Indie Stephen Ashley retires from Manning & Napier Fund after 27 years

Fund picks investment-industry lawyer as replacement departing expert in property and investment-management

Manning & Napier Funds independent director Stephen B. Ashley has retired from a board on which he has served for 27 years in accordance with a retirement policy the board approved in April of 2020.

Ashley, 81, joined the board in 1996 was confirmed by directors most recently in August of 2022 during an election prompted by the appointment of two new directors and the board’s decision to have all five independent directors stand for election at the same time.

Ashley, who retired effective May 31, was a long-serving member of the audit- and governance-and-nominating committees who has been chairman and CEO of the property management and investment firm Ashley Companies since 1997. His retirement was prompted by the retirement policy instituted by the board in 2020, which requires directors to retire in the year they reach 82 years of age.

The board also appointed veteran investment-industry attorney Eunice K. Chapon, 59, to fill the seat left open spot left by Ashley’s departure. Her appointment to the board and to the positions  on the audit and governance-and-nominating committees went into effect May 16, according to an SEC filing dated June 8.

Chapon is an attorney and investment-industry executive who has been director of operations and business development at the non-profit impact investment firm BrightEdge that the American Cancer Society launched to accelerate the funding and implementation of research it funds or conducts itself.

Before that Chapon was general counsel and chief operating officer of ESG startup Decency Global, Inc., SVP, counsel and head of legal for global distribution at Natixis Investment Managers and as a partner at Choate, Hall & Stewart LLP advising fund boards and corporations in issues relating to securities regulation and financing.

She was chosen, according to the June 8 filing, for her expertise in financial services and investment management gained working with startups, private and public companies as well for the experience she gained while working at Bank of America/Merril Lynch and State Street on domestic and offshore mutual funds and ETFs.

The other independent board members include Paul A. Brooke, 78, John Glazer, 58, Russell O. Vernon, 66 and Chester N. Watson, 73. The board’s single interested director is Paul Battaglia, 45, who joined the Funds’ adviser Manning & Napier Advisors, LLC in 2004 and has served as chairman and director of since 2018.

Compensation for board members, who are responsible for oversight of 14 funds, ranged between $122,000 and $160,000 during the fiscal year ending Oct. 31, 2022.

Samantha Larew, 43, who joined an earlier incarnation of the firm in 2011, has been chief compliance officer for the Funds since 2019.

The Funds’ adviser is Manning & Napier Advisors, LLC, which is the successor incarnation of the company previously known at Manning & Napier Advisors, Inc.

Eunice K. Chapon

• Director of operations and business development, BrightEdge/American Cancer Society, 2022 – Present
• General counsel/COO, Decency Global, Inc., 2021 – 2022
• Head of legal, global distribution, Natixis Investment Managers, 2018 – 2021
• VP and counsel, Natixis Investment Managers, 2016 – 2018
• Asst. gen counsel/director, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, 2010 – 2015
• VP/Sr. Counsel, State Street, 2006 – 2010
• Partner, Choate, Hall & Stewart LLP, 2004 – 2006