The Winners

Nominations for the 2024 Allocator Prizes are now closed. Stay tuned for the nominees announcement soon!

2023 Winners

Team of the Year

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, led by CIO Ed Cass

For running arguably the best long-term investment organization ever, as the flagship for — inarguably — the world’s best pension investing nation. Judges pointed to the CPPIB-raised CIOs and senior executives plucked up to run funds worldwide. “One layer down, the talent is, if anything, even stronger.”

Idea of the Year

Steven Wilson, Director of Public Markets, Teacher Retirement System of Texas

For the creative, fun, and shockingly effective Pitch Perfect competition, now in its 10th year of attracting Texas’s best start-up asset managers for a shot at pitching star-studded judging panels.

Wilson spearheads the novel manager-sourcing strategy. The event flexes TRS’s gravitas (i.e. $160B) and his personal charm (more Steve Harvey than Simon Cowell) to promote Texas talent, seed the giant pension fund’s nursery of fledging managers, and inject a little fun into allocating retirement assets. Pitch Perfect just recently graduated its first manager from pitch contestant to TRS seedling and into the Grown-Up Portfolio. Proof of concept.

Investment Operations of the Year

Shaun Ng, Managing Director of Risk, Performance & Investment Operations, and his team at Cleveland Clinic

For going above and beyond at the $15B foundation by creating and implementing a suite of analytical tools to optimize portfolio management, to performance reporting, to staff training. Of Ng’s countless contributions to Cleveland Clinic’s investment office since joining in 2016, a nominator highlighted:

  • Development of a master trust, unitizing asset allocation and portfolio management for Cleveland’s four separate pension plans into a single structure so it could be funded. 
  • Used Cleveland Clinic’s internal data analytics and visualization tools to build a suite for the investment office, including more than 200 dashboards of dynamic data spanning from a bird’s eye view, right down to specific securities held by investment managers. 
  • Created a tracking tool to identify Credit Suisse’s risk to investment partners after the bank’s 2023 collapse and help firms migrate away from the bank until Cleveland’s exposure became negligible.

“Shaun has created an incredible team with very low turnover that continues to deliver for Cleveland Clinic every day,” says a colleague. “He has been an irreplaceable partner through thick and thin over the past seven years.”

Leader of the Year

Nancy Everett, CEO, Virginia Commonwealth University Investment Management Company

For the radical delegation of responsibility that allowed her progeny to become some of the world’s great investment leaders. Over her illustrious career, Everett has captained a major public pension in Virginia Retirement System, led GM’s pension through the company’s 2009 bankruptcy, and helmed BlackRock’s OCIO unit — all while cultivating the next generation’s finest investors. “Come on,” says a peer. “Is there a career that compares?!”

Best Bad Investment Idea

Canyon Chan, Senior Portfolio Strategist, CSAA Insurance Group

For his $5,000 S&P strike option call, a move described as “genius” by runner-up Steve Blundin. Chan’s bet was all but guaranteed to be worthless by the time the contest closed – a bet so certainly rotten he even tried to convince us to disallow it. “Are options allowed?” he asked us before the 2023 contest began. “That would seem too obvious a bad idea.”

Advisor of the Year

Janet Becker-Wold, Senior Vice President, Callan

For quietly excelling over almost 30 years as an advisor to leagues of institutional clients. An “investment consultant Swiss army knife,” Becker-Wold’s work for Callan spans asset allocation, manager research, investment policy analysis, and portfolio structure. As an international investing and currency management specialist, Becker-Wold speaks, writes, and publishes as a voice of global authority.

The Randy Kim Prize for Fiduciary of the Year

Jeanmarie Grisi, CIO, Nokia

For “getting the corporate board(s) to approve freezing retirees’ benefits through three mergers. Jean convinced them to protect the retirees, and has done so several times,” judges raved. How? “She earned their respect” in the boardroom navigating assets and plans through massively complex M&A deals. Clearly, Grisi has earned the respect of her brightest peers, as well.

Best Partner


For helping investors with portfolio heavy lifting or a quick gut check, time and again. Clients praise BlackRock’s proprietary portfolio management software Aladdin for unifying risk and management across public and private markets, allowing allocators to focus on doing what they do best. And BlackRock, meanwhile, keeps focusing on whatever allocators ask them to.

Institutional RIA of the Year

Buckingham Strategic Wealth

For the “very, very large” St. Louis RIA’s portfolio prowess that rivals any midtown Manhattan institutional manager. "This category is a really good idea,” one judge remarked. “Conversations I've had with these firms place them at the very top of sophistication and quality of any I deal with." Among heavyweight competitors, Buckingham is “a favorite.”

Best Citizen

Justin Reed, Co-CIO, Brown Brothers Harriman

For subtly, amiably making investments and relationships whirr. Those who work with Reed as a colleague, client, manager, or peer observe the same professional mastery. “I admire so much his management style, how he handles situations as they come up. When an issue arises, it can flare up into a bigger thing than it actually is, and he’s very good at just focusing in and solving the problems." A role model who’s active in DE&I and powerful in the C-suite, he’s also “the kinda guy I want to have a beer with,” a client says.

