Taking a page from the playbook of its participants, the Teachers' Retirement System of the State of Illinois, Springfield, has turned to education as a means of increasing the diversity of its investment staff.
Frustrated by the difficulty of attracting experienced minority investment professionals to TRS' headquarters in central Illinois, Richard W. Ingram, executive director of the $50 billion pension fund, turned for help to The Robert Toigo Foundation, Oakland, Calif.
The Toigo Foundation, with assets of $3 million, has a mission to promote diversity in the financial industry. The Toigo Fellowship program provides minority students with financial assistance for graduate school and matches employers and students for summer internships.
Jaime Rocha, a Toigo fellow who is pursuing an MBA at the University of Chicago, is the pension fund's first investment intern. He is spending the summer analyzing TRS' private equity portfolio under the tutelage of Kenyatta K. Matheny, senior investment officer-alternatives, a Toigo alumnus.
“We are trying to get these potential candidates young and give them a good investment management education. We intend to give them real work to do here,” Mr. Ingram said.
“We would be thrilled if the interns were interested in coming back to TRS after they've graduated, but even if they don't, we're hoping they'll go back to their universities and talk about why TRS is a great place to work,” Mr. Ingram said.