Municipal Employees' Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago

A Pension Trust Fund of the City of Chicago

News

Tiffany Junkins Named as Woman Trailblazer

The National Association of Security Professionals (NASP), Chicago Chapter, honored 20 women for being trailblazers in Finance on April 11, 2024. Honorees celebrated at an April 11 luncheon were joined by colleagues, peers, early career professionals and members of the Washington-headquartered NASP, which aims to increase opportunities for women and minority groups in financial services.

The Chicago chapter started the annual program in 2023 to recognize women who have made an impact on diversity in the industry. Nominations were evaluated and selected by the executive committee of the Chicago chapter, as well as board members of the national organization who are members of the Chicago chapter.

In interviews, they shared what they do to support diversity in their work. They also discussed how they got to where they are today and imparted advice for aspiring professionals starting their own journey.

During the luncheon, honorees did not give acceptance speeches. Instead, they heard remarks about the work they have done to promote diversity and inclusion from people who have been impacted by their actions, which underscored for many the importance of their efforts to support diversity.

Uplifting Younger Generations In June 2023, Tiffany Junkins became the first woman to serve as the executive director of the Municipal Employees’ Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago in its 103-year history.

Junkins started her career working on the front end of WorldCom’s escalations department until the telecommunications company closed following an accounting scandal in 2002. After obtaining a master’s degree in educational administration and supervision, she began working for the city in 2005, doing various jobs in finance, mostly in the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services.

When a fellow employee took an abrupt leave of absence, Junkins was encouraged by then-Deputy Commissioner of Finance Kenya Merritt to fill in. Thinking this was “a big mistake,” Junkins initially said no. But by pivoting to the role, she said this was how she “got her foot in the door” in regard to running the city’s educational program finances.

When the employee came back after three months, Junkins was asked to stay and work with that person by Merritt, who acted as a mentor. Later on, having witnessed Junkins’ work for the municipality, the Chicago Board of Education approached her, telling her “we need you over here” doing exactly what she was doing for the municipality. She would become its fiscal manager.

“That was when I knew, wow, everything I managed to learn in this space is really paying off, and it’s just been up from there,” Junkins said. Merritt, who is now deputy mayor of business and development for Chicago, still keeps in touch with her.

Today at the $3.6 billion pension fund, Junkins is excited about hiring young and novice employees, especially since “they are really quick and they’re savvy when it comes to technology.” But she said it’s “tremendous” when they’re paired with her more seasoned staffers who act as teachers, creating an experience similar to what Junkins had with her mentor.

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