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State's largest pension programs get new leader

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Indiana's two largest public pension programs—those for state employees and teachers—have a new leader.

Steve Russo was chosen Monday as executive director of both the Indiana Public Employees' Retirement Fund and the Indiana State Teachers' Retirement Fund.

He was selected during a joint meeting of the boards of trustees of both programs, which have combined assets of more than $22 billion and a membership of more than 380,000 people.

With $14.2 billion in assets as of Nov. 30, the Indiana Public Employees Retirement Fund is Indiana’s biggest pension fund, responsible for paying benefits to 220,000 police, firefighters and government employees. The Indiana Teachers Retirement Fund, with $8.1 billion in assets, handles benefits for 160,000 Hoosier educators.

Russo is the former executive director of the Indiana State Teachers' Retirement Fund. State lawmakers voted this year to require the boards to appoint a single director for both funds.

Although consolidation of Indiana’s largest pension funds has been one of Gov. Mitch Daniels’ top legislative priorities, efforts to merge the entities have failed two legislative sessions in a row.

He said in a statement that the two funds "will remain two distinct entities" and he expects no major policy changes. Russo said he will continue to look for opportunities to increase the efficiency and investment returns of both funds.

Before joining TRF, Russo spent 19 years at technology company Thomson.

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