Changes continue at the top executive level of the California Public Employees' Retirement System, with the departure of Dennis Johnson, CalPERS' director of corporate governance.
Johnson is leaving to become the managing director of Shamrock Activist Value Fund. Johnson also intends on stepping down from the post as Chair of the Council of Institutional Investors Board of Directors. Johnson's departure was announced July 2 by Calpers.
He served three years as Director of Corporate Governance for CalPERS, heading the office that oversees a $7 billion corporate governance investment program, manages the Focus List program, governance policy development, and corporate engagement programs.
"This is an opportunity of a lifetime," said Johnson. "It is a perfect match of my corporate governance activism experience and my investment expertise. I have immensely enjoyed this opportunity to serve in the public sector and have so very much appreciated the 1,000 percent support from our Board, Executive Staff and the entire Investment Office. This new position is the next step on my career ladder. It presents a tremendous opportunity to apply my passion in a private sector environment and an opportunity to work for a company that shares the vision for high standards of corporate governance."
A search for Johnson's replacement is under way. In the interim, Eric Baggesen, senior investment officer for public equities will assume day-to-day leadership of the 17-member Corporate Governance team until a replacement is chosen.
Baggesen, to whom Johnson reported, also praised Johnson, noting that he and his team achieved support of 65 percent of votes cast for all CalPERS shareowner proposals last season, alone.
In other personnel-related news, Calpers said it has chosen Ridgeway Partners, a global executive search firm, to help recruit a new chief investment officer for the $232 billion pension fund.
Ridgeway is a leader in recruiting top management worldwide and will assist the pension fund in filling its top investment post in the coming months, Calpers said.
"We are pleased to have Ridgeway on board and are confident that they can bring top candidates for this job," said Rob Feckner, President of the CalPERS Board of Administration. "Our goal is to take the time necessary to find the best candidate who can help us manage our investment portfolio for the long-term."
Ridgeway will begin to develop a candidate profile for the position for CalPERS review. The search will be launched later this summer.
CalPERS CIO heads a staff of more than 220 investment professionals and support staff, and oversees global equity, private equity, fixed income, real estate, and inflation-linked asset classes – including activist corporate governance and hedge funds, commodities and infrastructure investments. The CIO also advises the policy-setting CalPERS Board of Administration on investment matters.
Interim Chief Investment Officer Anne Stausboll has been filling the position since former CIO Russell Read announced in April that he was stepping down on June 30 to pursue his longtime interest in environmental and clean tech investing.
CalPERS provides retirement and health benefits to 1.5 million public employees and retirees