Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Investments Team


 Jeb Burns
Chief Investment Officer
MERS of Michigan

Jeb is an experienced investment professional, business strategist, and organizational leader.  He is the Chief Investment Officer for the Municipal Employees’ Retirement System of Michigan (MERS), an independent not-for-profit company and one of the 200 largest pension funds in the United States, and is responsible for directing the System’s $9 billion investment program. He reports directly to both the Chief Executive Officer and MERS Retirement Board, presents at all board meetings, and serves as a member of the Investment Committee. He represents the Fund’s interests, serving on several advisory committees for its numerous global investments.

Leading a nine-member team of investment professionals, Jeb is responsible for setting investment strategy for the Fund and implementing all investment programs. As a member of the senior management team, Jeb provides strategic leadership and guidance with respect to business strategy, public policy, organizational development, and all new business initiatives. 

Prior to joining MERS in 2002, he held positions in public policy, communications, legislative affairs, and budget with the State of Michigan. He served as a financial advisor with Prudential Securities before entering public service. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from Western Michigan University and a Master of Public Administration from Wayne State University with a concentration in Public Policy. 

In addition to his role as CIO, Jeb serves on the Western Michigan University Foundation Investment Committee, Michigan State University Finance Department Advisory Board, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce Foundation Leadership Michigan Advisory Board, Mackinac Associates, and is the Co-Founder and past President of the West Michigan Global Initiative (WMGI). In his role with the WMGI, Jeb initiated the first official trade mission to the Netherlands.  


 Michael Charette, CFA
Director of Public Markets

Michael Charette is a the Director of Public Markets for the Municipal Employees’ Retirement System of Michigan (MERS), an independent not-for-profit company and one of the 200 largest pension funds in the United States.  Mike is an integral member of the team responsible for managing the fund’s $9.0 billion investment portfolio. As the Director of Public Markets, Mike is responsible for all public market investments, and participant directed account plans investment menus. Mike co-manages MERS internally managed strategies, which account for 25% of total portfolio assets and includes US equity and fixed income investments

Mike received a MBA, with distinction, from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business (2010) and a Bachelor of Science from Georgia Tech (2001) with certificates in Accounting and Finance.  Mike earned the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation in 2006.  

Prior to joining MERS in 2002, he worked as an analyst with Kennedy Capital Advisors, an institutional investment consulting firm in Atlanta, GA.  He lives in Lansing with his wife and three kids. 


 Edward J. Mikolay
Director of Private Markets

Ed is the Director of Private Markets for the Municipal Employees’ Retirement System of Michigan (MERS), an independent not-for-profit company and one of the 200 largest pension funds in the United States. In this role, he is responsible for new investment origination and oversight of the private investment portfolio, including private equity, real assets (infrastructure, energy, real estate, and agriculture/farmland) and diversifying strategies.  Ed is a voting member of the Portfolio Review Committee, which is responsible for all portfolio management decisions, including asset manager selection and strategic asset allocation implementation.  Ed serves on a number of private partnership advisory boards and is a frequent speaker at industry conferences.

Ed joined MERS in 2013 and has nearly 20 years of investment experience, most recently as a portfolio manager at the State of Michigan Retirement Systems (SMRS) in its Real Estate and Infrastructure Division.  At SMRS, Ed was involved in a variety of portfolio management roles, including sourcing and underwriting new investments, overseeing dispositions and representing SMRS during partnership restructurings. He was also active on the advisory boards of many of those investments.  Before his employment with SMRS, Ed was a real estate investment professional at CB Richard Ellis in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  He has also held roles in real estate acquisitions at Heitman Capital Management, a pension fund advisory firm, and Equity Residential Properties Trust (NYSE: EQR), both based in Chicago.

Ed is a graduate of Brown University (Providence, RI) with a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematical economics. He also earned a Masters of Business Administration degree from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University (Evanston, IL), with majors in Finance, Entrepreneurship, and Real Estate.


 Michael Schrauben, CFA
Senior Investment Officer & Portfolio Manager

Michael Schrauben is a Senior Investment Officer and Portfolio Manager for the Municipal Employees’ Retirement System of Michigan. Michael co-manages the Fund’s internal equity program which includes oversight of three equity index and four active equity strategies. He is responsible for conducting the Fund’s asset allocation study and providing a recommendation to the Board. Michael also oversees the Fund’s Diversifying Strategies portfolio which targets uncorrelated alternative investment strategies to reduce portfolio beta and drawdown. He is a voting member on the Portfolio Review Committee which is responsible for all portfolio management decisions including external asset manager selection and monitoring. 

