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Wespath Institutional Investments manages the I Series of funds and provides institutional investment services through shared and tenured Wespath Benefits and Investments (Wespath) investment team members.

The Wespath Investments team exhibits considerable breadth of expertise. Our leadership team brings strength of capability and service to our institutional clients.


Dave Zellner portrait photo  

Dave Zellner

Chief Investment Officer

Dave has been with Wespath Benefits and Investments (Wespath) since 1997. He is responsible for managing the entire Wespath investment operation comprised of Investment Management , Sustainable Investment Strategies, and Institutional Investment Services. This includes serving as CIO of each of Wespath’s subsidiaries, with responsibility for executing their respective investment programs as directed by their Investment Policies. Former employers include Shell Oil Company where he managed equity portfolios for Shell’s retirement plans, and Investment Research Company (an investment management firm) where he was a portfolio manager and responsible for managing the firm’s investment operations. Dave received his bachelor’s degree in Finance from Louisiana State University and his MBA from the University of Houston.


Johara Farhadieh portrait photo  

Johara Farhadieh

Deputy Chief Investment Officer

Johara joined Wespath in October 2023. As deputy CIO, Johara oversees the Investment Management team. She will succeed Dave Zellner as chief investment officer in the summer of 2024 upon Dave's retirement. Prior to this role, Johara served as the executive director and chief investment officer of the Illinois State Board of Investment (ISBI), where she oversaw the investment management of retirement benefits for more than 170,000 participants. She previously served as a portfolio manager and portfolio officer at ISBI. Before joining ISBI, Johara worked at Hilco Appraisal Services and the Central States Health & Welfare & Pension Fund. Johara has received several honors, including being named a Notable Executive of Color in Finance by Crain's Chicago Business in 2022 and a 2021 Pensions & Investments Excellence & Innovation Leadership Award winner. Johara received a bachelor's in Finance and an MBA from DePaul University.


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Joe Halwax, CAIA, CIMA

Managing Director, Institutional Investment Services

Joe joined Wespath in March 2019. As the managing director of Institutional Investment Services for Wespath and its subsidiaries, he is responsible for the organization’s institutional sales, marketing and client servicing efforts. He leads a team of professionals who are responsible for expanding Wespath and its subsidiaries’ reach among United Methodist-related institutional investors. Prior to this role, Joe was senior vice president and regional manager of Institutional Investments at PNC, where he was responsible for the Midwest and West Coast markets as well as PNC’s Healthcare National Practice Group. He has extensive experience servicing nonprofit institutions with a focus on sustainable investments. Joe received a bachelor’s degree in Finance from the University of Illinois and his MBA from the Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois. He holds the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) and Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) designations.


Frank Holsteen portrait photo  

Frank Holsteen

Managing Director, Investment Management

Frank joined Wespath in March 2012. As the managing director of Investment Management, Frank provides strategic investment support and risk management for Wespath and its subsidiaries’ investment programs, as well as administrative and operational oversight. He leads a team of investment professionals responsible for sourcing, monitoring and reporting on all fixed income, equity and alternative investments, as well as the internally managed Positive Social Purpose Lending Program. Prior to this role, Frank was the director of Public Equities and Fixed Income at Wespath, where he oversaw the strategic direction and staff of the equities and fixed income investment programs. His previous experience includes serving as managing director at Barrington Strategic Wealth Management Group and working as a fixed income portfolio manager and trader at Chicago Asset Management Company. Frank received a bachelor's degree in Economics from Lake Forest College.


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Jake Barnett, CIMA

Managing Director, Sustainable Investment Strategies

Jake joined Wespath in January 2020. As the managing director of Sustainable Investment Strategies for Wespath and its subsidiaries’ investment programs, Jake leads teams that focus on stewardship and engagement, ESG integration, and impact investing, including the Positive Social Purpose Lending Program. Jake previously served at Wespath as a manager, and then a director, for Sustainable Investment Stewardship. Before Wespath, Jake was an institutional consultant at Morgan Stanley’s Graystone Consulting. Jake currently co-leads the Engagement Track of the Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance and serves on the UN Principles for Responsible Investment Stewardship Advisory Committee. Jake is also a board member of the Catholic Impact Investing Collaborative and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. Jake received his bachelor’s degree in Economics, International Studies and Political Science from Ohio Wesleyan University and holds the Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) designation.


