News release Michelle Mussuto

CalSTRS Deputy CIO Announces Retirement After 27 Years
Michelle Cunningham’s investment career in public service is an understated success.

Michelle Cunningham

WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif., (Aug. 3, 2017) – The California State Teachers’ Retirement System’s Deputy Chief Investment Officer Michelle Cunningham announced her retirement from an investment career spanning 35 years—27 of which have been with CalSTRS.

Ms. Cunningham has the distinction of being the first ever internal investment officer hired by CalSTRS. Prior to hiring Ms. Cunningham, all of the investment staff, including the chief investment officer and asset class directors, were external contractors. She was hired in 1991 as an Investment Officer for the Fixed Income asset class where she managed several portfolios including, mortgage-backed, U.S. Treasury, foreign currency and securities lending. At the time CalSTRS’ total fund was valued at $35 billion.

“Michelle Cunningham is well-respected, and our staff naturally want to do their best for her.”

Christopher J. Ailman
CalSTRS Chief Investment Officer

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“There has been enormous change in the investment industry over the last quarter century, and CalSTRS staff, members and I have been the beneficiaries of Michelle’s selfless efforts to navigate the change. Underneath her soft-spoken, humble demeanor she’s a commanding force to reckon with; this combination of traits defined her leadership style. She’s well-respected, and our staff naturally want to do their best for her. She has been instrumental at helping us achieve superior returns,” said CalSTRS Chief Investment Officer Christopher J. Ailman. “For me personally, she has been a confidante and true partner in managing this diverse staff and complex portfolio. Michelle will be greatly missed and very difficult to replace.”

Ms. Cunningham was promoted to director of fixed income in 1997. In 2012, she was elevated to Deputy CIO—a position that oversees all asset management activities and provides direction to the team of asset class directors.

“Michelle Cunningham has been a confidante and true partner in managing this diverse staff and complex portfolio.”

Christopher J. Ailman
CalSTRS Chief Investment Officer

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“In my many years of having the privilege of working with Ms. Cunningham, I have developed enormous respect and admiration for her professionalism and common sense. It’s rare to find someone with her humility and humanity in the competitive world of finance,” stated Pension Consulting Alliance Managing Director Allan Emkin. “Ms. Cunningham will not be hard to replace—she will be impossible to replace. Whoever follows in her footsteps may do a great job, but they will never match the constant source of intelligence and friendship we’ve shared.”

About CalSTRS

The California State Teachers’ Retirement System, with a portfolio valued at $208.7 billion as of June 30, 2017, is the largest educator-only pension fund in the world. CalSTRS administers a hybrid retirement system, consisting of traditional defined benefit, cash balance and voluntary defined contribution plans. CalSTRS also provides disability and survivor benefits. CalSTRS serves California’s more than 914,000 public school educators and their families from the state’s 1,700 school districts, county offices of education and community college districts.

See how CalSTRS demonstrates its strong commitment to long-term corporate sustainability principles in its annual Global Reporting Initiative sustainability report: Global Stewardship at Work.

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