Shelley Johnson, LASERS Actuary

Shelley Johnson has been LASERS lead actuary since 2007, playing an integral role in determining the present value of future benefits that the retirement system will pay to retirees.

The complex work that Johnson completes for LASERS is not always easy to explain or understand. She develops assumptions, makes recommendations to the Board of Trustees, and determines funding requirements for the System. She prepares the Annual Valuation report which shows the health of LASERS, provides guidance to the Board on costs of legislation and how it will affect the retirement system, and often testifies before the legislature on behalf of the Board regarding those costs.

Johnson said, “I believe educating the Board, staff, and legislators regarding the actuarial impact of their decisions is especially important. All are stakeholders with a goal of providing secure retirement benefits to LASERS members while balancing the cost to taxpayers. The more all stakeholders understand about the impacts of their decisions, the better the policy decisions that are made.”

In Johnson’s 15 years with LASERS, many changes have occurred that helped improve the sustainability of the System. “The Legislature and Board of Trustees have both taken their responsibility very seriously to shore up the System,” she said. “Legislators have focused on paying down the debt, made some difficult decisions regarding cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs), yet adopted a nice balance. The Board has been diligent in approving more conservative actuarial assumptions which increase the probability of future gains and decrease the probability of future losses, increase the likelihood of future COLAs, and improve the stability of the System.”

From an actuarial perspective, the future of LASERS is exciting. Johnson explained, “Over the next 20 years, LASERS may be nearly 100 percent funded. Of course, there are unknowns, such as what the investment market will do. However, using reasonable assumptions, the impact from legislation combined with Board changes have placed the System in a better position to have the debt completely funded.”

Shelley Johnson’s actuarial knowledge and guidance to LASERS are essential and well-respected. Her influence and contributions are major factors in the stability of the fund and assuring financial security for future retirees.