Public Employees Retirement System

Email PERS Board.

The legislature has delegated authority to the PERS Board of Trustees to administer the system. The Board is composed of five trustees who administer retirement (service and disability), death, and retiree health insurance benefits.

PERS also administers the Oregon Savings Growth Plan, a deferred compensation program for state and local government employees. A handbook on the Oregon Savings Growth Plan is available by calling 503-378-3730.

Director and Consultants
The Board retains consultants and appoints an executive director. The executive director serves at the discretion of the Board and is responsible for the PERS administrative staff. Consultants include:

  • legal counsel,
  • medical advisor,
  • actuary, and
  • insurance consultant.

PERS Board Members
As trustee of the Public Employees Retirement Fund, the PERS Board has a responsibility to manage and administer the system as set forth by law. The Board also monitors the plan for compliance with federal laws.

Statute specifies Board membership as:

  • three people with experience in business management, pension management, or investing who are not members of the PERS system;
  • one person who is either an employee of the state in a management position or a person who holds an elective office in the governing body of a participating public employer other than the state; and
  • one person representing public employees and retirees.

The three Board members representing business management, pension management, or investing are Krystal Gema, John Thomas (board chair), and Stephen Buckley. Pat West (vice-chair) was appointed to represent public employees and retirees. Lawrence Furnstahl was appointed to represent public employers.


Stephen Buckley

Stephen Buckley is a partner in the Portland, Oregon, law firm Brownstein Rask, LLP. For more than 25 years, Mr. Buckley has served as legal counsel for boards of trustees of private sector health and welfare plans and defined benefit, defined contribution, and 401(k) pension plans in Washington, Oregon, and California. Mr. Buckley is a speaker at employee benefit conferences sponsored by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. Mr. Buckley is a graduate of Colorado State University and received his Juris Doctorate degree from Willamette University College of Law.




Lawrence J. Furnstahl

Lawrence J. Furnstahl has three decades experience in the strategic, financial, and operational management of complex organizations—universities and academic health centers—including over 25 years as a CFO. Furnstahl is executive vice president and chief financial officer of Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), a $2.3 billion Oregon public corporation with 2,500 faculty, 15,000 staff, 4,000 students and trainees, $350 million of research, and the state's only major academic health center. Before joining OHSU in January 2011, Furnstahl served as chief financial and strategy officer for the University of Chicago Medical Center and Biological Sciences Division, and university vice president for financial planning for science; senior vice president and chief financial officer for UCSF Stanford Health Care; vice president and chief financial officer for the University of Chicago; and vice president & treasurer and senior executive, patient services for the University of Chicago Hospitals. Furnstahl is a member of the Visiting Committee to the Physical Sciences Division of the University of Chicago, and a board director former chair of the Hyde Park Art Center. He is a 1983 graduate of the College of the University of Chicago in economics.

Krystal Gema

During her six years with Portland General Electric's Credit Risk Management, Krystal Gema has actively managed credit exposures and safeguarded the firm's assets from the risk of credit loss in connection with energy trading. She draws on her analytical skills to monitor and analyze energy trading entities' financial conditions for potential financial impacts. Her expertise includes stress testing the firm's trading portfolio, negotiating energy trading contracts and preparing SEC accounting disclosures. Prior to joining PGE, she worked with clients, investment managers, and consultants in Institutional Trust and Custody for US Bank. Gema holds a degree in business finance from Portland State University. She served as a board member for Step It Up, Inc. and is on the board of trustees for Legacy Health-Emanuel Medical Center Foundation. She is a member of the City Club of Portland, Portland Business Alliance, and the Urban League of Portland.


John Thomas (chair)

John Thomas is the president and CEO of Financial Pathways Group, a fee-based retirement planning firm in Eugene, Oregon. Mr. Thomas co-founded Pacific Benefit Consultants Inc. in 1993 and served in the past capacity as president and manager of the Financial Services Division. John is vice-chair of Advantage Dental and is a past divisional vice-president and chair of the Finance Committee of MDRT, an international association of insurance and financial service professionals located in Chicago. Mr. Thomas previously served as chair of the McKenzie-Willamette Hospital Board of Trustees and was chair of the Lane County Planning Commission and the Lane County Boundary Commission. John is also the past president of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Thomas holds a B.A. from Willamette University and an M.S. in financial services from The American College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Mr. Thomas holds professional designations of chartered life underwriter, chartered financial consultant, and certified financial planner. 

Pat West (vice-chair)

Pat West began his career as a Salem firefighter in 1975 and retired as a captain in 2001. Pat was also the legislative director of the Oregon State Firefighters Association from 1987 to 1998 and president from 1998 to 2008. He served on the Oregon Workers' Compensation Management Labor Advisory Committee, the Governor's Fire Policy Committee, PERS' Legislative Advisory Committee, and the Board of Oregon PERS Retirees, Inc. Pat is a graduate of South Salem High School and Chemeketa Community College. He attended Oregon State University and was in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1970.