Co-founded by Chairman Robert A.G. Monks and CEO Richard A. Bennett, ValueEdge Advisors also includes Vice Chair Nell Minow, Senior Research Associate John P.M. Higgins, and Research Associate Kimberly Gladman. Our governance professionals have had leading roles in founding, owning, and successfully managing proxy advisory firms, activist investment funds, ESG research companies, and governance consultancies, as well as personal experience as directors and officers of public and private companies. ValueEdge Advisors also have extensive experience in politics and policymaking, including serving in senior elected and appointed positions in government.
We encourage you to follow us on Twitter @valueedgeadvsrs and to visit our blog at www.valueedgeadvisors.com where we post frequently about unfolding events, news items, and emerging trends.
With 200 lawyers in 9 offices nationwide, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP is the largest U.S. law firm representing investors in securities class actions. Robbins Geller attorneys have obtained many of the largest shareholder recoveries in history, including the largest securities class action recovery ever – $7.2 billion – in In re Enron Corp. Sec. Litig. The 2020 ISS Securities Class Action Services Top 50 Report ranked Robbins Geller first for recovering $1.6 billion for investors last year, more than double the amount recovered by any other securities plaintiffs’ firm.
Sean Williams | Trustee, West Palm Beach Police Pension Fund
Sean Williams serves as a Board Trustee on the West Palm Beach Police Pension Fund. He was confirmed in September 2021 to serve a four-year term. The fund has 540 beneficiaries with $480 million under management.
Mr. Williams is the Founder and President of Williams Accounting Services, a full-service accounting firm providing superior accounting, bookkeeping, and tax preparation services since 2008. Mr. Williams has 30 years of business experience, including 20 years as self-employed.
Building on an educational foundation of a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from Purdue University, he worked in the Finance Departments of General Electric and Honeywell. Seeking a broader business experience, Mr. Williams earned his MBA from Harvard Business School. He then worked as a general manager for the investment divisions of CIGNA Insurance and Ocwen Financial Corporation. Leveraging this vast experience, he became self-employed in 2001, providing financial services and advice to business owners and professionals.
Mr. Williams is active in the community, currently serving as a Board Member of the City of West Palm Beach Sales Surtax Oversight Committee. Past experiences include board membership at the Sickle Cell Foundation, Black Republican Caucus of South Florida, and Premier Youth Athletic Corporation.
Rohini Kosoglu | Former Deputy Assistant to the President, Domestic Policy Advisor to the Vice President, Biden-Harris White House, and 2020 Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics
Rohini Kosoglu is a former Deputy Assistant to the President and Domestic Policy Advisor to the Vice President in the Biden-Harris White House, and was the first Asian American woman to hold this role. She was also a 2020 Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School's Institute of Politics. Ms. Kosoglu has served as a senior White House official, chief of staff in the United States Senate, and organizational leader in multiple presidential campaigns.
From the beginning of the Biden-Harris Administration, Ms. Kosoglu was chief policy advisor to Vice President Harris on the most pressing domestic and economic issues facing the nation. She oversaw policy issues on behalf of the President and Vice President to lift up the middle class, ensure America's competitiveness with the rest of the world, and protect our fundamental rights as Americans. Before entering the White House, Harris noted Ms. Kosoglu as "one of my closest and most trusted aides from the Senate and presidential campaign."
Ms. Kosoglu previously served as a senior advisor on both the Biden-Harris Campaign and Biden-Harris Transition Team, which included managing vice-presidential debate preparations and transition planning. She also oversaw the vetting process for Harris before joining the Biden-Harris campaign.
Earlier, Ms. Kosoglu served Harris on her presidential campaign and in her Senate office. On Harris's presidential campaign, Ms. Kosoglu was chief of staff and senior advisor, where she managed operations, communications, and policy for over 300 staff.
Ms. Kosoglu was also the first South Asian American woman to serve as Chief of Staff in the United States Senate. Under her organizational leadership as Chief of Staff to U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, Ms. Kosoglu recruited top talent that led the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies to name Harris's office as the most diverse on Capitol Hill.
Ms. Kosoglu's career on Capitol Hill has also included leadership positions with leading Democratic Senators, including U.S. Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado and U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan. During her tenure, Ms. Kosoglu led negotiations on numerous bipartisan legislation, with a focus on the economy, technology, and health care. Notably, Ms. Kosoglu served as a key advisor during the drafting and passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010.
Ms. Kosoglu graduated with honors from the University of Michigan and has a master's degree from George Washington University. She currently resides in the Washington, D.C. area with her husband and three sons.
Hector Balderas | New Mexico Attorney General
Hector Balderas is serving his second term as New Mexico’s Attorney General and is a Certified Fraud Examiner. As the chief law enforcement officer and chief civil officer for the State of New Mexico, Mr. Balderas has transformed the Office of the Attorney General to focus on keeping our children and families safe, empowering New Mexican families and small businesses for financial success, and protecting New Mexico’s pristine environment.
As Attorney General, Balderas transformed the Special Prosecutions Division, Special Investigations Division, New Mexico Human Trafficking Task Force, and expanded the New Mexico Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force in a successful effort to combat the most dangerous offenders, violent sexual predators, and corrupt politicians. Attorney General Balderas has secured convictions for victims of unspeakable acts of sexual and other violence around the state, and secured the first state level conviction of a statewide elected official and another against a former legislator. Attorney General Balderas’ Criminal Appeals Division has also obtained several landmark Supreme Court opinions that have kept New Mexico’s most violent criminals in prison.
Attorney General Balderas has achieved unprecedented victories for New Mexicans in civil courts by securing the largest Tobacco Settlement payment in state history and tens of millions of dollars in settlements from large corporations for preying on New Mexicans. He is also aggressively litigating against the opioid industry and made New Mexico the first state to sue opioid distributors, in addition to manufacturers, for inundating New Mexico with highly addictive opioids that have devastated the state for decades.
After law school Attorney General Balderas became a Bernalillo County Assistant District Attorney, was elected to a seat in the New Mexico House of Representatives at age 29, and then served two terms as New Mexico’s State Auditor. As State Auditor, he had oversight of $60 billion in assets collectively held by over 1,000 government entities in New Mexico. Attorney General Balderas immediately pursued an aggressive agenda designed to protect taxpayer funds and hold government agencies accountable. During his time as State Auditor, Balderas’ effort to target corruption yielded historic results. His special audits and investigations exposed rampant financial mismanagement of taxpayer funds throughout many government agencies and schools.
Hari Panday | President and CEO, PanVest Capital Corporation
Hari Panday is a seasoned independent corporate director and chief executive with experience in banking, insurance, corporate finance, private and capital markets, diversified industries, trust services, and non-profit sectors across North America. His career spreads over 35 years, as the founding President and CEO and a board member of ICICI Bank Canada and ICICI Securities (USA), fully owned subsidiaries of ICICI Bank, India’s second-largest financial institution. He has served in management roles at HSBC Bank Canada, Bank of Montreal, and PricewaterhouseCoopers. His company, PanVest Capital Corporation, is engaged in advisory services to boards on corporate governance, risk management, and business strategy.
Currently, he is on the boards of the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) – serving on OSC’s Audit and Governance Committees; Tarion Warranty Corporation, as the Board Chairman and the Chair of its Governance, Regulatory Affairs & Nominations Committee (he served previously as Chair of the Audit Committee and Vice Chair of the Investment Committee); and Meridian Credit Union as its Chair, Corporate Governance and Member of the Audit & Finance Committee. Previously, he served on the Boards of Avalon Rare Metals Inc.; the Canadian Securities Exchange; ICICI Bank Canada; ICICI Wealth Management; ICICI Securities (USA); the Raymond James Trust (Quebec) and Raymond James Trust (Canada); Pro-Demnity Insurance Co.; and Stone Investment Group Ltd.
Mr. Panday teaches accountability and corporate governance in a graduate program (Master in Financial Accountability – MFAc) at York University, Toronto. He has authored on Cross-Border Corporate Governance in The Handbook of Board Governance, Second Edition.
