Profile: Chaudhuri ’91 Devotes Career to Improving Lives
The Council of Institutional Investors (CII) has named Jay Chaudhuri '91 as Chair of the Board of Directors. The appointment marks another highlight in a career effectively devoted to protecting and improving the lives of people, including multitudes of North Carolinians.
CII is a nonprofit association of managers of pension funds, other employee benefit funds and endowments, and the leading voice for effective corporate governance and strong shareowner rights. CII members collectively have more than $3 trillion in assets under management, including North Carolina's $90 billion pension fund.
Chaudhuri has been involved with CII since 2009, and previously served as the organization's treasurer and co-chair. "It has been exciting to lead the organization for the last year," said Chaudhuri. "Ultimately, steering corporations toward better board accountability leads to better value for both companies and long-term investors. It also preserves and strengthens investor confidence in the integrity of our markets. That's particularly important to the North Carolina Retirement System."
Chaudhuri is currently employed as General Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor to State Treasurer Janet Cowell, who runs the North Carolina Department of State Treasurer. Aside from the $90 billion pension fund, the department manages all state and local debt issuances and interfaces with the bond rating agencies. North Carolina is now one of only nine states in the country to earn a AAA bond rating by all three rating agencies, and the pension system is ranked second in the nation in terms of meeting its financial obligations. The State Treasurer's Department also administers one of the largest defined contribution plans (401k, 457 and 403b program) in the country with more than $9 billion assets under management.
Chaudhuri manages all corporate governance and legal matters for the department. In 2010, he led 11 public pension funds in successfully pushing for board reform at Massey Energy after the company's coal mining accident that killed 29 miners. In 2011, Chaudhuri also played an instrumental role in pushing for a shareholder proposal on proxy access at Nabors Industries, an energy drilling company.
Chaudhuri has put an emphasis on ethics, transparency, and accountability at the Department of State Treasurer. For example, he instituted a strict revolving door policy for current and future employees, and helped recover more than $100 million back to the pension and escheat fund.
Chaudhuri's position as CII Chair builds on his wealth of experience in governance, law enforcement and management.
At Davidson he served as editor of "The Davidsonian" and graduated with a major in South Asian Studies. He earned a masters degree in international affairs from Columbia University through a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship. After graduate school, Chaudhuri served as a legislative aide to U.S. Senator Russell D. Feingold, then earned his law degree from North Carolina Central University (NCCU) in 1999. He later taught a course in cyber crime as a law professor at NCCU. In 2001 he accepted a position as Special Counsel to North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, and held that position until 2009.
As an aide to Attorney General Roy Cooper, he developed major policy initiatives such as drafting the statewide strategy to combat methamphetamine and spearheading the Attorney General's Campus Safety Task Force after the Virginia Tech shooting in 2006.
He also served as co-counsel for the national multi-state investigation of the two largest social networking sites, MySpace and Facebook, and helped negotiate an agreement between 49 state attorneys general and MySpace that resulted in dozens of website changes, and the creation of an industry-wide task force to create online safety tools. For his efforts, the National Association of Attorneys General honored him with the Marvin Award.
His outstanding leadership was also recognized in 2001 with his appointment as a William C. Friday Fellow for Human Relations. He was also selected to serve on the Z. Smith Reynolds inaugural Community Leadership Council, and received a German Marshall Fund Fellowship. Last year, the publication Lawyers Weekly honored him with its Leader in the Law award.
Chaudhuri takes pride in a career of advising two of the leading political figures in the state, and credits Davidson with providing some direction and advice. "Davidson taught me many things at a formative age," he said. "Primarily, I learned that education is a lifelong experience, rather than something that ends at graduation. I also learned the importance of giving back to my community. In my career I've had to learn about and make decisions about issues that are completely new to me. But that's what happened at Davidson first!"