ETF Secretary John Voelker

In January the Employee Trust Funds Board appointed John Voelker Secretary of the Department of Employee Trust Funds, effective April 5. This is Voelker’s first column as head of the agency.

As I sat down to write this newsletter column, my first as secretary of the Department of Employee Trust Funds, I reflected on the opportunity. The first thing that came to mind was the great work of the secretaries that came before me: Gary Gates, Eric Stanchfield, David Stella, and Bob Conlin. Each of them in their own way left a stamp on an organization that has become a national leader in public employee pension design.  As deputy secretary for the past six years, I appreciated and supported how Bob Conlin continually advocated for the best interests of the Wisconsin Retirement System and its members and pushed for continual improvement throughout the agency. I intend to do the same, while ensuring the WRS continues to be well funded and well managed.

Next, I took stock of the immense responsibility of this position. WRS members rely on pension payments and health care offerings from ETF for their financial and physical well-being. Knowing that one plays a major role for up to 648,000 individuals’ quality of life is a sobering thought. More than 1,500 public employers rely on ETF for sustainable and quality employee benefits so they, in turn, can maximize taxpayer dollars and recruit a talented workforce. Communities across Wisconsin rely on the economic benefits that come from the $5.6 billion dollars paid to more than 215,000 public employee retirees.

I am committed to making sure you can depend on ETF to meet these responsibilities.

Finally, I considered how fortunate I am to be serving in this position. ETF is made up of a group of talented individuals who are committed to the well-being of WRS members. The opportunity to lead an organization with such a clear purpose and that makes a difference in people’s lives is incredible. It is the epitome of public service. As I look ahead, I envision an agency that supports our members by leveraging modern technology to provide an effortless customer experience through more online and personalized services. This modernization journey will allow the agency to meet the needs of WRS members for years to come.

I am excited about the path forward for the agency. In the coming months I will be visiting with a variety of stakeholder groups to talk about the journey ahead. I hope to see you there.

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