Amy Bulger portrait photo  

Amy Bulger

Director, Private Markets

Amy joined Wespath in March 2013. As Director, Private Markets in Investment Management, she is responsible for monitoring and expanding alternative investments and supporting the administration of the alternative investment programs for Wespath and its subsidiaries. Previously, she was an investment analyst at the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, where she covered private real estate and other sector portfolios. Prior to that, she worked as an analyst in the CMBS market at LaSalle National Bank and GMAC Commercial Mortgage. Amy received a bachelor's degree in Economics from Northern Illinois University and an MBA from DePaul University.


Rashad Khan portrait photo  

Rashed Khan, CFA

Director, Portfolio Risk and Analytics

Rashed joined Wespath in November 2008. As the director of Portfolio Risk and Analytics, he is responsible for overseeing the cross-asset analytics for each of Wespath’s subsidiaries’ funds. He also manages a group of investment analysts. He previously worked as a loan officer for Cambridge Realty Capital, a Chicago-based senior housing and healthcare finance company, and served as a loan administration officer at a certified community development financial institution. Rashed received a bachelor's degree with a concentration in Finance from Berea College. He is also a CFA Charterholder.


Karen Manczko portrait photo  

Karen Manczko

Director, Institutional Relationships

Karen joined Wespath in April 2013. Karen is primarily responsible for developing and managing relationships with institutional clients for Wespath and its subsidiaries. Specifically, she helps guide clients with asset allocation analysis, investment policy statement development and in incorporating sustainable investing guidelines into an overall investment program. Karen also frequently presents on investment-related topics at United Methodist-affiliated conferences and events. She most recently served as an Associate Investment Program Manager for Northern Trust Global Advisors, where she was responsible for developing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating custom investment programs for institutional and ultra-high net worth clients. Prior to that, she was a Senior Investment Performance Analyst within Northern Trust’s Investment Risk and Analytical Services department. She received a B.S. degree in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her MBA from the Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Sylvia Poniecki portrait photo  

Sylvia Poniecki

Director, Impact Investments

Sylvia joined Wespath in September 2011. As the director of Impact Investments, she guides the impact investing strategy for Wespath and its subsidiaries and provides managerial oversight for all aspects of the Positive Social Purpose (PSP) Lending Program. Previously, Sylvia worked at the Illinois Housing Development Authority in positions of increasing responsibility, most recently overseeing the state’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit and Illinois Affordable Housing Tax Credit programs. Also, she has managed a wide range of complex housing projects and programs including: HOME Multifamily Rental Programs, Illinois Affordable Housing Trust Fund, taxable first mortgage financing and tax exempt bond financing. Sylvia received a bachelor's degree in Computing and Web Design from DePaul University.


Connie Christian portrait photo  

Connie Christian, CFA

Manager, Fixed Income

Connie joined Wespath in June 2023. As the manager of fixed income, she executes and administers the organization’s fixed income investment program and its securities lending program in collaboration with Wespath’s external asset managers. She joins from Christian Brothers Investment Services, where she served as portfolio manager and managing director. Connie previously served as Wespath’s manager of fixed income from May 2016 to October 2019. Connie also worked at ABN AMRO Asset Management USA and Brinson Partners (UBS). In addition, she taught math at Taft High School in Chicago for nine years. Connie received a bachelor's degree in Finance from Xavier University, and an MBA from the same university. She also earned a master’s in Mathematics Education from DePaul University. Connie is a CFA Charterholder.


