San José City Manager Debra Figone has appointed Julia Harper Cooper as Director of Finance and Roberto Peña as Director of Retirement Services. Both appointments were ratified by the City Council Tuesday.

“Julia Cooper has a deep understanding of the City’s financial operations and has provided steady leadership managing our investment and debt portfolios over the past decade,” said Figone. “Roberto Peña brings solid experience managing large and complex retirement programs that will be very valuable for San José, especially in this period of significant change.

“I’m confident that both Julia and Roberto will successfully continue our long-standing commitment to ensuring long-term financial stability for the benefit of our community and our employees.”

Figone made the appointments after a national search for both positions.

Cooper has served as Acting Finance Director for San José for the past year, and has been with the City since 1987 in various financial positions with increasing responsibility.

“During my career with the City of San José, I’ve had the remarkable opportunity to work with the best in the public service and to grow professionally,” said Cooper. “I’m honored to be able continue to lead the Finance Department and serve my community in this vital position.”

A resident of San José, she graduated from Santa Clara University with a Bachelor’s in Political Science, and she has a Master’s in Public Administration from San Jose State University. Cooper starts immediately, and her salary will be $185,000.

Peña has served most recently as Deputy Administrator for the Puerto Rico Retirement System for the past year. His prior service also includes nine years as top administrator for the Fresno County Employees Retirement Association and six years with the Kern County Employees Retirement Association.

He is a native of Puerto Rico and graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Peña is scheduled to start in San José in February 2013. His salary will be $195,000, and he will be in the new tier of the San Jose retirement system that provides a defined contribution retirement plan, which reduces City retirement-related costs.

“San José has built a very good reputation in field of retirement plan administration, and I’m looking to forward to building on a strong foundation to meet our long-term goals during volatile economic times,” said Peña.

Although the city manager appoints the retirement services director under her city charter authority, Figone also worked closely with the city’s two retirement boards during the recruitment and selection process.

“The City and our boards have worked collaboratively to recruit the best leader for this department, and we’re united in the choice of Roberto Peña and his commitment to work with all plan stakeholders,” said Sean Kaldor, chair of the board for the San Jose Police & Fire Department Retirement Plan.

“Peña has very strong experience and knowledge of the field of pension administration, which is vitally important in our current environment,” said Matt Loesch, chair of the board of the Federated City Employees’ Retirement System.