Nicole Torrico

  • Press Coverage: 2023 Student Corporate Engagement Challenge

    CWU Business Students Win National Corporate Engagement Competition | CWU News, June 5, 2023




    GreenFin Weekly l May 10, 2023



    Berkeley Haas Sustainable & Impact Finance: May 2023 Newsletter l May 10, 2023



    Proposed Investments in First Solar and Starbucks, paired with engagement strategies to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in company leadership and prevent sexual harassment and gender discrimination, highlight importance of ESG issues to the next generation of sustainable investors.

    BOSTON, MA (MAY 3RD, 2023) – The Intentional Endowments Network announced today that student teams from Presidio Graduate School and Central Washington University were named the winners of the Student Corporate Engagement Challenge in the Graduate and Undergraduate category, respectively. 

    Presidio Graduate School students, winners in the Graduate category, recommended an investment in First Solar, and proposed an engagement strategy to increase diversity, equity and inclusion in company leadership. 

    Central Washington University students, winners in the Undergraduate Category, recommended an investment in Starbucks, and proposed an engagement strategy to prevent sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

    The winners competed against six finalist teams for top honors. The Runner-up in the Graduate category was the team from University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business, and in the Undergraduate category was Virginia Wesleyan University.

    The Challenge asks students to pitch an investment in a publicly-traded company, and include in that recommendation a shareholder engagement strategy focused on addressing an environmental, social, or governance issue where the company could improve in ways that would both enhance the value of the investment and drive positive impacts for society. 

    “Study upon study has shown that increased diversity leads to increased financial success and better shareholder returns,” said Claire Nevels, an MBA Candidate at Presidio Graduate School. “Most importantly, greater racial and gender diversity is associated with enhanced creativity and innovation, better decision making, and improved social and environmental outcomes, which is critical to allow First Solar to continue to be a leader in addressing the complex and interconnected challenges facing our planet and society. This is not only crucial for First Solar’s bottom line, but also for creating a more sustainable and just future for all.”

    "Our decision to focus on sexual harassment, assault, and discrimination in the workplace as part of our engagement strategy was instigated by our first-hand observations and experiences in the food services industry, where instances of sexual harassment are far too common," said Betty Mittelstaedt, student at Central Washington University.

    The remaining Finalist teams were, in the Graduate Category, Columbia University and University of California, Berkeley Haas School of Business, and in the Undergraduate Category, LeHigh University and Virginia Wesleyan University.

    IEN’s Corporate Engagement Challenge is a semester-long program that includes education, mentorship, and hands-on investment and engagement strategy development for undergraduate and graduate students. 

    “We’re proud to support the next generation of sustainable investors as they learn more about the positive and negative impacts of their investment decisions and how those relate to financial performance,” said Georges Dyer, Co-Founder and Executive Director at The Intentional Endowments Network. “Over $30 trillion is set to transfer to millennial stewardship in the coming years, and it’s more important than even to support millennial and GenZ investors in turning their interest in sustainable investing into a strong skill set.” 

    As more investors see the need for thoughtful analysis of ESG risks and opportunities, investment management firms are increasingly looking to recruit talented graduates who understand both sustainability and fundamental investment practices.  The Challenge gives students the opportunity to demonstrate their strengths in both areas, and show how interrelated they are. 

    "The Challenge not only provided us with a challenging experience, but also sparked our interest in pursuing opportunities within the field of shareholder engagement, consulting, and ESG analysis,” said Jaap Donker, student at Central Washington University.

    “The IEN Student Corporate Engagement Challenge provided us with the valuable opportunity to develop a comprehensive understanding of investment analysis and the investor engagement process. Getting hands on experience has demystified the process and empowered us to engage with investments beyond the numbers,” said Steph Motta, an MBA Candidate at Presidio Graduate School. 

    Active engagement with portfolio companies on material ESG issues is an increasingly important aspect of investing and good fiduciary practice. According to the annual shareholder engagement report, Proxy Preview, “2023 is another record-breaking year, with more than 542 shareholder resolutions filed on environmental, social, and sustainable governance (ESG) issues. Hundreds of these resolutions are heading for votes at spring and summer corporate annual general meetings.”

