TIAA and CREF are separate companies, joined by a common mission. They were created under different laws and are regulated by different government agencies. 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.
TIAA was chartered in 1918 as a stock life insurance company, domiciled in New York State, to provide employees of nonprofit education and research institutions with the means to enhance their future financial security. The Carnegie Corporation had provided TIAA's initial $1 million capital, and as sole owner of TIAA, it held all the stock: five hundred shares.
As a companion nonprofit organization to TIAA, CREF was founded in 1952 to provide retirement annuities based on investment in common stock. It was created through an act of the New York State legislature, under which it was organized as a nonprofit company controlled by specified members who generally have a legal function similar to that of shareholders. In the 1980s, CREF registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as an investment company under the Investment Company Act of 1940.