Michael joined MERS in January 2008 and has over 9 years of investment experience. He brings valuable global macroeconomic insights to the group which facilitates tactical decision making and portfolio asset allocation. Michael holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Finance from the Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University. He was a member of the Financial Markets Institute, as well as, the Honors College while at Michigan State where he graduated with High Honors. Mike earned the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation in 2012. 


 Peter Wujkowski
Investment & Administrative Officer

Peter is an Investment Officer for MERS. He also serves as the Administrative Officer for the Office of Investments, overseeing the Investment Analysts and Investment Interns. He is a voting member on the Portfolio Review Committee, which is responsible for all portfolio management decisions. Peter is the liaison with MERS of Michigan's custodial bank, monitoring compliance and overseeing money flows between the custodial bank and Investment Managers. He is a member the Client Advisory Board for the custodial bank and member of the Institutional Society of Risk Professionals.

He joined MERS in May 2011 and has more than 20 years of financial experience. Peter brings valuable commercial banking and treasury management insights to the group, which facilitates decision-making. He has held positions at Michigan National (now Bank of America), KeyBank, Fifth Third Bank, and JPMorgan Chase, where he worked with large public sector and commercial clients.

Peter holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Advertising from the College of Communications at Michigan State University and a MBA in Finance with International Management Studies component from Saginaw Valley State University. He is currently studying for Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) designation. Peter is an active member of the Michigan State University Alumni Association and board member of the MSU Alumni Club of Mid-Michigan.


 Julian Ramirez
Investment Analyst

Julian Ramirez is an Investment Analyst for the Municipal Employees’ Retirement System of Michigan. He joined MERS in April of 2011 and was promoted to his current position after completing the internship program.

Julian assists the Portfolio Managers with both the internal fixed income and equity portfolios. He also provides support with the risk management, asset allocation, and rebalancing for the total fund. Julian participates in all external asset manager selection and monitoring, as well as research and analysis on potential investment opportunities.

He is also an active member of the Institutional Society of Risk Professionals and the National Association of State Investment Professionals. Julian holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and a Specialization in Actuarial Science from Michigan State University. Julian is currently a level III candidate for the Chartered Financial Analyst designation.


 Paul Van Gilder
Investment Analyst

Paul joined MERS in January 2012 and was promoted to his current position in June 2014 after completing the MERS Office of Investments’ internship program. Paul assists the Portfolio Managers with internally managed fixed income and alternative investment strategies. He is a member of the risk management and dynamic asset allocation group, provides support for external asset manager selection and monitoring, and analysis of potential investment opportunities. Paul additionally conducts research in global economics and a variety of asset classes.

Paul has previous experience as an intern on the foreign exchange desk at BMO Capital Markets in Chicago. Paul graduated with high honors from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Finance; he is developing expertise in risk management, fixed income, alternative investments, and economics. While at Michigan State, he was also a member of the Financial Markets Institute and the Honors College. Paul earned the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation in 2016.


 Lori Smith
Office Administrator

Lori Smith joined MERS in November 2015 as the Office of Investments Administrator. She provides support to the Chief Investment Officer and the Office of Investments. Lori is responsible for managing the office and its internal records and database content; her duties include budgeting, travel and managing support staff, providing staff support to the Investment Committee and is the office liaison to the Retirement Board and also the liaison between the Chief Investment Officer, Investment's Staff and other MERS' departments. She is a contributing member of the operation and compliance team. Lori serves on the Record Coordinator Committee and the Wellness Committee.

Lori has extensive legal and office management experience, working for Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn for 20 years and Clark Hill PLC for 9 years prior to coming to MERS. At Clark Hill she was responsible for managing a 9 member team of legal secretaries and paralegals. Skilled at office management, budgeting, contracts and database management, Lori brings cohesive team building and positive strategies skill set to the workplace. Lori brings extensive contract and Paralegal experience in addition to working with the Government and Public Affairs Group. Lori provides strategic counsel to the CIO concerning Investment Policy, talent development, and staffing changes. Lori holds an Associate Degree in Business from Lansing Community College.

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