Module Two Speaker Bios

Assessing the Health of Your Retirement System

Eric J. Atwater, FSA, EA
Partner, National Public Sector Actuarial Practice Leader

In his role as the Co-Practice Leader for our National Public Sector Actuarial Practice, Eric is responsible for implementation and adherence to quality assurance procedures as well as any other items that may impact public sector pension and OPEB plans. He also serves as lead consulting actuary and relationship manager to public entities. He specializes in the management of assets and liabilities for public pension and Other Post Employment Benefit (OPEB) plans. He has over eighteen years of consulting experience in pension and employee benefits in both the public and private sector. Prior to joining Aon, Eric spent nine years as Consulting Actuary focused exclusively on public and quasi-public entities’ retirement and post-retirement benefit programs.

Eric is generally recognized as an expert in pension reform and consulting to public plans with distressed funding situations. He has lead benefit (Health, Pension and/or OPEB) reform for public entities including: City of Memphis (TN), City of New Orleans (LA), DeKalb County (GA) and Town of Hamden (CT). He is also a regular speaker at industry conferences and has been quoted in pension-related articles in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and several local newspapers.

Eric graduated with honors from Georgia State University, where he received a BBA with a concentration in Actuarial Science. He is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries, a Fellow of the Conference of Consulting Actuaries, a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries, and an Enrolled Actuary. He serves on the Board of Directors for the International Association of Black Actuaries and is also in the process of completing the requirements for the CFA.

Why Aren’t Pension Plans 100% Funded

John Spagnola, Managing Director
PFM Asset Management LLC

John’s responsibilities include serving on the Multi-Asset Class Investment Committee and providing investment advisory services to public, hospital, endowment and Taft-Hartley fund clients. He oversees the multi-asset class and discretionary investment consulting practice that serves clients with long-term needs.

In 1984, John began his career in the financial services industry working for the First Boston Corporation in New York and Philadelphia. In 1992, he co-founded Spagnola-Cosack, Inc., an independent investment consulting firm. Over a 10-year period, assets under advisement grew to more than $3.5 billion. In 2003, PFM acquired Spagnola-Cosack, Inc.

A graduate of Yale University, John played professional football for 11 seasons, including nine with the Philadelphia Eagles and one year each with the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks. He also served as a player representative and executive vice president of the NFL Players Association.

He has taught courses on managing public funds for the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Magee Rehabilitation and St. Rose of Lima Parish, both in Philadelphia, the William Buckley Foundation at Yale University, the Board of Directors of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and on the Investment Committee of the Jefferson Health System in Philadelphia. In 2012, John was inducted into the Eagle Scout Hall of Fame by the Cradle of Liberty Council of Philadelphia.

Ron Ryan, CEO
Ryan ALM

Ron Ryan is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Ryan ALM. Prior to creating Ryan ALM, Mr. Ryan founded Ryan Labs, Inc. in 1988 which became one of the largest Enhanced Bond Index Fund managers in America. In 1982, he founded the Ryan Financial Strategy Group (RFSG) which was a fixed income quantitative firm focused on helping bond managers outperform bond Indexes. At RFSG, he and his team created many unique financial models and index innovations. Mr. Ryan is the former Director of fixed income research at Lehman Bros. Kuhn Loeb from 1977–1982 where he designed most of the popular Lehman bond indexes. Prior to Lehman, he was the head of fixed income for the First in Dallas from 1973-1977, the largest bank holding company in Texas. From 1966-1973 he was a security analyst at Pan-American Life Insurance company, the largest institutional investor in Louisiana.

Mr. Ryan has many index and financial model innovations in his career. He was awarded the William F. Sharpe Indexing Lifetime Achievement Award, the MML lifetime Achievement Award, the Bernstein Fabozzi/Jacobs Levy Award and the Capital Link Most Innovative ETF Award. He authored the book “The U.S. Pension Crisis” which won the IP best financial book award in 2014.Mr. Ryan has a CFA degree, and a MBA and BBA from Loyola University.

Bradley R. Heinrichs, FSA, EA, MAAA
President & CEO, Foster & Foster Consulting Actuaries, Inc.

Mr. Brad Heinrichs has been the President/CEO of Foster & Foster since 2005. He has grown the Company from 5 consultants to nearly 70 during this time, and Foster & Foster is now a national brand. F&F’s mission is to provide actuarial consulting services to clients who serve the greater good in a way that makes them feel as though they are our only client. Brad is considered an industry expert and innovator in retirement plan design and is one of a few thousand actuaries worldwide who is both a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries and an Enrolled Actuary per ERISA. Mr. Heinrichs is a frequent speaker at national and state pension conferences, and a key consultant to lawmakers and unions in evaluating proposed legislation regarding pensions. Mr. Heinrichs received a B.S. in both Actuarial Science and Economics from the University of Iowa and has over 20 years of experience as a consulting actuary. He has experience consulting as a lead actuary for clients ranging in size from 50 to 250,000 participants.

What Are the Benefits of an Experience Study?

