Glenda Chambers

For almost 53 years, LASERS was led by men in the top position of executive director. All of that changed in 1999 when Alexandria, LA native Glenda Chambers was selected to head the System as the first female executive director.

Glenda was not a newcomer to the retirement system. She joined LASERS in 1988 as the Assistant Executive Director and served under two directors over the next 11 years before she was chosen to lead the agency.

Glenda’s knowledge base was extensive and under her leadership, LASERS fund grew to $6 billion, and a five-year strategic plan was developed and implemented that emphasized improving customer service and investment performance. During her tenure, programs were created for staff training and fiscal accountability. She also oversaw implementation of the new deferred retirement option plan (DROP) which provided a major new benefit option, a pre-retirement education program (PREP) for members was developed, and a new fully integrated accounting system was designed and executed.

Glenda also directed the design and implementation of local area network and telecommunications systems; the internal audit program; a new computer system for membership and benefits information processing; and a fully integrated imaging system for storage and retrieval of all system documents, including a re-engineering of work flow for more efficient processing.

Glenda’s background and education contributed to her success at LASERS. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Finance from LSU in 1972. In 1985, she completed a program in policy analysis for Executive Education for State Managers through Duke University. Glenda also received her certification as a Retirement Administrator through the International Foundation for Retirement Education.

She began her career in state government in 1974 as an accountant with the Division of Administration, then quickly moved to the Department of Health and Human Resources for a short time.

In 1976, Glenda became a Revenue Tax Auditor with the Louisiana Department of Revenue and Taxation. She was promoted to Revenue Supervisor, then to Director of Income and Corporation Franchise Taxes. In 1985, she was promoted to Assistant Secretary of the department and was responsible for the management and administration of fourteen state tax divisions collecting $1.5 billion in annual revenues. She was also responsible for the management of 400 employees.

Glenda left the Department of Revenue to come to LASERS. “Things have changed so much since I started at LASERS in 1988,” she said. “We didn’t even have voice mail or a fax machine. The total staff was 39 people. Most had started in the file room and progressed to other jobs, including in the Information Technology (IT) and accounting divisions. We wrote the first ever job descriptions to require degrees in most jobs, beginning with accounting and IT. There was no newsletter or membership handbook. We didn’t have a communications director, so I wrote The Beam for the first couple of years and developed the handbook. I was delighted when we finally added staff to handle those functions.”

When Glenda retired from LASERS in 2002, she became the Executive Director of the National Association of State Retirement Administrators (NASRA). During her time at NASRA, the organization placed an emphasis on providing factual, timely information based on solid research to explain the impact of public pensions on employees, employers, and the economy. Glenda was also a Charter Member of the Board of Directors for the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS). NIRS was established in 2007 by NASRA, the Council of Institutional Investors, and the National Council on Teacher Retirement as a research and education organization to contribute to informed policymaking.

Thanks to Glenda’s influence and knowledge, both NASRA and NIRS have impacted and benefited state retirement systems around the country for many years. Glenda retired from NASRA in 2011, but the contributions she made on a national level are still evident today.

Current LASERS Executive Director, Cindy Rougeou stated, “It is a rare individual who rises to prominence on a state and national level with a passion to protect retirement benefits for state employees, but Glenda Chambers is such a person. With her improvements to agency efficiency and service to our members, she set a high bar for all future executive directors.”
Today, Glenda and her husband reside in Tennessee where she enjoys her well-deserved retirement. Seven grandchildren keep her busy.