(AMHERST, Mass., August 1, 2019) — Amherst College today named Letitia Johnson its new chief investment officer, responsible for the management and oversight of the College’s $2.9 billion long-term investment pool (LTIP), composed of the endowments of Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts; the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.; and several long-term College reserves. Johnson joins the College from global investment firm Cambridge Associates. At Amherst, she will report to Chief Financial and Administrative Officer Kevin Weinman. Her appointment is effective Sept. 9, 2019. She succeeds current CIO Mauricia Geissler, who has served in the role since 2003.
Johnson has spent her entire career at Cambridge Associates, based in its Boston office. Since 2015, she has served as managing director and Endowment & Foundation Team lead, managing more than 10 portfolios and clients ranging from $100 million to $4 billion and with total assets of more than $7 billion. Before that, Johnson was a managing director, beginning in 2011, and joined the firm in 2006 as an investment director. She graduated from Brown University with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and earned an MBA from Yale’s School of Management.
“I am thrilled to be joining the Amherst College community,” said Johnson. "Being able to focus on and contribute to one single portfolio and mission is a wonderful opportunity. I look forward to partnering with the investment and leadership team, the board and the broader Amherst constituencies in the important task of managing an endowment that is critical to the current and future success of the College and Library.”
“I am delighted that Letitia will be taking over the management of the endowment,” said Biddy Martin, president of the College. “The wise investment of gifts to the College has allowed Amherst to deliver on its mission for almost 200 years and will continue to make an Amherst education possible for exceptional students, regardless of means.”
As a result of the generosity of supporters and positive investment returns over time, spending from the College and Library endowments constitutes a majority of annual budgetary support for each institution. Amherst’s endowment is anticipated to fund 53 percent of its current fiscal year operating budget, one of the highest rates in higher education. This draw supports the recruitment and hiring of the best faculty, as well as the admittance of the most qualified students without regard for their financial circumstances. As a result, nearly 60 percent of Amherst students receive grant-based financial aid from the College, averaging more than$50,000 per student annually. The endowment funds an even higher proportion of the Folger Shakespeare Library’s budget, more than 60 percent in the most recent fiscal year.
“The mission of Amherst College, the caliber of the investment portfolio and the talented investment team are each a valuable asset,” said Simon Krinsky ’96, a member of the Amherst College board of trustees and chair of its investment committee. “That combination was very attractive to a wide array of candidates. In Letitia, we have found an experienced investor with excellent leadership skills, high EQ, humility and vision. In short, we have found the person we need to steward our endowment for many years to come.”
“I am excited that Letitia will be stepping into this crucial role,” said Weinman. “She impressed me and the search committee with her deep enthusiasm for the ambitious mission of the College and the Library, and a clear understanding of the critical importance of the endowment to achieving the goals of each.”
Geissler joined Amherst as its first chief investment officer. During her 16-year career at the College, the endowment grew from approximately $900 million to its current $2.4 billion level, while distributing more than $1 billion to support the College. She created and mentored a skilled team of eight investment professionals and instituted a popular student intern program. In addition to her investment insights and expertise, Geissler is recognized nationally for her attentive leadership and dedicated support of her team. She was named one of Trusted Insight's 2018 Top 30 Endowment Chief Investment Officers.
“I am deeply grateful for the many contributions made by Mauricia over a lengthy and distinguished period of service to Amherst College,” Krinsky said. “She built the investment function at Amherst College from scratch and leaves behind a talented and dedicated team of professionals committed to the ongoing success of the College. On behalf of the investment committee of the board of trustees, I thank Mauricia for her incredible work.”
David Barrett Partners conducted the CIO search on behalf of the College. In addition to Weinman and Krinsky, the search committee included Amherst College board member Dwight Poler ’87, investment committee member Ben Gomez, and Cait Haught ’10.
Amherst College prepares students to use ideas to make a difference in the world. Since its founding, in 1821, in Western Massachusetts, Amherst has demonstrated steadfast confidence in the value of the liberal arts and the importance of critical thinking. Today, its financial aid program is among the most substantial in the nation, and its student body is among the most diverse. Small classes, an open curriculum and a singular focus on undergraduate education ensure that leading scholars engage daily with talented, curious students, equipping them for leadership in an increasingly global and complex world. The College will celebrate its bicentennial in 2021.
Folger Shakespeare Library is the world’s largest Shakespeare collection, the ultimate resource for exploring Shakespeare and his world. The Folger welcomes millions of visitors online and in person. We provide unparalleled access to a huge array of resources, from original sources to modern interpretations. With the Folger, you can experience the power of performance, the wonder of exhibitions, and the excitement of pathbreaking research. We offer the opportunity to see and even work with early modern sources, driving discovery and transforming education for students of all ages. Join us online, on the road, or in Washington, DC.