FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 1, 2011
MAYOR BLOOMBERG APPOINTS CAROLYN WOLPERT AS CHIEF PENSION ADMINISTRATOR
New Position Created to be Central Advisor to Mayor’s Pension Board Trustees on all Eligibility Determinations and Governance
Second Mayoral Appointment to the Recently Created Mayor’s Office of Pensions and Investments
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today appointed Carolyn Wolpert as the Administration’s Chief Pension Administrator, a new position created to be the central coordinator of the Mayor’s trustees on the five New York City retirement system boards and Deferred Compensation Plan Board. She will advise trustees on eligibility determinations for disability pensions, Board governance and decisions about the operational efficiency of the City pension funds – leading board trustees on all issues except investments. The City’s pension systems and Deferred Compensation Plan hold combined assets valued at more than $100 billion and cover more than 350,000 active employees and 275,000 retirees and beneficiaries.
“Pension obligations continue to swallow a larger and larger portion of the City’s budget, driving budget deficits and the need for reductions to services,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “We continue to take every step available to us to try to reduce pension costs that are mandated by the State. Carolyn has proven herself to be an expert, able to untangle extremely complex areas of pension law and she is going to be at the front of our efforts to ensure the benefits paid are appropriate and taxpayer dollars are safeguarded.”
“As Chief Pension Administrator, Carolyn will have the responsibility to ensure that tax dollars for pension and non-pension related expenses are used appropriately,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Stephen Goldsmith. “Her experience with the stakeholders in the pension arena, as well as her familiarity with the intricacies of the somewhat unwieldy pension universe will allow her to hit the ground running, and help to advance the administration’s position, coordinate trustees, and build consensus with the spheres of independently elected officials and public sector unions.”
“We are extremely fortunate to have someone with Carolyn’s skill and experience to be our Chief Pension Administrator,” said Department of Finance Commissioner David M. Frankel. “Next year, we will spend $8.4 billion on pension costs, up from $1.5 billion in 2001. We must do everything we can to control costs, part of which means ensuring that those who are qualified receive benefits, and those that are not qualified do not.”
“First, I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Frankel for giving me the opportunity to serve as Chief Pension Administrator,” said Ms. Wolpert. “I believe that advancing a cohesive strategy and creating safeguards to monitor the continuing eligibility of disability pensioners at all of the systems is a necessary and laudable innovation that will create efficiency and ensure applicants for disability pensions meet statutory standards both before benefits are granted and after.”
Ms. Wolpert will focus on eligibility standards for disability pensions, and develop initiatives working with other elected officials’ representatives, as well as union trustees, to bring all relevant facts to the boards’ attention before votes are held, and ensuring that applicants for disability pensions meet the statutory standards. She will also be the administration’s point person on the Retirement Systems for all non-investment issues, including managing the Boards’ administrative costs. This is the second Mayoral appointee to the Mayor’s Office of Pension and Investments, which works under the direction of the Department of Finance. She will work closely with Ranji Nagaswami, the Mayor’s Chief Investment Advisor, which is a newly-created post and the administration’s central advisor for all investment related issues.
For the past five years, Ms. Wolpert has served as Deputy Division Chief in the Law Department’s Pensions Division, acting as counsel to the Boards of Trustees of the five New York City retirement systems. During this time, Ms. Wolpert advised trustees, staff, and officials on a variety of issues, including eligibility for pensions, awarding of disability pensions, safeguards on disability retirement, and legal liabilities. She attended and provided advice at regular meetings of the Boards of Trustees, assisted with the implementation of new legislation, such as disability laws related to 9/11, and represented the funds in State and Federal litigation.
Prior to that, Ms. Wolpert was a Senior Counsel in the Law Department’s General Litigation Division, where she represented the City in Federal and State cases, including class actions and employment discrimination matters.
Ms. Wolpert has served as an adjunct lecturer at Columbia Law School and is a member of the National Association of Public Pension Attorneys. She received a Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center, where she graduated cum laude, and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Fordham University.
The Chief Pension Administrator will report to the Commissioner of Finance and consult regularly with the Office of Management and Budget, Corporation Counsel, the Deputy Mayor for Operations, and the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, regarding the potential impacts and legal liabilities of disability and pension policy matters coming before the Boards, as well as any efforts to reform the City’s pension systems.
The five primary pension funds for New York City employees are: the New York City Employees’ Retirement System; the Teachers’ Retirement System of the City of New York; the New York City Police Pension Fund; New York City Fire Department Pension Fund; and the New York City Board of Education Retirement System. The New York City Comptroller is the custodian and chief investment advisor to the Boards of the five Pension Funds.
The appointment search was led by Counselor to the Mayor Anthony W. Crowell, Finance Commissioner Frankel and Special Advisor to the Mayor Andrea Shapiro Davis.
Stu Loeser/Marc La Vorgna (212) 788-2958
Owen Stone (Finance) (212) 669-2566
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