She will be the first female CEO in the pension fund’s 108-year history
News release | Karen Doron
WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. (May 19, 2021) – The Teachers’ Retirement Board (Board) announced the appointment of Cassandra Lichnock as the new chief executive officer of the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS). CalSTRS is the world’s largest educator-only pension fund, with a 75% female membership. Lichnock will serve as the fund’s first female CEO, an important milestone demonstrating the Board’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. Her first day as CEO will be July 1, 2021.
A search committee of Board members was formed in March 2020 to recruit a replacement for current CEO Jack Ehnes, who is retiring on June 30, 2021. Executive recruitment firm Egon Zehnder assisted with the extensive global search. During a thorough and rigorous process, Lichnock emerged as the selected candidate in a highly qualified pool.
As CEO, Lichnock will build and execute strategy, deliver on operational excellence, and forge a strong relationship with the Board. She will continue her leadership in modernizing CalSTRS systems and processes, build on the fund’s commitments to sustainability and diversity, and focus on evolving CalSTRS culture as the organization plans for a post-pandemic future.
“Cassandra’s experience and knowledge of CalSTRS operations and culture will ensure a smooth transition and continuity for our members, employees and stakeholders,” said Teachers’ Retirement Board Chair Harry Keiley. “She is the right choice to continue partnering with the Board, staff and executives to deliver on our mission to provide a secure retirement to California’s educators.”
Lichnock joined CalSTRS in August 2008 as the human resources executive officer and has served as Chief Operating Officer (COO) since March 2013. In this role, she oversees the Audit Services, Enterprise Strategy Management, Administrative Services, Benefits & Services, Public Affairs, and Technology Services divisions as well as the Ombuds office. She advises the Teachers’ Retirement Board and the CEO, ensuring that the most complex and critical operational issues and policy matters impacting the system are developed and implemented consistent with CalSTRS mission, vision and values.
“I am honored to have been chosen to take over the reins at CalSTRS from Jack Ehnes, a highly regarded CEO. Jack has been an extraordinary mentor and business partner. I plan to carry forward our work on improving service delivery to our members and ensuring their financial security in retirement,” said Cassandra Lichnock.
“I am already working with the Board and executives to build on the progress we’ve made on sustainability, social responsibility, diversity, equity and inclusion. It’s not lost on me that I am the first woman to lead CalSTRS. I am so proud of our culture. Our staff’s dedication to our mission and their work is what makes CalSTRS an outstanding organization and destination employer. I am excited to lead this organization as we take on the challenges and opportunities the future will present.”
A native of California, Lichnock holds a Bachelor of Arts in management from Golden Gate University, San Francisco, as well as an executive certificate in Technology Operations and Value Chain Management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and certificates in human resource management from Golden Gate University and labor management relations from the University of California, Davis.
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CalSTRS provides a secure retirement to more than 975,000 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 $299.8 billion in assets under management as of April 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 CalSTRS.com.