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2016

Top 30 Public Pension Chief Investment Officers

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In 2016, pension funds have faced immense challenges as choppy, low-return public markets and persistent low interest rates have pushed institutions to saturate private markets in search of alpha amid a highly uncertain global political and economic atmosphere. Despite daunting conditions, these 30 chief investment officers have expertly structured their portfolios to mitigate risk while maintaining their long-term goal of capital preservation. Presenting Trusted Insight’s Top 30 Public Pension Chief Investment Officers. Gain more insights from top chief investment officers at Trusted Insight Alpha Conference.

John Skjervem leads an investment team at the Oregon State Treasury that manages a financial and real asset portfolio valued at $89.6 billion as of December 31, 2015. Prior to this position, he held various leadership and portfolio management roles at Northern Trust and was a director of the CFA Society of Chicago. Skjervem has a bachelor's degree in economics from University of California, Santa Barbara, and an MBA with concentrations in finance and statistics from University of Chicago, Booth School of Business. He also holds the chartered financial analyst designation.

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Vicki Fuller is the chief investment officer of the New York State Office of the State Comptroller. Prior to this role, she spent 25 years working at AllianceBernstein, an investment management and research firm. She has a degree in philosophy and accounting from Roosevelt University, and an MBA in international finance and marketing from the University of Chicago.

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Gary Bruebaker is the chief investment officer at Washington State Investment Board, where he oversees the management of $100 billion of pension and other public fund assets. Prior to this, Bruebaker was the deputy state treasurer for the Oregon State Treasury and a member on the Oregon Short-Term Fund Board, the Oregon Municipal Debt Advisory Commission and the Private Activity Bond Committee. Bruebaker has an MBA from the University of Oregon and a B.S. in business from Oregon State University. He is a chartered financial analyst.

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Ashbel Williams

Executive Director & Chief Investment Officer

Florida State Board of Administration

Ashbel Williams is the executive director and chief investment officer of Florida State Board of Administration. Prior to this, Williams was a managing director at Fir Tree Partners, an opportunistic value-oriented hedge fund headquartered in New York, and a president at Schroders. He has a B.S. and an MBA both from Florida State University. 

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Michael Brakebill is the chief investment officer at Tennesee Treasury Department. Prior to this, he was the head of domestic equity at the Teacher Retirement System of Texas. Before that, he worked at Wilsure Associates' equity management division. He has an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin and is a chartered financial analyst.

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Michael Trotsky is the executive director and chief investment officer of the Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Management (PRIM) Board, a pension fund with $62 billion assets under management. Trotsky's work at PRIM was preceded by a 25-year career in the private sector, most recently as senior vice president and portfolio manager at PAR Capital Management. Trotsky received a B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School.

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Ryan Parham is the chief investment officer at the Arizona State Retirement System. He has an MBA and J.D. from the Brigham Young University, and an undergraduate degree in English with a minor in mathematics from the University of Utah.

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David Villa is the chief investment officer of the State of Wisconsin Investment Board since 2006. He oversees the state pension's $99 billion assets. Prior to this, he was the chief investment officer for the Florida State Board of Administration and worked for UBS Global Asset Management/Brinson Partners as an executive director and client relationship manager. Villa has a B.A. in economics from Princeton University, an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Stanford University and an MBA from Northwestern University. He is a chartered financial analyst.

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Ronald Schmitz is the chief investment officer at Virginia Retirement System since 2011, where he oversees $51 billion of assets under management. Prior to this, he served as the chief investment officer at Oregon State Treasury for eight years. Schmitz began his career with Kraft Foods Inc., before gaining pension management experience at Sears, Roebuck & Co. He has also served as the director of investments for Blue Cross & Blue Shield Association. Schmitz has a bachelor's degree in accounting from Western Illinois University and an MBA from Northwestern University.

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Britt Harris is the chief investment officer of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas. He was the former chief investment officer of hedge fund giant Bridgewater Associates. Before that, he was the chief investment officer of Verizon Investment Management. Harris graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in finance in 1980. Outside the investment office, he serves actively in the investment community. He is the chairman of the Council for the Investment of Employee Benefit Assets, an advisor to the New York Stock Exchange, and a guest lecturer at several universities.

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Christopher Ailman is the chief investment officer of California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), where he oversees an investment portfolio valued at $193.2 billion as of September 30, 2016. Ailman joined CalSTRS in 2000 with more than 27 years of management experience in institutional investment. He leads a team of 117 investment staff members across asset classes. Prior to CalSTRS, he was the chief investment officer of Washington State Investment Board. Ailman has a B.A. in business economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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Tom Lopez is the chief investment officer at Los Angeles Fire and Police Pension System, which operates a defined benefit pension plan of $18 billion covering all firefighters and police officers of the City of Los Angeles. He has been with the pension for more than 29 years, including 16 years as the chief investment officer. Previously he worked for three general managers at the pension fund and dozens of commissioners. He is currently the longest serving employee in the investment department.

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Lorrie Tingle is the chief investment officer at the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) of Mississippi. She has been in this role since 1996, planning and directing the activities for the PERS' $24 billion investment pool to ensure the prudent management of the investment assets. Tingle holds an MBA from Mississippi College and a bachelor's degree in geology from the University of Alabama.

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Matt Clark is the investment officer at South Dakota Investment Council since 2005. He manages the investment function for State of South Dakota financial assets, including the South Dakota Retirement System and state trust funds. Prior to that, he was a deputy investment officer at the Council for four years. Clark received a B.S. in accounting from The University of South Dakota.

