SOAR Monthly Newsletter – March 2020

Greetings, and welcome to the SOAR Monthly. This newsletter is available to NEA-Alaska members who care about the TRS III and PERS IV retirement issues. If you have a colleague who wants to opt in, forward them this newsletter and encourage them to follow this link:



Please “Like and “Share” the following articles and video on your social media.


Ben Walker, the 2018 Alaska Teacher of the Year, doesn’t want to leave Alaska, but the stress of trying to manage saving for retirement without Social Security or any other safety net is affecting him. That same stress forced Anchorage teacher Jake Todd to leave in 2016. Both Walker and Todd are lifelong Alaskans who grew up in the state and want to teach here for an entire career.

Read the article here.


Corey Shepherd loves teaching in rural Alaska, and he wants to stay. When he arrived in Alaska five years ago, he benefited from a program that opened up the cultural wonders of Kotzebue. But every year upwards of 30 percent of his rural colleagues leave Alaska often because of retirement. Shepherd hopes that he isn’t forced to leave a job that gives him so much joy.

Read the article here.


NEA-Alaska president Tim Parker talked retirement with host Mike Bradner, former Alaska Speaker of the House. The Alaska Legislature is considering a handful of bills that would address the retirement shortfall facing TRS III and PERS IV educators. Alaska is the only state without a guaranteed retirement benefit, which is leading to thousands of educators to leave the state.

Watch the video here.




Make plans NOW to attend one of the four 90-minute sessions geared towards TRS III and PERS IV members. The NEA-Alaska Retirement Road Show kicks off on April 6 in Sitka, moves to Anchorage on April 7, then Mat-Su on April 8, and finishes in Fairbanks on April 9. NEA Member Benefits will also be hosting an online Zoom Retirement Roadshow meeting on Saturday, April 11. Financial experts will be on hand to answer your questions and help you understand and find needed retirement information. A taped session will be made available for anyone who can’t attend an in-person event. Be on the lookout for more information on these events from NEA-Alaska in the coming month.


The financial markets took quite a plunge, losing 10 percent during the final week of February. Without a financial safety net, it’s critical for TRS III and PERS IV employees to actively manage your investments. Log into your Empower account:



Thank you for reading the SECOND EDITION of the SOAR newsletter. Don’t be fooled when the next issue arrives on April 1.

Brought to you by your NEA-Alaska SOAR Committee:

Chair, Segue Grant, NEA-Alaska vice president
Region 1, Mike Vieira, Sitka
Region 2, Danielle Specht, Kodiak
Region 3, Alissa Fabian, Seward
Region 4, Corey Shepherd, Kotzebue
Region 5, Chris Benshoof, Fairbanks
Region 6, Jacob Bera, Anchorage
Region 7, Jackie Cunningham, Mat-Su
Region R, Bob Williams, NEA-Alaska Retired
Statewide, Matt Hunter, Sitka, Tom Klaameyer, Anchorage, and Nate Freeman, Lower Kuskokwim