Philanthropy beat: Cargill Philanthropies' new CIO takes helm

  • Article by: JEAN HOPFENSPERGER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 12, 2012 - 11:51 PM

Shawn Wischmeier isn't much for superstition. But his last name can be roughly translated into "grain merchandiser'' in German. And last week, he became the new chief investment officer of a foundation built on grain industry wealth -- the Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies.

"Small world,'' he quipped.

Wischmeier, 37, will manage $6 billion in assets held by the three foundations that make up Minnesota's biggest philanthropy. They are the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, the Anne Ray Charitable Trust and the Akaloa Resource Foundation.

The new CIO comes to Minnesota -- and philanthropy -- via the public and private sectors. Most recently, he was CIO of North Carolina's Department of State Treasurer, overseeing the $75 billion state employee pension fund and more. He also worked five years as CIO of Indiana's $17 billion state employee retirement fund.

Before that, he held various positions at Eli Lilly and Company in Indianapolis.

Although he had heard about Margaret Cargill Philanthropies, it wasn't until a recruiter told him about the CIO position that he wound up pursuing a job with oddly close ties to his German ancestors.

"This is a unique opportunity,'' he said. "Entering on the ground floor and building out the team and investment strategy was very appealing.''

In addition, he said he was attracted to the idea of managing money "to do good things.''

Christine Morse, chief executive officer at Cargill's philanthropies, said Wischmeier was a good match. "In addition to Shawn's deep finance and investment experience, we were attracted to his strong sense of values,'' Morse said. "We are driven by our vision and values, and it is important to us to have an investment leader who is excited about reflecting those in this important position.''

A native of Indiana, Wischmeier holds a B.A. in chemical engineering from the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Indiana and an MBA from Northwestern University.

Jean Hopfensperger • 612-673-4511

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