He serves as an Honorary Colonel, 32 Service Battalion, 4th Canadian Division, Canadian Armed Forces. Mr. Panday contributes to the not-for-profit sector through CPA Canada’s Corporate Oversight and Governance Advisory Board, the Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Persons, and various initiatives dedicated to support the needs of serving and veteran members of the Canadian Armed Forces. He was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2009 for his philanthropic work over several years.
Bruce Schlein | Director, Head of ESG, OMERS Infrastructure
Bruce Schlein is Director, Head of ESG at OMERS Infrastructure. In this role, he is responsible for developing OMERS Infrastructure’s global ESG strategy and supporting its integration and execution. Mr. Schlein works closely with boards and management teams at portfolio companies to develop tools and programs to improve ESG performance and supports the integration of ESG into portfolio formation, capital allocation, and deal origination.
Prior to joining OMERS, Mr. Schlein served in several ESG roles at Citi, including Director, Impact Investing, Director, Asset Finance Group, and co-lead of the Corporate Sustainability team. Before this, Mr. Schlein worked for Bechtel as a sustainability specialist on infrastructure projects in China and Eastern Europe, and for several international development organizations. He is a former board member of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and currently sits on the New York City Energy Efficiency Corporation Board.
Mr. Schlein has a Bachelor of Arts (Government) from Cornell University and a Master of Arts (International Economics) from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University. He has held various adjunct faculty positions at SAIS, New York University, Bard College, and Cornell’s Johnson School of Business.
Melissa McDonald | Managing Director, Global Head of Climate and ESG Indexes, MSCI
As MSCI’s Global Head of ESG and Climate Indexes, Melissa McDonald is responsible for ensuring that MSCI’s dynamic product offering continues to align and evolve with investor needs around the world. Prior to joining MSCI in 2021, Ms. McDonald spent 10 years at HSBC Asset Management as Global Head of Product – Equities and Responsible Investment, where she led the firm’s equity capability as well as their responsible investment strategy across asset classes globally. From 2015 to 2020, she was also a key member of HSBC’s Climate Business Council, overseeing climate business strategy for the entire HSBC Group.
Previously, she spent 10 years at AXA Investment Managers, where she was Global Head of Responsible Investment, developing strategy and expanding the business into a market-leading position in the responsible investing space. This work included accelerating ESG integration into the decision-making process across investment platforms, enlarging the scope of voting activities, and developing thematic research on topics such as climate change, human capital, and corporate governance. Prior to that role, she was Head of Business Development Asia-Pacific, where she evaluated and executed on opportunities across the region, including leading joint venture negotiations with partners in China and India.
Ms. McDonald has served as a Director on the following boards: HSBC ETF Plc, HSBC Global Asset Management (UK) Ltd., HSBC Pollination Climate Asset Management Ltd., and the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF) Board. She led the asset manager working group of the One Planet Sovereign Wealth Fund (OPSWF) initiative, sponsored by President Macron, and was a Senior Sponsor of the Investment Leaders Group of the Cambridge Institute of Sustainability Leadership.
Dennis Hole | Fort Lauderdale Police & Firefighters' Retirement System
Dennis Hole worked as a City of Fort Lauderdale fire fighter for 27 years. During that time, he served on the IAFF Local 765 Executive Board for 21 years, 17 years of those as Secretary. He was also a Trustee of IAFF Local 765 Health Insurance Trust Fund for 12 years, and Secretary of the local benevolent association for two years. In addition, he was Secretary of the Broward County Council of Professional Fire Fighters for two years. Though now retired for 18 years, he is still a Trustee of the Fort Lauderdale Police & Firefighters’ Retirement System, where he has served for 22 years.
Mr. Hole received Associate degrees in both Business Administration and Fire Administration. He has received a Certified Public Pension Certification from the Florida Public Pension Trustees Association, wherein he served on the Education Committee for five years. He received a Certified Pension Professional designation from the Institute of Chartered Pension Professionals, and a Certificate of Achievement in both Public (Pension) Plan Policy and Employee Health from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. He also received a Trustees Masters Program certification as well as certification in their Scholar Series in Board Governance. Lastly, he received Chartered Trustee designation from the Institute for Pension Funds in conjunction with The George Washington University.
Through the course of his public pension trustee tenure, Mr. Hole has attended seminars offered by the Harvard Law School program for advanced trustee studies in conjunction with NCPERS; The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in conjunction with the IFEBP; the State of Florida Department of Management Services Division of Retirement in conjunction with Florida State University; Financial Research Associates; the Institutional Investor Institute; the Institute for International Research; the National Fire and Police Pension Fund Association; the Investment Management Institute; the Information Management Network; the Opal Group; and ValueEdge Advisors.
Peter Crudo | Executive Vice President, Gilardi & Co. LLC
As Executive Vice President, Peter Crudo is involved with all aspects of the Gilardi business, both strategic and operational. He directly oversees the teams managing all complex administrations (Securities, Antitrust, and Government), and has worked on numerous of the largest and most complex settlements worldwide, including those related to Enron ($7.2bn), AOL Time Warner ($2.2 bn), Household ($1.57 bn), Toyota ($1.3 bn), AIG ($975 mm), and the ongoing Fortis settlement stemming from litigation in the Netherlands (€1.3 bn). Mr. Crudo brings broad experience and perspective to his role, as he has worked both as an attorney in private practice and in senior level management in both private and public technology companies.
The CEO of Gilardi for more than a decade prior to its acquisition by Computershare, Mr. Crudo has lectured on litigation and claims administration issues to international institutions, investors, and client panels in the United States, Europe, and Asia. He has testified in courts throughout the country on settlement matters and has been a featured speaker at various federal judicial conferences. Prior to practicing law, Mr. Crudo served in the Jesuit International Volunteers in Micronesia. While there, he taught high school, helped prison inmates obtain their GEDs, and taught English to immigrant workers. Mr. Crudo holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California at Berkeley, a Juris Doctor and Master of Business Administration from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and an LL.M in International Financial Law, with distinction, from the University of London. He is a board member of the Salesian Boys and Girls Club of San Francisco, an advisory board member of the Okizu Foundation, which serves children with cancer and their families, and a former board member of the Legal Aid Society of San Francisco.
Aelish Marie Baig | Partner, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP
Aelish Marie Baig is a partner in Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP's San Francisco office. She specializes in federal securities and consumer class actions. She focuses primarily on securities fraud litigation on behalf of individual and institutional investors, including state and municipal pension funds, Taft-Hartley funds, and private retirement and investment funds. Ms. Baig has litigated a number of cases through jury trial, resulting in multimillion dollar awards and settlements for her clients, and has prosecuted securities fraud, consumer, and derivative actions obtaining millions of dollars in recoveries against corporations such as Wells Fargo, Verizon, Celera, Pall, and Prudential.
Ms. Baig, along with co-counsel and a team of Robbins Geller attorneys, is currently leading the effort on behalf of cities and counties around the country in In re National Prescription Opiate Litigation. Earlier this year, Ms. Baig served as co-trial counsel in a federal bench trial in San Francisco in a case that had been selected as a bellwether in the multi-district litigation. The team achieved combined settlements of nearly $70 million for San Francisco and more than $5 billion nationally from multiple pharmaceutical companies who were defendants in the case. The Honorable Charles R. Breyer of the Northern District of California ruled that Walgreens, the only defendant remaining in the case, was liable for its role in the opioid crisis in San Francisco. A damages trial for Walgreens will be held at a later date. Ms. Baig has also been appointed to the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee in In re Juul Labs, Inc., Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation, currently pending before the Honorable William H. Orrick in the Northern District of California. She serves on the expert and trial committees and represents, among others, one of the trial bellwethers. Ms. Baig and her team have recently completed discovery and are currently preparing for expert reports and trial. She has also been appointed by the Honorable Charles R. Breyer in the Northern District of California to the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee in In re McKinsey & Co., Inc. National Prescription Opiate Consultant Litigation.
