Maryland’s Dana Johns is new head of PE for New Jersey

Johns previously served as a senior portfolio manager on Maryland’s private equity team.

New Jersey Division of Investment announced it hired Dana Johns as its head of private equity.

The $87.5 billion system has been without a director of its private equity program since last August after the departure of Jared Speicher, who left for a similar role at MetLife.

Dana Johns, Maryland
Dana Johns

Johns comes from the $64.4 billion Maryland State Retirement and Pension System, where she has worked since 2011, most recently serving as a senior portfolio manager for private equity.

Johns was unavailable for comment as of press time. Readers of Venture Capital Journal are likely familiar with her name. She was was one of six limited partners who came together for a VCJ virtual LP roundtable discussion in July 2020. VCJ caught up with Johns again last July to get an update on Maryland’s PE program and its particular interest in venture capital. Asked about the roiling public markets at that time, Johns told VCJ: “We’re not immune to short-term impacts, but we are long-term investors. Venture capital in particular is a very important part of our portfolio that we’ve been building over the past five or six years.”

Johns chairs the Private Equity Women Investor Network and is a member of ILPA’s Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Council, according to a statement about her hiring. Before working in private equity, she was a deputy director at a Baltimore art museum, according to her LinkedIn.

Johns will take over a program that has seen relatively frequent leadership turnover. Former alternative investment team member John Panebianco departed for MetLife in January.

New Jersey’s private equity portfolio is currently valued at around $10.7 billion. It is mostly invested in buyout and debt funds, according to VCJ‘s review of the pension system’s fund commitments. It broke that pattern earlier this year when it committed to three new funds from Khosla Ventures: Khosla Ventures VIII (which has a $1.5 billion target), Khosla Ventures Opportunity II ($1 billion) and Khosla Ventures Seed F ($400 million). New Jersey did not disclose the amount of the commitments.