Ash Williams Named CIO of the Year at Innovation Awards Gala

Robin Diamonte receives Lifetime Achievement Award as enthusiastic crowd of 340, including 113 asset owners, applauds the prowess of vibrant leaders.

Robin Diamonte receives Lifetime Achievement Award as enthusiastic crowd of 340, including 113 asset owners, applauds the prowess of vibrant leaders.

Ash Williams, chief investment officer and executive director of the Florida State Board of Administration (SBA), received the CIO of the Year Award at CIO’s 10th annual Industry Innovation Awards on Thursday evening.

The enthusiastic crowd of 340 leapt to its feet twice for Williams, who received the honor at the awards gala at the sumptuous New York Public Library.  The award was bestowed by last year’s winner, Chris Ailman, CIO of California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS).

Williams drew humorous parallels between his work and riding his beloved motorcycle. “Google the word ‘gentleman,’ and his picture shows up,” Ailman said. Williams received the CIO Lifetime Achievement Award two years ago.

Robin Diamonte, one of the nation’s most dynamic CIOs, was presented with this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award, as her peers and other financial services notables also gave her a standing ovation.  “I’ve learned to be both demanding and empathetic at the same time,” she said.

The presentation to Diamonte, corporate vice president and chief investment officer of UTC, She was introduced by Thomas Britton “Britt” Harris IV, CIO of the University of the Texas Investment Management Company (UTIMCO), who regaled the audience with tales of her drive and big heart.

In addition, Elizabeth Jourdan, deputy CIO at Mercy Hospital in St. Louis, was voted NextGen of the Year. Scott Williamson, head of the BlackRock iShares US Asset Owner business development team, gave the award to Jourdan.

The selection was made after concluding a six-member hotseat panel of finalists for the honor. The grilling at CIO’s Influential Investors Forum at the Harvard Club was moderated by Chad Myrhe, director of investment at the Heinz Family Office, and last year’s winner. The audience of more than 100 asset allocators was polled.

Other winners are as follows:



Charles Van Vleet (Textron)

Corporate Defined Benefit Plan Below $20 Billion

 Jonathan Glidden (Delta Air Lines)

Corporate Defined Benefit Plan Above $20 Billion 

Rob Sparling (Dow Chemical)

Defined Contribution Plan 

Mark Fawcett  (NEST)


Mark Baumgartner (Institute for Advanced Study)


Ben Meng  (CalPERS)


 Joel Wittenberg (W.K. Kellogg Foundation)

Health Care Organization

 Leslie Lenzo (Advocate Aurora Health)

Public Defined Benefit Below $20 Billion 

Elizabeth Burton (Hawaii Employees Retirement System)

Public Defined Benefit Between $20-100 Billion

 Jim Grossman (PA PSERS)

Public Defined Benefit Above $100 Billion 

Ash Williams (Florida State Board of Investment)

Risk Management 

Vincent Morin (Air Canada)

Sovereign Wealth Fund 

Marcus Frampton (Alaska Permanent Fund)


Consultant of the Year 

Nolan Bean (Fund Evaluation Group)

Corporate Strategies


Data Tech


Defined Contribution

State Street Global Advisors

Emerging Markets

UBS Asset Management


Breckinridge Capital Advisors

Fixed Income

Beach Point Capital Management

Hedge Fund

Bridgewater Associates




Partners Capital

Private Credit

Owl Rock Capital Group,

Private Equity

Redbird Capital Partners

Public Equity

Ariel Investments

Real Assets

Actis Capital

Transition Management


Hashtags for the Thursday events: #2019CIOInnovationAwards and #2019CIOInfluentialInvestorsForum

Related stories:

2019 Industry Innovation Awards

Top CIO Finalists and Managers Announced for December 12 Innovation Awards Gala

In Crowd of more than 300, 105 Leading Asset Owners Celebrate Nominees during CIO Innovation Awards

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