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Press Release: Wespath CIO Dave Zellner Announces Retirement

February 07, 2024


Will be succeeded by Deputy CIO Johara Farhadieh

For Immediate Release

Contact: Julie Capozzi
Managing Director, Communications
(847) 866-4111
[email protected]

Glenview, IL—Dave Zellner, chief investment officer, Wespath Benefits and Investments (Wespath), today announces his intent to retire on August 1, 2024. Zellner will be succeeded by Deputy Chief Investment Officer Johara Farhadieh, as previously announced in June 2023. Mr. Zellner has served as Wespath’s CIO for more than 27 years.

“It has been a privilege to help serve the individuals and organizations central to advancing the mission of The United Methodist Church,” said Zellner. “I’m very proud of what we accomplished over the years, and I know that I’m leaving our investment operations in the great hands of incredible colleagues.”

photo of Dave Zellner

Under Zellner’s leadership, Wespath assets under management have expanded by approximately 225%,1 providing greater financial security to Wespath’s benefit plan participants and institutional investors and supporting organizational growth.

Zellner was instrumental in the launch of Wespath’s flagship Multiple Asset Fund—a broadly diversified, multiple-asset-class fund of funds—which was created in 2002. Since its inception, the fund has returned an annualized 6.96%, putting it in the top quintile of peer funds over that time.2 In 2019, Zellner helped launch Wespath Institutional Investments, a subsidiary of Wespath focused on serving the institutional investment needs of faith-based, not-for-profit organizations.

Throughout his tenure, Zellner has been dedicated to enhancing the benefit plan participant experience. He led the development of LifeStage Investment Management, a feature which automates participants’ investment allocations based on their own unique profiles, and the award-winning LifeStage Retirement Income (LSRI) tool, which optimizes participants’ defined contribution retirement income to last throughout their lifetime. Zellner earned an Innovator Award from Pensions and Investments magazine for his exceptional work on LSRI.

“I’m honored to have worked alongside Dave for so many years. He leaves a profound legacy as an innovator and visionary, having steered Wespath’s growth in investment management services and establishing our reputation as a global leader in sustainable and responsible investment long before it was the industry norm,” said Andy Hendren, Wespath’s CEO and general secretary. “As our CIO transition moves forward, we are thrilled to build on the momentum Johara and Dave have already established, ensuring that Wespath will continue to deliver the innovation and value that our participants and investors expect."

In 2006, Zellner was one of 25 investors who helped co-author the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment, which today boasts more than 3,800 signatories representing over $120 trillion in assets. Zellner was also a founding representative of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board’s (SASB) Investor Advisory Group, and supported SASB’s evolution through its transition to the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation in 2022.

Under Zellner’s leadership, Wespath significantly expanded the Positive Social Purpose (PSP) Lending Program, an impact investment program that promotes affordable housing and community development for disadvantaged areas, while delivering market-rate returns. The program began in 1990 with a $25 million commitment to affordable housing. It now accounts for $2 billion in financing since inception. Zellner also helped launch the Transition Ready Portfolio strategies in 2018, formulating a novel investment approach seeking to benefit from understanding how companies are approaching the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Mr. Zellner will continue to work closely with Deputy CIO Farhadieh through August 1 to ensure a smooth transition.

About Wespath Benefits and Investments
Wespath Benefits and Investments (Wespath) is a not-for-profit agency that has been serving The United Methodist Church (UMC) for over a century. In accordance with its fiduciary duties, Wespath administers benefit plans and, together with its subsidiaries, including Wespath Institutional Investments, invests nearly $26 billion in assets on behalf of over 100,000 participants and over 150 United Methodist institutions (as of December 31, 2023). Wespath invests in a sustainable manner that seeks to achieve positive financial, social and environmental impact while upholding the values of the UMC. Wespath maintains one of the largest reporting faith-based pension funds in the world. For additional information about Wespath Benefits and Investments, please follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.

1 Based on AUM of approximately $8.0 billion as of December 31, 1996, and $25.9 billion as of December 31, 2023.

2 Based on MAF’s ranking of 16 out of 147 observations in the Lipper Multiple Asset Fund Universe. The Lipper Multiple Asset Fund Universe is a group of mutual funds comparable to MAF. Lipper utilized all mutual funds included in the pre-defined Lipper classification universes of "Mixed-Asset Target Allocation Moderate" and "Mixed-Asset Target Allocation Aggressive Growth" to construct this universe.