Rick Smirl

SWIB Names New Executive Director

Rick Smirl has been appointed Executive Director of the State of Wisconsin Investment Board. Smirl comes to SWIB after serving as partner and chief operating officer at William Blair Investment Management. The firm provides investment solutions to individuals, pension funds, insurance companies, corporations, state and municipal government entities, sovereign wealth funds, and other leading institutional investors across the globe.

Smirl, who has more than 25 years of asset management industry experience with a demonstrated track record of success, begins his duties January 22.

"I was attracted to SWIB because of its compelling mission and focus on being a trusted and skilled global investment organization contributing to strong financial futures for the beneficiaries of the funds. That, coupled with my long-standing family ties to Wisconsin made this an exciting opportunity. I am looking forward to working on behalf of the public employees of the State of Wisconsin and building on SWIB's strong foundation as a pension fund leader," Smirl said.

As chief operating officer at Chicago-based William Blair Investment Management, Smirl oversaw all infrastructure activities across the firm's institutional asset management, mutual funds, and private wealth management businesses totaling more than $73.9 billion in assets under management. He also served as a member of the board of trustees of the firm's U.S. mutual funds and is a director of the European funds. The firm has more than 1,300 employees. Before joining William Blair in 2004, he served as the chief legal counsel of the former Milwaukee-based Strong Capital Management, an asset management firm that managed more than $50 billion in assets. He also was a partner at the law firm of Los Angeles-based Keesal, Young & Logan, where he counseled financial services firms.

The SWIB Board of Trustees conducted a nationwide search, which generated a large field of skilled and experienced applicants.

"We were impressed with the number and quality of applicants who were interested in leading SWIB," said David Stein, SWIB Board chairman. "We are excited to have chosen Rick, who possesses the management and leadership experience to lead an innovative, agile, and integrated investment organization like SWIB into the future."

Smirl replaces Michael Williamson, who became Executive Director in 2012 and recently retired.

Smirl holds a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of California at Irvine, and a Juris Doctorate from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. He has also completed an executive education program at the University of Virginia's Darden Graduate School of Business Administration.