Fort Worth Employees’ Retirement Fund hires executive director

Scott Nishimura The Fort Worth Employees’ Retirement Fund board today named Joelle Mevi, an executive for the New Mexico Public Employees Fund, to be executive director and chief investment officer for the Fort Worth fund.

Mevi, who will start in mid-March and was the New Mexico fund’s chief investment officer, will manage and oversee the fund’s $2 billion investment portfolio and benefit programs that serve more than 10,000 members. Her hiring followed a national search by the Hudepohl & Associations firm. “We are fortunate to have attracted Joelle to Fort Worth,” Billy Samuel, chairman of the Fort Worth fund, said. “She has broad-based asset class experience and a positive investment performance track record; PERA Total Fund returns exceeded benchmark for all reporting periods during her tenure” as chief investment officer.

Mevi begins March 17. The office has been vacant since Ruth Ryerson resigned last year to run the Wyoming State Pension Fund.   Mevi joins the Fort Worth fund during an intense debate in recent years over what level of benefits it can afford to pay retirees. The fund is considered healthy. But the city, to close an increasing unfunded liability, has pared benefits, The fund has lowered its presumed rate of return, but it remains under pressure from the city and a Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce group to consider lowering it again. Mevi called the Fort Worth fund “one of the finest retirement systems in the country.” She said she looks “forward to working collaboratively with the board, serving its members and interacting with city leadership and community stakeholders.”

Mevi has worked for the New Mexico fund since 2009, serving as chief investment officer for more than three years and overseeing its $13 billion defined benefit trust. Prior to PERA, which she left in August 2013, she worked was CIO for the New Mexico state treasurer, responsible for investing the state’s $5 billion in operating funds and $1 billion local government investment pool. “In this role, she was instrumental in securing the state’s AAA rating,” the Fort Worth fund said in a release. Mike Bickley, a Fort Worth fund board member and chairman of the search committee, said “Joelle is a proven leader with a track record of staff development and building strong relations with constituents and stakeholders. We look forward to her joining the Retirement Fund soon.”

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