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New Mexico’s Pension Replaces CIO

After losing its CIO to Los Angeles County, the state retirement fund has found its next one — Dominic Garcia — at the State of Wisconsin Investment Board’s vaunted investment team.

The New Mexico Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) has hired Dominic Garcia, head of external public markets investments at Wisconsin’s state pension fund, as its chief investment officer, Garcia confirmed to II.

PERA has been searching for a permanent CIO for its $15 billion portfolio since early spring, when Jonathan Grabel departed to lead the much larger Los Angeles County pension system.

For Garcia, the move puts him at the helm of an investment organization for the first time. He spent the last nine years working for the State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB), among the most sophisticated public pensions in the country and one of the few investing a substantial portion of its portfolio in-house.

[II Deep Dive: Wisconsin CIO David Villa Brings Asset Management In-House]

Garcia, as senior funds of funds manager, oversaw SWIB’s public markets assets invested with external managers.

A spokesperson for SWIB could not yet offer any details on how Garcia's role will be filled, but noted that the fund continues to have a "very strong" team in place. "This is a great opportunity for Dominic," she said. 

For Garcia, the CIO position marks not only a step up professionally, but also a return home. Garcia was born and raised in New Mexico, and is relocating to Santa Fe ahead of his September 5 start date.

“For me, this is an opportunity to take what I’ve learned — the key principles and precepts that made SWIB successful — back to my home state, and to seek to integrate with the existing solid foundation to build an even stronger program," he said when reached by II.

PERA did not respond to request for comment by press time.

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