David Wescoe became TMRS’ Executive Director in July 2020. Prior to moving to Austin, he held senior positions with private and public sector organizations and has an extensive background in law, finance and investment management. His public pension career began in 2006 when he became the CEO of the San Diego City Employees’ Retirement Association. He also has served as the chief executive of the Motion Picture Industry Pension and Health Plans in Studio City, California and, most recently, as CEO of the San Diego County Employees Retirement System.
David is a frequent speaker on financial and pension topics and has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, and Governing magazine. Among his many civic and charitable activities, David has served as the Board Chair of the University of Kansas Alumni Association and as a Trustee of Trinity School in New York City.
A native Kansan, David holds a BA from the University of Kansas and a JD from Columbia Law School.
Eric W. Davis
Chief Service Officer
Eric Davis began his career at TMRS in 1987, has worked in all aspects of TMRS operations, including serving as the System’s Membership Development Officer and Director of Administration, Deputy Executive Director, and also as the System’s Interim Executive Director. He is a member of numerous professional associations, both nationally and in Texas, including six years of service on the Government Finance Officers Association’s Standing Committee on Retirement and Benefits Administration. As Chief Service Officer, he directs the Member Services, City Services and Actuarial Services departments.
Eric graduated cum laude from Texas Tech University in 1983 with a BA and earned a Master of Public Administration from Texas Tech in 1985.
Chief Investment Officer
TJ Carlson joined TMRS in 2013 and has built the investment team from six members to 26. He established the Compliance and Operations Departments, formed a four-person Risk and Analytics team and created an internal data warehouse system that led to a 2018 Institutional Investor award for Technology User of the Year.
TJ and his team transitioned TMRS from a primarily indexed 60/40 portfolio into a fully diversified modern institutional portfolio which, along with other team accomplishments, led to being named Institutional Investors’ 2018 CIO of the Year. He previously served as the CIO for the West Virginia Investment Management Board, Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin, and the Kentucky Retirement System. Prior to starting his investment career, TJ was an Infantry Sergeant/Squad Leader in the United States Marine Corps and Reserves.
TJ received an MBA from Drake University and a BA in Mass Communications from Grand View College. He is a Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst and Certified Treasury Professional.
Christine Mullen Sweeney
Chief Legal Officer
Christine Sweeney joined TMRS as General Counsel in August 2010 and serves as Chief Legal Officer to the System, overseeing all Legal functions.
Prior to joining TMRS, Christine was in private practice for almost 25 years with a large Austin-based law firm, specializing in ERISA and public pension plan matters, private investments, business transactions and real estate law.
Christine received her BBA with Honors in Accounting from the University of Notre Dame and her JD from the University of Texas at Austin School of Law. Christine is a member of the College of the State Bar of Texas, the American Bar Association, the National Association of Public Pension Attorneys, the Texas Association of Public Pension Attorneys and the Institutional Limited Partners Association. She was the recipient of a 2018 First Chair Award in the category of Top General Counsel.
Rhonda H. Covarrubias
Director of Finance
Rhonda Covarrubias began her TMRS career in 1994 as the organization’s Investment Accountant, served as Controller and is currently the System’s Director of Finance. Rhonda directs the Finance Department’s staff in their responsibilities for accounts receivable, accounts payable, financial reporting, budget and investment accounting. She also participates as a member of several TMRS-wide efforts, including the Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery team, the Crisis Management team and the Pension Administration System Modernization program (PASMod).
Prior to joioning TMRS, Rhonda worked as an auditor with KPMG, focusing on the government, banking and school district industries. She currently serves as a board member and secretary of the Public Pension Financial Forum (P2F2). Rhonda is a CPA and received her BBA from Texas A&M University.
Internal Audit Manager
Andi Focht-Williams joined TMRS in March 2017 as Senior Internal Auditor. In December 2020, she was promoted to Audit Manager, responsible for providing independent audit reports to the Board of Trustees and TMRS management.
Andi was previously an auditor at the Texas State Auditor’s Office, where she conducted financial and performance audits of various Texas agencies. Prior to becoming an auditor, she worked in financial services at AIM Mutual Funds (now Invesco) and The Standard.
A native Nebraskan, Andi holds a BS from the University of Nebraska and an MS in Accounting from St. Edward’s University. She is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Fraud Examiner, and Certified Investments and Derivatives Auditor.
Director of Actuarial Services
Leslee Hardy was hired as TMRS’ first in-house actuary in December 2007. As Director of Actuarial Services, she coordinates all actuarial activities among the TMRS Board, staff, participating cities and the System’s consulting actuary. She is responsible for coordinating Actuarial Valuations, Experience Studies and TMRS’ Actuarial Funding Policy. Each year, she manages the City Rate Letter project, notifying participating cities of their annual contribution rates.
Before joining TMRS, Leslee spent 28 years as a consulting actuary specializing in retirement plans of all types. She is a Fellow of the Conference of Consulting Actuaries, an Associate of the Society of Actuaries, an Enrolled Actuary, and a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries.
Leslee graduated summa cum laude with a BBA in Actuarial Science/Finance from the University of Texas at Austin.
Director of Communications
Michelle Mellon-Werch joined TMRS as Associate General Counsel in 2007 and worked on legal analysis of plan benefit design, IRS qualification issues, contracts, administrative law, data privacy and governance issues. She served as President of the Texas Association of Public Pension Attorneys and currently serves on the Benefits and Data Privacy Sections of the National Association of Public Pension Attorneys. In 2019, she was elected to the Computer and Technology Section Council leadership team of the Texas State Bar.
