CIO, Rockefeller Foundation
Since earning her MBA in 1978 from the University of North Carolina, Donna Dean has moved seamlessly among the worlds of pension funds, endowments and foundations. Dean stepped into her current role as CIO of the Rockefeller Foundation in 2000, after five years in the No. 2 position. Established in 1913 with a $250 million donation by John D. Rockefeller Sr. to promote the well-being of humanity, the fund is currently worth an equal amount in todays dollars $3.5 billion despite having given away $16 billion in real dollars.
Dean, whose mission is to preserve the corpus, in 2003 began to increase commitments to what she calls the funds Alpha Core private equity, hedge funds and real estate raising it from 18.3 percent to 58 percent of the portfolio by 2010. As these investments grew, she instituted an annual liquidity exercise to ensure there would be enough cash in a downturn to fund the foundations programs. In the second quarter of 2008, concerns about private equity led Dean to sell 10 percent of the foundations private equity holdings in the secondary market, while prices were still robust. That helped keep foundation programs afloat, producing a 6.8 percent annualized return over the five years ended December 2010.