Rusty Cooper: Q&A on DJCF Investment Committee
Rusty Cooper

Rusty Cooper, chair of the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation’s (DJCF) Investment Committee, recently explained the Investment Committee, and his role and involvement.

An engaged and energetic part of the Dallas Jewish community, he is a founding member and past-president of Anshai Torah and serves as a member on, and resource for, many committees and boards of many major Dallas Jewish organizations. Cooper and the Mazik Brothers Experience will perform at the Dallas Kosher Chili Cook-off this Sunday, March 27, for the 15th year.

Cooper recently explained how the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation Investment Committee works and his role with it.

Q: Who does the Foundation serve? 

RC: Fundholders, Jewish and non-Jewish organizations.

Q: How long have you been on the Investment Committee, what roles have you played and what changes and improvements have you made? 

RC: Don Schaffer asked me 15 years ago to be Investment Committee chair. I was also chairman of the Board of Trustees for three years. When I started, there was one “Balanced Growth Model.” I changed that to six models so that there were diverse options of risk and return investments. We have also hired an institutional consulting firm, “Graystone,” which is part of Morgan Stanley Investment Management.

Q: Tell us about the responsibility of the Investment Committee.

RC: The Committee plays a critical role in the Jewish and philanthropic life of the Jewish community. We have the responsibility of managing the philanthropic assets for individuals and families which have Donor Advised Funds and Designated Endowments, and funds for most of the Jewish agencies in the Dallas area. We also manage the assets they rely upon to make donations to their favorite organizations and fund the community’s nonprofit institutions so they can operate smoothly.

Q: Tell us about the Investment Committee’s history, its structure and how it functions. 

RC: We have been in existence for 40 years and much has changed. We now have 14 investment professionals from the largest Wall Street firms, banks and asset management companies, among others. In collaboration, we hired an institutional consulting firm, which specializes in faith-based foundations. 

The tools we use include access to preeminent institutional investment managers, sophisticated diversification and access to top Wall Street research, which has made for stronger investment offerings. We review our consultants’ research and analysis, discuss the investment markets, economics and performance to come to a consensus on the Foundation’s investment strategy and implementation. We generally meet four times per year.

Another important function is to educate and communicate that we act as a fiduciary at the highest level, and we represent each fundholder and institution effectively so that they feel confident and comfortable as they donate. 

Q: What is the most important thing to know about the Investment Committee? 

RC: We take our role as fiduciaries and caretakers very seriously. We have great talent on the Committee, with tremendous resources to support our decisions. Our primary concern is acting in the community’s best interest and our fundholders. 

Q: What is the goal of the Investment Committee? 

RC: The Committee works best by challenging each other, so we can ensure we are getting the best outcomes. Therefore, our goals can remain simple, which are to meet or exceed the target return and the blended index. Our tactics may change, but the goal remains the same: to work well as a committee with the best collaborative thinking.

Q: Is there a difference between the Investment Committee’s goals and individual investor goals? 

RC: Individuals do not answer to others and can do what they want with their funds. Individual investors can make abrupt and single-minded changes. Emotion and family dynamics can play a big part in making and implementing decisions. 

Institutions have no emotion [nor] are [they] self-serving. Institutions generally plan for funds to last in perpetuity. They are fiduciaries, responsible and liable for the proper management of other people’s and institutions’ assets. The Committee’s primary goal is getting a good balance between risk management while providing a competitive return to meet spending policies, so our organizations have the funds to support their programs.

Q: How much in investments/holdings does the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation oversee? 

RC: The Committee now oversees over $300 million in assets annually. Our track record has been competitive. We publish all the models and sub-funds monthly for everyone to review on our website at

Q: Can you tell us something about fees and what the Foundation does with the fees it collects? 

RC: Our investment fees are as low as they can be in the real world, especially for what we and our fundholders receive in return. The fees the Foundation charges are reviewed annually and are competitive versus other similar community foundations. The fees are used to cover almost all the cost of staff and Foundation expenses. Last year the fees amounted to 8.6% of the moneys granted, or, put another way, 0.60% of all assets under management.

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