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 over 20 years of leadership and finance expertise to the System.  As Director of Global Retirement Investments with Trane Technologies, she has oversight of the Company’s more than $8 billion in global pension investments and serves as a trained U.K. Trustee.  Prior to joining Trane, Mrs. Heffron was Director of Treasury and Investor Relations with Diversey, where she had oversight of the Company’s global pension investments and sat on Diversey’s Benefits committee.  Previously, Mrs. Heffron worked for Sealed Air and spent over 14 years with United Technologies Aerospace (renamed Raytheon Technologies) where she did extensive work on pension investment management, retirement plan design, and policy reviews. She has 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.  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 30 years of leadership and business experience to the Charlotte Firefighters’ Retirement System.  Prior to moving to Charlotte in 2011 to become a General Partner in an institutional investment boutique, 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 Virtus Investment Partners.  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 career at Willis 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.

Matthew Hastedt, Treasurer of the Board, Ex-Officio

As City Treasurer, Mr. Hastedt serves as an ex-officio Board Member for the Charlotte Firefighters’ Retirement System and serves on the Investment Committee since March 2022. Mr. Hastedt supervises the cash and investment team, all debt management, and capital financings for the City.  Prior to this position, he served as Debt Manager for two years working with all departments across the City to secure their short and long-term capital financing needs. He also served over six years in various Finance positions including Assistant Debt Manager and Economic Analyst where he assisted in the forecasting of many of the City’s major revenues. Mr. Hastedt holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Roanoke College, and a Master’s in Public Administration from James Madison University.

Ryan S. Pope,  Secretary of the Board, Elected Member 

Captain Ryan S. Pope is an elected Member of the Board since December 2018 and 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 received his associates degree in fire science in 2008 from Central Piedmont Community College and promoted to the rank of Captain in 2015.

Captain Pope is the founder and president of two businesses, The Earthscape Company, Inc. specializing in commercial landscape and irrigation services in the Charlotte Metro Area. Legends MX, serves as a full service training facility for aspiring amateur champions, as well as professional motocross and supercross riders. Since starting his first company in 2002, he has become well versed in customer service and business acumen.

Joseph E. Hager, Elected Member

Captain Joseph E. Hager is an elected Member of the Board since January 2019 and 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. He also owns his own business and brings with him his sense of business knowledge. Captain Hager received his bachelor’s degree in Fire Management degree from Columbia Southern University.

Melinda K. Manning, Citizen Appointee

Melinda Manning serves as a Citizen Trustee and has been a member of the Benefits Committee since June 2017. Ms. Manning has had a long career as a pension actuary which began with Towers Perrin in Los Angeles before 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. She then enhanced her retirement and benefits background by moving to Atrium Health, first as a Director of Population Health Analytics within their Dickson Advanced Analytics department and then to the Department of Family Medicine, as their Research Manager. While an actuary, Ms. Manning was active as an Associate of the Society of Actuaries and an Enrolled Actuary under ERISA. She received her bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).

Kim Heffernan, Citizen Appointee

Ms. Kim Heffernan recently retired from a successful career in human resource management, spanning almost 30 years with a focus in the employee benefits and compensation areas. Ms. Heffernan had experience across multiple industries including technology at Passport Labs and Flexential, public utility at Piedmont Natural Gas and higher education at Central Piedmont Community College and Queens University of Charlotte. In these previous roles, Ms. Heffernan was responsible for designing and administering employee benefits and compensation plans and programs.

Ms. Heffernan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. She was certified as a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) by the HR Certification Institute, Certified Compensation Professional (CCP) by WorldatWork and Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS) by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. Ms. Heffernan has previously served on the Board of the Charlotte Area Compensation Council (a local affiliation of WorldatWork) and the Charlotte chapter of the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Sheila Simpson, Human Resources Director, Ex-Officio

Mrs. Sheila Simpson serves as an ex-officio Board Member and has been a member of the Benefits Committee since December 2017. 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, Organizational Development and Learning, and Workforce Development, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging. Her primary focus is developing strategies that support a unified approach across all city departments. Sheila is an alum of 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.

Teresa T. Smith – Chief Financial Officer, Ex-Officio

As Chief Financial Officer for the City of Charlotte, she’s been serving in this role since July 2021; she supervises the Financial Reporting, Financial Services, Treasury, Revenue, Internal Control and Risk Management divisions of the Finance Department. Prior to this position, Ms. Smith served as Deputy Chief Financial Officer for five years and 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 Annual Comprehensive 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 Economic Development and Capital Planning (CEDCP). She served a prior term on the Accounting, Auditing, and Financial Reporting Committee (AAFR). She has also served as a Special Reviewer for ACFR and PAFR reports for the organization. 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.

Lee Thompson, Elected Member

Captain Lee W. Thompson, who is an elected Member of the Board since March 2018, currently serves on the Investment 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 the Training Officer for the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Airport Firefighting Division. In his 26 years of military service, he has held multiple assignments with increased responsibilities to include being an Air Force Logistics Squadron Commander. As a Lieutenant Colonel, assigned to 1st Air Force, Tyndall Air Force Base, FL, he currently serves as an Air Force Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer to the State of North Carolina. He directs and coordinates Defense Support to Civil Authorities for natural/man-made disasters and emergencies. He has directed rescue response with FEMA for the last four significant hurricanes to impact North Carolina. Captain Thompson received his MBA from Pfeiffer University and Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He is also a graduate of the US Air Force Air War College correspondence program.

Kevin Gordon, Elected Retiree

Retired Deputy Chief Gordon, who is an elected Retiree Member of the Board since October 1, 2022, serves on the Benefits Committee.  Mr. Gordon also served on the Board from 2005 to 2018 supporting both the Investment Committee and the Benefits Committee. He has also been a part of the North Carolina Fire Service since May 25, 1984 where he served as a member of the Waco Community Volunteer Fire Department in Cleveland County. He began his career with the Charlotte Fire Department in 1991 and served in several special assignments, including Training Officer and Haz-Mat Captain. Chief Gordon has been promoted to several ranks within the department over his career and retired as Deputy Chief of Administration in 2018.  He is also a member of Cleveland County Rural Fire Commission, the Local Governmental Employees’ Retirement System Board of Trustees, and Cleveland County Board of County Commissioners.

Chief Gordon holds an Associate’s Degree in Fire Protection Technology from Central Piedmont Community College, a Bachelor’s Degree in Fire Science from the University of Maryland, a Master’s Degree in Fire Protection and Administration from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and graduated from the National Fire Academy’s prestigious Executive Fire Officer Program.