Piotr Chwala portrait photo  

Piotr Chwala

Manager, Private Markets

Piotr joined Wespath in April 2014. As manager of Private Markets in Investment Management, he is responsible for monitoring and expanding alternative investments and supporting the administration of the alternative investment programs for Wespath and its subsidiaries. Piotr has also served as the manager of the Positive Social Purpose Lending Program, where he was responsible for executing and administering the commercial real estate loan portfolios. Prior to Wespath, Piotr spent more than seven years at Prudential Mortgage Capital Company (now PGIM Real Estate), where he held positions within portfolio management, special servicing and underwriting. Piotr received a bachelor's degree in Finance and Real Estate from DePaul University.


Krystal Holmes portrait photo  

Krystal Holmes

Plan Sponsor Relations Manager

Krystal joined Wespath in April 2002 and over the nearly 20 years has held a number of different roles. She is currently the plan sponsor relations manager and is responsible for delivering operational support to institutional clients, and improving internal processes and systems designed to support clients’ needs. Previously, Krystal was an institutional investments associate, responsible for delivering operational support to institutional clients. Prior to this role, Krystal served as a plan sponsor manager within Wespath’s Customer Service division, where she was responsible for providing operational support to a variety of clients, including United Methodist annual conferences and general agencies. She received a bachelor's degree in Leadership Studies from DePaul University and has successfully completed the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) Academy’s Responsible Investment Essentials course.


Lucas Schoeppner portrait photo  

Lucas Schoeppner

Manager, Sustainable Investment Stewardship

Lucas joined Wespath in April 2023. He manages the investment stewardship and engagement activities of Wespath and its subsidiaries’ investment programs and supports their efforts to integrate material ESG risk consideration into the investment selection and decision-making process. Before Wespath, Lucas served as a director on the Catholic Responsible Investments team at Christian Brothers Investment Services. He was responsible for projects focused on quantitative ESG scoring models, screening and sub-adviser due diligence. Previously, Lucas was sector manager and lead analyst of Sustainalytics’ oil and gas research. Lucas earned a B.A. in journalism from Northeastern University. In 2013, he was selected for the Fulbright "U.S. Young Journalists" research grant.


Neil Sobczak portrait photo  

Neil Sobczak

Manager, Institutional Investment Services

Neil joined Wespath in January 2022. As the manager of institutional investment services for Wespath and its subsidiaries’ investment programs, Neil is responsible for overseeing development and execution of products and services that enhance the institutional investor client experience. He also supports efforts that promote Wespath and its subsidiaries’ institutional investor relationships. He most recently served as an investment performance consultant for Northern Trust, where he was responsible for developing quarterly performance metrics, providing client servicing support and offering Outsourced Chief Investment Officer (OCIO) performance solutions. Neil received a bachelor’s degree in Finance and Economics from the University of Illinois at Chicago.


Trent Sparrow portrait photo  

Trent Sparrow

Manager, Impact Investments

Trent joined Wespath in October 2012. As the manager of Impact Investments, he is responsible for evaluating, monitoring and reporting on the impact investments for Wespath and its subsidiaries. Trent also works to integrate environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into the investment process. From October 2012 to February 2019, Trent was a senior analyst on the Positive Social Purpose Lending program. Prior to Wespath, he was an analyst at Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago (NHS), where he managed investor relations and portfolio reporting. Before that, he worked as a commercial real estate portfolio manager for Zions Bank. Trent received a bachelor's degree in Finance from Idaho State University and an MBA from the Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois. He is an FSA Credential Holder.


Evan Witkowski portrait photo  

Evan Witkowski, CIPM

Manager, Institutional Relationships

Evan joined Wespath in January 2020. Evan is primarily responsible for developing and managing relationships with institutional clients along with overseeing development and execution of products and services that enhance the institutional investor client experience. Previously, Evan was with the State of Wisconsin Investment Board as the performance measurement operations manager where he worked to build client relationships and to implement data analytics systems used for performance reporting. Prior to that role, he worked at Northern Trust within the Investment Risk and Analytical Services group as well at Aon Hewitt where he managed and consulted on investment product enhancements in the area of defined contribution. Evan received his bachelor’s degree in History from The Ohio State University and an MBA from Roosevelt University. Evan holds a Certificate in Investment Performance Measurement (CIPM) and is an FSA Credential Holder.


