Positive Changes at ShareOwners.org

ShareOwners.org announced today that Tracy Stewart is moving from her post as corporate governance manager at the Florida State Board of Administration to serve as the advocacy group’s first executive director. ShareOwners.org also disclosed that CalPERS has named William Sherwood-McGrew, a portfolio manager within the system’s Global Equity Corporate Governance Program, to join the ShareOwners.org governing board.

Both appointments represent a welcome move by the ShareOwners.org Board. The Board and the organization’s Advisory Committee are composed of very diligent and respected members of the corporate governance community… fantastic groups. Although staff have done a great job, I believe the sudden movement of Rich Ferlauto to his new role at the SEC left something of a vacuum. These new appointments should do wonders to put ShareOwners.org on an even keel in keeping this young but vital organization on its important course of facilitating the ability of shareowners to communicate with each other and coordinate action.

Launched in June 2009, ShareOwners.org is a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization that educates and organizes U.S. investors to support both short- and long-term financial market reforms. Shareowners.org’s broad four-part agenda focuses on the need for stronger regulation (including a beefed-up SEC), increased accountability of boards/CEOs, improved financial transparency and protection of the legal rights of investors. Mike Musuraca, acting chairman, ShareOwners.org, said:

We are delighted to have two such outstanding individuals as Tracy Stewart and William Sherwood-McGrew bring their on-point skills and background to the important work of ShareOwners.org. Tracy is a nationally respected champion of investor rights and is exactly who ShareOwners.org needs to become a prime voice for citizen investors. Bill brings his own commitment to investor rights as well as the backing of CalPERS, the nation’s largest pension fund. As recent developments on Capitol Hill and Wall Street have shown, much work remains to be done if we are to rebuild the trust of shareowners in the United States. We believe that Tracy and William can and will make a material difference in this important and ongoing effort.

Tracy Stewart has been corporate governance manager at the Florida State Board of Administration (SBA), Tallahassee FL, from June 2007-present. In that capacity, she has been responsible for coordinating corporate governance activities and policies of the $130 billion public pension fund in a manner that best promotes protection of assets, mitigation of governance risk and adoption of practices which enhance shareowner value. Stewarts also has: overseen proxy voting and policy research and design; draft comments to regulatory oversight bodies such as the SEC and NYSE; engaged with companies and other stakeholders directly to improve governance practices; represented SBA at various director and investor conferences and meetings; and conducted independent research on various governance topics.

Previously, Stewart served as a senior corporate governance analyst from January 2005 to May 2007 at the Florida SBA. She has been a business instructor since May 2001 at Flagler College, Tallahassee FL . In 2008, Stewart was recognized as a “Rising Star of Corporate Governance” by The Millstein Center for Corporate Governance & Performance at the Yale School of Management. She has been an invited speaker at the Conference Board Governance Center, the Millstein Center’s Yale Governance Forums, the Council of Institutional Investors, the International Corporate Governance Network conference, and the RiskMetrics Group annual meeting on executive compensation. With regard to her appointment, Tracy Stewart said:

ShareOwners.org will step up its efforts to help shareowners find their collective voice and use it to become more effective advocates for better governance and performance. I would like to help turn around the situation today in which the shareowner vote still lacks participation from the majority of retail investors. Among other things, I would like to work to restore participation by lowering the cost to owners of making informed voting choices.

William Sherwood-McGrew is a portfolio manager within the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) Global Equity Corporate Governance Program. He is responsible for facilitating the operations of a dedicated cross-asset class governance team to further CalPERS’ leadership role in financial market reform, corporate engagement, and governance policies and practice as a means of improving the Pension Systems’ sustainable long-term performance of assets under management.

Sherwood-McGrew has played an integral oversight role during the last eight years in developing CalPERS’ Governance Program and implementing the Board of Administration’s strategic corporate governance initiatives. Governance initiatives include direct portfolio company engagement, the application of CalPERS’ Global Principals of Accountable Corporate Governance to over 7000 equity portfolio holdings through the System’s proxy voting responsibilities, and advocating environmental, social, and governance policy reform measures at domestic and international levels through a targeted Financial Market Reform Program. With respect to this new appointment, William Sherwood-McGrew said:

ShareOwners.org provides an excellent conduit for retail investors to channel their collective voice to the boardroom, regulatory leaders, or institutional investors and asset managers. Shareowners, large and small, are increasingly recognizing that a shared voice can contribute to restoring confidence in the capital market system by addressing sustainable investment, environmental, social, and governance practices. Enabling sensible governance and regulatory structures, responsible stakeholder engagement, meaningful disclosure, and long-term corporate strategic vision that, at its core, emphasize sustained shareowner value creation are vital. As investors, we must take action and I look forward to advancing the growth of ShareOwners.org.

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