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New York’s UJA Foundation Quickly Replaces CIO

Devana Cohen takes over the $1 billion fund as her former boss departs.

The UJA-Federation of New York has promoted investment director Devana Cohen to chief investment officer, a foundation spokesperson told Institutional Investor in an email Wednesday. 

Cohen’s appointment comes one day after news broke that UJA’s then-CIO Colin Ambrose had taken a prominent role elsewhere. Ambrose is leaving the Jewish charity to build an investment office for the nascent Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, which has $3.2 billion in cash awaiting a portfolio.

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UJA’s investment fund totaled just over $1 billion as of June 30, 2017, according to its most recent annual report. 

Cohen has served as UJA’s director of investments since 2013, the spokesperson said. This is her first CIO role, following a decade and a half of experience at respected institutions. Prior to joining UJA, Cohen worked at the much larger Ford Foundation as an associate director of public markets. She spent the financial crisis years at the California Endowment, focusing on public assets, and the two years prior as a treasury and pension analyst for Toyota, her LinkedIn profile shows.  

Cohen earned her MBA in finance at the University of California Los Angeles in 2005. She also holds a dual chemistry-chemical engineering bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley. 

She did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

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