Greetings! I hope you are doing well and your 2021 is off to a great start. What an honor it is to serve as the 23rd President of the NPEA Board of Directors! I attended my first NPEA conference in St. Louis in 2001 and was thrilled to join the Board in 2013. It’s hard to believe 20 years have passed, but it has been a truly incredible experience, both personally and professionally.
As we welcome this New Year, it brings an end to a very challenging and disruptive 2020. The pandemic has sadly touched all our lives and we continue to make adjustments to everyday activities and take necessary precautions to stay safe. Most everyone has become more accustomed to a virtual world impacting the way we work, learn, worship, shop and socialize. If nothing else, this past year has proven that we are adaptable.
NPEA has also adapted. It was unfortunate that we were unable to hold the 2020 annual conference. In its place, a series of webinars was offered. We heard from Gartner Inc. on “Leveraging Technology to Achieve Desired Business Outcomes.” Members Frank Williams with the Texas Teachers Retirement System and Jeff Strubberg with the Public School and Education Employee Retirement Systems of Missouri provided timely information on “How Covid-19 Changed Cybersecurity.” Mr. Robert Laura presented a webinar entitled, “Retirement’s Fatal Flaws and Outdated Assumptions.” Fellow member Melissa Harris with the Employees Retirement Fund of the City of Dallas shared her expertise and hosted the webinar, “Diversity Is More than Meets the Eye.” And long-time NPEA friends, Jeannine Markoe Raymond with NASRA shared “The Washington Update,” and Robert Klausner of Klausner & Kaufman, P.A., provided an update on “Pension Legal Issues.” If you missed any of the webinars, you can visit the NPEA website to view the recordings.
The Board continues to find creative ways to serve the membership, and we hope you take advantage of the resources available on the website, such as the member blog, content from previous conferences and access to other member systems. Networking with pension professionals nationwide is a valuable benefit of NPEA membership. Why reinvent the wheel when NPEA colleagues are more than happy to share their experiences and best practices.
The annual conference allows members and industry leaders to share their experience, expertise and insight into pension policies and initiatives. Currently, we are planning the 2021 annual conference in Savannah in October. The Board also plans to continue to host webinars on current pension issues and topics of interest.
In other NPEA news, we are excited to have Ben Colussy join the NPEA Board of Directors, and we look forward to working with him. If you missed it, an article on Ben appeared in the November Newsletter. Welcome Ben!
Like many of you, I am working from home and have been since March 2020. I am listening to the radio as I write this and I cannot ignore the song playing, “Wind of Change” by the Scorpions. The lyrics caught my attention and even though the song was recorded three decades ago, the message is very fitting for our world today. The song is a message of hope, and I think we can all agree that is something we desperately need in today’s world. Let 2021 be the year to usher in a “wind of change” for peace, prosperity, happiness, health, and hope.