ESG & Community Impact Investing Roundtable - Event Summary

On September 6th, 2019, IEN organized the ESG & Community Impact Investing Roundtable at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. The half-day event brought together a diverse group of endowment decision-makers, investment firms, nonprofit leaders and other stakeholders looking to enhance environmental, social, and governance (ESG) integration into their investment process to positively impact communities near their campuses and around the world. 

 

    

 

The event kicked off with a keynote address by Kat Taylor, CEO and Co-Founder of the Oakland-based community development bank Beneficial State Bank. Opening with a song, Kat grounded the day’s conversation in justice and sustainability as she called for a paradigm shift in the banking industry. Laying the foundation for the conversation, Kat urged for closer examination as to how wealth came about, how it’s invested as an endowment, who gets to manage, allocate, and spend it.

Kat’s keynote was followed by a panel focused on translating institutional vision around community empowerment to endowment investing. The dialogue on “What does ESG & community investing look like for endowments across asset classes?” was led by moderator Wendy Walker of Cambridge Associates and included Amir Kirkwood of Opportunity Finance Network, Giles Cotes of Low Income Investment Fund and Austin Wilson of Aperio Group, weighing in on the latest developments in the community investment field and how university endowments fit within the overall conversation. Each panelist offered a different take on opportunities and the varying risk-return of different investment vehicles.

The next panel spotlighted the emerging conversation around Opportunity Zones, focusing on the question, “How can universities engage in conversations around Opportunity Zones?” Moderated by Chisato Calvert of Impact Experience, panelist Jacob Moore of Arizona State University and Graham Richard, former mayor of Fort Wayne, Indiana illustrated the role that colleges and universities can play as convenors, facilitators of community planning, fundraisers, and investors. 

During the final panel on “What might community investing look like for other anchor institutions,”  we heard from endowment decision-makers representing institutions rooted in California’s own local communities including Catherine Chen of the East Bay Community Foundation, Mark Doherty of San Francisco Foundation and Pablo Bravo of Dignity Health in conversation with moderator Jacob Haar of Community Investment Management. Referencing IEN’s Roadmap to Intentionally Designed Endowments, panelists discussed their different institutional journeys to mission aligned investing and what propelled it. 

At the end, participants had time to synthesize everything that they've learned and heard throughout the afternoon, put together an action plan to take back to their respective institutions, and find partners for collaboration.

 

Panel Videos | Speaker Bios | Agenda | Participants | Event Announcement 

 

 

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