In November, PERA’s Board elected a new chair and vice chair. This is the second of a two-part series introducing these new leaders.
PERA On The Issues recently spoke with the new chair of PERA’s Board, Marcus Pennell. This month, the Board will also seat a new vice chair, David Hall.
Hall works for the Colorado State Patrol and has been on the Board since 2016. He recently spoke with PERA On The Issues and shared his thoughts on his new role. The conversation is summarized below.
Tell us about your role as Trooper.
I’ve been with Colorado State Patrol for 15 years. I’ve held several different roles. I was the legislative liaison for five years. I ran the aviation section for a couple years. Now I’m in Colorado Springs. We’re out here every day trying to save lives. We put ourselves in harm’s way. We are proud to do it. It’s certainly a calling.
Do you see or value your own personal PERA membership any differently after having been on the Board?
When I first ran for PERA Board, I knew what PERA was. My wife is a middle school counselor and also a PERA member. PERA is an important part of our planning for life after work ends. So I had a pretty good idea of what PERA was. But once I was elected, there was a steep learning curve. If you’re a member, unless you’re close to retirement you might not be in tune with all PERA does. That’s just human nature. We all lead busy lives. We have a lot of faith in the people we elect to serve on the PERA Board.
How has your time on the Board prepared you for this role?
This will be my fifth year on the Board. I’ve served as chair of the Audit Committee for two years, a position that gave me a whole new perspective. That’s an important committee. It puts out the CAFR every year and ensures that the checks and balances in the systems are working like they’re supposed to. I also chaired the ad-hoc committee to find a new executive director after [former executive director] Greg Smith passed away in 2017.
I’ve always viewed my role as chair to make sure that we run on time and to ensure that we’re efficient while allowing all stakeholders the opportunity to provide input into the topic of the day.
For me, serving as vice chair is a natural next step as a responsible member of the PERA Board.
How do the roles of chair and vice chair work together?
In my mind, I can’t say enough good things about Marcus, our new chair. He’s a wonderful human being. Very dedicated, very knowledgeable. I can think of no one better to serve as PERA Board Chair, and I’m honored to be in a situation to help him.
This will be a collaborative effort. My job is to be a sounding board. He will have to make a lot of decisions, and it’s a large Board to organize and communicate with.
What can you say to PERA members, retirees, and stakeholders who wonder about the kind of work that the Board does?
One of the things I loathe in life is faceless government bureaucracy. In my day job, people sometimes just see me as a uniform. But we are all human beings.
This is true of the Board, too. We have a large board, and it can seem intimidating or faceless – some big bureaucracy just chugging forward. But we are all human beings, too. We all care about our own retirement security (our retirements are on the line with every decision we make), but more importantly we passionately care about the retirements of all PERA members.
This isn’t our full-time job. We don’t get paid. This is voluntary, and it takes a significant amount of time. I can’t say enough about my fellow board members, the perspective they bring from the members they most closely associate with, and the work and the study that goes into this. All of this makes the process so much better. It allows us to consider thoughtfully all perspectives.
It’s important that our membership and the public (it’s not just the membership – taxpayers are stakeholders as well!) know this. As a board we have worked hard to be transparent, and we have opportunities for the public to interact with us. We need to hear that feedback.