This Ultra-Competitive CIO Search Has a Winner

The new $3 billion Mother Cabrini Health Foundation has picked its inaugural investment chief, luring him away from a peer institution.


A major new foundation has hired Colin Ambrose — currently chief investment officer of the UJA-Federation of New York — as its first CIO, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter.

The Mother Cabrini Health Foundation starts its life with $3.2 billion in cash, raised from the Catholic Church’s sale of a nonprofit health plan to a for-profit company.

Ambrose will be responsible for building an investment portfolio and team at the New York City-based organization, one source said. Ambrose could not be reached for comment.

He has spent the last nine years as CIO of the Jewish charity, according to his LinkedIn profile. The UJA-Federation of New York reported $1.4 billion in assets as of June 30, 2017, including $1 billion worth of investments.

Ambrose will be stepping up to a larger asset pool at Mother Cabrini, but he has built a portfolio from the ground up before. The Wesleyan graduate started the Juilliard School’s investment office as its first CIO, overseeing a $570 million fund, according to a 2005 Institutional Investor profile. “It’s the opportunity of a lifetime,” Ambrose, then 36, told II at the time. “It’s Juilliard.”


Between Juilliard and the UJA-Federation, Ambrose served as a partner at two boutique asset management firms, according to a bio posted by the CFA Society of New York.

Executive recruiting firm David Barrett Partners facilitated the search, and did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

[II Deep Dive: New $3 Billion Foundation Needs a CIO — And, Eventually, Asset Managers]

This CIO role ignited much interest among investors due to Mother Cabrini’s location, the opportunity to start a portfolio from scratch, and the generally high compensation offered by endowments and foundations of that size.

The foundation has appointed a dozen prominent board members and an interim CEO — former New York Archdiocese chancellor Gregory Mustaciuolo — a spokesperson for the archdiocese told II last fall.

Mother Cabrini’s other board members reportedly include former New York Stock Exchange president Catherine Kinney, who also chairs the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York; Morgan Stanley vice chairman for wealth management Carla Harris; Goya Foods CEO Robert Unanue; hospital system president and Ascension health organization executive Kathryn Connerton; and Stanley Grayson, a former leader at investment bank M.R. Beal & Co.

The foundation will provide up to $150 million in annual grants, according to Ascension’s June 2018 announcement of Connerton’s board seat. Its activities “will focus on improving the health and well-being of poor and underserved New Yorkers across all parts of the state, including immigrant and other marginalized communities.”

At $3.2 billion, Mother Cabrini ranks among the country’s 25 largest grant-making foundations, according to National Philanthropic Trust figures. It will be the largest focused solely on New York State, Ascension said.