Agenda

Full conference agenda

Click on a day to view live session information and to register. The pre-recorded sessions can be viewed at anytime. Tracks show suggested sessions based on audience. Session descriptions can be found at the bottom of the page.
Note: The registration software may not work if you use the Internet Explorer browser. Please use Google Chrome, Firefox, or a different browser to register for a session. Please reach out to our Service Center if you need assistance. They can be reached at 800.767.MERS(6377).

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Live Sessions

  EMPLOYER PARTICIPANT
New Employer Finance & HR Elected Officials Early-Career Mid-Career Approaching Retirement
9 - 10 a.m. MERS Defined Benefit Overview
(Register)
Defined Benefit Plan Provisions
(Register)
MERS Defined Benefit Overview
(Register)
MERS Defined Benefit Overview
(Register)
Ready to Retire - An Overview of the MERS Defined Benefit Retirement Process
(Register)
10 - 11 a.m. MERS Defined Contribution Plan Overview
(Register)
A Comprehensive View of Retirement Plan Governance
(Register)
Understanding Your Annual Actuarial Valuation
(Register)
MERS Defined Contribution Plan Overview
(Register)
MERS Defined Contribution Plan Overview
(Register)
MERS Defined Contribution Plan Overview
(Register)
11 a.m. - 12 p.m. MERS Hybrid Plan Overview
(Register)
Influencing Retirement Outcomes through Effective Plan Design
(Register)
Influencing Retirement Outcomes through Effective Plan Design
(Register)
MERS Hybrid Plan Overview
(Register)
MERS Hybrid Plan Overview
(Register)
MERS Hybrid Plan Overview
(Register)
1 - 2 p.m. Reaching Your Employees - Participant Education and Resources
(Register)
Reaching Your Employees - Participant Education and Resources
(Register)
Health Care in Retirement
(Register)
2 - 3 p.m. Overview of MERS Health Care Savings Program and Retiree Health Funding Vehicle
(Register)
Actuarial Assumption Updates and Impacts
(Register)
Actuarial Assumption Updates and Impacts
(Register)
Social Security Overview 
(Register)
3 - 4 p.m. Debt Management Strategies
(Register)
Debt Management Strategies
(Register)
4 - 5 p.m. Sustainable Defined Benefit Plans
(Register)
Sustainable Defined Benefit Plans 
(Register)
Saving for an Emergency
(Register)
Saving for an Emergency
(Register)

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Live Sessions

  EMPLOYER PARTICIPANT
New Employer Finance & HR Elected Officials Early-Career Mid-Career Approaching Retirement
9 - 10
a.m.
Overview of MERS Health Care Savings Program and Retiree Health Funding Vehicle
(Register)
Investment Basics & Supplemental Savings Options
(Register)
Social Security Overview
(Register)
10 - 11
a.m.
MERS Defined Benefit Investments Concepts
(Register)
MERS Defined Benefit Investments Concepts
(Register)
Understanding Your Annual Actuarial Valuation
(Register)
Managing & Monitoring Investments in the Accumulation Phase 
(Register)
Managing & Monitoring Investments in the Accumulation Phase 
(Register)
11 a.m. - 12 p.m. Sustainable Defined Benefit Plans 
(Register)
Sustainable Defined Benefit Plans 
(Register)
Building a Better Budget
(Register)
Building a Better Budget
(Register)
Managing & Monitoring Investments Post-Retirement 
(Register)
1 - 2 p.m. MERS Defined Benefit Overview
(Register)
MERS Defined Benefit Overview
(Register)
MERS Defined Benefit Overview
(Register)
Ready to Retire - An Overview of the MERS Defined Benefit Retirement Process
(Register)
2 - 3 p.m. MERS Defined Contribution Plan Overview
(Register)
A Comprehensive View of Retirement Plan Governance
(Register)
MERS Defined Contribution Plan Overview
(Register)
MERS Defined Contribution Plan Overview
(Register)
MERS Defined Contribution Plan Overview
(Register)
3 - 4 p.m. MERS Hybrid Plan Overview
(Register)
Managing Your OPEB Obligations
(Register)
Managing Your OPEB Obligations
(Register)
MERS Hybrid Plan Overview
(Register)
MERS Hybrid Plan Overview
(Register)
MERS Hybrid Plan Overview
(Register)
4 - 5 p.m. Reaching Your Employees - Participant Education and Resources
(Register)
Reaching Your Employees - Participant Education and Resources
(Register)
Debt Management Strategies
(Register)
Debt Management Strategies
(Register)

