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Rockefeller Foundation CIO Donna Dean to Step Down

Dean plans to retire later this year from the $4.4 billion fund, with a successor in place.

The Rockefeller Foundation’s chief investment officer Donna Dean plans to retire toward the end of this year, the foundation announced Wednesday.  

The organization’s deputy CIO, Chun Lai, will take on the top job after Dean departs, the announcement said.  

Both Dean and Lai have served lengthy tenures at the Rockefeller Foundation. Dean joined in 1995 and Lai just a year later. Dean has led the foundation’s portfolio as CIO since 2001, when she was promoted from director of investments, according to the announcement.  

During her tenure, Rockefeller’s assets under management grew from $2.4 billion in 1995 to $4.4 billion in 2017. In addition to work at Rockefeller, Dean serves on the investment committee for Queens University of Charlotte and is a trustee at Harbor Funds, an asset manager.

Prior to joining Rockefeller, she worked under David Swensen at Yale University’s endowment. 

“It has been a dream come true to be able to use my investment skills on behalf of an organization that does such impactful work around the world,” the retiring chief said in a statement.  

“Donna is not only a trailblazer in the investment sector, she is an effective team builder and leader, and I am grateful for her mentorship,” Lai added.

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Lai managed the foundation’s hedge funds, distressed debt, real assets, and fixed income portfolios before moving into the deputy CIO post, the announcement said. He previously worked as the assistant investment officer for alternative investments at the State of Connecticut Retirement and Trust Funds.

“Chun’s proven experience, track record and leadership make him a natural fit to take on the role of chief investment officer,” said Rajiv Shah, president of the nonprofit, in a statement. “He brings investment excellence combined with a deep knowledge of the foundation and its mission.”

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