David Villa, the executive director and chief investment officer of the State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB), died on Saturday at the age of 66, SWIB reported Monday.
A cause of death was not announced.
Madison365 named Villa as one of Wisconsin’s most powerful Latino leaders in 2016.
“David’s passing is a huge loss for the state of Wisconsin,” said Juan José López, a longtime Latino community leader. “He brought the (SWIB’s) investments to a new level, to new heights. We have probably the best investments in the country, and that’s his leadership.”
“David Villa was an inspiration to Latinos and the broader Wisconsin community,” said Madison College Associate Dean Ramon Ortiz. “Under his stewardship the Wisconsin Retirement System became a model to be admired and emulated. He will be sadly missed by all of us.”
“SWIB and the State of Wisconsin have lost a visionary leader and a devoted public servant,” SWIB Board of Trustees Chairman David Stein said in a statement. “For 15 years, David worked tirelessly to build an organization committed to helping Wisconsin’s public sector employees to retire in dignity.”
In 2018, Villa earned a Lifetime Achievement Award at Institutional Investor’s Hedge Fund Industry Awards.
Under Villa’s leadership, SWIB had more than $98 billion in assets under management, representing the retirement funds of employees at every level of state and local government across Wisconsin. Villa joined SWIB in June 2006 after serving for two and a half years in a similar position in Florida and 12 years with UBS Global Asset Management.
He is a board member and the treasurer of the Marguerite Casey Foundation and a member of the board of Madison College Foundation and the advisory board of the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center.
He earned his bachelor’s or arts degree from Princeton, master’s degree from Stanford and MBA from Northwestern.
López said Villa was one of the most influential Latinos in the state of Wisconsin, but often his work went unnoticed.
“He was not on people’s radar because he didn’t seek out that kind of attention or recognition or accolades,” López said. “He was a mentor to other Latinos.”