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Board of Pensions names new Chief Investment Officer

Donald A. Walker III will succeed Judy Freyer on July 1

by Board of Pensions | Special to Presbyterian News Service

Donald Walker III

PHILADELPHIA —The Board of Directors of the Board of Pensions has named Donald A. Walker III to succeed Judith D. Freyer as Executive Vice President and Chief Investment Officer. The appointment is effective July 1.

Freyer announced her retirement in March after more than 30 years at the agency. She will remain as Chief Investment Officer Emeritus and assist in the transition through July.

“Judy’s diligent stewardship throughout more than 30 years has greatly benefited thousands of Benefits Plan members, retirees, and their families,” said the Rev. Frank Clark Spencer, President of the Board of Pensions. “For nearly half that time, Don has been at her side. The Board is deeply grateful to Judy for mentoring him through the years and is equally confident in his leadership as we move forward.”

Mr. Walker currently serves as Vice President and Deputy Chief Investment Officer at the Board of Pensions, managing the public securities and operations staff of the Investment team. Freyer was instrumental in bringing Walker to the Board of Pensions 14 years ago to serve as Director of Investments.

Walker joined the Board of Pensions in 2006 from the investment firm Janney Montgomery Scott LLC, where he was Vice President, Portfolio Strategist. Previously, he had been Vice President, Equity Portfolio Manager/Analyst at First Albany Capital.

The Board of Pensions promoted Walker to Managing Director, Investments in 2011 and named him Vice President and Deputy Chief Investment Officer in 2016.

The CIO is responsible for management of the Board of Pensions Balanced Investment Portfolio, valued at approximately $9 billion. The portfolio invests assets for the Pension Plan and Death and Disability Plan, as well as other assistance plans and programs. The 11-member Investment team, under CIO leadership, oversees investment managers for each asset class in the portfolio.

“Judy and I have worked together for more than half of my career,” Walker said. “We’re regularly bouncing ideas off each other. She’s very collaborative and encourages team input. I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor — or a better CIO model. Her dedication to our mission has been steadfast and her success as an investor is remarkable. She led the team and deftly steered the portfolio through several periods of economic crisis.”

A steady hand is critical, especially when markets exhibit volatility. At such times, Walker said, it is important for the team to manage emotions, to help everyone “take a deep breath. That’s easier when we remember the members and employers for whom we work.”

When asked about becoming CIO amid tumultuous times, Walker said that his heart goes out to those directly impacted. “What our plan members and employers need to know is that the portfolio is managed for the long term, with an eye toward protecting it from potential risks.”

Going into 2020, the Investment team anticipated a general market downturn and built up additional cash reserves. This liquidity buffer ensures that the Board of Pensions can continue meeting its obligations to members, retirees, and family members through the crisis without disruption.

Walker is an active member of the investment community, speaking regularly at industry conferences. He is a charterholder of the CFA Institute, which promotes ethics and professionalism in the investment industry, and a former member of its Disciplinary Review Committee.

He serves on the investment subcommittee of the American Friends Service Committee and as co-President of Wolf Performing Arts Center, in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Middle Eastern history, cum laude, from Amherst College and an MBA from Villanova University.

Walker resides in the suburbs of Philadelphia with his wife, Pam, and two daughters.

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