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Live Sessions

  EMPLOYER PARTICIPANT
New Employer Finance & HR Elected Officials Early-Career Mid-Career Approaching Retirement
9 - 10 a.m. Defined Benefit Plan Provisions
(Register)
Health Care in Retirement
(Register)
10 - 11
a.m.
Building a Better Budget
(Register)
Building a Better Budget
(Register)
Building a Better Budget
(Register)
11 a.m. - 12 p.m. Actuarial Assumption Updates and Impacts
(Register)
Actuarial Assumption Updates and Impacts
(Register)
Saving for an Emergency
(Register)
Saving for an Emergency
(Register)
1 - 2 p.m. Managing Your OPEB Obligations
(Register)
Managing Your OPEB Obligations
(Register)
Managing & Monitoring Investments in the Accumulation Phase 
(Register)
Managing & Monitoring Investments in the Accumulation Phase
(Register)
2 - 3 p.m. Influencing Retirement Outcomes through Effective Plan Design
(Register)
Influencing Retirement Outcomes through Effective Plan Design
(Register)
Investment Basics & Supplemental Savings Options
(Register)
Managing & Monitoring Investments Post-Retirement 
(Register)
3 - 4 p.m. MERS Defined Benefit Investment Concepts
(Register)
MERS Defined Benefit Investment Concepts
(Register)

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Live Sessions

  EMPLOYER PARTICIPANT
New Employer Finance & HR Elected Officials Early-Career Mid-Career Approaching Retirement
9 - 10 a.m. MERS Defined Benefit Portfolio Management and Performance Updates
Audience: All
(Register)

10:30 - 11:30 a.m. MERS Business Meeting
Audience: All
(Register)

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Audience Session / Description Number of Times Offered
Participant MERS Defined Benefit Overview 

During this session, you'll learn more about how your defined benefit plan is an important resource to help you reach your retirement goals. We’ll cover key features of the plan and review the resources available to you when retirement is on the horizon.
Presented by: Andrew Smith, Benefit Education Specialist, MERS
As a MERS Benefit Education Specialist, Andrew works with employers throughout Mid-Michigan and the thumb area to educate plan participants about MERS’ programs. He is available for on-site group and one-on-one meetings with employees. Andrew has a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Social Studies and Economics from Michigan State University and holds his Life and Health Insurance License. Andrew joined MERS in 2016.

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Participant MERS Defined Contribution Plan Overview

Are you enrolled in the MERS Defined Contribution Plan? If so, we invite you to attend this plan overview session which will provide valuable information and insight on how your plan works. You can expect to walk away with more information on the components that make up your defined contribution plan, the importance of designating beneficiaries and keeping them updated and your investment options. We’ll also discuss the benefits of myMERS and how the resources MERS provides help you stay on track to meet your retirement goals.
Presented by: Lynn Henley, Benefit Education Specialist, MERS
As a MERS Benefit Education Specialist, Lynn works with municipalities in southeast Michigan to provide participant education about MERS’ plans and programs. She is available for on-site group and one-on-one meetings with participants. Lynn holds a Bachelor's degree in Business Management and Social Science. She joined MERS in 2019.

