KRS Board appoints interim executive director before search to replace Thielen

The Kentucky Retirement System (KRS) Board of Trustees voted to put Bevin appointee David Eager in the position of interim executive director of the pension system Wednesday ahead of the Sept. 1 retirement of current system head Bill Thielen.

At the meeting Wednesday, the KRS Board went into closed session to discuss who would serve in the system’s top spot before informing attendees of Eager’s appointment to the role.


KRS Interim Executive Director David Eager

Eager, a partner in Eager, Davis & Holmes, LLC, of Louisville who assists organizations interested in making equity investments and acquisitions in the investment management industry, was appointed to the board by Bevin in April.

It was explained that Eager has stepped down from the board effective immediately in order to take the role in the interim. Eager stepping off the board to serve as interim executive director leaves a vacancy on the board.

Thielen, who announced his second go at retirement to the board at a meeting in May, also explained that the board approved a request for proposal (RFP) in June to find a search firm to look for a new executive director and that five firms are currently being considered. A firm should be chosen at the board’s Sept. 8 meeting, Thielen said.

Wednesday was the first meeting of the KRS Board since a judge ruled on executive orders issued by Bevin earlier in the week. Judge Phil Shepherd ruled Monday evening that Bevin could reorganize the KRS Board and add members but could not remove board chair Tommy Elliott from his position.

krs board swearing in

KRS Board members being sworn in

Most new members appointed by Bevin to the KRS Board were sworn in at Wednesday’s meeting, while one of the appointees was traveling out of state.

farris and thielen

KRS Executive Director Bill Thielen and Board Chair John Farris

Elliott, who remains on the board after much controversy, was not in attendance Wednesday and Bevin appointee John Farris presided over the meeting.

The specially called meeting of the board also saw discussion of investment performance and other issues.

David Peden, the chief financial officer for KRS, said Wednesday that the investment performance of the system needs to be discussed differently moving forward as the different plans within the system are now experiencing varying returns as they require different investment plans.

After the discussion about investments, where KRS has seen lower returns than the state’s other systems, Thielen stated that he does not like to see people blame the KRS staff or investment strategies as he feels the issue lies in insufficient funding from the state over the years.

Thielen said if the system had received the full actuarially required contribution (ARC) over the years, the plan in most dire straits, Kentucky Employees Retirement System (KERS), would have $7 billion and sit at 60 percent funded rather than having only $2 billion.

KRS staff also discussed the changes to come as the executive order from Bevin dealing with the board also puts the system under the state’s 18A personnel system effective Sept. 16. Thielen and other staff members discussed the new process the system will have to go through to hire employees, including having salaries approved. 

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Jacqueline Pitts
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