Additionally, Ms. Baig prosecuted an action against Wells Fargo's directors and officers accusing the giant of engaging in the robosigning of foreclosure papers so as to mass-process home foreclosures, a practice which contributed significantly to the 2008-2009 financial crisis. The resulting settlement was worth more than $67 million in cash, corporate preventative measures, and new lending initiatives for residents of cities devastated by Wells Fargo's alleged unlawful foreclosure practices.
Ms. Baig and a team of Robbins Geller attorneys recently obtained a $62.5 million settlement in Villella v. Chemical and Mining Company of Chile Inc., a securities class action against a Chilean mining company. The case alleged that Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile S.A. ("SQM") violated the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 by issuing materially false and misleading statements regarding the company's failure to disclose that money from SQM was channeled illegally to electoral campaigns for Chilean politicians and political parties as far back as 2009. SQM had also filed millions of dollars' worth of fictitious tax receipts with Chilean authorities in order to conceal bribery payments from at least 2009 through fiscal 2014. Due to the company being based out of Chile and subject to Chilean law and rules, Ms. Baig and the Robbins Geller litigation team put together a multilingual litigation team with Chilean expertise.
Ms. Baig was also part of the team that prosecuted dozens of stock option backdating actions, securing tens of millions of dollars in cash recoveries as well as the implementation of comprehensive corporate governance enhancements for numerous companies victimized by their directors' and officers' fraudulent stock option backdating practices.
Ms. Baig has been named a Plaintiffs' Lawyers Trailblazer and a Litigation Trailblazer by The National Law Journal, a 500 Leading Plaintiff Consumer Lawyer, Leading Lawyer in America, and Leading Plaintiff Financial Lawyer by Lawdragon, a California Trailblazer by The Recorder, and a Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers Magazine. She has also been named to the Best Lawyers in America: Ones to Watch list and the Northern California Ones to Watch list by Best Lawyers®. She joined the Firm in 2004 after having previously practiced with Lawless & Lawless in the area of employment discrimination, where she litigated and tried numerous cases to successful outcomes.
Ms. Baig serves as a Board member for Legal Aid at Work, a highly respected non-profit organization committed to enforcing and strengthening the civil and employment rights of low-wage workers in California and across the country. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Brown University and her Juris Doctor degree from American University, where she was senior editor of the Administrative Law Review.
Anne-Marie Jourdan | Chargée de Mission Tax and Legal Department, Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations
Anne-Marie Jourdan spent a large part of her career in asset management companies, first at BNP Paribas Asset Management, then as Head of the Legal Department at AGF Asset Management (now Allianz Global Investors). She was recruited in 2005 at the Fonds de Resérve pour les Retraites (FRR), the French Reserve Fund. As Chief Legal Officer and member of the Executive Committee, she was in charge of the legal aspects of selecting external managers, corporate governance, proxy voting, class actions, and institutional communications. Since January 2022, she has been working as an expert in the Legal and Tax Department of the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, the biggest French public institution. She specializes in real assets funds (international private equity funds, ecological transition infrastructure funds, and impact funds).
Ms. Jourdan was Governor of the ICGN’s Board between 2014 and 2020. She is a member of the Grand Jury of the Best General Meeting and Diversity of French Companies Awards. Ms. Jourdan is also a member of the Experts Committee of the French Institute of Responsible Capitalism.
Barbara Hannah | Chief Counsel, San Bernardino County Employees’ Retirement Association (SBCERA)
Barbara Hannah is Chief Counsel for the San Bernardino County Employees’ Retirement Association (SBCERA). Ms. Hannah provides legal advice to the SBCERA Board, Division Chiefs, and staff regarding retirement-related issues. Ms. Hannah oversees the Legal Services Department, including the Disability Retirement Unit. Ms. Hannah is a long-term employee of SBCERA. Before becoming Chief Counsel, Ms. Hannah started in 2005 in the Legal Services Department while attending the University of La Verne College of Law. Upon passing the California Bar Exam, SBCERA hired Ms. Hannah as a Staff Attorney, where she was instrumental in implementing several procedures and was responsible for litigating appeals. In 2014, Ms. Hannah was promoted to Senior Staff Counsel, and in 2018, SBCERA hired Ms. Hannah as Chief Counsel.
A native of San Bernardino County, Ms. Hannah is active in her community. In 2010, Ms. Hannah became a founding member of the Inland Empire Legal Association of Women, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting women lawyers and judges in the Inland Empire and advocating for the concerns of all women in the community. Ms. Hannah served as the chair of the By-Laws Committee and drafted the organization’s first By-Laws. Ms. Hannah also served on the Board of Directors for the Inland Empire Legal Association of Women. From 2008-2018, Ms. Hannah dedicated time during the week as a volunteer attorney for the Inland Empire Latino Lawyers Association (IELLA), a nonprofit organization that provides free legal aid services to low income residents of San Bernardino and Riverside counties. IELLA has honored Ms. Hannah for her volunteer service by awarding her with the “Outstanding Pro Bono Attorney of the Year” award. Outside of receiving this award, throughout the years, Ms. Hannah has been recognized for her pro bono service of 50 hours or more in a year. For over a decade now, Ms. Hannah continues to serve her community by volunteering with IELLA.
Ms. Hannah graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science with an emphasis in International Relations and obtained her Juris Doctor from the University of La Verne College of Law.
James McRitchie | Publisher, Shareholder Advocate
James McRitchie is a shareholder advocate who publishes Corporate Governance (CorpGov.net) and facilitates frequent conversations on Zoom with leading thinkers on corporate accountability. He has established candidate forums at CalPERS and led reform efforts, testifying to the legislature and SEC. Along with the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility and As You Sow, Mr. McRitchie is suing the SEC to overturn Trump-era rules that weaken the voice of retail shareholders.
Treasurer Fiona Ma | State Treasurer of California
Fiona Ma is California’s 34th State Treasurer. She was elected on November 6, 2018 with more votes (7,825,587) than any other candidate for treasurer in the state’s history. She is the first woman of color and the first woman Certified Public Accountant (CPA) elected to the position.
The State Treasurer’s Office was created in the California Constitution in 1849. It provides financing for schools, roads, housing, recycling and waste management, hospitals, public facilities, and other crucial infrastructure projects that better the lives of residents.
One committee Treasurer Ma chairs, the California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority (CAEATFA), helps clean and green the state. It awards sales tax exclusions for manufacturers that reduce pollution, while retaining jobs, including to companies that make electric vehicles, turn farm waste into energy, and produce jet fuel out of renewable sources.
California is the world’s fifth-largest economy, and Treasurer Ma is the state’s primary banker. Her office processes more than $2 trillion in payments within a typical year and provides transparency and oversight for an investment portfolio of more than $124 billion, approximately $34.8 billion of which are local government funds. She is also responsible for $93 billion in outstanding general obligation and lease revenue bonds of the state.
In 2020 the State Treasurer’s Office was the agent of sale for about $20 billion in debt, which financed many building projects that created thousands of construction jobs. Of that debt, $6.2 billion refinanced previous debt, creating a present value savings of $1.8 billion for California taxpayers.
Most recently before being elected Treasurer, she was an elected member of the California State Board of Equalization from 2015 until January 2019 and worked to protect the rights of taxpayers while ensuring California collected its fair share of tax revenues. Her district covered 23 counties in California and included approximately 9.5 million people. Upon being selected Chairperson of the Board of Equalization in 2016, she ordered three external audits of the agency and helped lead the biggest reforms for accountability and efficiency in that agency’s history.
A top priority for her on the Board of Equalization was ensuring that everyone pays their fair share of taxes, including efforts to require online retailers such as Amazon to collect sales taxes on transactions from third-party sellers in order to help local brick-and-mortar retailers compete – ultimately generating new revenues estimated between $431 million and $1.8 billion for California every year. She also advocated for taxing e-cigarettes similarly to other tobacco products – deterring vaping and smoking and paying for health costs related to tobacco use. In 2017, voters passed Proposition 56 with two-thirds of the vote, collecting $1.7 billion in new tobacco taxes to fund anti-smoking programs and Medi-Cal payments for the poor.
