Denise Strack Has Endowment Management Down to a Science
Venture capital and real estate have been strong performers in the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s portfolio.
Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel Corp., established the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in 2000 to provide grants in science, environmental conservation, patient care improvement and San Francisco Bay Area preservation. Two years later the foundation’s then-CIO, Alice Ruth, tapped Denise Strack, director of private equity at Stanford Management Co., to be director of its private equity and real assets. When Ruth left in 2008 to oversee Michael Bloomberg’s family office, Strack moved into the CIO position at the then-$4.5 billion foundation. “We successfully navigated the financial crisis,” says Strack, 46, who credits the now-$6.5 billion fund’s success in large part to its access to top asset managers, particularly in venture capital and real estate. The foundation has also benefited from a stable investment committee and investment staffers who have been with the organization for an average of nine years.
“It makes us unique in the industry because we can deploy with a long-term mind-set,” Strack explains, pointing to the fund’s top-quartile performance relative to its peer group.
She attributes staff loyalty to the team’s belief that “the nonprofit mission makes the world a better place” and to the culture of work-life balance, especially for new parents.
Strack, who was once among the top 20 gymnasts in the U.S., credits the sport with building her ability to focus on long-term goals. The CIO, who attended Stanford University on an athletic scholarship, graduated with a BS in engineering in 1992 and an MBA in 1998, and worked at McKinsey & Co. before heading to Stanford’s endowment office. Since Strack’s ascension to CIO of the Moore Foundation, the organization has given away $1.68 billion.
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