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 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.
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, 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.
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.
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).
Renee Metzler, Citizen Appointee
Ms. Metzler serves as a Citizen Trustee for the Charlotte Firefighters’ Retirement System and currently a member of the Benefits Committee since October 2020. She has over 30 years of experience in benefits and human resources with the past 19 years at Piedmont Natural Gas/Duke Energy. In her current role as Managing Director of Total Rewards she has responsibility for the design and administration of Duke Energy’s retirement, health & insurance and compensation plans and programs.
In her career, Ms. Metzler has designed, implemented and managed a broad spectrum of employee benefits and compensation plans, including defined benefit pension plans. Ms. Metzler holds a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Mary Washington. She was also a founding Board member of the North Carolina Business Group on Health (NCBGH).
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.
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 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.
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 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 Chief Gordon, who is an elected Retiree Member of the Board since October 1, 2022, serves on the Investment Committee. Mr. Gordon also served on the Board from 2005 to 2018 supporting both the Investment Committee and the Benefits Committee. He also been 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, the North Carolina Fire and Rescue Commission, and the North Carolina Fire and Rescue Commission’s Certification Board. 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.