2022 Winners

Leader of the Year

Robert Manilla, CIO at Kresge Foundation

For raising talent, such as Hackensack Meridian’s Donna Snider, that “may one day even surpass Rob himself” — which is a high bar.

Advisor of the Year

Sarah Samuels, Partner and Head of Investment Manager Research at NEPC

For applying her firsthand experience as an allocator to the research engine room of a leading consulting firm, earning admiration from clients and envy from peers. Samuels built a reputation as “CIO material” while serving as deputy CIO at MassPRIM, before rounding out her institutional bona fides with a managing director role at Wellesley College.

NEPC spotted consultant material, too: the pairing has been tremendously successful. “She brought an incredibly important allocator perspective,” said one committee member, who nominated Samuels on the spot. “I think NEPC very smartly grabbed her to lead investments, and she’s done some really excellent work.”

Team of the Year

Meredith Jenkins, CIO, and the investment team, Trinity Wall Street

For taking the church’s real estate-dominated portfolio to a global, diversified powerhouse portfolio worth more than $6B, led by “dream-team duo” Jenkins and Nick Csickso, her deputy.

Best Citizen

Ted Seides, Podcaster and Investor at Capital Allocators

For exceptional contributions to the institutional investor community and visibility of its best people, work, and practices.

Seides’ famed podcasts “contribute to the sharing of knowledge, which is critical to success and yet not widely practiced,” wrote one prize committee member in nominating Seides, though they weren’t alone.“The podcasts are thought-provoking, by including people who many of us would not generally get exposed to, like a brain surgeon or decision-making guru. I especially appreciated Ted’s recent note on Melvin Capital which was tactful yet clear that they totally blew it.” His more recent venture Capital Allocators University “is long overdue, as there are few opportunities for professionals to gain this kind of exposure (and we all know that the CFA Institute can be a bit dull).”

And from a CIO at a big-name endowment: “Ted works tirelessly to bring meaningful and relevant content to his listeners from some of the best allocators and practitioners in the business. He makes us all smarter and better connected in this fast-paced and ever-changing world!”

Fiduciary of the Year

Collette Chilton, CIO and her team at Williams College

For the exceptional endowment performance under Chilton's leadership, which makes possible the college's super high-profile move to eliminate student loans.

“Collette will hate the attention, but she’s the best, and so is [deputy CIO] Abigail Wattley — it’s all the way down. Williams has to be in here,” a committee member said in deliberations, with universal agreement. The investor’s investment team has outperformed year after year, elevating Williams from “a normal small liberal arts college” to a funded force for education equity in the U.S.

Because of the remarkable investment team at Williams, generations of young people without rich parents will get to go to college, learn, and take risks. “Talk about making an impact.”

Idea of the Year

Clark Hoover, Investment Officer, and Rodney June, Chief Investment Officer at Los Angeles City Employees’ Retirement System

For speaking out on gender inequality at LACERS & its peers — and taking action to fix it at home.

In March, the mid-level investor Hoover wrote an internal letter to the leaders of L.A.’s three major public pension plans — including his own boss, or rather boss’s boss — raising alarm that no women were serving on any of their hiring committees. “I find this both embarrassing and unacceptable — and I hope that some of you do — especially given statements and actions made by some of us to increase diversity in the investment industry,” he wrote in the internal letter.

The next month, LACERS promoted ESG head Ellen Chen. Sharing the news, CIO Rodney June told The Allocator: “LACERS was able to have an executive-level woman on the interview panel. Ellen Chen was selected for the promotional position through a competitive selection process. LACERS appreciates input from staff to help us identify ways in which LACERS can grow and improve.

Best Partner

Baupost Group

For brave consistency through investment trend and market cycles, commanding more investor interest than there is fund capacity at almost any point.

Baupost immediately came up when the committee heard their Partner of the Year prompt: “Out of all the service providers to institutional capital — asset managers, but also data and tech firms, consultants, legal, whatever — who do you trust? Which ones go above and beyond their profit motive to serve the institutional mission?”

“Seth Klarman,” a member of selection panel replied. “Seth has got to be on there. Baupost has been so consistent, so successful, and so in-demand for decades.” What about the management fees charged on Baupost’s hefty cash position? A committee member laughed. “If you don’t want to pay their fees, no problem. Don’t invest. Anyone complaining probably can’t get in anyway.”

Best Bad Investment Idea

Al Hemmingsen

For his Hex Crypto bet, which lost 58.1% over the 12 months to August 1, beating Sam Gallo and John Greaves’ respective bets on steel futures and small-cap gold miners to clinch the top (bottom) spot.

Investment Operations of the Year

Kelly Sandquist, Director of Investment Operations, and her team at Grinnell College

For punching above their weight at the $3B endowment, which has best-in-class operations thanks to an outstanding internal team and a strong new partnership with outsourced provider Bitsync.

“Kelly is amazing,” praised a senior member of the investment team. “She reads all of our board books, makes sure the numbers work and the grammar flows. The ops team asked early on to stay on for investment meetings, which I've never seen before. They know what’s going into the portfolio, and I don’t even have to ask if things are set up.”

“This is my 3rd operations team, and the smallest one,” the Grinnell investor went on. “They deliver like they are 3x the size.”