News release | Karen Doron
WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. (March 5, 2020) – Jack Ehnes, chief executive officer of the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), initially announced his September 2020 retirement at the March 2020 Teachers’ Retirement Board meeting. Following this announcement, the board requested he continue to serve until June 30, 2021, to allow more time to conduct a search for his successor. Ehnes joined CalSTRS as CEO in February 2002.
“We have demonstrated the value that a defined benefit pension plays in attracting and retaining California’s quality public educators,” said Ehnes. “The staff, leadership and board have successfully implemented a path to full funding, which has restored retirement security to California’s public educators. This has transformed CalSTRS into a sustainable organization that will be here for teachers for generations to come.”
Early in Ehnes’ tenure, reform efforts threatened to significantly reduce or eliminate altogether public pension plans’ ability to provide secure retirement benefits. During that time, CalSTRS evolved as a leader in the debate, emerging from those turbulent times with a solid long-term funding plan in place and a benefit structure that continues to provide educators with a rewarding retirement.
Ehnes has promoted a vibrant work culture based on core values, ethics and delivering high quality service to CalSTRS members. Sustainable practices have been integrated throughout the organization. As a result, CalSTRS has become a model for other public agencies and a highly sought-after place of employment.
Service delivery to its educator membership has significantly strengthened through the establishment of member service centers throughout California, as well as a variety of online tools to enhance retirement decision making. In yearly surveys of members, they have consistently expressed their trust in CalSTRS for protecting their retirement.
Ehnes is the past board chair of the Council of Institutional Investors and placed great importance on effective governance. CalSTRS has been highly attentive to best practices and made many improvements in its own operational governance, as well through engagement with the companies of which it has invested.
“Under Jack’s leadership, CalSTRS has weathered the challenges of financial market downturns and pension reform efforts. He has also been a global leader on sustainability,” said Teachers’ Retirement Board Chair Sharon Hendricks. “I believe his biggest contribution has been his commitment to diversity and developing highly skilled staff at every level. He is leaving us with a capable team of professionals who will carry on the mission of CalSTRS. That is his legacy.”
Ehnes is currently chairman of the FTSE Green Industries Advisory Committee and vice-chair of the FTSE Sustainable Investment Advisory Committee in London. He is the board vice-chair of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) in Amsterdam. He currently serves on the boards of Ceres (a national network of investors and environmental organizations working to address sustainability challenges) and is past president of the National Council on Teacher Retirement (NCTR). Ehnes also serves as a public governor on the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) in Washington D.C.
The Teachers’ Retirement Board will form a search committee and secure an executive search firm to assist its efforts later this year.
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CalSTRS provides a secure retirement to more than 964,000 members whose CalSTRS-covered service is not eligible for Social Security participation. Members retire on average after more than 24 years in the classroom with a monthly benefit of approximately $4,547. Established in 1913, CalSTRS is the largest educator-only pension fund in the world with approximately $246 billion in assets under management. CalSTRS demonstrates its strong commitment to long-term corporate sustainability principles in its annual Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Report. For more information, visit CalSTRS.com.