CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – The State Universities Retirement System (SURS) Board of Trustees has named Interim Executive Director and Chief Benefits Officer Suzanne Mayer as the new executive director of the state pension fund. SURS oversees $28.1 billion in defined benefit and defined contribution plan assets.
Mayer’s appointment is effective immediately.
Mayer has been with the System since 2002 and served as a retirement counselor, counseling manager and director of outreach before becoming the chief benefits officer in 2018. As chief benefits officer she oversaw the Call Center, Retirement Counselors, Employer Services, Claims Processing, Benefits Support Services, Communications and the Retirement Savings Plan departments. She has served as both interim executive director and chief benefits officer since February.
“The board of trustees is very pleased Ms. Mayer has agreed to accept the permanent executive director position,” said Chairperson John Atkinson. “We conducted an extensive search that generated a strong pool of candidates, but Ms. Mayer was our choice. She has been at the helm for almost 10 months doing an outstanding job. Her appointment will ensure continuity and focus on member services and technological advances. We are confident she will serve the membership and staff well.”
Mayer is a graduate of Eastern Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree in business management and she holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Illinois Springfield.
“I’m honored and excited to lead this organization,” said Mayer. “I have a passion for the important work we do to help prepare our members for a comfortable retirement and to deliver promised benefits. I look forward to working with the board of trustees, university and community college leaders, our dedicated staff and state officials as we continue to provide outstanding service to our more than 240,000 members.”
Mayer is the first woman to lead SURS since Ruth Ellen Kunkel, the System’s original senior administrator who served from 1941 to 1952.
The SURS Board of Trustees worked with Heidrick & Struggles, a Chicago-based executive search firm, on a nationwide search for qualified candidates.