SABEW Public Pensions Seminar Speakers

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Kirk Adams

Kirk Adams is an advocate of conservative politics and small business. During his tenure representing Maricopa County’s East Valley in the Legislature, Adams has advocated an aggressive agenda of reform and job creation. His legislative efforts include: health care reform; pension reform; initiative reform; tax reform; CPS reform; and transparency in government. Adams, a husband, father and a small businessman, is a lifelong resident of the East Valley. After building a successful property and casualty insurance business, Adams was first elected to the Arizona House of Representatives in 2006. Adams shocked political observers, when at only 35 years of age, his long-shot bid was successful – making him the youngest Speaker in Arizona’s history. In his three years in the top leadership post in the House, Adams turned the tide. In the aftermath of Janet Napolitano’s spending spree, Adams negotiated and authored the first structurally balanced budget in at least five years – and without any accounting gimmicks or debt financing. In total, Adams pushed more than $3 billion in spending cuts through the House. He resigned from the speakership and the state House in April 2011 to begin to campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives from Arizona’s 6th Congressional District.

Keith Brainard

As research director for the National Association of State Retirement Administrators, Brainard collects, prepares and distributes to NASRA members information pertiment to public pension design, administration and policy. NASRA members direct 82 statewide public retirement systems in the United States. Combined, these systems hold assets of more than $2 trillion to fund pensions and other benefits for most of the nation’s 22 million working and retired employees of state and local governments. Brainard is co-author of “The Government Plans Answer Book,” and he created and maintains the Public Fund Survey, an online compendium of public pension data sponsored jointly by NASRA and the National Council on Teacher Retirement. Keith previously served as manager of budget and planning for the Arizona State Retirement System.

David Crane

David Crane is a lecturer at Stanford University and serves on the boards of Building America’s Future, the California High Speed Rail Authority, the Carla & David Crane Foundation, the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco and the Regents of the University of California. From 2004-2010 he served as special advisor to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and from 1979-2003 he worked at Babcock & Brown, a financial services company. David graduated from the University of Michigan and the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, where he was an editor of the law review, and formerly served on the boards of the California State Teachers Retirement System, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, the Environmental Defense Fund, Legal Services for Children, San Francisco Day School and The Little School.

Steve Doig

Steve Doig is the Knight Chair in Journalism at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Doig specializes in computer-assisted reporting — the use of computers and social science techniques to help journalists do their jobs better. Doig joined the Arizona State University faculty in 1996 after a 23-year career as a newspaper journalist, including 19 years at the Miami Herald. There, he served variously as research editor, pollster, science editor, columnist, federal courts reporter, state capital bureau chief, education reporter and aviation writer. Investigative projects on which he worked at The Miami Herald have won several major journalism prizes, including: the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service (1993) for “What Went Wrong,” an analysis of the damage patterns from Hurricane Andrew that showed how weakened building codes and poor construction practices contributed to the extent of the disaster.

Jason Grotto

Jason Grotto is an investigative reporter for the Chicago Tribune. A Chicago native, he joined the Tribune in 2007 and, since then, has tackled stories on the largest development of public housing in U.S. history, Iraq War contracting, nonprofit hospitals, the long-term consequences of Agent Orange and other herbicides used by U.S. forces during the Vietnam War and, most recently, Chicago’s pension crisis. Prior to joining the Tribune, he was a member of The Miami Herald‘s investigative reporting team and wrote about the criminal justice system, public corruption and poverty. Grotto received a master’s degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in 2000 and a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Oregon in 1995. Grotto lives on the West Side of Chicago with his wife, Kerrie Kirtland.

Craig Harris

Craig Harris, 43, is a senior reporter for The Arizona Republic in Phoenix. He has been a reporter for 20 years, and he’s worked at six daily newspapers. “Public Pensions: A Soaring Burden,” the eight-part series he did last fall on problems with Arizona’s pension systems, won Syracuse University’s Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting this year. The project also was a finalist for an Investigative Reporters and Editors award for large newspapers, and it was the honored for a First Amendment Award from the Valley of the Sun Society of Professional Journalists. Harris has been a business, sports, political and education reporter, working at The Olympian in Olympia, Wash.; The Oregonian in Portland, Ore.; The Statesman Journal in Salem, Ore.; The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky.; and The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He is a 1989 graduate of the University of Oregon, where he received a bachelor’s degree in journalism. The Oregon native (and huge Oregon Ducks fan) resides in Gilbert, a suburb of Phoenix, with his wife, Pamela, and their teen-age children, Carson and Annie.

