championship rings and led the Los Angeles Lakers to nine NBA finals. He has won three MVP awards and played in 12 NBA All-Star games. A member of the original Dream Team, he earned a gold medal at the 1992 Olympic Games. As a speaker, Mr. Johnson inspires audiences with the real-life story of his remarkable rise, his philosophy for success, and his empowering message on how to create the best possible future.
Lisa Ling | Emmy Award-Winning Journalist
Award-winning journalist Lisa Ling’s groundbreaking and breathtaking work explores the far and often under-reported corners of the world. The host and executive producer of CNN's This Is Life, as well as a former executive producer and host of Our America on OWN: the Oprah Winfrey Network, Ms. Ling's reporting has taken her from small Midwest towns ravaged by the opioid epidemic, to an undercover investigation of sex trafficking in Washington, D.C., to a rare look inside North Korea. During the pandemic, she took audiences behind the scenes of the latest efforts to respond to the coronavirus pandemic as host of The Road to a Vaccine.
In her presentation, Ms. Ling will bring a global perspective to today’s headlines. She recounts stories that profoundly changed lives and shares her view about how travel and going beyond one’s comfort zone are wholly transformative, making each of us smarter, more well-rounded, and more marketable. Ms. Ling will also share her thoughts on today’s culture of sound bite news, where many important issues get overlooked, if they get covered at all.
Found right above downtown, the neighborhood of Little Italy is a San Diego gem. Little Italy is full of Italian restaurants and shops, one of the best weekly farmer’s markets in the city, frequent festivals and events, and several music venues ranging from the classy Music Box to the gritty Casbah.
Located in the downtown area, Petco Park is home to the San Diego Padres baseball team – though it is also used for concerts, soccer, rugby, and golf. The stadium’s design includes Indian sandstone, white-painted exposed steel, and dark blue seats, which are all meant to cohesively evoke San Diego’s cliffs, beaches, the blue ocean, and sailboats in the bay.
Spanning 1,200 acres, Balboa Park is San Diego’s cultural touchstone. It includes more than 15 museums, theaters, the world famous San Diego Zoo, hiking trails and walking paths, restaurants, gift shops, and 17 gardens – including the iconic Botanical Building.
As the oldest settled area in the city, the Old Town neighborhood is rich with history. It is the site of the first European settlement in present-day California and features Old Town San Diego State Historic Park and Presidio Park, both of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Old Town has more than 25 restaurants and tons of shopping opportunities, as well as nightly entertainment and various annual events. You can also take a tour of the Whaley House, which is considered to be one of the most haunted houses in the United States.
First lit in 1855, the Old Point Loma Lighthouse was used for 36 years before the light was extinguished due to fog and low clouds rendering it ineffective. It now stands as a monument and draws in countless visitors every day. The national park also features the Cabrillo National Monument (which commemorates the landing of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo at San Diego Bay in 1542), unparalleled views of downtown San Diego, and one of the best-protected tide pools in Southern California.
Not only does Coronado Island offer beautiful powdery beaches (that actually glisten, thanks to the mineral mica in the sand), it also offers small-town charm and tons of little shops and eateries to visit. You can rent a bike and cycle down the 15-mile-long bike path, get a drink at the famous Hotel del Coronado, or head to Glorietta Bay Marina to rent a sailboat or some jet skis.
With around 70 miles of coastline on offer, San Diego is rife with beautiful beaches perfect for sunbathing and swimming. Pacific Beach and Ocean Beach are two classic SoCal beaches, with funky vibes and lively night scenes. Mission Beach offers some classic boardwalk attractions at Belmont Park, which includes amusement park games and rides. You can also head north and try to spot orange Garibaldi fish while snorkeling at La Jolla Cove, check out the harbor seals resting at Children’s Pool just south from the Cove, or go surfing at Swami’s Beach just south of Encinitas, which got a shout-out in The Beach Boys’ hit “Surfin’ U.S.A.”
There are countless hiking trails throughout San Diego county, but none with views quite like what you find at Torrey Pines State Reserve. Found between La Jolla and Del Mar, hiking at Torrey Pines offers various hiking loops ranging from two to four miles long. With scenic views of the ocean and beach below, the trails boast a variety of wildflowers, cacti, ferns, and wildlife. Make sure to check out the Beach Trail while you’re there, which descends around 300 feet to put you right on the beach.
Darren J. Robbins | Partner, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP
Darren Robbins is a founding partner of Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP. Over the last two decades, he has served as lead counsel in more than 100 securities class actions and has recovered billions of dollars for injured shareholders.