Also while on the Board of Equalization, she identified the cannabis industry as the largest shadow economy in California with “hundreds of millions of dollars that disappear into an underground cannabis economy” and led efforts to regulate the industry, develop systems to “track and trace” all cannabis in California, and develop legal banking mechanisms for cannabis businesses.
Treasurer Ma was a member of the State Assembly from 2006-2012, serving as Speaker Pro Tempore from 2010 to 2012. She built a reputation as a solution-oriented public servant and was adept at building unlikely coalitions to overcome California’s most complex problems. Prior to serving as Speaker Pro Tempore, she was Assembly Majority Whip and built coalitions during a state budget crisis to pass groundbreaking legislation that protected public education and the environment while also expanding access to health care.
As an Assembly Member, she authored 60 bills that were signed into law by two different governors – most were first-in-the-nation and required no taxpayer money. Her successful legislation to ban toxic chemicals in baby products, known as phthalates, became a model for federal legislation that was authored by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein in 2008. She chaired the Assembly Select Committee on Domestic Violence and spearheaded legislation that strengthened laws protecting victims of domestic violence, consumers and working families; prevented the spread of Hepatitis B; increased access to quality healthcare; and provided equal rights for all Californians.
From 2002-2006, she served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and championed a human rights campaign to end human trafficking in massage parlors and to close prostitution rings. She led an effort to create the city’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program to empower small businesses to more easily participate in public works projects.
Treasurer Ma first became involved in public service in 1994 when she was elected president of the Asian Business Association, where she began advocating at San Francisco City Hall and the State Capitol on behalf of minority business owners. Her work resulted in her election in 1995 as a delegate to the White House Conference on Small Business, where she advocated for socially responsible contracting for minorities and women in San Francisco, ultimately producing a report to Congress detailing 60 top policy recommendations to help small businesses grow and prosper in the 21st century.
Also in 1995, she was appointed to the Assessment Appeals Board of San Francisco by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. That year she started her public service career as a part-time district representative for then-State Senator John Burton and served as Burton’s district representative until her election to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. For Burton, she was responsible for helping constituents with Medi-Cal, workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance, Franchise and Employment Development Department taxes, and professional licensing.
From 1989-93 she worked for Ernst & Whinney, in the real estate tax group, before starting her own accounting practice in San Francisco. Today, Ernst & Young is one of the largest professional services firms in the world and considered one of the “big four” accounting firms.
Treasurer Ma has been a licensed CPA in California since 1992 and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from the Rochester Institute of Technology (NY), a Master’s Degree in Taxation from Golden Gate University (SF), and an MBA from Pepperdine University.
She is a Member of the Vatican’s Council for Inclusive Capitalism, a Member of the California Society of Certified Public Accountants, serves on the Board of California Women Lead, is an Honorary Chair and Spokesperson for the San Francisco Hepatitis B Free Campaign, and is a member of the Screen Actors Guild.
Treasurer Ma is also active with the National Association of State Treasurers (NAST): 2020 Chair of ABLE Committee and Member of the Legislative Committee, and is a member of the CalCPA Society. She is married to Jason Hodge, a full-time firefighter and Oxnard Harbor Commissioner.
Charles F. Robinson | General Counsel and Vice President, Legal Affairs, University of California
Charles F. Robinson began his tenure as General Counsel and Vice President, Legal Affairs for the University of California in January 2007. Operating out of the University’s Office of the President, he is the Chief Legal Officer of the University system, providing advice and counsel to The Board of Regents, the President, the campus Chancellors, and other senior University officials. He oversees a legal staff of 125 attorneys throughout the University system (ten campuses, six medical centers, and one national laboratory); represents the University in all legal and regulatory proceedings; and retains and manages outside counsel.
Prior to joining the University, Mr. Robinson served as Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for California’s wholesale electric transmission operator, the California Independent System Operator Corporation, where he oversaw the Government Affairs and Market Analysis Departments, in addition to the Legal Department. Prior to that, he served as Assistant General Counsel for Litigation for Packard Bell NEC in Sacramento, as Division Counsel for the Raychem Corporation in Menlo Park, and as a Litigation Partner at the law firm Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe in San Francisco. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University and a Juris Doctor degree from Yale University.
John Bailey | Founder, Vestigo Partners
John Bailey serves as a strategic advisor to entrepreneurs, policymakers, and philanthropists, including the Walton Family Foundation, A-Street Ventures, and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. He is also a nonresident senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).
Mr. Bailey brings two decades of experience in public policy and philanthropy working on a range of issues related to Covid-19 response and recovery, technology, education reform, workforce development, and economic mobility. He served as a domestic policy advisor in the White House, where he negotiated the reauthorization of the Trade Adjustment Assistance program and coordinated the Administration’s effort to stabilize the Federal Family Education Loan Program during the credit crisis through the launch of three emergency programs that addressed nearly $200 billion of loans that saved the taxpayers over $10 billion. Mr. Bailey also served as Deputy Policy Director to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, where he worked on comprehensive immigration reform and contributed to the first National Pandemic Strategy. He co-founded the strategic advisory firm Whiteboard Advisors, was a senior program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and served as the VP of Policy for Governor Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education.
Mr. Bailey is a fellow and moderator in the Aspen Global Leadership Network and an alumnus of the American Council on Germany Young Leaders Program. He serves on advisory boards for Zearn Math, Pope Francis’ Scholas Initiative, the Bush Institute, the Center for Democracy and Technology, and Techstars. He has also served as an advisor to four presidential campaigns.
Manny Alvarez | Former Commissioner, California Department of Business Oversight
Manny Alvarez is a nationally recognized fintech, consumer finance, and banking expert with diverse experience across public and private sectors. Throughout his career, he has built new functions and harmonized innovative technologies with orthodox laws and regulations, whether in newly established regulatory agencies or hypergrowth companies. Mr. Alvarez founded BridgeCounsel Strategies LLC on the belief that responsible tech innovation can help promote equity.
Before founding BridgeCounsel, Mr. Alvarez served as California’s chief banking and financial regulator, first as Commissioner of the Department of Business Oversight (DBO) and then as the first senate-confirmed Commissioner of the Department of Financial Protection & Innovation (DFPI), which broadly regulates the state’s banking and financial-services industry. Mr. Alvarez led the efforts to revamp the state’s financial-services regulatory apparatus as DFPI in order to better regulate emerging technologies in financial services while fostering consumer protections and responsible innovation in California. These efforts resulted in the passage of the California Consumer Financial Protection Law (AB 1864), which has since become a national model for other states and regulators.
In 2020, Mr. Alvarez was tapped by the Biden Transition Team to help assess and recommend policy priorities for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to the incoming administration. This marked a homecoming of sorts as, earlier in his career, Mr. Alvarez was a “Founders Club” member of CFPB where he investigated violations of federal consumer financial laws and brought appropriate civil enforcement actions against financial institutions and individuals offering consumer financial products or services. Mr. Alvarez is also an almunus of the Consumer Law Section of the California Attorney General’s Office in Los Angeles, where he prosecuted violations of state unfair competition and false advertising laws. Mr. Alvarez’s public service experience has been enhanced by intensive operational experience in the private sector, particularly in hyper growth environments. From 2014 to 2019, Mr. Alvarez served as General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer, and Corporate Secretary at Affirm, Inc. (NASDAQ:AFRM), a financial-technology platform providing online point-of-sale consumer financing solutions. He oversaw the company’s day-to-day legal, compliance, and government affairs functions and built the company’s most diverse team, achieving gender balance and healthy representation by people of color. During his tenure, Mr. Alvarez supported negotiation of multiple equity & debt financings with institutions including Morgan Stanley, Jefferies, Lightspeed Ventures, Khosla Ventures, a16z, Spark Capital, and Founders Fund.
