Hawaii pension fund hires Varela as CIO

Her appointment is effective January 17, 2023.

  • Most recently, she served as deputy chief investment officer and interim chief investment officer for the Public Employees Retirement Association of New Mexico
  • Varela succeeds Elizabeth Burton, who resigned at the end of June after nearly four years as CIO
  • Howard Hodel, who is serving as acting CIO, is retiring later in 2023

The Employees’ Retirement System of the State of Hawaii has named Kristin Varela as chief investment officer. Her appointment is effective January 17, 2023.

Varela holds nearly 15 years of experience in the institutional investment industry and has served in the public and private sectors throughout her career. Most recently, she served as deputy chief investment officer and interim chief investment officer for the Public Employees Retirement Association of New Mexico.

On Varela’s appointment, ERS Executive Director Thomas Williams said in a statement: “Public funds always benefit from hiring the best talent available. While a specific fund’s staffing needs may evolve over time, a constant is outstanding intellect, character, commitment, competence, and vision. Kristin checks all these boxes and more.”

Varela succeeds Elizabeth Burton, who resigned at the end of June after nearly four years as CIO. Howard Hodel, who is serving as acting CIO, is retiring later in 2023. Hodel has agreed to stay on to assist in the transition to new leadership.

Established in 1926, the ERS provides retirement allowances and other benefits to more than 149,000 retirees, beneficiaries, inactive vested members, and active public employees working for the State and the counties of Hawaii. The ERS has a $21.97 billion global investment portfolio.