Mr. Robbins has obtained significant recoveries in a number of actions arising out of wrongdoing related to the issuance of residential mortgage-backed securities, including the case against Goldman Sachs ($272 million recovery). Mr. Robbins also served as co-lead counsel in connection with a $627 million recovery for investors in In re Wachovia Preferred Securities & Bond/Notes Litig., one of the largest credit-crisis settlements involving Securities Act claims. Mr. Robbins also recently served as lead counsel in Schuh v. HCA Holdings, Inc., which resulted in a $215 million recovery for shareholders.
One of the hallmarks of Mr. Robbins’ practice has been his focus on corporate governance reform. In UnitedHealth, a securities fraud class action arising out of an options backdating scandal, Mr. Robbins represented lead plaintiff CalPERS and was able to obtain the cancellation of more than 3.6 million stock options held by the company’s former CEO and secure a record $925 million cash recovery for shareholders. Mr. Robbins also negotiated sweeping corporate governance reforms, including the election of a shareholder-nominated director to the company’s board of directors, a mandatory holding period for shares acquired via option exercise, and compensation reforms that tied executive pay to performance. Recently, Mr. Robbins led a shareholder derivative action brought by several pension funds on behalf of Community Health Systems, Inc. The case yielded a $60 million payment to Community Health, as well as corporate governance reforms that included two shareholder-nominated directors, the creation and appointment of a Healthcare Law Compliance Coordinator, the implementation of an executive compensation clawback in the event of a restatement, the establishment of an insider trading controls committee, and the adoption of a political expenditure disclosure policy.
Mr. Robbins was named California Lawyer Attorney of the Year and has been recognized as one of the nation’s top securities litigators by numerous organizations and publications. He has been named one of the “Top 100 Lawyers Shaping the Future” by the Daily Journal and one of the “Young Litigators 45 and Under” by The American Lawyer. The American Lawyer commended him for helping “set the pace for [his] peers,” and Chambers USA called him “a prominent figure in the field of securities litigation” and “one of the leaders of the plaintiff Bar.” Additionally, Mr. Robbins has been named a Benchmark California Star and State Litigation Star by Benchmark Litigation.
Mr. Robbins is a frequent speaker at conferences and seminars around the world on securities litigation and corporate governance reform. He advises institutional investors in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, the Middle East, Asia and the European Union.
Mr. Robbins was awarded Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts degrees in Economics from the University of Southern California, and received his Juris Doctor degree from Vanderbilt Law School.
Richard A. Bennett | President & Chief Executive Officer, ValueEdge Advisors LLC
Richard A. Bennett is President and CEO of ValueEdge Advisors, a firm he founded in summer 2014 to help institutional investors engage with their portfolio companies. From 2006 he was CEO and then Chairman of GMI Ratings and its predecessor, The Corporate Library, a globally recognized investment research firm specializing in corporate governance and ESG with offices in London, New York, San Diego, and Portland, Maine. In August 2014, GMI Ratings was sold to MSCI.
He worked as Director of Corporate Governance for LENS, an institutional activist fund, from 1997 to 2002. He served from 2004 to 2016 as a non-executive director of Trucost, Plc, a U.K.-based firm offering products and services that allow companies, governments, and fund managers to better understand their environmental performance. From 2009 to 2014, he served on the Board of Governors of the International Corporate Governance Network (ICGN), and currently serves on the ICGN Nominating Committee. He is an independent director of Biddeford Internet Corporation d/b/a GWI (an ISP and telecom business), Atlantic Trust (Maine) (a fiduciary trust company), and Quoddy Inc. (a footwear brand enterprise).
Mr. Bennett has an extensive background in politics and government service as well as a wide range of private sector experience. A former president of the Maine State Senate, Mr. Bennett served four terms in the Maine Senate and two terms in the state’s House of Representatives. From 2013 to 2017, he was Chairman of the Maine Republican Party and a member of the Republican National Committee. In 2014, he volunteered as a member of the MainePERS ESG Integration Task Force.
Directorship magazine has recognized Mr. Bennett six times in its annual list of the 100 "most influential people in corporate governance and the boardroom." In December 2010, he was named by Global Proxy Watch as one of the "10 people around the world who had the most impact on corporate governance in the previous year."
Mr. Bennett was a member of the board of trustees of Hebron Academy from 2010 to 2019. He was a member of the President's Commission on White House Fellowships from 2005 to 2009. He graduated with honors from Harvard College in 1986 and received his M.B.A. from the University of Southern Maine in 2000.