Chad Little, Partner, Consulting Actuary, ASA, MAAA, EA
Freiman Little Actuaries, LLC
Chad Little has specialized in public pension systems since 1994.  He has worked on pension plans of all sizes ranging from small local firefighter plans to the Texas Municipal Retirement System.  He is known for his creativity (with words, not numbers!) and ability to effectively communicate pension concepts to both trustees and participants.  Chad has a Bachelors of Science in Actuarial Science from Georgia State University and is an Associate of the Society of Actuaries, Member of the American Academy of Actuaries, and an  Enrolled Actuary under ERISA.
Chad has also been called upon by his industry peers and clients to write and deliver speeches on a variety of topics relating to the field.  A list of past speaking engagements is noted below. 

Peter Strong, FSA, EA, FCA, MAAA
Gabriel, Roeder, Smith & Company

Pete Strong is a Senior Consultant located in GRS’ Fort Lauderdale, Florida office. Pete has more than 20 years of actuarial and benefits consulting experience. He provides actuarial and consulting services for both public and private sector (middle market) employee retirement systems and OPEB plans. Pete’s pension plan experience includes defined benefit plans and hybrid arrangements, covering plan design features such as final average pay, career average pay, target benefit, and early retirement windows. His actuarial work covers valuations, GASB/FASB accounting disclosure, plan design studies, experience studies, and cash flow projections. He has particular expertise in modeling studies including asset/liability studies using deterministic and stochastic approaches. Pete’s regulatory and compliance knowledge includes the Pension Protection Act of 2006 and Internal Revenue Code Sections 401(a), 410, and 415. He also has many years of experience with retiree health valuations related to GASB OPEB and FAS 106. Pete’s knowledge of actuarial software is an added strength. In addition to experience with GRS’ internal actuarial software, he has many years of experience working with ProVal and other actuarial valuation systems. He also has experience converting actuarial valuations and models from one valuation system to another. His valuation conversion expertise ensures an efficient and timely transition for new clients during the initial replication process.

Funding Pension Plans in the Future

Paul Shamoun, Director of the Financial Service
Florida League of Cities

Paul Shamoun is the Director of the Financial Services for the Florida League of Cities, Inc. In this position, Paul is responsible for the oversight and operation of the League’s three financial trust funds. The Florida Municipal Investment Trust has 11 portfolios, $1.8 billion dollars in assets and over 80 members, the Florida Municipal Loan Council which has loaned out over $1.2 billion to local governments and the Florida Municipal Pension Trust Fund (FMPTF) which provides administration to over 210 defined benefit, defined contribution, deferred compensation and OPEB plans with a combined $850 Million in Assets. Additionally, Paul serves as Executive Director of the Florida Government Finance Officers Association, a 2,800 member statewide organization providing members with education, networking and informational opportunities. Paul has been with the League for 19 years and he holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics for Florida State University.

Susan Grant, CPA, Director of Finance
City of Fort Lauderdale

Currently Director of Finance with the City of Fort Lauderdale, Susan Grant has 30 years’ experience in public management, 24 of which were spent on the senior management team of the City of Coral Springs, Florida. In Coral Springs, Susan served as deputy city manager, director of financial services, director of human resources and city controller. During Susan’s time there, she helped guide the City in the successful pursuit of many prestigious awards, including the 2007 Malcolm Baldridge Award and Florida Governor’s Sterling Awards in 2003 and 1997. Coral Springs was the first organization to win the Sterling Award twice. Susan also served as an examiner for both awards, and she currently serves as a judge for the Florida Governor’s Sterling Award.

As deputy city manager, Susan oversaw the City’s financial services, budget, human resources, information technology, marketing and communications departments and the Office of the City Clerk. As director of financial services, Susan managed all divisions including accounting, water billing, accounts payable, payroll, risk management, treasury, and purchasing. Her responsibilities as human resources director included recruitment and selection, policy formation and interpretation, training and development, classification and compensation, rewards and recognition, employee relations (including labor negotiations), and pension and benefits administration (including management of self-insured health plans). Susan currently serves as an ex-officio member of both the City of Fort Lauderdale’s Police and Fire Pension Plan and the closed General Employees’ Retirement Plan.  In Coral Springs, Susan served on the City’s Police Pension Plan Board.

Before entering public service, Susan worked as a chief financial officer, senior financial analyst and senior accountant in the private sector.


Lawrence Watts, FSA, CFA, EA, MAAA
Director of Southeast Defined Benefit Operations

Lawrence leads Nyhart’s Atlanta office, serving the Southeast Region as a Consulting Actuary. He has broad public sector experience, consulting to pension plans, governmental agencies, and legislatures on both actuarial and administrative matters. He has specialized expertise in analysis of retirement legislation and policy. He prides himself on his ability to communicate technical actuarial concepts in ways that are easy to understand.

Lawrence is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries, a CFA® Charterholder, an Enrolled Actuary, and a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries. He received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Princeton University and an MBA from Smartly.