The Montana Board of Investments is expected Tuesday to formally name current State Budget Director Dan Villa as manager of the Montana Investment fund. Villa will oversee the board’s management of roughly $18 billion in state assets.
The investment board plans to meet Tuesday to determine Villa’s final contract details and salary, which is expected to range from $180,000 to $220,000.
The board is essentially responsible for investing all the state’s money, including funds for public employee pensions and the state’s insurance reserves.
Villa will take over the head position from David Ewer, who is retiring on October 1.
“I am confident that Dan will do a great job," says Teresa Olcott Cohea, a member of the investment board. "He’s very smart. He’s hardworking. He knows Montana. So I’m sure we will be in good hands.”
The investment board split 5-3 in picking Villa to lead the management of Montana’s assets.
The other finalist for the job was Eric Henry, the chief executive officer and chief investment officer for Hershey Trust Company.
Although Olcott Cohea says she’s is confident in Villa’s abilities, she, along with the board’s chairman and another member, voted for Henry.
“Because I believed he had the most direct on-point experience.”
Karl Englund, the vice chair of the board, says it was a tough choice between two candidates qualified in different ways.
"Mr. Henry had more experience in the actual investing part of the job. Mr. Villa had more experience in Montana, more experience with economic development. My personal opinion was that Dan would be a very good fit.”
Villa has been state budget director since 2011. He was appointed to the job by Governor Brian Schweitzer, who Villa previously advised on education policy. Before that, Villa represented Anaconda in the state House of Representatives from 2005-2009.
A spokesperson for Governor Steve Bullock says no selection has been made yet for Villa’s replacement to lead the state budgeting office. There is also no date set for Villa’s final day with the governor’s office.