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CalSTRS announces Kristel Turko as new director of human resources

Turko joined CalSTRS in 2011 and has served as the assistant director of human resources for the last two years

News release | Rebecca Forée

Photo of Kristel Turko
Kristel Turko

WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. (October 27, 2021) – The California State Teachers’ Retirement System, the world’s largest educator-only pension fund, is pleased to announce the appointment of Kristel Turko as the director of human resources. She replaces Melissa Norcia, who became CalSTRS’ chief administrative officer in September 2021. Turko’s first day as the director of human resources was October 18, 2021.

In her new role, Turko is leading the human resources division and executing CalSTRS’ strategic workforce goals, projects and priorities. Two of those priorities include assisting with the management of internal resources that support an investment strategy known as the CalSTRS Collaborative Model, which brings more assets internally to reduce costs, and the Pension Solution Project, a modernized pension administration process that will help CalSTRS fulfill the mission of securing the financial future of California’s educators.

“Kristel has been a human resources professional for more than 18 years and is highly regarded by her peers in the industry and especially by the staff at CalSTRS,” said Norcia. “I am confident she will continue to provide strong leadership and support to the organization as we grow and transform in the years ahead.”

Turko joined CalSTRS in 2011 as a staff services manager II in the personnel services unit and was promoted to various leadership roles before being appointed assistant director of human resources in 2019. As assistant director, Turko oversaw the development and implementation of policies and programs and provided leadership, management and policy direction for various human resources programs, including talent management, workforce strategy and succession planning, diversity and inclusion, and payroll and leave benefits.

“As the granddaughter of a former California public educator, the mission of our organization is personal,” said Turko. “I am so fortunate to be a part of the greatest human resources team and now I have the pleasure of leading this group of professionals. In the tradition of the previous director of human resources, I hope to continue to inspire my team through leadership by example.”

A native of Lincoln, California, Turko holds certificates in professional human resources from the HR Certification Institute and the Society for Human Resource Management.

Media contact

Rebecca Forée
Phone: 916-414-1440
M-F, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. PDT

About CalSTRS

CalSTRS provides a secure retirement to more than 980,000 members and beneficiaries whose CalSTRS-covered service is not eligible for Social Security participation. On average, members who retired in 2020–21 had 25 years of service and a monthly benefit of $4,813. Established in 1913, CalSTRS is the largest educator-only pension fund in the world with $312.2 billion in assets under management as of September 30, 2021. CalSTRS demonstrates its strong commitment to long-term corporate sustainability principles in its annual Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Report. For more information, visit