Chirag Acharya portrait photo  

Chirag Acharya

Senior Analyst, Sustainable Investment Stewardship

Chirag joined Wespath in January of 2021. As a sustainable investment senior analyst, Chirag’s primary responsibility is to support the investment stewardship and engagement activities of Wespath and its subsidiaries’ investment programs. In this role, he pursues opportunities to support public and corporate policies that align with sustainable business practices and long-term shareholder value creation. Previously, Chirag was in various analyst roles, including with Strategic Capital Investment Advisors, where he collaborated with consultants, clients, and custodians by conducting research and analyzing financial information to support investment decision-making. Chirag received his bachelor’s in Health Science from Benedictine University and a master’s in Business Analytics with a focus in finance, from the same university.


Fred Huang portrait photo  

Fred Huang

Senior Investment Analyst, Investment Management

Fred joined Wespath in January 2019. As senior investment analyst, Fred’s primary role is to analyze, monitor and evaluate investment portfolios and manager performance for Wespath and its subsidiaries. Previously, he was an investment operations analyst at Advocate Aurora Health, where he performed extensive analysis and performance reporting for the company’s investment program. Fred received his bachelor’s degree in Finance from Northern Illinois University. He is an FSA Credential Holder.


Myles Smith portrait photo  

Myles Smith

Investment Analyst, Investment Management

Myles joined Wespath in December 2021. As an investment analyst, Myles’s primary role is to analyze, monitor and evaluate investment portfolios and investment manager performance for Wespath and its subsidiaries. Previously, he was a property manager responsible for maintaining rental properties, recruiting and retaining new tenants, and accomplishing financial objectives by forecasting cash flows, budgeting, and researching market trends. Myles received a bachelor’s degree in Finance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Andrew Steedman portrait photo  

Andrew Steedman, CFA

Investment Analyst, Investment Management

Andrew joined Wespath in May 2022. As an investment analyst, Andrew's primary role is to analyze, monitor and evaluate investment portfolios and asset manager performance for Wespath and its subsidiaries. Prior to joining Wespath, he worked at JP Morgan as a private bank investor support analyst and a shareholder services analyst. In these roles he assisted with trade reconciliation, mutual fund trading, and institutional liquidity trading. Andrew received his bachelor's degree in Economics from Denison University. Andrew is a CFA Charterholder.


Jon Strieter portrait photo  

Jon Strieter

Analyst, Impact Investments

Jon joined Wespath in May 2019 as an associate investment analyst. In his current position as the Impact Investments analyst, Jon’s primary role is to report on Wespath and its subsidiaries’ impact investment activities, including the organization’s internally managed PSP Lending Program, and measure the outcomes of these efforts. He also collaborates with other investment staff to ensure that ESG factors are integrated into investment selection and decision-making. Jon received his bachelor’s degree in Finance from Illinois State University.


Alicia Marriott portrait photo  

Alicia Marriott

Institutional Services Specialist

Alicia joined the Wespath Investments team in June 2018. As an institutional services specialist, she is responsible for supporting the communications and operational efforts of our Institutional Investment Services team for Wespath and its subsidiaries. She most recently worked with Wespath’s Meeting and Events team, planning and coordinating educational event opportunities for participants and institutional investors. Previously, Alicia worked as the global accounts director at SBC Communications (Cingular Wireless), where she was responsible for building new client relationships and servicing existing accounts. Alicia received a bachelor's degree in Business Communications from the University of Kansas.

 

Kate Tallo portrait photo  

Kate Tallo

Institutional Services Specialist

Kate joined Wespath in May 2021. As institutional services specialist, Kate is responsible for a wide range of administrative duties including coordinating investment communications across teams, managing presentation materials and supporting data analysis needs. Previously, she was a senior sales executive at Ajilon, where she handled a variety of account management, sales, business development and administrative tasks. Prior to that, Kate held multiple roles at Chicago Virtual Charter School. Kate received a bachelor's degree in French Language and Literature from Michigan State University.