Brant Maller founded AIF after having served on committees overseeing the U.S.’s three largest pension plans’ investments programs and as an officer of one of the world’s largest family offices. That service enabled him to see the need for a neutral forum through which the world’s largest institutional investors could exchange best ideas, practices and information with each other and with its leading finance academics, investment consultants and asset managers. He executed on that vision in forming AIF in 2005.
Mr. Maller is a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Institute of Public Finance (NIPF), which is the educational arm of the National Association of State Treasurers (NAST) Foundation. He is also the Chair of the NIPF’s Investments Track. He has served as a member of the California Controller’s Advisory Council on Investments and the New York State Common Retirement Fund investment committee.
Mr. Maller has been ranked one of the nation’s leading investment lawyers by Best Lawyers in America, Chambers USA and Super Lawyers, among other ranking services, and as one of the world’s leading investments lawyers by Chambers Global. Mr. Maller received a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and a joint M.C.R.P.-J.D. degree from Harvard University-Boston University.
Melissa Waller serves as President of the AIF Institute, and is the former Deputy Treasurer and Chief of Staff for the North Carolina Department of State Treasury, where she successfully oversaw Department strategic planning, operations, and public-policy implementation, along with a staff of more than 400 employees. The North Carolina Retirement Systems, the pension fund for the state, is the tenth largest public pension fund in the United States, with assets in excess of $90 billion.
Melissa’s background includes over 20 years of private and public-sector financial industry experience, including 15 years in the banking sector with Wachovia/Wells Fargo. She has served as Chair of the North Carolina Department of State Treasurer’s Corporate Governance Committee, as well as on the Council of Institutional Investors Board of Directors and the Governor’s Board of Innovation for the North Carolina University System. She currently serves as Executive Program Director for the National Institute of Public Finance, as well as Director of Public and Private Partnerships for the Kenan Institute.
Sharmila (Shar) Kassam
Sharmila Kassam serves as Executive Director of the AIF Institute. Shar is an institutional investor who most recently managed the $30 billion Texas Employees Retirement System (Texas ERS) as Deputy Chief Investment Officer. She managed investments across asset classes, the internal investment team and public equity external managers. She was responsible for overseeing and analyzing asset allocation, risk management, pursuing new initiatives, new investment structures and developing best practices. She worked through various aspects of developing Texas ERS’ alternatives investment program both executing investments and managing the portfolios. She also reviewed investment products and advised on the $3 billion Texa$aver 401(k)/457 Plan.
She is a nationally recognized leader in the pension industry and sought out globally as a speaker. Shar is an ILPA Policy Advisor and Instructor and a faculty member for National Institute for Public Finance Certificate in Public Treasury Management (CPTM) program.
Before joining Texas ERS, she spent 15 years in the venture capital and technology industry working in financial, legal, operational and management roles. Shar holds a bachelor’s degree in Accounting (with honors) and a J.D. degree, both from The University of Texas. She is a licensed Certified Public Accountant in Texas and licensed to practice law in California and Texas.
Josh Lerner, Ph.D.
Josh Lerner is the Jacob H. Schiff Professor of Investment Banking at Harvard Business School, and head of the Entrepreneurial Management unit. He graduated from Yale College with a special divisional major that combined physics with the history of technology.
He worked for several years on issues concerning technological innovation and public policy at the Brookings Institution, for a public-private task force in Chicago, and on Capitol Hill. He then earned a Ph.D. from Harvard’s Economics Department.
Much of his research focuses on venture capital and private equity organizations. (This research is collected in three books, The Venture Capital Cycle, The Money of Invention, and Boulevard of Broken Dreams.) He also examines policies on innovation and how they impact firm strategies. (That research is discussed in the books Innovation and Its Discontents, The Comingled Code, and the Architecture of Innovation.)
He co-directs the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship Program and serves as co-editor of their publication, Innovation Policy and the Economy. He founded and runs the Private Capital Research Institute, a nonprofit devoted to encouraging access to data and research about venture capital and private equity, and serves as vice-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Investing.