Paul Matson

Paul Matson has served as director of the Arizona State Retirement System. According to the system’s website:

• The system is a state agency with approximately 220 employees and contractors serving more than 550,000 members.
• Matson reports to a nine-member Board of Trustees. With a budget appropriation of more than $20 million, the system supervises an investment portfolio of about $24 billion as it administers the state’s largest pension plan. From 1995 through 2002, Matson was the system’s chief investment officer.
• Matson has also lectured at numerous conferences and as an adjunct professor at Western International University. He has been a regular speaker at the Peter F. Drucker School of Business at the Claremont Graduate University and is a past president of what is now the Phoenix CFA Society.
• Matson also sits on the Arizona Deferred Compensation Board and served on the Investment Operations Committee for Province of Alberta investment operation and is one of the founding members of the Canada-Arizona Business Council. Mr. Matson is also a graduate of the FBI’s Citizen’s Academy.
• Matson received a bachelor of commerce degree from the University of Alberta in Canada. His master’s degree in business administration is from Simon Fraser University of Canada. He also holds a master of arts degree from Arizona State University.

David Milstead

David Milstead is a Denver-based freelancer who writes “Vox,” a markets and investing column for the Globe and Mail, the national newspaper of Canada. Milstead was finance editor of Denver’s Rocky Mountain News until it closed in 2009. He also briefly worked for The Wall Street Journal and publications in Ohio and his native South Carolina. Milstead has individually or jointly, with his Rocky Mountain News colleagues, won nine Best In Business awards since 2002, including an award for his 2005 investigation into the Colorado state pension, “The PERA Puzzle.” He’s a frequent speaker on financial topics at SABEW conferences and is a board member and chair of SABEW finance committee. Milstead is a graduate of Oberlin College, having majored in economics and political science. He passed the Level I exam in the Chartered Financial Analyst program in December 2007.

Ron Snell

Ron Snell is a senior fellow at Nstional Conference of State Legislatures. He focuses on pensions and retirement issues. Snell has been a member of the NCSL staff since 1988, and has also worked on state tax and budget policy and issues. Snell has published numerous articles and papers on state fiscal affairs, budget processes in state legislatures and state pensions and retirement policy. He is a graduate of Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, and holds a Ph.D. in history from Princeton University. Before coming to NCSL, he had taught at the University of Oklahoma and San Diego State University, and subsequently was a member of the fiscal staff for the Oklahoma House of Representatives. From 2006 through 2010, he was director of the State Services Division at NCSL, coordinating NCSL’s programs in fiscal affairs, legislative management, and legislative information services.

Lynn Turner

Lynn Turner has the unique perspective of having been the chief accountant of the Securities and Exchange Commission, a member of boards of public companies, a trustee of a mutual fund and a public pension fund, a professor of accounting, a partner in one of the major international auditing firms, the managing director of a research firm and a chief financial officer and an executive in industry. In 2007, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson appointed him to the Treasury Committee on the Auditing Profession. As chief accountant id the SEC, Turner was the principal adviser to the SEC chairman and commission on auditing and financial reporting and disclosure by public companies in the U.S. capital markets as well as the related corporate governance matters. Turner has led an investigation of the City of San Diego and its public pension plan. That investigation led to a report and findings, including recommendations for how the city could address the related financial, internal control, operation and governance issues.

Mary Williams Walsh

Mary Williams Walsh became a reporter for the Business/Financial Desk of The New York Times in 2000. Her Times reporting on public pensions, with Michael Cooper, won SABEW’s award for explanatory journalism in 2011. Previously, she was a foreign correspondent, first for The Wall Street Journal and then for The Los Angeles Times, reporting from various locations in Latin America, Asia and Europe. Her reports from Europe for The Los Angeles Times received the Overseas Press Club of America citation for excellence in 1995. Her reports for The New York Times in 2002 on how two companies cornered much of the hospital market for drugs and medical supplies, raising costs and exposing patients to certain inferior products, won a George Polk Award, with Walt Bogdanich and Barry Meier. Her reporting on public pensions, with Michael Cooper, won SABEW’s award for explanatory journalism in 2011. Walsh was a Bagehot fellow in economics and business journalism at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business, and a Nieman fellow at Harvard University. Originally from Wausau, Wis., she is married with two children.

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