CalPERS recruits Cohen as new CFO

California Public Employees’ Retirement System has hired Michael Cohen as its new chief financial officer. His appointment begins October 1, 2018. Previously, Cohen was a director at the California Department of Finance.


SACRAMENTO, Calif. – CalPERS today named Michael Cohen its new chief financial officer (CFO) to oversee all financial systems and risk programs of the $362 billion pension fund.

Cohen, who stepped down as the director the California Department of Finance last week, has more than 20 years of experience in government, with expertise in executive and financial leadership. Cohen had served as director of the Department of Finance since 2013.

“Michael’s experience managing the multi-billion dollar state budget on behalf of Governor Jerry Brown makes him a perfect fit to manage CalPERS’ complex financial operations,” said Marcie Frost, CalPERS chief executive officer. “As a CFO, Michael will continue to move CalPERS forward, and help identify prudent and innovative finance strategies that will strengthen our financial position.”

Cohen will begin as CFO on October 1, 2018.

Cohen will report to the CEO and be responsible for managing the finance processes, including budgeting, accounting, cash management, financial planning and analysis, and risk management projects. He also will be part of the executive leadership team and will provide expert consultation and advice to the CalPERS Board.

The CalPERS chief financial officer is not part of the Investment Office and not involved in investment decisions.

Prior to becoming director at the Department of Finance, Cohen served as chief deputy director of the department from 2011 to 2013. In this capacity, he was the department’s lead contact with the California Legislature on the state budget. From 1997 to 2010, Cohen worked at the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, serving as a local government finance analyst, director of state administration, and deputy legislative analyst.

Cohen earned a master’s degree in Public Affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, and a bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies from Stanford University. He lives in Sacramento with his wife.

Marlene Timberlake D’Adamo, who has been serving as interim chief financial officer, will return to her role as chief compliance officer. She reports to the CalPERS CEO and is part of the Executive leadership team.

“Marlene has done an outstanding job guiding our finance office as interim CFO and at the same time continuing as our chief compliance officer,” Frost said. “I’m deeply appreciative of her willingness to take on these challenges on behalf of CalPERS and our members.”

About CalPERS
For more than eight decades, CalPERS has built retirement and health security for state, school, and public agency members who invest their lifework in public service. Our pension fund serves more than 1.9 million members in the CalPERS retirement system and administers benefits for more than 1.4 million members and their families in our health program, making us the largest defined-benefit public pension in the U.S. CalPERS’ total fund market value currently stands at approximately $362 billion. For more information, visit