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Remembering David Villa

David Villa, Executive Director and Chief Investment Officer of the State of Wisconsin Investment Board, passed away at the age of 66.

Leaving a Lasting Footprint on the National Society of Hispanic MBAs (now Prospanica)

Our founders remember David Villa and his impact on the organization. 

Victor Arias: Co-Founder of Prospanica fka NSHMBA

"I just found out this morning that my dear friend David Villa passed away.  He suffered from cancer for two years.  He helped us tremendously as the co-founder of the Chicago chapter for NSHMBA and also was the founder of the Summer Enrichment Program.  Years later, I also helped place him on the Marguerite Casey Foundation board which he was still a part of. He was an incredible investment professional and was admired by many. He is survived by his wife Jane and daughter Elena.  We will miss him tremendously." 

Henry Hernandez, Jr.: Co-Founder of Prospanica fka NSHMBA

"David Villa was a great man and strong leader, and I will miss him. He served as National President/Chair in 1992 during an important time for the organization. He instituted strategic improvements that were key to the organization’s long-term structure: hiring a CPA to manage the books, changing auditors, instituting the use of a centralized bank for all chapters, and overall best practices for managing NSHMBA more professionally. 
He was also the co-founder and first President of the Chicago chapter in 1988 and built a strong foundation for the chapter’s success. He had a tough personality, but he had a way of showing his thoughtfulness. He was passionate about his work and career and always had the best intentions for NSHMBA, now Prospanica, for protecting its integrity and brand.”

His Passion for Change & Commitment to Challenging the Status Quo
This is an excerpt. Read the full article.

February 16, 2021 - Amanda White, Editor of remembers David as "a unique thinker and generous with his ideas. It was hard not to be swept away by his passion for change.” In her article we see the impact that David had on the investment industry and his commitment to change the status quo.

David had been with the State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB) since 2006 when he joined as chief investment officer and was named executive director in 2018. His contributions were many from a new asset allocation strategy that shifted its allocation out of equities into fixed income and added leverage. The approach has been a big contributor to SWIB’s fully funded status. 

In 2013, David presented two years of research he had worked on with Sorina Zahan, partner and chief investment officer of Chicago-based Core Capital Management, at the Fiduciary Investors Symposium. Their study showed how hybrid pension schemes, combining both defined contribution and defined benefit characteristics, are best for governance because they align interest of both employees and sponsors. It’s another example of his commitment to the fact he was managing other people’s money but also a commitment to investigating efficiency and challenging the status quo.

Under David’s leadership, the State of Wisconsin Investment Board has become renowned for its diverse investment strategy, internal management, benchmark-beating results, and fully funded status. In 2016, under David’s leadership, the $120 billion funds have grown its internal management from 21 percent to over 50 percent of assets, generated strong returns at a lower cost than its peers, and during the last five years added $1.9 billion above its performance benchmarks. 

David was a lifelong learner, with degrees from Princeton, Stanford, and Northwestern universities. He was always looking to the future, and more recently that included some monumental transformation of the internal systems and the use of technology to manage and monitor the portfolio. He was a bright light in bringing public pension fund processes in from the dark ages.

David Villa is well remembered and will be missed.

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