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Participant MERS Hybrid Plan Overview

Are you enrolled in the MERS Hybrid Plan? If so, we invite you to attend this plan overview session which will provide valuable information and insight on how your plan works. You can expect to walk away with more information on the formula used to calculate your retirement benefit, the importance of designating beneficiaries and keeping them updated and your investment options. We’ll also discuss the benefits of myMERS and how the resources MERS provides can help meet your retirement goals.
Presented by: Candice Skinner, Benefit Education Specialist, MERS
As MERS Benefit Education Specialist, Candice works with employers in mid-Michigan to provide participant education about MERS’ plans and programs. She is available for on-site group and one-on-one meetings with participants. Candice has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and holds her Michigan Life and Health Licenses as well as Series 7 and Series 66 Licenses. Candice joined MERS in 2018.

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Participant Ready to Retire - and Overview of the MERS Defined Benefit Retirement Process

Are you within five years of retirement and have questions about the MERS Defined Benefit retirement process? Join us as we review the steps you should take now to prepare for your retirement. We'll walk you through the MERS process of applying for retirement and some common questions people have as they retire.
Our staff will discuss the options you have to receive your benefit upon retirement and give you information you'll need in the last few years leading up to retirement.
Presented by: Tammy Marier, Benefit Plan Advisor/Benefit Education Specialist, MERS
As a MERS Benefit Plan Advisor and Benefit Education Specialist, Tammy works with municipalities in the Upper Peninsula who are considering adoption of MERS’ programs, as well as municipalities that are already enrolled to provide participant education. Tammy has a Bachelor of Science degree from Northern Michigan University. Additionally, she hold Life, Accident and Health Insurance licenses. Tammy has over 22 years of experience working in sales, management and customer service. She joined MERS in March 2014.

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Participant Building a Better Budget

Paying off student loans. Finishing your basement. Saving for your kids' college funds. Owning a vacation home. These are just a few examples of some short-term and long-term financial goals – what are yours? Do you have a plan in place to achieve them?
Defining your goals and fully understanding your current financial situation are the first steps you can take to achieve those goals. During this session we’ll walk you through the process to create your own financial plan, including defining your short, mid and long-term goals, assessing your current income and expenses, and examining your savings plan. Along the way, we'll help you identify barriers that may interfere with your plans and provide tips and best practices to help you overcome them. You'll walk away with tools and resources to help you create your financial plan and next steps to putting that plan into action.
Presented by: Leah Behnke, Benefit Plan Advisor, MERS
As MERS Benefit Plan Advisor, Leah works with municipalities in mid-Michigan who are considering adoption of MERS’ programs. She serves as a liaison between employers, boards, unions and consultants throughout the decision-making process and final enrollment. She has 20 years of experience helping participants with retirement planning and holds licenses in Life & Health, Series 6, 63 and Registered Investment Advisor. Leah has a Bachelor of Arts and Master’s degree in Business Administration and Finance from Northwood University. Leah joined MERS in 2017.

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Participant Health Care in Retirement 

Health care costs are one of the biggest expenses in retirement. Do you know your options? During this session, MERS staff will provide an overview of Medicare and the benefit options you’ll have in retirement. We’ll talk about the costs associated with Medicare and provide you with resources to help you get more information. We’ll also highlight the MERS retiree healthcare exchange and talk about how you can use the MERS Health Care Savings Program in tandem to assist with premium costs. If you are nearing retirement and have questions about your healthcare options post-employment, mark your calendar to attend this event.
Presented by: Tara Tyler, Benefit Plan Advisor, MERS
As MERS Benefit Plan Advisor, Tara works with municipalities in Lower Michigan who are considering adoption of MERS’ programs. She serves as a liaison between employers, boards, unions and consultants throughout the decision-making process and final enrollment. Tara has a Bachelor of Administration degree in marketing from Baker College, as well as a Life and Health Insurance License. She joined MERS in 2006.

