2023 Fall Forum Event Summary

On October 25th, the Intentional Endowments Network hosted the 2023 Fall Forum at Virginia Wesleyan University. This half-day event provided a dynamic space for over 60 trustees, endowment stakeholders, asset managers, investment consultants, faculty, and non-profit partners to discuss important topics in the field of sustainable investment, including ESG integration, JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion), and sustainable investment options in retirement plans.

Below is a summary of the day’s sessions.  Recordings of each session can be found on the event webpage

The Forum was preceded by two private lunches. The Diverse Investing Collective hosted a lunch where the focus of discussion was diversity in asset management. At the same time, IEN held lunch where discussed topics included the unique needs and experiences of HBCUs, as well as how to grow HBCU endowments and advance sustainable investing. Then, at 1pm, the Forum commenced.

After IEN’s co-founder and executive director Georges Dyer welcomed the audience, IEN’s Fall Forum kicked off with a fireside chat. Shivaram Rajgopal, Kester and Brynes Professor at the Columbia Business School, and Andrew Poreda, Senior Research Analyst at Sage Advisory, explored the implications and dynamics of the politically polarized landscape around ESG investing. They focused on what this means for institutional investors, particularly colleges and universities. Together, Andrew and Shiva explored what sustainable investing conversations may look like as campaigns ramp up for next year’s presidential election, and shared tips on how to implement various sustainable investing strategies.

Virginia Wesleyan University Case Study Panel (Ali Bayler, President Miller, Gary Bonnewell, & Rowan Stuart - left to right)

The fireside chat was followed by a brief dialogue session where participants introduced themselves and their goals for the afternoon. Then, the first case study panel of the day commenced. In this panel, President Miller of Virginia Wesleyan University (VWU), VWU Trustee and Alumni Gary Bonnewell, and Ali Bayler, a Portfolio Manager at Brown Advisory, shared the journey the university embarked on to build consensus and establish a new investment policy for the university. The panel concluded with Rowan Stuart sharing how VWU’s prioritization of a sustainable investment policy has translated into tangible benefits for students such as himself and others in the VWU community. Through VWU, Rowan has engaged in IEN’s Student Corporate Engagement Challenge, winning the Challenge in the undergraduate category in 2022. Now, VWU also has a Brown Advisory Student Managed Investment Fund Program where students take primary responsibility for researching, recommending, and executing equity trades with the fund dollars.

After this panel, the audience took some time to share how their respective organizations are thinking about sustainable investing, identifying the barriers they face and helpful tools or solutions in roundtables. Then, the forum continued on with another case study panel.

Warren Wilson College Case Study Panel (Judy Chambers, Anthony Rust, Sumali Sanyal, & Jaylen Spann - left to right)

This panel explored how Warren Wilson College (WWC) has integrated racial equity in the investment process. Judy Chambers, Managing Principal and Private Markets Consultant at Meketa, led the conversation with Anthony Rust (WWC Trustee and Investment Committee Chair), Jaylen Spann (Senior Associate at Whistlestop Capital) and Sumali Sanyal (Managing Director and Senior Portfolio Manager of Systematic Global Equities at Xponance). They each shared key insights regarding WWC’s racial equity strategy, including their work with As You Sow and Whistlestop Capital engaging with corporations in their portfolio, and with Xponance implementing a racial equity overlay in their portfolio. Warren Wilson College’s 2023 Shareholder Engagement Impact Briefing Paper was also released live during the panel. 

To debrief, forum attendees once again connected at their roundtables. In this dialogue session, they shared how their institutions are integrating JEDI goals and approaching the intersection between climate justice and the just transition in their investment policy statements. 

Following a coffee break, participants transitioned to delving into several sustainable investing topics by joining 8 “Next Level Conversation” roundtables. 


Many great takeaways were gained from the Next Level Conversations. For example, takeaways from the Next Level Conversation Roundtable focused on the “Return to Diversity: Bringing All Talent to the Table to Drive Outperformance”, which was hosted by Ruth Shaber, President and Founder of the Tara Health Foundation & Ivy Jack, Senior Advisor to the Tara Health Foundation’s Diverse Investing Collective included:

  • The Diverse Investing Collective seeks to accelerate change in the investment industry by increasing not only the numbers of women and people of color, but critically the amount of assets they manage. That is why they strive to have 33% of assets under management (AUM) managed by gender- and racially-diverse fund management teams by 2033. 
  • The Collective focuses on 3 strategies to achieve their goal: prioritizing transparency & accountability, building a coalition of asset owners and allocators to call for change, and lifting up stories to demonstrate impact.

Other next level conversations covered the following topics:

Brian Svendahl, BlueBay Senior Portfolio Manager at RBC Global Asset Management led conversations on “The Need for Caution, Investing Intentionally and the Rise of Impact Measurement.

Tomas Landes, Managing Director at Primestor led conversations on “Urban Impact Real Estate.

Whitney Sweeney, Sustainability Investment Director at Schroders led conversations on “The nexus between Climate Justice and Just Transition: case studies highlighting Western Sahara, the apparel industry, and Indigenous rights.” 

Andrew Poreda & Shivaram Rajgopal expanded on the topic of their earlier fireside chat, “Protecting Higher Education’s Freedom to Consider ESG Metrics When Investing.” 

Anastasia Guha, Global Head of Sustainability at Redington delved into the question: “Is Europe Still Leading in Sustainable Investing?

Julian Thompson, Senior Director of Strategy Development at UNCF discussed the importance of and strategies around “Incubating Innovation at HBCUs.” 

Melissa Platner, North American Head of Institutional & Consultant Relations at Impax Asset Management led conversations on “Retirement Readiness: Sustainability as a catalyst to close the retirement gap and drive participant engagement.

The forum wrapped up with a closing dialogue in which the audience reflected on their big takeaways from the day, next steps, and shared ideas on how IEN can best support them in achieving their sustainable investing goals.

Interested in attending an upcoming IEN event? Join as at our next in-person event, the Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit, February 11-13, 2024 in Long Beach, CA, and view all upcoming events on our website.


Reach out to [email protected] to learn more about IEN events and ways to get involved.


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