Networking

Networking Activities

San Diego Trolley Tour

Climb aboard an open air trolley as you visit all of San Diego’s most popular attractions.

Hiking

Take a guided nature hike along the canyons of Los Peñasquitos with breathtaking views of the San Diego coast.

Kayaking

Take in the beauty of San Diego’s marine life in a guided kayaking tour of La Jolla’s famous sea caves.

Golf

Play 18 holes on a course designed by renowned architect Tom Fazio featuring dramatic elevations, diverse bunkering, and lush fairways in the Los Peñasquitos Canyon.

Networking Dinners

octoberfest

Oktoberfest

Stroll through the bier gardens as you enjoy Bavarian delicacies. A polka or two might be in order!

monster mash dinner

Monster Mash

Howl the night away with ghoulish frights and tasty bites. Costumes encouraged!

2021 Public Funds Forum

San Diego, California
October 26-28, 2021

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. 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.

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

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.