Mr. Alvarez sits on the board of directors of East West Bank Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ: EWBC), and is a board advisor to several venture-backed fintech companies. He earned his Juris Doctor degree from UC Hastings College of the Law and holds a Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, from Cornell University. He lives with his wife and two sons in Sacramento, where he pedals up and down the American River Bike Trail and golfs poorly.
Michael Troncoso | Of Counsel, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP
Michael Troncoso is Of Counsel at Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP. For over 15 years, he has served as a legal and strategic advisor to elected leaders and chief executives across various sectors. A former prosecutor and senior in-house counsel, he has led numerous high-stakes litigation, investigation, and regulatory matters of national dimension. His practice focuses on securities and other affirmative litigation, and he leads the Firm’s strategic planning and external affairs efforts.
Mr. Troncoso served as chief counsel and chief of public policy to then-California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris. As the Attorney General’s primary legal and policy advisor, he oversaw the department’s priority litigation, enforcement, and legislative matters. He served as lead counsel for the State of California in negotiating the National Mortgage Settlement, the largest consumer financial protection settlement in state history, which recovered $20 billion in loan relief and cash for California homeowners. He also led the state’s Mortgage Fraud Task Force and its investigations of securities law violations related to residential mortgage-backed securities. His team recovered nearly $1 billion in RMBS-related losses for California public pension funds.
Prior to joining the Firm, Mr. Troncoso served as managing counsel and chief campus counsel in the University of California’s Office of General Counsel. At UC, he oversaw litigation, regulatory, and transactional matters for UC’s hospital and health care enterprise, one of California’s largest health systems.
Earlier in his career, Mr. Troncoso served as an Assistant District Attorney in the San Francisco District Attorney’s office, worked as a litigation associate at two global law firms, and completed a judicial clerkship with the Honorable J. Spencer Letts of the United States District Court for the Central District of California.
Immediately before joining the Firm, Mr. Troncoso served as Vice President and Head of Justice & Opportunity at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, where he led bipartisan policy work across the country, and led the Senate transition team for newly appointed U.S. Senator Alex Padilla. Four years earlier, Mr. Troncoso led the Senate transition team for then newly elected U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris. He also recently served as statewide chair of Senator Padilla’s judicial nominations commission.
Mr. Troncoso is a graduate of UC Berkeley and Georgetown University Law Center. He was named a California Lawyer Attorney of the Year and one of the Top 20 Attorneys Under 40 in California by the Daily Journal. He is a proud member of the Hispanic National Bar Association, the American Association for Justice, and an elected member of the American Law Institute.
Derek W. Dobson | CEO and Plan Manager, CAAT Pension Plan
Derek W. Dobson has more than 30 years of experience in the pension industry. Currently the CEO of one of Canada’s most sustainable pension plans, he serves as Co-Chair of the Canadian Public Pension Leadership Council (CPPLC) and sits on the Board of the Association of Canadian Pension Management (ACPM). He is a member of the Pension Committee of the C.D. Howe Institute and a founding faculty member of the Masters of Trust Management Standards (MTMS) at the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP).
Mr. Dobson is a featured speaker at pension conferences and a contributing author to Plans & Trusts, Benefits Canada, HR Professional, Canadian HR Reporter, Talent Canada and the ACPM Observer.
Mr. Dobson received the 2019 ACPM Industry Award in recognition of his leadership and creativity in addressing the challenges facing the Canadian retirement income system and society overall. He sits on the Toronto Region Board of Trade’s Climate Economy Strategic Council, which serves as a forum for advancing integrated climate solutions in Canada’s largest city. He continues to advocate for the social good that pensions provide and innovative solutions to expand access to sustainable and efficient pension plans.
Mr. Dobson is an Associate of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (CIA), with a degree in mathematics from the University of Waterloo.
Christine Mullen Sweeney | Chief Legal Officer, Texas Municipal Retirement System (TMRS)
Christine Mullen Sweeney is the Chief Legal Officer for the Texas Municipal Retirement System and brings over 35 years of legal and pension plan experience to TMRS. She joined TMRS in August 2010 and serves as legal advisor to the System, reporting to the Board and administratively to the Executive Director. Prior to joining TMRS, Ms. Sweeney was in private practice with a large Austin-based law firm, specializing in ERISA and public pension plan matters, private investments, business transactions, and real estate law. She received her B.B.A., with Honors, in Accounting from the University of Notre Dame and her J.D. from the University of Texas at Austin School of Law. Ms. Sweeney is a member of the College 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. Ms. Sweeney is the recipient of a 2018 First Chair Award in the category of Top General Counsel.
Jeremy Burke | Trustee, Austin Fire Fighters Relief & Retirement Fund
Jeremy Burke serves as a Trustee on the Austin Fire Fighters Relief & Retirement Fund and is a member of the fund’s investment committee. He was first elected to the pension fund board in 2010, and since elected to his first term, he has been the only elected trustee to run unopposed. The fund provides retirement, disability, and survivor benefits to 1,800 beneficiaries and has $1.1 billion in assets under management.
Mr. Burke has been serving as a professional firefighter with the Austin Fire Department (AFD) since 1999. He has held the rank of Firefighter, Fire Specialist, Lieutenant, and Captain in the Special Operations Division. The Special Operations Division is responsible for responding to incidents in Austin and the 10-county Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) region. Mr. Burke is a highly accomplished and decorated firefighter whose honors and awards include several Certificates of Commendation for outstanding acts of service, multiple Medals of Merit for saving lives through an act of rescue, a Purple Heart for surviving a significant injury while involved in an emergency incident, the 100 Club of Central Texas’ Outstanding Firefighter of the Year Award, and numerous Phoenix Awards for the ultimate service of saving a human life where the patient is ultimately discharged from the hospital.
Mr. Burke served as a Hazmat/Rescue Specialist on Texas A&M Task Force 1 for 10 years until injuries sustained in a fire kept him from continuing his service. Texas A&M Task Force 1 functions as one of the 28 federal teams under the Federal Emergency Management Agency National Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) System and as a statewide urban search and rescue team under direction of the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM).
Previous to his role as Trustee for the pension fund, he served as a Union Representative, Trustee, Vice-President, and Treasurer of the Austin Firefighters Association Local 975. He is a member of the Austin Firefighters Association and the International Association of Firefighters. Prior to joining the Austin Fire Department, he served two years with the Greenville Fire Department as a firefighter. He holds a Fire Science degree and graduated cum laude.
Tim Schauer | Executive Director, Houston Firefighters’ Relief and Retirement Fund (HFRRF)
Tim Schauer joined Houston Firefighters’ Relief and Retirement Fund (HFRRF) in January of 2022 as the Executive Director. Prior to joining HFRRF, Mr. Schauer co-led the Texas Cornerstone Government Affairs office since in 2011 at the firm’s flagship Texas office in Houston. In the early 2000s, Mr. Schauer was the government relations officer for Memorial Hermann Healthcare System in Houston. Mr. Schauer’s professional experiences include more than 30 years of public policy and advocacy work in Houston, Austin, and Washington, DC, working on a broad range of issues including health care, health insurance, public health, pension reform, tort reform, education, water financing, economic development, and craft beer. In addition to his direct advocacy efforts, Mr. Schauer specializes in public policy development with community organizations and is a recognized expert on the issues of health insurance coverage, Medicaid/CHIP funding, and health policy. Mr. Schauer grew up in Littleton, Colorado, was an exchange student and soccer player in Hannover, Germany, and attended the University of Colorado in Boulder, where he received a B.A. in Biology in 1990. He earned his Master of Science degree in Economic Development and Entrepreneurship from the University of Houston at Victoria School of Business in 2009. He is married, has two children in graduate school, and enjoys playing hockey in the senior leagues in Sugar Land, Texas.
