Board of Trustees
Vanessa Heffron, Chair of the Board, Citizen Appointee
Mrs. Vanessa Heffron, who serves as a Citizen Trustee and as Chair of the Board, has served on the Investment Committee from October 2013 to June 2016 and was Chair of the Funding Committee. She brings 20 years of leadership and finance expertise to the System. As Director of Treasury and Investor Relations with Diversey, she has oversight of the Company’s global pension investments and sits on Diversey’s Benefits committee with responsibility for the U.S. investment guidelines. Prior to joining Diversey, Mrs. Heffron worked for over 14 years with United Technologies (Goodrich Aerospace Segment) and did extensive work on pension investment management and the design of the retirement plan guidelines and policy reviews.
She sports a consistent record of success in identifying opportunities to streamline financial operations along with increasing visibility and transparency of financial factors to key stakeholders including pension boards, and rating agencies. Previously she worked with Sealed Air and American Express Financial. Mrs. Heffron received her MBA from Wake Forest University and Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance and Economics from Miami University-Oxford.
John Carr, Vice Chair of the Board, Citizen Appointee
Mr. John Carr joined the Board as a Citizen Trustee in July 2014 and serves as Vice Chair of the Board and Chair of the Investment Committee. He brings over 25 years of leadership and business experience to the Charlotte Firefighters’ Retirement System. Mr. Carr is a General Partner at WEDGE Capital Management and is responsible for portfolio management and client service. Prior to moving to Charlotte in 2011, he was a Senior Vice President and Head of the Atlanta office at Callan Associates. As an investment consultant, he developed strategic investment solutions for institutional investors including pension funds, defined contribution plans, and not-for-profit institutions. He was responsible for developing investment policy statements as well as conducting asset allocation studies and investment manager searches. Previously, Mr. Carr held portfolio manager positions with Invesco and RidgeWorth. Among an array of duties he also managed U.S. large-cap growth and intermediate fixed income portfolios and lifecycle mutual funds. Mr. Carr began his investment career at Towers Watson, working in both the Atlanta and Hong Kong offices. Mr. Carr received his BBA with a concentration in Finance from Emory University, and is a member of the CFA Institute.
Ryan S. Pope, Elected Member
Captain Ryan S. Pope, who is an elected Member of the Board since December 2018 currently serves on the Benefits Committee. He began his career with the Charlotte Fire Department in 2003 and is currently assigned to Engine 23 on “C” shift. Captain Pope was promoted to the rank of Captain in 2015. He is the founder and President of The EarthScape Company, Inc. specializing in commercial landscape and irrigation services in the Charlotte metro area. Since starting his company in 2002, he has become well versed in customer service and business acumen. Captain Pope received his associates degree in fire science in 2008 from Central Piedmont Community College.
Teresa T. Smith – Deputy Director II, Ex-Officio
As Deputy Chief Financial Officer for the City of Charlotte, she’s been serving in this role since May 2016; she supervises the Financial Reporting, Financial Services, Treasury, Revenue, Business Systems and Risk Management divisions of the Finance Department. Prior to this position, Ms. Smith served as Chief Accountant/Financial Reporting Manager for over ten years. She also served over twelve years in various Accountant positions in the Financial Reporting Division where she assisted with completion of the City’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.
Smith holds a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She is a Certified Public Accountant and a North Carolina Certified Local Government Finance Officer.
She is a member of the Government Finance Officers’ Association, currently serving as a member of the Committee on Accounting, Auditing, and Financial Reporting and previously served as a Special Review Committee report reviewer. She is also a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the North Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants, and the North Carolina Government Finance Officers’ Association and has completed Municipal Administration coursework from the School of Government at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Melinda K. Manning, Citizen Appointee
Mrs. Melinda K. Manning who serves as a Citizen Trustee, currently is a member of the Benefits Committee since June 2017. Mrs. Manning has had a long career as a pension actuary, beginning with Towers Perrin in Los Angeles, transferring with that firm to Charlotte, then moving to AON as a Vice President in retirement consulting. During her career as an actuary, she was responsible for numerous pension and retiree medical plans, certifying to the accuracy, quality and delivery of valuation results, plan design options, funding strategies and executive benefits. Mrs. Manning enhanced her retirement and benefits background by moving to Carolinas Healthcare System as Director of Population Health Analytics within their Dickson Advanced Analytics department. While an actuary, Mrs. Manning was active as an Associate of the Society of Actuaries and also an Enrolled Actuary under ERISA. She received her bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).
