Karyn Williams, Ph.D.
Founder and Managing Principal
Karyn Williams established Hightree Advisors following a nearly 20-year history of success in designing and implementing effective investment programs for a wide variety of organizations in senior roles at leading investment consulting and management firms and insurance companies. Over her career, she gained a deep understanding of the benefits that can be achieved through investment programs focused on regaining and sustaining real dollar value improvements in investment performance, allowing organizations to achieve their purpose. This was the inspiration for Hightree Advisors and Karyn’s mission in founding the firm. Hightree is an independent consultancy committed to helping institutional clients identify and create sources of value in their investment programs through improved risk deployment, governance and by managing costs over the investment lifecycle.
Prior to Hightree, Karyn was head of client solutions at Two Sigma, a leading systematic investment manager, where she led the development of a technology for institutional clients that enables understanding of the risk factors driving portfolios and strategies. Karyn previously served as the chief investment officer of Farmers Insurance Group, a Fortune 500 company, where she oversaw the effective implementation of insurance, pension and other retirement assets. Prior to that, she was a partner and managing director at Wilshire Associates, a global leader in investment advisory and consulting services. At Wilshire, Karyn created the firm’s risk management consulting practice and was head of Total Fund Analytics, developing risk measurement tools for institutional clients.
Karyn is an independent public company director, NACD governance fellow, and holds positions as finance chair, treasurer and trustee for public and private foundations, including KCRW and Research to Prevent Blindness. She is a founding advisory board member of the Master of Science in Financial Engineering program at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. She is frequently featured as a speaker at investment industry conferences, has written and published papers and has been widely quoted in the press, including The Wall Street Journal, Institutional Investor, Pensions & Investments, FUNDFire and Milken Institute Lab Report. Karyn is a graduate of Arizona State University, where she earned a B.S. in Economics and a Ph.D. in Finance.
Mike Dudkowski joined Hightree Advisors following a successful history of working with institutional investors at leading investment management and consulting organizations. Mike is a trusted advisor to investment committees, boards of directors, executives and other professionals in developing investment policy, determining asset allocation and portfolio structure, selecting investment managers and monitoring investment programs. Mike has worked extensively with endowments, foundations, healthcare organizations, insurance companies and pension and retirement plan sponsors. Over his career, he has helped many investors design and implement effective investment programs.
Prior to joining Hightree, Mike was a senior consultant at Towers Watson Investment Services, Inc., a global provider of investment advisory and consulting services, where he provided Outsourced Chief Investment Officer (OCIO) solutions including asset allocation, risk hedging, portfolio construction, and fund monitoring services. While at Towers Watson, he gained significant knowledge and experience as well as an understanding of the challenges and conflicts investors face in using traditional and outsourced investment models. Previously, at Wilshire Associates, a global leader in investment advisory and consulting services, he was a partner, managing director and chairman of the Real Assets Investment Committee. Prior to Wilshire Associates, Mike was a director at Federated Investors, Inc., a leading global asset management firm, and a principal in the Portfolio Strategies Research Group of First Union, now part of Wells Fargo.
Mike serves on the board and investment committee of ACHIEVA Family Trust, which supports individuals with disabilities through special needs trusts. His experience and insights are frequently sought by leading pension organizations and publications including Pensions & Investments, PlanSponsor, and The Wall Street Journal. He earned B.S. degrees in Industrial Management and Economics from Carnegie Mellon University and an MBA from the University of Notre Dame.
Lisa Laird, CFA
Principal and Senior Advisor
Lisa Laird joined Hightree Advisors as Principal and Senior Advisor in order to help organizations improve investment effectiveness. She is a mission-focused institutional investment professional with nearly 20 years of experience and a passion for human services.
Prior to joining Hightree, Lisa was most recently the chief investment officer at Providence St. Joseph Health and was responsible for investment oversight of operating, insurance, and retirement assets totaling over $18 billion. Prior roles include senior level consulting positions at Towers Watson Investment Services and at Wilshire Associates. She has worked with both large and small organizations in a variety of governance and investment structures.
Lisa is the current treasurer and past chairman of the board of directors for the Seva Foundation. Over the past 40 years, Seva-supported programs and partners have helped to restore sight to nearly 5 million people around the world. Lisa previously served on the board of directors for Active Wellness, a health services management company. She has also served as a member of board of directors’ Investment Advisory Committee for CalOptima. CalOptima administers health insurance programs for low-income residents of Orange County.
Lisa holds an MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and a B.S. from Cal Poly Pomona. She earned the Chartered Financial Analyst designation in 2005. Lisa has been a regular contributor to industry conferences and events and was named “Woman of the Year in Investment Management” by Institutional Investor during the healthcare portion of its Roundtable for Consultants and Institutional Investors in 2017.