Sally Staley Breaks Money Management Ground

The Case Western Reserve University CIO has a history of being the first in a new job – then running with it.


Sally Staley has a knack for taking jobs for which she has no direct prior experience — and then making a big impact. “I love being the first person to hold a job,” she says, pointing to past roles as investment director at the State of Wisconsin Investment Board (1989–’95) and associate treasurer at Case Western Reserve University (2002–’06). “I enjoy what’s new and innovative, and it takes me to another level.”

Staley assumed her current position as CIO of Case Western a decade ago and now oversees five investment professionals who manage a $1.8 billion endowment fund, a $150 million defined benefit plan and $1.7 billion in 403(b) assets. Innovation has been the hallmark of her career at the university; she was one of the first endowment heads to hire a director of risk management, in April 2006, when she brought in former Smith Barney financial consultant Anjum Hussain.

After the financial crisis in 2008–’09, it became clear to Staley that the endowment’s then-focus on relative return ignored the role of risk. So in 2013 she led the investment committee to change the fund’s objectives, including redirecting the focus to nominal absolute-return targets for several benchmarks and revising its Sharpe ratio goal.

Recently, in response to the U.S. congressional effort to reform the tax code, led by Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, Staley, along with officials at 55 other large educational institutions, are pulling together data on spending and fund oversight.

Staley, 60, earned a master of international affairs degree from Columbia University in 1980 and began her career in international bond market research and sales under the legendary Henry Kaufman at Salomon Brothers. At Wisconsin she established the public pension fund’s international fixed-income program and managed an international bond portfolio.

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