Citizen Trustee – Currently Vacant
Kelly Flannery – Ex-Officio
Ms. Kelly Flannery serves as an ex-officio Board Member for the Charlotte Firefighters’ Retirement System and a member of the Investment Committee since July 2019. As the Chief Financial Officer for the City of Charlotte, she oversees the City’s general ledger, billing and collection of utility payments, accounts payable and receivable, bond issuance, risk management, financial reporting and managing the City’s investment portfolio. Prior to this position, Ms. Flannery spent eleven years with the City of Chicago, the last three as Deputy Chief Financial Officer. In addition, she held positions as Assistant Budget Director and Senior Fiscal Policy Analyst. Prior to her roles in Chicago, Ms. Flannery was a senior municipal bond analyst at a global financial information services company in Fort Mill, South Carolina. Ms. Flannery is a graduate of Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and received a Master of Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Sheila Simpson, Human Resources Director, Ex-Officio
Mrs. Sheila Simpson serves as an ex-officio Board Member for the Charlotte Firefighters’ Retirement System since December 2017. She currently is a member of the Benefits Committee. As a collaborative, solution-oriented leader, Shelia leads the City of Charlotte of being the Director of Human Resources. In this capacity, she is responsible for establishing human resources strategies to cultivate a winning city environment. She oversees Talent Acquisition Management, Benefits, Payroll, Compensation, and Organizational Development and Learning. Her primary focus has become developing strategies that support a unified approach across all city departments. Sheila graduated from Michigan State University and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Materials Logistics Management. She has over 25 years of experience in Human Resources and Operations management in both public and private sectors. Sheila is a SHRM, Senior Certified Professional.
Marvin O. Wilson, Jr., Elected Retiree
Mr. Wilson serves on the CFRS Board as an elected Retired Member effective October 2016 and is currently serving on the Investment Committee. He joined the Charlotte Fire Department on January 2, 1969 and rose through the ranks to Captain. Mr. Wilson was first elected to the Board as an Active Member in 1986 and served until 1989 in various positions including Vice Chairman and the first Benefits Committee Chairman. He holds an Associate’s Degree in Fire Protection Technology from Central Piedmont Community College. Mr. Wilson retired from the Charlotte Fire Department in June of 1995 but has retained his interest in the pension arena by attending various pension seminars and conferences over the past 20 years. Mr. Wilson was a trustee on the North Carolina Fire and Rescue Commission as a representative to the Speaker of the House. He was also the president of the Charlotte Firefighters Association, IAFF Local 660 from 1983-1995 and served on the Legislative Committee of the IAFF from 1985-1995.
Lee Thompson, Elected Member
Captain Lee W. Thompson, who is an elected Member of the Board since March 2018 currently serves on the Benefits Committee. He began his career with the Charlotte Fire Department in 2005 and has held all ranks including Engineer before becoming a Captain. Captain Thompson is currently assigned as a Training Officer at the fire training academy. In his 24 years of military service, he has held multiple assignments with increased responsibilities to include being an Air Force Squadron Commander. Currently he holds the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He is also an Air Force Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer for the State of North Carolina. He directs and coordinates Defense Support to Civil Authorities for natural/man-made disasters and emergencies. Captain Thompson received his MBA from Pfeiffer University and Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Joseph E. Hager, Elected Member
Captain Joseph E. Hager, who is an elected Member of the Board since January 2019 currently serves on the Investment Committee. He began his career with the Charlotte Fire Department in 2003 and has held all ranks including Engineer before becoming a Captain in 2018. Captain Hager also owns his own business and brings with him his sense of business knowledge. Captain Hager received his Bachelor Degree in Fire Management degree from Columbia Southern University.