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Participant Social Security Overview 

Understanding the components of your retirement income is important and Social Security is a big factor to consider. Join Social Security Public Affairs Specialist Vonda VanTil as she discusses hot topics such as eligibility, the process to apply and resources to help you navigate the system. If retirement is in your near future, this webinar is for you!
Presented by: Vonda VanTil, Public Affairs Specialist, Social Security Administration

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Participant Debt Management Strategies 

Ever felt trapped by your growing amount of debt? It can accumulate fast and leave you in a deep financial hole. By understanding the categories of debt such as “good” versus “bad”, you can learn how to put a repayment strategy in place. 
Presented by: Leah Behnke, Benefit Plan Advisor, MERS
As MERS Benefit Plan Advisor, Leah works with municipalities in mid-Michigan who are considering adoption of MERS’ programs. She serves as a liaison between employers, boards, unions and consultants throughout the decision-making process and final enrollment. She has 20 years of experience helping participants with retirement planning and holds licenses in Life & Health, Series 6, 63 and Registered Investment Advisor. Leah has a Bachelor of Arts and Master’s degree in Business Administration and Finance from Northwood University. Leah joined MERS in 2017.

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Participant Investment Basics & Supplemental Savings Options (IRA, 457, HCSP) 

Depending on your financial goals in retirement, it may be necessary for you and your spouse to consider supplemental retirement plan options. In this session, we'll explore your retirement savings choices to help you add security to your retirement plan. Another important component to financial security is ensuring your investments are allocated correctly to help you reach your retirement goals. We'll walk through some investment basics and provide tips to help you evaluate your current investment line-up.
Presented by: Tammy Marier, MERS Benefit Plan Advisor/Benefit Education Specialist, MERS
As a MERS Benefit Plan Advisor and Benefit Education Specialist, Tammy works with municipalities in the Upper Peninsula who are considering adoption of MERS’ programs, as well as municipalities that are already enrolled to provide participant education. Tammy has a Bachelor of Science degree from Northern Michigan University. Additionally, she hold Life, Accident and Health Insurance licenses. Tammy has over 22 years of experience working in sales, management and customer service. She joined MERS in March 2014.


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Participant Managing & Monitoring Investments in the Accumulation Phase 

When it comes to saving and investing for retirement, there are many questions to consider. How much should you save? How should those savings be invested? And what are some strategies to increase your account balance? This session will offer concepts to address those very questions such as finding an appropriate savings ratio, learning about your investment risk tolerance, and the importance of longevity. We’ll then explore savings strategies to use in the accumulation (or working) phase. Finally, we’ll show you how to locate your investment information and make investment changes online. 
Presented by: Debbie Rochester, MERS Benefit Plan Advisor/Benefit Education Specialist, MERS
As a MERS Benefit Plan Advisor and Benefit Education Specialist, Debbie works with municipalities in the upper Lower Peninsula who are considering adoption of MERS’ programs, as well as municipalities that are already enrolled to provide participant education. She holds her Life and Health License as well as Securities licenses 6, 7 63 and 66. Debbie joined MERS in 2015.


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Participant Managing & Monitoring Investments Post-Retirement 

When it comes to saving and investing for retirement, there are many questions to consider when it’s time to retire. This session will offer concepts to help you understand each of your various retirement accounts and build an appropriate retirement withdrawal strategy to make your money last throughout your retirement years.
Presented by: Candice Skinner, Benefit Education Specialist, MERS
As MERS Benefit Education Specialist, Candice works with employers in mid-Michigan to provide participant education about MERS’ plans and programs. She is available for on-site group and one-on-one meetings with participants. Candice has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and holds her Michigan Life and Health Licenses as well as Series 7 and Series 66 Licenses. Candice joined MERS in 2018.


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Participant Saving for an Emergency 

Personal finance experts tell us that ideally, we should have 3-9 months’ worth of expenses saved in an emergency fund. It's also recommended that we save for retirement, so we can replace 80% of our pre-retirement income. For most of us, there is only so much money to go around. During this webinar, we'll explore different savings options and strategies to help you plan for the unexpected, while still saving for retirement. Additionally, we’ll provide tips that you can use to help educate the next generation – your kids, grandkids or other important younger individuals in your life - on financial basics such as budgeting and saving.
Presented by: Andrew Smith, Benefit Education Specialist, MERS
As a MERS Benefit Education Specialist, Andrew works with employers throughout Mid-Michigan and the thumb area to educate plan participants about MERS’ programs. He is available for on-site group and one-on-one meetings with employees. Andrew has a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Social Studies and Economics from Michigan State University and holds his Life and Health Insurance License. Andrew joined MERS in 2016.


