OLYMPIA, Wash. - The $20 billion Washington State Board of Investments offered the executive director's job to the Rev. James F. Parker.
Mr. Parker, who retired June 30 as chief executive officer of the $5.8 billion General Board of Pension and Health Benefits of the United Methodist Church, said he'll accept the job if he's satisfied with the benefits being offered.
He likely would start in Washington state in early December, with a three-year contract and a salary that hadn't been finalized at press time.
He would replace Basil Schwan, whose contract expires this month. Mr. Schwan applied for his own position, but didn't get the nod. He said he hasn't made any decisions yet on his employment future.
Washington state officials offered Mr. Parker the job based on his experience and his decision-making approach, said Washington state Treasurer Dan Grimm, a member of the pension fund's board.
"At first board members thought, 'Can we stomach someone whose background was theology?'" Mr. Grimm said. "But it was the substance of his approach that gave everyone the greater comfort level they needed."
Mr. Grimm said Mr. Parker told board members he would fully inform them on investment options, review staff recommendations and allow the board to make the decision.
Both Mr. Parker and board Chairman Jim Cason said the top priority would be to build relationships.
Some sources said Mr. Schwan had a communication problem with members of the Legislature; this intensifies the importance of Mr. Parker's goal of establishing relationships with legislative members, board members, money managers and others involved with the fund.
"I need to spend a lot of time getting to know the people here," Mr. Parker said. "Here, I'm coming in not knowing anyone."
Mr. Parker said his 23 years of experience will help him with the transition.
"I have done this for so long that I will hit the ground running," he said.
Mr. Parker spent 23 years at the Evanston, Ill.-based Methodist Church pension fund. What started out as a summer job evolved into a career. As chief executive officer of the 35-member Methodist Board, Mr. Parker saw assets grow to $5.8 billion from $2.4 billion in seven years.