Jennifer Esquivel Zahry | Chief Legal Officer, Kern County Employees’ Retirement Association
Jennifer Esquivel Zahry serves as the Chief Legal Officer for the Kern County Employees’ Retirement Association (“KCERA”) and has worked for KCERA for nine years. She advises an 11-member board on fiduciary duties, governance matters, and governing law. She also oversees KCERA’s legal unit, which handles various vendor contracts, investment management agreements, external communications, policy development, legislative matters, and benefit determinations. Before joining KCERA, her work as a litigator included medical malpractice defense, general civil litigation, conservatorships, probates, juvenile dependency, and administrative hearings, writs, and appeals for the County of Kern. Ms. Zahry has also clerked for Eastern District of California Judge Jennifer L. Thurston. She earned her J.D. from the University of Santa Clara and a B.A. in Business Economics from the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Rhonda Goldberg | Executive Vice-President, General Counsel, IGM Financial Inc.
Rhonda Goldberg is the Executive Vice-President, General Counsel for IGM Financial Inc., responsible for overseeing the legal, compliance, corporate secretarial, and regulatory affairs functions of IG Wealth Management, Mackenzie Investments, and Investment Planning Counsel.
She has an in-depth knowledge of the legal and regulatory environment and financial services industry, with over 20 years of legal experience. Prior to joining the company, she held progressively senior positions at the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) and was a member of the OSC's executive management team and Director of Investment Funds and Structured Products from 2010 to 2015.
Currently, Ms. Goldberg serves as a board member of Wealthsimple and is also the MFDA representative on the board of the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI). She previously served as a member of the OSC’s Securities Advisory Committee and was a member of the 2019 campaign cabinet for United Way of Greater Toronto.
Ms. Goldberg was called to the Bar in Ontario. She has a law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School. She resides in Toronto, Ontario.
Randy Bauslaugh | Co-Chair, Pension Funds Group, McCarthy Tétrault
Randy Bauslaugh is Co-Chair of McCarthy Tétrault’s eight-lawyer national Pensions, Benefits, and Executive Compensation practice, as well as the firm’s 45-lawyer national Pension Funds Group. Mr. Bauslaugh provides legal advice to plan sponsors, administrators, service providers, and governments on a wide range of pension and benefit matters. He is also an independent expert trustee of Canada’s largest Employee Life and Health Trust and Vice-Chair of the Canadian National Exhibition Association.
David B. Wescoe | Executive Director, Texas Municipal Retirement System
David B. Wescoe is an accomplished private and public sector executive. Since graduating from Columbia Law School, Mr. Wescoe was a corporate finance lawyer with Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in New York City, Counsel to two Commissioners of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, a partner in private law practice, the Chief Financial Officer and General Counsel for an NYSE company, and CEO of one of the largest independent broker-dealers in the United States.
In 2006, Mr. Wescoe began his public sector career when he was hired by the San Diego City Employees' Retirement Association as CEO to restore its reputation after a pension scandal that resulted in the indictments of several staff and Trustees. At SDCERS, Mr. Wescoe received the "Most Admired Government Agency CEO Award" from the San Diego Business Journal; the City of San Diego Retired Employees' System's Outstanding Contribution Award for his contribution to the well-being of retirees; and the San Diego City Council declared March 9, 2010 "David B. Wescoe Day" "in appreciation of [Mr. Wescoe's] willingness and tremendous efforts to restore the San Diego City Employees' Retirement System's operational integrity and credibility." SDCERS' Board Chair said that Mr. Wescoe "took charge of this organization, created a strong management team, and filled it with qualified staff that came together to completely turn this organization around. I challenge anyone to name a governmental organization, or public company for the matter, that has accomplished such a turnaround."
Mr. Wescoe has subsequently served as the chief executive of the Motion Picture Pension & Health Plans in Studio City and the San Diego County Employees Retirement Association. Since July 2020, he has served as the Executive Director of the Texas Municipal Retirement System ("TMRS") in Austin. TMRS has more than 220,000 members and $37 billion in assets. He may be the only individual to have served as the CEO of a city, county, state, and Taft- Hartley pension system.
Mr. Wescoe is a frequent speaker on financial and pension topics and has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, and Governing magazine. Among his many civic and charitable activities, Mr. Wescoe has served as the Board Chair of the University of Kansas Alumni Association and as a Trustee of Trinity School in New York City.
A native Kansan, Mr. Wescoe holds a B.A. from the University of Kansas and a J.D. from Columbia Law School.
Paul J. Geller | Partner, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP
Paul J. Geller, managing partner of Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP's Boca Raton, Florida office, is a founding partner of the Firm, a member of its Executive and Management Committees, and head of the Firm's Consumer Practice Group. Mr. Geller's 29 years of litigation experience is broad, and he has handled cases in each of the Firm's practice areas. Notably, before devoting his practice to the representation of consumers and investors, he defended companies in high-stakes class action and multi-district litigation, providing him with an invaluable perspective. Mr. Geller has tried bench and jury trials on both the plaintiffs' and defendants' sides and has argued before numerous state, federal, and appellate courts throughout the country.
Mr. Geller was recently selected to serve in a leadership position on behalf of governmental entities and other plaintiffs in the sprawling litigation concerning the nationwide prescription opioid epidemic. In reporting on the selection of the lawyers to lead the case, The National Law Journal reported that "[t]he team reads like a 'Who's Who' in mass torts." Mr. Geller was also a critical member of the team that negotiated over $26 billion in settlements against certain opioid distributors and manufacturers. Prior to the opioid litigation, Mr. Geller was a member of the leadership team representing consumers in the massive Volkswagen "Clean Diesel" emissions case. The San Francisco legal newspaper The Recorder labeled the group that was appointed in that case, which settled for more than $17 billion, a "class action dream team."
Mr. Geller recently served as a Lead Counsel in In re EpiPen (Epinephrine Injection, USP) Mktg., Sales Pracs. & Antitrust Litig., a nationwide class action that alleges that pharmaceutical company Mylan N.V. and others engaged in anti-competitive and unfair business conduct in its sale and marketing of the EpiPen auto-injector device. The case was recently settled for $609 million.
Some of Mr. Geller's other recent noteworthy successes include the largest privacy class action settlement in history – a $650 million recovery in a cutting-edge class action in In re Facebook Biometric Info. Privacy Litig., concerning Facebook's use of biometric identifiers through its "tag" feature. In addition to the monetary recovery, Facebook recently disabled the tag feature altogether, deleting user facial profiles and discontinuing the use of facial recognition software.
Mr. Geller serves on the Advisory Board of Emory University School of Law and the separate Board of The Institute for Complex Litigation and Mass Claims at Emory. He is a member of the Trial Law Institute and the Diversity Law Institute of the Litigation Counsel of America. Mr. Geller is also a member of the Supreme Court Historical Society. Additionally, he is a member of the Board of Advisors for The Center on Civil Justice at New York University School of Law. In these roles and others, Mr. Geller frequently lectures on class action and MDL issues at judicial seminars, bar conferences, and academic programs. Mr. Geller is also a member of the faculty of the Mass Torts MDL Certificate Program at the Bolch Judicial Institute at Duke University School of Law.
Mr. Geller has been rated AV by Martindale Hubbell (the highest rating available), twice named one of the nation's top "40 Under 40" by The National Law Journal, and named one of "Florida's Top Lawyers" by Law & Politics and South Florida Business Journal. He has also been named a Legend, a Leading Lawyer in America, a Leading Plaintiff Financial Lawyer, and a 500 Leading Plaintiff Consumer Lawyer by Lawdragon; a Leading Lawyer by Chambers USA; a Plaintiffs' Lawyer Trailblazer by The National Law Journal; one of Florida's "Legal Elite" by Florida Trend magazine; and one of "Florida's Most Effective Lawyers" by American Law Media's Daily Business Review. Additionally, Best Lawyers® named Mr. Geller a Best Lawyer in America and a Florida Best Lawyer in the area of "Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions – Plaintiffs," and he was additionally chosen as Lawyer of the Year in that same category. Super Lawyers Magazine has also named Mr. Geller a Florida Super Lawyer for 15 consecutive years.
