Arizona pension CIO leaves for foundation role

Gary Dokes, the chief investment officer of the Arizona State Retirement System, is leaving to assume the same post at the Arizona Community Foundation.  

The Arizona State Retirement System's (ASRS) chief investment officer Gary Dokes is leaving his post at the end of this month to join the Arizona Community Foundation. He will be the foundation's first CIO.

Dokes has served as CIO at ASRS since 2003. He has worked at the system since 1997, first serving as head of the investment trading desk and as fixed-income portfolio manager. In recent years, he oversaw ASRS’s expansion of its private debt programme. 

The pension fund raised its target to private debt strategies to 10 percent from 3 percent a year ago and has since invested large chunks of money in funds and separate accounts managed by Ares Management, Blackstone/GSO, Highbridge Principal Strategies, Monroe Capital and Related Companies, among others.

The Arizona Community Foundation is creating the new CIO post as its assets have grown larger: from about $470 million in 2010 to $760 million as of 2 February this year. Dokes was already a member of the foundation’s investment committee for the past year.

“Today’s financial markets are more volatile and impacted by global influences than ever before,” Steve Seleznow, the foundation’s president and chief executive, said in a statement. “The board of directors and the executive leadership team felt the time was right to add this critical leadership position in light of the foundation’s tremendous growth over the past six years and the increasing complexity of its asset base.”

Dokes also serves on the boards of the Arizona Supplemental Retirement Savings Plans and has served on the investment committees overseeing the endowments of both the Arizona State University and the University of San Diego.

“Mr. Dokes has served the ASRS membership extremely well over the course of his 18 years at this agency,” ASRS executive director Paul Matson said in a statement. “During his tenure, the ASRS investment division has become recognised as a leader in public fund asset management with consistent top quartile performance. He will be missed and we wish him success in his new position.”

Matson said the pension fund will determined a succession plan in the next few weeks. “We have a very talented pool of investment professionals and I’m confident of a smooth transition.”