    “Publicly traded corporations hold immense power over our lives, our communities, and the environment, and changing how these corporations operate can transform our economy and society,” said Nicole Torrico, Program Director at The Intentional Endowments Network. “Engaging with corporations as shareholders is a powerful tool to address material risk factors relevant to long term financial performance, and to advocate for change and hold corporations accountable for meeting their commitments to address the biggest challenges of our time: racial inequity and the interrelated climate crisis.”  

    A panel of judges selected the winners based on their presentations, fundamental financial analysis and ESG analysis, and the creativity and efficacy of the shareholder engagement strategy to both improve company financial performance and make a meaningful positive social or environmental impact.




    See highlights from the winning team’s final presentations and here more about the Challenge by watching this video:

    To receive a copy of the winning team’s presentations, or interview any of the participating teams and/or members of the IEN Team, contact Nicole Torrico, (207) 812 1589, [email protected]


    The Intentional Endowments Network (IEN) supports higher education institutions in learning about and adopting investment strategies that create an equitable, low- carbon, and regenerative economy. IEN connects endowments, asset managers, investment consultants, nonprofit partners, and individuals, including a community of over 200 active members, to connect with peers, stay up to date on the latest best practices, develop partnerships, and advance the field of mission-aligned, sustainable investing.

  • 2024 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit 

    Building Solidarity for Equitable Climate Action

    The Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit is the premier annual gathering of higher education leaders committed to addressing inequity and the climate crisis.


    Join Us in Long Beach

    We'll be convening at the beautiful downtown Westin Hotel. With sun-filled rooms, outdoor meeting space, and dozens of restaurants as well as Alamotos Beach within walking distance, we can't wait to see you there!




        Connect with 300+ Colleagues

    Join Higher Education Leaders, including:

    • Presidents & Trustees,
    • Chief Investment Officers & Investment Committee members,
    • Sustainability Directors and other sustainability office staff,
    • Diversity, equity, and inclusion and community engagement office staff,
    • Investment consultants, asset managers, and other investment firms,
    • Climate solution providers.




    Engage with Actionable Content

    We're in the process of developing our 2024 Agenda. In the meantime, check out a sampling of our 2023 sessions recordings:


    Showcase Your Leadership as a Summit Sponsor

    Partners of the 2024 Summit will help drive the adoption of new strategies to reduce direct climate impacts of colleges and universities and inform endowment investing strategies that accelerate a just transition to a carbon-neutral economy.

    As a partner, you also demonstrate your climate leadership and help support the critical movement-building efforts of Second Nature and the Intentional Endowments Network.

    Learn more by viewing our sponsorship brochure, and contact Aicha Ly at [email protected] to learn more.


  • 10 Student Teams Enter 2023 Corporate Engagement Challenge!

    We're pleased to announce that 10 students teams from universities across the U.S.have entered the Intentional Endowments Network‘s (IEN) Student Corporate Engagement Challenge. Teams of three to five undergraduate and graduate students will showcase their skills in sustainable investing and shareholder advocacy throughout the Challenge. 

    Read more

  • Thank You to the Sponsors of the 2023 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit

    Partners of the 2023 Summit will help drive the adoption of new strategies to reduce direct climate impacts of colleges and universities and inform endowment investing strategies that accelerate a just transition to a carbon-neutral economy. As a partner, you also demonstrate your climate leadership and help support the critical movement building efforts of the Intentional Endowments Network and Second Nature.

    Gold Level Sponsors



    Silver Level Sponsors




    Bronze Level Sponsors

      Terra Alpha Logo 
    Stewart Investors Logo   

    Supporting Level Sponsors



  • published V-Square Quantitative Management in Organizations 2022-09-08 15:09:29 -0400

    V-Square Quantitative Management


    V-Square Quantitative Management is a global asset management firm and a sustainability analytics platform. They provide efficient investment portfolios integrating sustainability at every step of the investment process. They specialize in financial engineering, development and management of quantitative portfolios and processing of sustainability big data. V-Square's mission is be to a new vector of change in the way they generate investment returns for investors in alternative asset classes and core equity and fixed income.