Mr. Geller earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of Florida, where he was a member of the University Honors Program. He earned his Juris Doctor degree from Emory University School of Law, with Highest Distinction, where he was an editor of the Emory Law Journal, a member of the Order of the Coif Legal Honor Society, and awarded multiple American Jurisprudence Book Awards for earning the highest grade in class.
Michael D. Herrera | Senior Counsel, Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association (LACERA)
Michael Herrera is a Senior Counsel to the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association, the largest county pension fund in the United States with over $70 billion in assets under management and over 175,000 members.
As Senior Counsel, Mr. Herrera serves as principal legal advisor to the fund, represents the fund in complex litigation and administrative proceedings, and has primary responsibility over the fund’s global securities litigation program, including oversight and prosecution of domestic and international securities cases. He frequently speaks on various retirement, technology, and investment-related topics, and is nationally recognized for his work in the areas of securities litigation and corporate governance.
Mr. Herrera is a former Board Member and President of the National Association of Public Pension Attorneys, a professional legal and educational organization whose nearly 700 attorney members represent public pension funds throughout the United States. 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.
Mr. Herrera received a B.S. in Public Policy & Management, cum laude, from the University of Southern California and a law degree from the UCLA School of Law.
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.
Jason A. Forge | Partner, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP
Jason A. 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 the Firm's trial team in 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 Alan Auerbach, Mr. Forge joined a Robbins Geller litigation team 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 from American Realty Capital Properties 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 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 ranked 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 Lawyer in America and 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. He started his investment career at Cambridge Associates on the capital markets research team.
Mr. Hoeppner earned a BCom from McGill University in Montreal, Canada.
Treasurer 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.
Treasurer 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, Mr. Loftis serves as the “state’s banker,” managing, investing, and retaining custody of $60 billion in public funds, and works to ensure that South Carolina maintains its highly coveted credit ratings.
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 guided the Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan to more than quadruple in size, with more than 200,000 accounts and total assets under management of nearly $6 billion. With more than 2,400 account holders and $19.5 million assets under management, the Palmetto ABLE Savings Plan has become one of the fastest growing plans in the nation.
Mr. 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, Mr. 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. In the past, he has held leadership positions with the National Association of State Treasurers, the College Savings Plan Network, and the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators.
As Treasurer, Mr. 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, Mr. 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.
Mark Solomon | Partner, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP
Mark Solomon is a founding and managing partner of Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP and leads its international litigation practice. Over the last 29 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 was first admitted to the Bar of England and Wales as a Barrister (he is non-active) and is an active member of the Bars of Ohio, California, and various United States federal district and appellate courts.
Since 1993, 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. 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 in the late 1990s and early 2000s as class 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 class 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 as well as securing important governance reforms. He litigated and tried the securities class action In re Helionetics, Inc. Sec. Litig., where he won a $15.4 million federal jury verdict in the federal district court for the Central District of California.
Mr. Solomon is currently counsel to a number of pension funds serving as lead plaintiffs in cases throughout the United States. He represents the UK's Norfolk Pension Fund in Hsu v. Puma Biotechnology, Inc. where, in the federal district court for the Central District of California, after three weeks of trial, the Fund obtained a jury verdict valued at over $54 million in favor of the class against the company and its CEO. Mr. Solomon also represents Norfolk Pension Fund in separate class actions currently pending against Apple Inc. and Apple executives in the federal district court for the Northern District of California and against Anadarko Petroleum Corporation and former Anadarko executives in the federal district court for the Southern District of Texas. He represented the British Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme and the Mineworkers' Pension Scheme in Smilovits v. First Solar, Inc. in the federal district court for the District of Arizona, in which the class recently recovered $350 million on the eve of trial. That settlement is the fifth-largest recovered in the Ninth Circuit since the advent in 1995 of statutory reforms to securities litigation that established the current legal regime. Mr. Solomon also represents the same coal industry funds in the recently filed class action against Citrix Inc. and Citrix executives in the federal district court for the Southern District of Florida, and he represents North East Scotland Pension Fund in a class action pending against Under Armour and Under Armour executives in the federal district court for the District of Maryland. In addition, he is currently representing Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association in a class action pending against FirstEnergy and FirstEnergy executives in the federal district court for the Southern District of Ohio and he is representing Strathclyde Pension Fund in a class action pending against Bank OZK and its CEO in the federal district court for the Eastern District of Arkansas.
Before working with the Firm, Mr. Solomon practiced at the international firm Jones Day in Cleveland, Ohio, between 1987 and 1990, 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, Mr. Solomon took to trial and won complex commercial contract and industrial real estate actions in the Orange County and Los Angeles Superior Courts, respectively.
Mr. Solomon has lost one trial (in a Florida state court in 2007) which involved a dispute among former business partners. Robbins Geller absorbed all of the related fees, costs, and expenses on behalf of its clients in the case.
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" guide; the 2015 "Securities Fraud and Investors Remedies made simple" guide; and the 2018 "Global Securities Fraud Litigation made simple" guide.
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.
Michael Phelps | 23-Time Gold Medalist, Mental Health Advocate, & Founder, Michael Phelps Foundation
Michael Phelps is widely regarded as one of the greatest athletes of all time. He captured 28 Olympic medals, including a record-setting 23 gold medals, and set 39 world records over the course of his distinguished career. Mr. Phelps utilized his performance bonus for winning eight gold medals in 2008 to establish the Michael Phelps Foundation, which promotes water safety, healthy living (physical and mental), and the pursuit of dreams. The Foundation’s signature program – IM – is implemented through strategic partnerships with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Special Olympics International. Mr. Phelps courageously opened up about his own mental health challenges, becoming one of the first and most prominent athlete voices who have helped catapult the important conversation across sports and pop culture. His advocacy for water safety and mental health have earned the recognition of the American Image Awards, BBC Sports, Child Mind Institute, The Kennedy Forum, Laureus World Sports Awards, PR Week, the Ruderman Family Foundation, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, among others. In addition, Mr. Phelps served as an Executive Producer, Narrator, and featured talent in the HBO documentary The Weight of Gold, which explores the mental health challenges Olympic athletes often face. He also appeared in the iNDIEFLIX documentary Angst, which explores anxiety among middle school students and their families.
Symone D. Sanders | Author and Seasoned Political Strategist
Symone D. Sanders rose to prominence in 2016 as the national press secretary for U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders' then-presidential campaign. At 25, she became the youngest presidential press secretary on record and was named to Rolling Stone magazine's list of 16 young Americans shaping the 2016 election. At 29, she published her first book, No, You Shut Up: Speaking Truth to Power and Reclaiming America and served as a senior advisor for President Joe Biden's 2020 presidential campaign. At 31, Ms. Sanders was appointed as a senior member of the Biden-Harris administration, serving as Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor and Chief Spokesperson to Vice President Kamala Harris.
A communicator with a passion for problem solving and social justice, Ms. Sanders served as the national chair of the Coalition of Juvenile Justice Emerging Leaders Committee and a member of the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice before joining Senator Sanders' campaign. There, she worked to raise the profile of young voices in the fight for juvenile justice reform and brought millennial perspectives to policy conversations. Prior to joining the Biden-Harris administration, Ms. Sanders was principal of The 360 Group, where she helped clients find sound solutions to tough political and social problems.
Ms. Sanders is a former political commentator for CNN and resident fellow of both Harvard's Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School and the University of Southern California's Center for the Political Future.
She is a native of North Omaha, Nebraska and currently resides in Washington, D.C. with her fiancé, Shawn.
Dana Carvey | Actor & Comedian, Multi-Emmy Nominated, Primetime Emmy Award-Winner
Multi-Emmy nominated, Primetime Emmy Award-winning actor and comedian Dana Carvey is best known for his iconic and indelible Saturday Night Live characters – most memorably Church Lady, Grumpy Old Man, Hans, of the Hans and Franz body building duo, and of course, Garth of Wayne's World. Mr. Carvey has received much praise for his uncanny comedic impersonations of American political figures (popular with both audiences and the subjects of his impersonation), including the elder George Bush, Ross Perot, Jerry Brown, David Duke, and Bob Dole.
