The State Universities Retirement System — Chief Diversity Officer

The State Universities Retirement System (SURS) invites nominations, expressions of intent and applications for an exceptional leader to serve as the founding Chief Diversity Officer (CDO). Under the direction of the Executive Director, the CDO will support the organization through the development, implementation, and coordination of efforts to foster an inclusive environment. The CDO will help develop and support a strategy that will lead to a comprehensive and actionable company-wide diversity strategy that builds upon the organization’s ability to attract, respect, support and celebrate diversity in all forms. The CDO will also be tasked with developing a diversity subcontracting policy to ensure the engagement of minority owned money managers as well as other contractors by SURS.

SURS is the administrator of a cost-sharing, multiple employer, public employee retirement system that provides retirement, survivor, disability and death benefits to employees of Illinois state universities, community colleges, and certain other affiliated organizations and agencies. SURS was created in 1941, by an act of the Illinois General Assembly, and is governed by the Illinois Pension Code (40 ILCS 5/15-101 et seq.). In 1963, the System adopted its current name, State Universities Retirement System (SURS) and in the following years, the System grew to include other universities, colleges and affiliated agencies throughout the state.

SURS currently provides benefit services to over 230,000 members throughout the world who work for 61 employers. SURS is responsible for investing assets of more than $19 billion in a diversified portfolio of U.S. and foreign stocks, bonds, real estate and alternative investments. SURS also administers a defined contribution plan, the Self-Managed Plan, which currently has assets of approximately $2.2 billion. Northern Trust serves as SURS’ master trustee custodian. SURS currently employs approximately 148 staff, located in offices in Champaign and Naperville, Illinois.

The ideal candidate will possess a bachelor’s degree and demonstrate progressive administrative responsibilities throughout their career. Preference will be given to those candidates who possess an advanced degree. The candidate will possess a track record of success coordinating and/or leading a broad range of diversity initiatives to include experience developing programs and coordinating and facilitating workshops; experience contracting and subcontracting with historically underrepresented groups, financial services, and recruitment of diverse money managers; the ability to think strategically; and an understanding of how to engage and build productive relationships.

Additionally, the successful candidate will have the following personal qualifications and characteristics: the highest professional and personal integrity; a genuine appreciation for fostering diversity, equity and inclusion; the ability to work independently and cooperatively with various levels of administrators and staff; superior verbal and written communication skills; excellent judgment and organization skills; demonstrated experience as a collaborator who inspires confidence and trust; and experience working with minority contracting, subcontracting, financial services and diverse money managers.

Greenwood/Asher & Associates, Inc., an executive search firm, is assisting the SURS in the search. Review of confidential applications and nominations will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. Screening of candidates will begin immediately. A complete application includes a letter of interest describing experience relevant to the position requirements; current resume/curriculum vitae; and contact information for five professional references. Nominations should include the nominee’s name, position, address, telephone number and email. Application materials should be submitted electronically as PDF attachments.

Confidential inquiries, nominations and application materials should be directed to:

Marion Frenche, Practice Leader, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Search Manager and Senior Executive Search Consultant
Itza Walters, Executive Search Consultant
Greenwood/Asher & Associates, Inc.
42 Business Center Drive,
Suite 206 Miramar Beach, Florida 32550
Phone: 850-650-2277 / Fax: 850-650-2272

For more information about SURS, please visit

SURS does not discriminate because of race, color, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, military status, certain unfavorable discharges from military service, political affiliation, citizenship, ancestry, national origin, physical or mental handicap or disability or any other characteristic protected by law. It is the System’s intent to comply with all state, federal, and local equal employment and opportunity laws and public policies.