In October 2020, she was named Director of Communications, overseeing a professional team that produces the TMRS website, print and electronic publications, videos, presentations and seminars. Michelle also serves as the press relations officer for TMRS.
A native Texan, Michelle received a BA from Brandeis University, a JD from the University of Texas at Austin School of Law, and an MPAff from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.
Director of City Services
Anthony Mills joined TMRS in November 2004 as a member of the Travel Team. In September 2020, he was named the first Director of City Services, where he oversees the division that serves TMRS participating cities. Among the division’s functions are outreach to city administrators, stakeholders and elected officials and the processing of city contributions. Prior to his role as Director, Anthony traveled the state extensively, educating Members and participating cities’ administrators about TMRS.
Before joining TMRS, Anthony worked for the Texas County and District Retirement System and the Employees Retirement System of Texas. Anthony was also a press aide to the late Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock.
Anthony holds a BA in History from the University of Texas at Austin.
Director of Member Services
As the Director of Member Services, Debbie is responsible for overseeing the department that serves TMRS Membership, which includes Members, retirees and beneficiaries. Debbie has dedicated her career to serving fellow Texans within the public pension arena for over 25 years. She joined TMRS in 1998 and began working as a Membership Development Representative, spending much of her time educating TMRS membership and city personnel about TMRS benefits statewide. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Government from the University of Texas and is currently a key stakeholder in several TMRS modernization efforts, including the expansion of online functionality and TMRS’ current pension administration system.
Director of Information Services
Eric Obermier joined TMRS in 2017 as Assistant Director of Information Services. In November 2020, he was promoted to Director of Information Services where he oversees all IS functions, including network operations, software development and records management.
Eric has more than 28 years of Information Services experience in the private and public sectors. Before joining TMRS, he held executive IS positions for the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, the Employees Retirement System of Texas and Chase Bank.
Eric received a BS in Computer Science from Texas A&M University. He is a graduate of the Texas Governor’s Executive Development Program and served on the Advisory Boards for the Texas Digital Government Summit and the CIO Academy. Eric holds multiple certifications from the International Association of Privacy Professionals. He is a past member of the TASSCC Board for State Technology and chaired the IT Leadership Committee for the State of Texas Consolidated Data Center.
Jesse Pittman was hired as TMRS’ first Project Manager in 2013. During his TMRS tenure, he has facilitated strategic cross-departmental projects, including the Pension Administration Modernization (PASMod) program, the TMRSDirect program (MyTMRS/City Portal online self-service features), the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) project, the Electronic Payroll project, and the Service Organization Controls (SOC 1) project.
Before coming to TMRS, Jesse served as Director and Senior Project Manager in private and public sector organizations where he instituted the Project Management Institute (PMI) methodology.
A Chicago area native, Jesse holds AAS, BS, and MBA degrees and certifications in Project Management (PMP), New Product Development (NPDP), and Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL). He is also an Agile SCRUM Master (CSM).
Director of Human Resources
Leslie Ritter was hired as TMRS’ Director of Human Resources in November 2016. Leslie oversees all of the System’s human resource functions, and she has implemented a number of new systems and spearheaded the organization’s employee engagement initiatives.
Prior to joining TMRS, Leslie served in executive level positions at Education Partners and Double Line Partners, both education technology firms in Austin, and as Senior Vice President over HR at Hill+Knowlton Strategies. She also worked for the Texas General Land Office for over a decade as Assistant Director of Human Resources and Staff Development Manager.
Leslie received her BBA from Texas State University and her MBA from St. Edward’s University. She is certified as a Professional in Human Resources by the Human Resources Certification Institute and holds a SHRM-CP from the Society of Human Resource Management.
Sandra H. Vice
Director of Administration
Sandra Vice has been Director of Internal Audit at TMRS since 2016. In November 2020, she was named Director of Administration and oversees Internal Audit, Finance, Information Services and Project Management.
Sandra began her auditing career at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) as a Presidential Management Intern. She served 15 years at the Texas State Auditor’s Office, where she oversaw audit and administrative operations teams. She was also appointed from 2010-2012 to the GAO’s Advisory Council on Government Auditing Standards. Immediately before joining TMRS, Sandra served as the Director of the Internal Audit Division at the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.
Sandra holds a BA from the University of Texas at Austin, an MPA from UT’s Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, and is a graduate of the Texas Governor’s Executive Development Program. She is a Certified Internal Auditor, Certified Government Auditing Professional, and Certified Information Systems Auditor. Sandra was the President of the Association of Public Pension Fund Auditors, and is a member of The Institute of Internal Auditors and ISACA.
Director of Governmental Relations
Dan Wattles was hired as Governmental Relations Director in November 2010 and coordinates TMRS’ interaction with the U.S. Congress, the Texas Legislature, the Governor’s Office, the State Pension Review Board and other retirement systems and stakeholder groups.
Before coming to TMRS, Dan worked for the Wisconsin, Arizona and California Legislatures. In Texas, Dan was the Legislative Coordinator for the State Auditor’s Office and the Governmental Relations Director at the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. He has held positions at the Texas Department of Commerce.
Dan has a BS in Public Administration from the University of Arizona and an MPA from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. He is also a Certified Public Manager and spent six years in the U.S. Navy.