Oregon Pension Begins Director Search

The $89 billion retirement system is on the hunt for a new leader.

One of the largest public pension funds in the US has kicked off its search for a new executive director.

The $89 billion Oregon Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) set and approved a recruitment plan during a special August 14 board meeting.

Paul Cleary, the retiring executive director, was in attendance. He is set to step down December 1 after a decade at the helm of PERS, during which the system’s assets under management nearly doubled.

Even by the standards of American public pension plans, the executive director position is not richly compensated.

Cleary earned $169,668 in the 2013 fiscal year, according to a state-operated database. This salary made the pension chief the 68th-highest paid public employee in Oregon, behind the state’s heads of police, lottery, transportation, and 18 members of the department of corrections.

The opening has yet to be posted publically, but a description obtained by the Statesman Journal described a major focus on diplomacy: The best candidate would have experience in “"interpersonal relations, negotiation and problem solving techniques... [and] experience as a skilled consensus builder working with multiple stakeholders often with competing interests."

PERS’ executive directorship adds another senior-level opening to the public pension landscape. The California Public Employees’ Retirement System—the country’s largest—has been without a permanent CIO since Joe Dear’s death in February. Farther North, Alberta’s sovereign wealth fund announced in April it was seeking a new CEO.

PERS’ board said it intends to begin interviewing candidates next month.

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