Cunningham, who will end her public service career on 31 December, has had an investment career spanning 35 years and was the first internal investment officer to be appointed at CalSTRS in 1991.
At the time of her hiring, CalSTRS’s total fund was valued at $35 billion. It now has assets totalling approximately $208.7 billion, as of 30 June 2017.
Promoted to director of fixed income in 1997, Cunningham was responsible for managing several portfolios, including mortgage-backed securities. She was made deputy CIO in 2012.
Christopher Ailman, CIO of CalSTRS, said: “She [Cunningham] is 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.”
Allan Emkin, managing director at Pension Consulting Alliance, which acts as general investment consultant to CalSTRS, said: “Michelle 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.”
A temporary replacement will be announced until a permanent replacement is hired.