John Voelker

The Employee Trust Funds Board has announced Deputy Secretary John Voelker will become the next secretary of the Department of Employee Trust Funds, effective April 5, 2021.

In making the announcement at today’s board meeting, Wayne Koessl, board chair, said “John is uniquely qualified for this position. He offers tremendous experience and leadership skills, along with a deep knowledge of ETF programs and operations.”

Koessl went on to say, “The board is confident John will uphold the high standards required to safeguard the integrity of the Trust and develop and deliver quality services to members of the Wisconsin Retirement System.”

Voelker has served as ETF deputy secretary since 2014. Prior to that, Voelker worked for 11 years leading the Wisconsin Court System as the director of state courts. He also served as executive assistant to the chief justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

In accepting the position, Voelker said, “I am humbled by the trust placed in me by the board, honored to serve the 648,000-plus members, and excited to lead the talented and committed team at ETF. I have been in the WRS for more than 33 years and appreciate the importance sustainable benefit programs have on the economic and physical health of our members, employers, and communities across the state. I look forward to building on the many accomplishments of Secretary Conlin by continuing efforts to modernize operations and preserve the strong funding position of the WRS.” 

A native of Menasha, Wisconsin, Voelker has 33 years of public service experience. Voelker received a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. He also possesses a Certificate of Achievement in Public Plan Policy from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. 

Voelker will succeed Secretary Bob Conlin, who is stepping down in April after almost 10 years leading the organization.

Additional information about the WRS:

  • The WRS has more than 648,000 members including current state and local government employees and retirees. More than 1,500 units of government across Wisconsin participate in the WRS.
  • The WRS has more than $126 billion in assets, as of November 30, 2020. Assets are under management of the State of Wisconsin Investment Board.
  • ETF administers WRS pension, insurance, and other public employee benefits. In 2019, ETF paid out more than $5.6 billion in pension payments to retired members. Approximately 80% of those benefits were derived from investment returns.
  • The WRS is the 9th largest public pension fund in the U.S. and the 25th largest in the world.
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