Plan Sponsor Symposium

with launch partner

Teacher Retirement System of Texas

Friday, April 30th
Noon – 4:30 pm (EDT)

A virtual online event with live-stream sessions and networking

The fee to attend the half-day event is $50

Attendance at the Toigo Groundbreakers Plan Sponsor Symposium is intended for women working within plan sponsor organizations, including public and corporate pension plans, foundations and endowments. Toigo reserves the right to verify participant eligibility.

Plan Sponsor Symposium Overview

Women working within plan sponsor organizations, including public and corporate pension plans, foundations and endowments, are invited to join Toigo, TRS and a line-up of industry and leadership experts for focused conversations, insights and know-how. The session topics and exchanges are tuned specifically to the unique issues women within this space face as they navigate decisions, develop their skills and motivate their teams.

All participants are invited to create a Groundbreakers profile and make it accessible to others participating in the half-day leadership symposium as a way to build your network. Small group discussions will be part of the agenda.

If you are not able to attend on the “day of” live-streaming event, all content and networking links will be available to registered participants through the end of 2021—so register and capitalize on the benefits well beyond April 30th.

2021 Program

All session times are listed Eastern Daylight Time. Panelists subject to change.

Friday April 30th

Noon – 4:35 PM EASTERN

Noon – 12:05


A look at what to expect—and how to make the most of the day.

Nancy Sims
President & CEO, Toigo Foundation
Sylvia Bell
Chief Operating Officer | Investment Management Division, Teacher Retirement System of Texas
Toigo Board Member

12:05 – 12:55 pm

Leadership Pathways: The Commitment to Advancing Women Leaders

CIOs from the nation’s largest plan sponsors will share their insights into why—and how—their organizations are committed to advancing women as part of their work. The exchange will provide Groundbreakers participants with a lens into what’s working and what’s ahead—including ideas of how to leverage others’ experiences within their own organizations. It’s a rare opportunity to hear from a mix of LPs on key efforts, milestones and the metrics they use to measure success.

Shelby Wanstrath
Co-Head of Private Equity Funds, Teacher Retirement System of Texas

Christopher Ailman
Chief Investment Officer, California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS)

Jase Auby
Chief Investment Officer, Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS)

Allyson Tucker
CIO, Washington State Investment Board

Ash Williams
Executive Director and Chief Investment Officer, State Board of Administration of Florida

1:00 – 2:00 pm

Lead with Intent

Listen in as women leaders share insights about their career trajectories and choices they’ve made (and ones they may wish they had). You’ll learn about their style and how they motivate and mentor within their workplace environment. With Amplify Lab founder Joanna Bloor as our moderator, the exchange will be lively, honest and productive—including an opportunity to have questions asked and answered.

Joanna Bloor
Founder, The Amplify Lab

Cheryl Alston
Executive Director & CIO, Dallas Employees Retirement Fund (ERF)

Elizabeth Burton
CIO, Employees’ Retirement System State of Hawaii

Carolyn Hansard
Senior Director, Energy, Natural Resources and Infrastructure Portfolio, Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS)

Alison Romano
Deputy Chief Investment Officer, State Board of Administration of Florida

  • What to expect
  • • Exposure to different leadership styles
  • • Practical advice for leading teams and stoking engagement - even when upward mobility may be limited
  • • Learn to identify and nurture strengths in others; learn to help others identify blind spots/challenges and provide strategies to overcome them

2:00 – 2:20 pm

Networking Break

Join a Groundbreakers conversation—or take a quick break.

2:25 – 3:25 pm

Stakeholder Management: Balancing Priorities

While every professional has the challenge of juggling different stakeholders as part of their work, the dynamic can be exponentially more challenging for those within the public pension and foundation/endowment arena. Together, we’ll explore techniques for understanding audience/influencer drivers—including both near-term and long-term influencers. From governing boards and members to the public and the press, the confluence of voices and needs can sometimes feel like a strong headwind. As part of the exchange, we’ll break into small working conversations to hear from each other about challenges and successes in navigating and communicating with competing stakeholders.

Merita Zoga
Director of Governmental Relations, Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS)

Raudline Etienne
Founder & Managing Partner, Daraja Capital; Toigo Alumna

Jan Goodwin
Executive Director, New Hampshire Retirement System (NHRS)

Amy C. McGarrity
Chief Investment Officer, Colorado PERA

Heather Traegera
General Counsel, Teacher Retirement System of Texas

  • What to expect
  • • Techniques for focusing on your stakeholders’ key drivers—what matters most, and seeing their perspective
  • • Insights into how to manage competing forces, how to build consensus and support
  • • Ideas for tailoring the way you communicate/interact based on different leading/learning styles

3:30 – 4:30 pm

Future You: Building Your Brand and Your Personal Board of Directors

Focusing in on your core strengths and leveraging for a point of difference/distinction isn’t always as clear cut as we hope. Too often, we reflect on the value we brought to the team; this “rear view” or past tense perspective leaves our future value for others to determine and dictate. Instead, the goal is to shape and articulate that message for ourselves.

In our closing Groundbreakers session, we’ll explore proven ways to fine-tune the way we identify and communicate our strengths and future value and, importantly, how to build a support network (a personal board of directors) for continued growth. As part of the session, moderator Joanna Bloor will invite one Groundbreaker to join her on our (virtual) stage for a “Future You” transformation; the exercise will reinforce how to transform the way you think and talk about yourself. We’ll also breakout into small networking groups to share our thinking and start practicing what we’ve learned.

Joanna Bloor
Founder, The Amplify Lab

Invited to virtual stage for a “Building Your Brand” one-on-one
Ashley Baum
Director, Special Opportunities and IMD Management Committee Member, Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS)

  • What to expect
  • • Techniques for identifying your compelling point of difference/your unique value proposition
  • • Expand your thinking for showcasing that difference, elevating your brand
  • • Tips for recruiting and managing a personal board of directors to deepen your know-how—and difference

4:30 – 4:35pm

It’s a Wrap

We’ll touch on ways to share today’s Groundbreakers content with your peers—and how to stay in touch with peers you’ve met during today’s exchanges .

Sylvia Bell
Chief Operating Officer | Investment Management Division, Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS)
Toigo Board Member

About the Plan Sponsor Symposium

The Toigo Foundation

Toigo’s mission is to transform the performance of forward-thinking organizations through education and strategies that drive greater inclusion and the ongoing development and promotion of exceptional diverse leaders. For 30+ years, we have worked at the intersection of finance, inclusion and diversity. Our focus is on both the institution and the individual—on building stronger, more diverse organizations through the inclusion and advancement of under-represented talent.

Toigo’s Groundbreakers platform was launched 10 years ago as a dedicated effort to advance women leaders.

Teacher Retirement System of Texas

Teacher Retirement System of Texas (Texas Teachers) is driven to make a positive difference in the lives of more than 1.6 million public educators across the state of Texas. With $170 Billion AUM, Texas Teachers is the 6th largest retirement fund in the United States.

Texas Teachers’s IMD Women’s Network was founded in 2020 with the mission to increase awareness and promote the engagement, inclusion, and advancement of the women of Texas Teachers’ Investment Management Division. The network serves its members and male allies with professional development and networking opportunities, and by supporting the advancement of diversity, equity, and inclusion at Texas Teachers.