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Farouki Majeed is the chief investment officer at the Ohio School Employees Retirement System (SERS) since 2012, a pension with $12.6 billion in assets under management. Previously, Majeed served as a senior investment officer for CalPERS. He holds an MBA in finance and international business from Rutgers University.

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Scott Davis is the chief investment officer of the Indiana Public Retirement System, a pension fund with approximately $30.7 billion in assets under management, as of September 2016. He was appointed interim chief investment from September 2015 and officially assumed the role in June 2016. Previously he was the deputy chief investment officer and the director of public equity within the pension. Davis received a B.S. with honors in accounting and finance from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University.

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Steve Edmundson is the investment officer at the Public Employees' Retirement System of Nevada (NVPERS) since December 2012. He oversees all aspects of the system’s $34.9 billion (as of 2016) investment program, including investment operations, compliance, research, manager oversight, and implementation of investment strategy. He received a B.A. from Montana State University, Bozeman and a master's degree in public administration from the University of Nevada, Reno.

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Ted Eliopoulos assumed the role of chief investment officer at CalPERS in September 2014. He manages an investment portfolio of approximately $300 billion and an office with nearly 400 professional staff. Eliopoulos joined CalPERS in January 2007 as senior investment officer of real estate and was later named senior investment officer for the Real Assets Unit. Prior to CalPERS, Eliopoulos served in the California State Treasurer's Office as deputy treasurer and then chief deputy treasurer from 2002 to 2006. Eliopoulos received a bachelor's degree, magna cum laude with honors, from Dartmouth College, and holds a J.D. from the University of Virginia.

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Karl Polen was appointed chief investment officer at the Arizona State Retirement System (ASRS) in March 2016 and is responsible for the management of approximately $32 billion in ASRS assets. Polen has been with the ASRS since September 2010, serving as head of private markets prior to his appointment as chief investment officer. Polen has more than 30 years of investment management experience and has served as executive vice president of Pivotal Group Inc., and senior vice president and chief financial officer for Robson Communities Inc., among other positions.

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Girard Miller is the chief investment officer of Orange County Employees Retirement System, a pension with $13 billion in assets under management (as of 2016). Previously, he was the president of Janus Mutual Funds and also served as chief operating officer of Janus Capital Group, Inc. Miller earned a B.A. from the University of Washington, a Master's in Public Adminstration from Syracuse University, and a Master's in Economics from Wayne State University.

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Andrew Sawyer is chief investment officer of Maine Public Employees Retirement System. Sawyer serves on the board of directors at the Mitchell Institute, which supports Maine youth in their pursuit of higher education. Previously, Sawyer served as portfolio manager at Multinational Bank. Sawyer holds a BBA in Finance from University of Maine and an MBA from Pace University. Sawyer also holds chartered financial analyst and chartered alternative investment analyst designations.

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Stan Rupnik has served as chief investment officer at Teachers' Retirement System of the State of Illinois since 2003. Previously, Rupnik held investment roles at GE Asset Management and Wayne Hummer Investments. Rupnik holds a B.A. in economics and an MBA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Rupnik is a chartered financial analyst.

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Bruce Cundick is chief investment officer at the Utah Retirement System, which manages $27 billion in assets. Previously, Cundick held various positions at Beneficial Life Insurance Company and Deseret Federal Savings and Loan. Cundick holds a B.A. in accounting and an MBA from the University of Utah. Cundick is a chartered financial analyst and a certified public accountant.

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Brad Tillberg is chief investment officer at Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System. Previously, Tillberg held various investment roles at Frank Russell Company and Morley Capital. Tillberg holds a BBA from the University of Nebraska and a chartered financial analyst designation.

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Jennifer Paquette is the chief investment officer of the Colorado Public Employees' Retirement Association (Colorado PERA), a $40 billion pension plan. Prior to joining Colorado PERA, Paquette was vice president and institutional account executive for Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc. She received a M.S. from the London School of Economics and received a B.A. from Boston College.

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Deborah Spalding is the chief investment officer at the Office of State Treasurer Denise L. Nappier, which oversees the $30 billion Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds.  Prior to this, she was a managing partner at Working Lands Investment Partners and an executive vice president at Schroder Investment Management. She is a past Board Chair of the National Wildlife Federation, and is a Lecturer in Forest & Ecosystem Finance at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.  Deborah has a Master's degree in forestry from Yale University, an MBA from University of California, Berkeley, a Master’s degree in East Asian Religions from Harvard University and a B.A. from Tufts University.

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Scott Simon is chief investment officer at Fire & Police Pension Association of Colorado, which manages $3.4 billion in assets.

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Jeremy Wolfson

Chief Investment Officer at Los Angeles Department of Water and Power

Los Angeles Water & Power Employees' Retirement Plan

Jeremy Wolfson is the chief investment officer at Los Angeles Water and Power Employees' Retirement Plan (LADWP). He manages the $12 billion pension plan in asset classes including broad equity, fixed income, real estate, private equity, real return and cash. Prior to joining LADWP, Wolfson worked for the Los Angeles City Treasurer for two years where he managed the City's $7.5 billion fixed income portfolio and was promoted to chief investment officer just prior to transferring to the pension plan. He holds a B.S. in finance from California State University, Northridge and an MBA from Pepperdine University. He is also a member of the CFA Institute and the CAIA Association.

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