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Employer Actuarial Assumption Updates and Impacts

Chief Actuary David Kausch from Gabriel, Roeder, Smith & Company will join us to review the updated economic assumptions that were used in your 12/31/19 Annual Actuarial Valuation, as well as the results of the recently completed Experience Study. Additional updates to demographic assumptions will be effective with your 12/31/20 Annual Actuarial Valuation. Attendees will leave with an understanding of the impacts of these upcoming assumption changes and actions that can be taken now to prepare.
Presented by: Betsy Waldofsky, Finance Director, MERS
As MERS Finance Director, Betsy is responsible for planning, organizing, and directing MERS financial controls, budgeting, accounting operations, and financial reporting. She ensures legal and regulatory compliance for all accounting and financial reporting functions. Betsy has a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Baker College. She joined MERS in 2003.
David Kausch, Chief Actuary, Gabriel, Roeder, Smith & Company
David Kausch is GRS’ Chief Actuary. In this capacity, David provides strategic thought leadership to public sector clients as well as ensuring that service is being provided at the highest level by all GRS employees. In addition, he has provided direct actuarial and consulting services for many state and local public employee retirement systems and other entities in Illinois, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Rhode Island. David has nearly 20 years of pension consulting experience and is located in GRS’ Southfield, Michigan office.

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Employer Managing Your OPEB Obligations

As the cost of health care continues to rise, it’s important to know your options for providing retiree health coverage. Especially for those municipalities with underfunded other post-employment benefit (OPEB) plans. In this session, you’ll learn strategies for addressing OPEB obligations using the MERS Retiree Health Funding Vehicle and Health Care Savings Program. In addition, you’ll hear how using these programs in tandem with a private health care exchange can be a win-win for both municipalities and retirees. If OPEB expenses are a concern for your municipality, do not miss this session.
Presented by: Tara Tyler, Benefit Plan Advisor, MERS
As MERS Benefit Plan Advisor, Tara works with municipalities in Lower Michigan who are considering adoption of MERS’ programs. She serves as a liaison between employers, boards, unions and consultants throughout the decision-making process and final enrollment. Tara has a Bachelor of Administration degree in marketing from Baker College, as well as a Life and Health Insurance License. She joined MERS in 2006.
Christian Goodman, Principal, Mercer Marketplace 365+

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Employer MERS Defined Benefit Investments Concepts

Investment earnings from the MERS Defined Benefit Portfolio fund more than half of the benefits paid to MERS retirees. In this session, we'll discuss how MERS manages the Defined Benefit Portfolio, including who is responsible for which investment decisions. We’ll share our investment philosophy and how that affects our asset allocation and investment goals. You'll leave this session with a better understanding of MERS investments and how those investments impact your plan’s funding.
Presented by: Mike Charette, Managing Director of Investments
Mike Charette serves as the Managing Director of Investments for MERS.  In this role, he is responsible for administrative, governance and operations activities for the Office of Investments at MERS. 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.  He has been with MERS since 2002.
Marne Daggett, Regional Manager, MERS
As the Regional Manager, Marne is the primary point of contact for participating municipalities in mid-Michigan, providing consultation regarding plan administration, plan and benefit changes, participant education, needs analysis, and collective bargaining assistance. Marne has a Bachelor of Arts degree in behavioral science from Cedarville University. She holds her Health and Life Insurance License and held Securities licenses 7 & 66. Marne joined MERS in 2010.

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Employer Overview of MERS Health Care Savings Program and Retiree Health Funding Vehicle

As PA 202 has increased awareness of unfunded accrued liability for retiree health care and other post-employment benefits (OPEB), it has also created greater demand for tools to prefund those obligations. This session will introduce attendees to two programs MERS offers to help municipalities take a proactive approach to OPEB: the MERS Retiree Health Funding Vehicle and the MERS Health Care Savings Program.    
Presented by: John Waugh, Benefit Plan Advisor, MERS
As MERS Benefit Plan Advisor, John works with municipalities in southeast Michigan who are considering adoption of MERS’ programs. He serves as a liaison between employers, boards, unions and consultants throughout the decision-making process and final enrollment. John has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Michigan State University. He holds a Health and Life Insurance License. John joined MERS for 2008, left in 2014 for a brief time and returned in 2016.

