Jack Ehnes, CEO of the $252.4 billion California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) announced at the pension fund’s board meeting Thursday that he plans to retire after more than 18 years at the helm. Ehnes said he will step down September 1 to give the fund’s board time to find a successor.
“I have reached that crossroads in life for some more adventures,” Ehnes said at the board meeting. “After much thinking, reflection, talking with family, it just felt like this was the right time to do this.”
Ehnes joined CalSTRS as CEO in February 2002.
“Almost my entire work life I have either been on a board or worked for a board,” Ehnes told the board. “Without doubt, I think the trust that we’ve established with you and the accountability that you demand from us has been special, and I can honestly say that we have all learned a lot together, and we’ve made sure the system has stayed honest.”
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 also the board vice chair of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) in Amsterdam. He currently serves on the boards of Ceres, which is a network of investors and environmental organizations, and is a past president of the National Council on Teacher Retirement. He also serves as a public governor on the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority in Washington, D.C.
“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,” CalSTRS board Chair Sharon Hendricks said in a statement. “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.”
Before joining CalSTRS, Ehnes was vice president, corporate affairs at insurance firm Great-West Life, and prior to that he was director, state risk management and employee benefits for the state of Colorado.
“Through my nearly 19 years, the organization has changed a real lot,” Ehnes said. “We changed a lot in 2002 from top to bottom, and then we changed again, and again, and again,” he said, adding that “this is an organization that doesn’t have that embedded resistance to change,” and “there’s a recognition that improvement matters a lot to everyone.”