Mr. Carvey made his feature film debut in This Is Spinal Tap, and other earlier works include Racing with the Moon, One of the Group, Tough Guys, and the comedy Opportunity Knocks. Other notable films for Mr. Carvey include Alan Parker's The Road to Wellville for Columbia Pictures, Zanuck's Clean Slate for MGM, and Twentieth Century Fox's Trapped in Paradise. In 2004, Mr. Carvey starred in The Master of Disguise, a family comedy where Mr. Carvey took on 36 different identities and spoke in 14 different languages as the hapless titular character.
In 2016, Mr. Carvey appeared as the expert-in-residence on USA Network's comedic half hour series First Impressions. The show featured amateur impressionists competing against each other in a weekly battle of celebrity impressions with Mr. Carvey mentoring each contestant. Also, Mr. Carvey's Netflix Special Straight White Male, 60, was released in 2016, to much acclaim. Most recently, Mr. Carvey lent his voice to bring "Pops" the dog to life in the 3D animated mega-hit, The Secret Life of Pets and The Secret Life of Pets 2.
Treasurer Henry C. Levy | Treasurer, Alameda County
Henry C. Levy is honored to work at the County Treasurer-Tax Collector (TTC), where he works diligently with his expert staff of 54 dedicated employees in Oakland and Hayward. Mr. Levy leads the office with integrity, efficiency, and transparency, and looks forward to collaborative working relationships with all other departments and leaders of the County. Mr. Levy was appointed by the Board of Supervisors to fill the remaining term of the former TTC through December 2018, and was elected to office during the June 2018 election for a four-year term.
Mr. Levy is dedicated to educating all County residents about the County’s financial affairs and welcomes questions and concerns from all constituents.
The office of the TTC has three major functions:
Mr. Levy is also an ex-officio trustee on the Alameda County Employees’ Retirement Association (ACERA), which has responsibility for providing pension and other post-employment benefits to County retirees.
Mr. Levy has been a CPA since 1987, has worked for large accounting firms, and began to build his practice in Oakland in 1991, where he created a firm from its beginnings in his home to a bustling practice centered at College Avenue in Oakland that employed over 30 people in six offices in Northern California. Although Mr. Levy is no longer an owner, The Henry Levy Group, A CPA Firm, still exists, specializing in tax compliance and planning, small business accounting, entity and tax structuring, political treasury reporting, non-profit & labor union accounting work, litigation support, and forensic investigations. In the early part of his working life, he was a car and forklift mechanic and a journalist.
Mr. Levy has long been extremely involved in trying to better his community, serving on numerous non-profit boards and civic committees. He has been involved either as a member or board member of OCCUR, Machinists Local 64, Plant Closures Project, Oakland School District Budget Advisory Committee, City of Oakland Citizen and Business Budget Advisory Committees, City of Oakland Political Reform Act Advisory Committee, North Atlantic Books, La Pena, Conciliation Forum, Pogo Park, Rockridge Soccer Club, Rockridge District Association, and the East Bay Chapter of the California Society of CPAs, among others. He was a board member and president of the KPFA Radio Station Board from 1992 to 1997, served on the Alameda County Assessment Appeals board from 2004 to 2017, and was the proud PTA president of Peralta Elementary School during the years 1983- 1985. Mr. Levy continues to train income tax preparers in the VITA (Voluntary Income Tax Assistance) program at the Hayward Area Recreation District.
An Oakland and Berkeley resident for over 45 years, he has raised four children, and assisted their sports and school clubs and teams. Mr. Levy began umpiring baseball games during his youngest son’s involvement with the sport and went on to train as a high school and college level umpire. He has umpired games, including men’s baseball, vintage baseball, and women’s softball, all over the county and surrounding counties, including umpiring at San Quentin prison. He recently authored a personal memoir in a book on umpiring.
Mr. Levy is an accredited community college instructor. He has taught accounting, employee benefits, and economics at San Francisco Community College, Laney College, and San Francisco State University, as well as teaching through the UC Berkeley Labor Center and Haas School of Business.
An East Coaster by birth, Mr. Levy came out to California in his early twenties. Mr. Levy was married to Marcia Goodman for almost 32 years until she passed away from complications from Ovarian Cancer on December 5, 2017. He is proud of the happy family they created together.
Mr. Levy received his B.A. (History) from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, his M.A. (Industrial Arts) from San Jose State University, and his accounting education from California State, Hayward (now Cal East Bay) and Golden Gate University.
Van Jones | CNN Host and Dream Corps Founder
Van Jones is a CNN host, political commentator, Emmy Award-winning producer, and author of three New York Times bestselling books: The Green Collar Economy (2008), Rebuild the Dream (2012), and Beyond the Messy Truth: How We Came Apart, How We Come Together (2017). Mr. Jones has also found success as a social entrepreneur, having founded and led many thriving enterprises, including the REFORM Alliance, Color of Change, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, and the Dream Corps, which works to close prison doors and open doors of opportunity in the green and tech economies.
In 2009, as the Green Jobs Advisor to the Obama White House, Mr. Jones oversaw an $80 billion dollar investment in clean energy jobs.
Mr. Jones was the main advocate for the Green Jobs Act. Signed into law by George W. Bush in 2007, the Green Jobs Act was the first piece of federal legislation to codify the term "green jobs." During the Obama Administration, the legislation has resulted in $500 million in national funding for green jobs training.
Mr. Jones has stewarded several bipartisan legislative and advocacy efforts, racking up wins under the last four U.S. Presidents: Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump. Mr. Jones' most recent victory was advocating successfully for the passage of the First Step Act, which The New York Times calls the most substantial breakthrough in criminal justice in a generation.
A Yale-educated attorney, Mr. Jones has won numerous awards, including the World Economic Forum's "Young Global Leader" designation, Rolling Stone's 2012 "12 Leaders Who Get Things Done," TIME's 2009 "100 Most Influential People in The World," the 2010 NAACP Image Award, a 2017 Webby Special Achievement Award, a 2019 Lumiere Award, and a 2020 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Interactive Program.
Darren J. Robbins | Partner, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP
Darren J. Robbins is a founding partner of Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP. Over the last two decades, Mr. Robbins has served as lead counsel in more than 100 securities class actions and has recovered billions of dollars for investors.
Mr. Robbins recently served as lead counsel in In re Am. Realty Cap. Props., Inc. Litig., a securities class action arising out of improper accounting practices, recovering more than $1 billion for class members. The American Realty settlement represents the largest recovery as a percentage of damages of any major class action brought pursuant to the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and resolved prior to trial. The $1+ billion settlement included the largest personal contributions ($237.5 million) ever made by individual defendants to a securities class action settlement.
Mr. Robbins also led Robbins Geller's prosecution of wrongdoing related to the sale of residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) prior to the global financial crisis, including an RMBS securities class action against Goldman Sachs that yielded a $272 million recovery for investors. Mr. Robbins 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 securities class action settlements ever involving claims brought solely under the Securities Act of 1933.
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 obtained the cancellation of more than 3.6 million stock options held by the company's former CEO and secured a record $925 million cash recovery for shareholders. He 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. that 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, as well as the adoption of a political expenditure disclosure policy.
Mr. Robbins was named California Lawyer's Attorney of the Year and has been recognized as one of the nation's top securities litigators by numerous organizations and publications, including The American Lawyer, which commended him for helping "set the pace for [his] peers," and Chambers USA, which called him "a prominent figure in the field of securities litigation" and "one of the leaders of the plaintiff Bar." Mr. Robbins was also recognized as a Litigator of the Week by The American Lawyer for his work in In re Valeant Pharms. Int'l, Inc. Sec. Litig. In 2022, Mr. Robbins was awarded California Lawyer of the Year by the Daily Journal.
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.