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Employer Sustainable Defined Benefit Plans 

Is managing unfunded accrued liability (UAL) a priority for your municipality? In this session we will review how UAL develops and discuss plan design and funding strategies available to address it. Whether you’re considering modifying benefit provisions for new hires, bridging benefits for existing employees, changing your plan type or making additional voluntary contributions, you’ll walk away with a better understanding of your options and what may work best for your municipality’s situation.
Presented by: Michael Overley, Lead Regional Manager, MERS
As the Regional Manager, Mike is the primary point of contact for participating municipalities in southwest Michigan, providing consultation regarding plan administration, plan and benefit changes, participant education, needs analysis, and collective bargaining assistance. Mike has a Master of Business Administration degree from Western Michigan University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Michigan State University and also holds a Life and Health Insurance license. He joined MERS in 2005.


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Employer Understanding Your Annual Actuarial Valuation 

The annual actuarial valuation (AAV) is an important tool to help you budget for your municipality’s retirement benefits. This report is a snapshot of your defined benefit plan as of 12/31/2019, and it contains insight to your plan’s liabilities, funding levels, required contributions and important GASB and state reporting. In this webinar we will guide you through understanding each section of your AAV and answer your questions along the way.
Presented: Sue Feinberg, Regional Manager, MERS
As the Regional Manager, Sue is the primary point of contact for participating municipalities in southeast Michigan, providing consultation regarding plan administration, plan and benefit changes, participant education, needs analysis, and collective bargaining assistance. Sue has an associate degree in business from Lansing Community College. She joined MERS in 2004.

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Employer A Comprehensive View of Retirement Plan Governance

If you manage your MERS employee benefit plan and its assets, it’s important to know that MERS serves as the plan fiduciary. This session will cover the fiduciary best practices MERS follows, the governing laws and regulations that a fiduciary must adhere to, MERS role as plan administrator and your role as a plan sponsor.
Presented by: Kristin Beals Bellar, General Counsel, MERS
As MERS General Counsel, Kristin oversees all legal matters impacting MERS, its employers and participants, including IRS qualification and plan administration. She has a Doctor of Jurisprudence from Michigan State University College of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Michigan State University. Kristin joined MERS in 2012.
John Waugh, Benefit Plan Advisor, MERS
As MERS Benefit Plan Advisor, John works with municipalities in southeast Michigan who are considering adoption of MERS’ programs. He serves as a liaison between employers, boards, unions and consultants throughout the decision-making process and final enrollment. John has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Michigan State University. He holds a Health and Life Insurance License. John joined MERS for 2008, left in 2014 for a brief time and returned in 2016.


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Employer Reaching Your Employees - Participant Education and Resources

Are you interested in learning more about the resources and educational opportunities MERS offers? Would you like to know what other local governments are doing to improve the financial wellness of their employees?
During this webinar, MERS staff will walk you through the tools available to decision-makers within the workplace – people like you – to help employees better prepare for retirement. We'll also talk about the importance of providing benefit education and highlight some ways that MERS can assist in those efforts. You'll have a chance to ask questions while learning tips to help ensure your employees are better prepared for retirement.
Presented by: Angie Schrauben, Benefit Education Specialist, MERS
As a MERS Benefit Education Specialist, Angie works with employers on the west side of the state to provide participant education about MERS’ plans and programs. Angie has a degree in communications from Michigan State University and holds an Accident and Health Life license. She joined MERS in 2017.


