While TIAA and CREF were created under different laws and are regulated by different government agencies, they are joined in a common mission to help our participants achieve lifelong financial well-being through a diverse range of products, services and personalized guidance.

Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association College Retirement Equities Fund
Founded in 1918 Founded in 1952
Guaranteed account, real estate Variable annuities
Insurance company based in New York Registered with the SEC

Organizational StructureTIAA (Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association) was chartered in 1918 as a stock life insurance company to provide employees of nonprofit education and research institutions with the means to enhance their future financial security.

CREF (College Retirement Equities Fund), a companion nonprofit organization to TIAA, was founded in 1952 to provide retirement annuities based on investment in common stock. In the 1980s, CREF registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as an investment company under the Investment Company Act of 1940.

TIAA and CREF each has its own Board of Trustees, whose responsibility is to assure that the organization is managed properly. Above the TIAA and CREF Boards of Trustees are the TIAA and CREF Boards of Overseers.

Board Composition

In order to bring different perspectives to the TIAA and CREF board deliberations, every effort is made to include individuals who, in addition to their professional qualifications, are from diverse backgrounds.

  • TIAA and CREF boards have a higher percentage of nonmanagement members than typical U.S. corporations.
  • TIAA and CREF trustees come from many regions of the country.
  • Nearly half of board trustees are senior-level members of academia, while other trustees are distinguished in the fields of business and investing.
  • Among TIAA and CREF trustees, 36% are women and 24% are minorities.
  • The first woman was appointed in 1940, the first African American, in 1957.

Nomination of TIAA and CREF Trustees

All TIAA trustees are elected annually, and the CREF Trustees are elected every four years, from a diverse pool of candidates.

Both Boards have a Nominating and Governance Committee which is responsible for nominating candidates for its Board. The respective TIAA or CREF committee considers recommendations from a variety of sources, including participating institutions and educational organizations. Additionally, our participants may suggest future candidates for nomination during the annual meeting.

The committees screen suggested nominees to match them against the needs of each Board at any given time.

Trustee Selection

TIAA and CREF participants influence the composition of the respective operating boards in different ways:


TIAA’s charter places the responsibility for electing trustees solely with the TIAA Board of Overseers. Traditionally, all TIAA participants — including holders of TIAA individual life insurance policies and those with accumulations in the TIAA Real Estate Account — have been asked to express their preferences through a balloting process. These preferences are considered by the TIAA Board of Overseers, which formally elects the TIAA operating board.


As a management investment company registered with the SEC, CREF has a different voting procedure.

CREF participants directly elect the CREF trustees. Each participant has a number of votes equal to the dollar amount of his or her CREF accumulation and/or the calculated number of dollars supporting CREF’s annuity obligations to that individual if he or she is receiving annuity income.

Participants vote at CREF’s meeting of participants in person or — more typically — by proxies (ballots mailed, phoned in, or cast online). Ballots and proxy statements are made available to participants shortly after they become eligible to vote.

Who We Are

Who We AreWe’ve been committed to your financial well-being since 1918.

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