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Employer Defined Benefit Plan Provisions

During this session, we’ll cover the fundamentals of your defined benefit plan. We’ll review how each participant’s retirement benefits are calculated, and how that benefit is funded over their career. We’ll also walk through the benefit provisions modifications coming soon with the implementation of the Employer Reporting project that MERS kicked off this year. You’ll learn more about employer expectations as a result of this project and important next steps you’ll be asked to take. If you have a MERS defined benefit plan, this is a session you will not want to miss.
Presented by: Terra Langham, Regional Manager, MERS
As the Regional Manager, Terra is the primary point of contact for participating municipalities in
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, providing consultation regarding plan administration, plan and benefit changes, participant education, needs analysis, and collective bargaining assistance. She is available for on-site meetings with administrators, councils, boards and committees, and is responsible for ensuring outstanding service and value through the coordination of the MERS Regional Team. Terra has a Bachelor of Science degree in secondary education from Northern Michigan University, as well as a Life and Health Insurance License. She joined MERS in 2010.


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Employer Influencing Retirement Outcomes through Effective Plan Design

In this session, we’ll discuss how the MERS Defined Contribution Plan works and how plan design strategies, such as pairing the defined contribution plan with the MERS 457 Supplemental Savings Program, can help employers incentivize higher employee contribution levels, while providing employees the freedom to adjust their rates as needed. We’ll also walk through the benefit provisions modifications coming soon with the implementation of the Employer Reporting project that MERS kicked off this year. You’ll learn more about employer expectations as a result of this project and important next steps you’ll be asked to take.
Presented by: Debbie Rochester, MERS Benefit Plan Advisor/Benefit Education Specialist, MERS
As a MERS Benefit Plan Advisor and Benefit Education Specialist, Debbie works with municipalities in the upper Lower Peninsula who are considering adoption of MERS’ programs, as well as municipalities that are already enrolled to provide participant education. She holds her Life and Health License as well as Securities licenses 6, 7 63 and 66. Debbie joined MERS in 2015.


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All MERS Defined Benefit Portfolio Management & Performance Updates

Join MERS Chief Investment Officer Jeb Burns for an overview of the MERS Defined Benefit Portfolio. He’ll discuss how MERS balances the need to generate enough investment gains to fund the future retirement of current employees, while preserving the assets required to pay existing retirees. He’ll share insight into how our carefully diversified asset allocation strategy reduces the portfolio’s exposure to market volatility and explore challenges that may lie ahead.
Presented by: Jeb Burns, Chief Investment Officer, MERS
Jeb serves as Chief Investment Officer for MERS and is responsible for directing the System’s $9 billion investment program. 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. Jeb joined MERS in 2002.


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All MERS Business Meeting

During the Business Meeting, CEO Kerrie Vanden Bosch will give a “State of MERS” update and designated delegates will vote for MERS Retirement Board members.
Presented by: Michael Brown, County Administrator, Barry County and Chairperson of the MERS Retirement Board
Michael Brown has been on the MERS Board since 2007 and currently serves as Board Chairperson. Michael is County Administrator at Barry County, a role he has held since 1995. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Michigan State University and a Master of Public Administration from Central Michigan University with an emphasis in local government administration. Michael has continued his education in pension and benefits and has earned a Certificate of Achievement in Public Plan Policy in Employee Pensions through the International Foundation for Education, Benefits and Compensation.
Kerrie Vanden Bosch, Chief Executive Officer, MERS
Kerrie Vanden Bosch joined MERS at the beginning of 2020. Prior to joining MERS, she worked for the State of Michigan Office of Retirement Services for 16 years, serving as Executive Director since 2015. Kerrie has over 10 years of experience with retirement financing issues, including a history of finding solutions to challenging financial situations for public school retirement plans and serving on the governor’s local government pension workgroup. In addition, Kerrie assisted with the Detroit bankruptcy as a retirement subject matter expert, serving for five years on the City of Detroit General Retirement System Investment Committee, including three years as vice chair and chair. Kerrie has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Calvin College and a Master of Arts in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Michigan State University. 


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Education Credits

MERS will offer continuing education credits through the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI) and continuing professional education for certified public accountants. Watch for more information coming soon.