  • published Wespath Benefits and Investments in Organizations 2022-09-08 14:59:20 -0400

    Wespath Benefits and Investments


    Wespath Benefits and Investments (Wespath) has been serving The United Methodist Church for over 100 years. Wespath and its subsidiaries maintain one of the largest faith-based pension funds in the world, serving more than 100,000 active and retired clergy and lay employees of the Church. As a sustainable investor, Wespath incorporates consideration of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in our investment decision-making and aspires to make a positive impact on the environment and society.

    Resources from Wespath:





  • published Nest Summit Agenda in Nest Summit 2022-08-27 09:43:33 -0400


    Intentional Endowments Network Roundtable

    at the Nest Summit Campus, Javits Center, New York City, Part of Climate Week NYC


    Date: September 22, 2022 

    Time: 1:30-6:30pm ET


    12:30-1:30 Registration & Networking


    1:30-1:40 Welcome

    • Georges Dyer, Executive Director, IEN 

    1:40-2:10 Keynote

    • Derrick Johnson, President & CEO, NAACP


    2:10-2:20 Dialogue: Brief introductions - who are you and what organization are you representing?  What do you hope to get out of today? 


    2:20-2:45 Panel: San Francisco State University — new IPS + renewed commitments to ESG 

    • Angela Outlaw-Matheny, Director of Investment Staff & Diverse Manager Equity, Crewcial Partners (moderator)
    • Neda Nobari, Board Chair, San Francisco State University Foundation 
    • Jeff Jackanicz, CEO, San Francisco State University Foundation 
    • Mike Pearce, Managing Director, Cambridge Associates


    2:45-3:10 Panel:  Climate Justice & Net Zero Portfolios — Driving the Just Transition 

    • Pedro Henriques da Silva, Associate, Global Endowment Management (moderator)
    • Miguel CuUnjieng, Associate Director for EOS, Federated Hermes
    • Mark Campanale, Founder and Executive Chairman, Carbon Tracker
    • Kirsten Spalding, Senior Program Director, Investor Network, Ceres


    3:10-3:35 Dialogue: How is your organization (or your clients) thinking about integrating a Net Zero portfolio and JEDI goals in your Investment Policy Statement?  How are you thinking about a climate justice lens?  What barriers do you face, what tools or solutions might be most helpful?  


    3:35-3:45 Break 


    3:50-4:50 Next Level Conversations 

    1. Shareholder advocacy and engagement: a college case-study of Bard -- Taun Toay, CFO, Bard College
    2. Building an Impact-Driven, Diverse Emerging Manager Ecosystem -- Bahiyah Robinson, VC Include
    3. Taking the Politics out of ESG: risks and opportunities from political attacks on ESG -- Jeff Gitterman, Gitterman Wealth Management
    4. Diverse & Emerging Managers -- Dorien Nunez, Omni Research & IEN 
    5. Sustainable ETFs -- Marvin Owens, Impact Shares
    6. Sustainable Investing & Federal Policy -- Bob Van Heuvelen, Vogel Group
    7. Climate Positive Investing and DEI in climate investing -- Moya Connelly & Ian MonroeEtho Capital
    8. ESG Data & Greenwashing -- Dinah Koehler, Ecolumix
    9. Net Zero Portfolios and Fixed Income, Cara Early, Breckinridge


    4:50-5:15 Panel: ESG in Retirement Plans — the Sustainable Retirements Pledge

    • Lazaro Tiant, Investment Director – Sustainability, Schroders (moderator)
    • David Finegold, President, Chatham University 
    • Roberta Lobo, Director, Nuveen, a TIAA company
    • Max Messervy, Head of Sustainable Investment, Americas, Mercer


    5:15-5:30 Closing Dialogue: What are your big takeaways from the day? What next steps will you take at your organization?  Who will you follow-up with from today's event to move this work forward?  Where should the Intentional Endowments Network be focusing to best support your progress? 


    5:30-6:30 Rooftop Reception Orchard Terrace at the Javits Center, Nest Summit Campus


    7:00 Sponsored & self-organized dinners in the city (by invitation or self-organized) 


  • New Report: Warren Wilson College Announces 80% Success Rate at Shifting Corporate Behavior by Activating Investment Portfolio

    We're excited to share our newest resource: Warren Wilson College: Impacting How Companies Do Business!

    This briefing paper details how Warren Wilson College has influenced companies’ actions to compel real, positive change in corporate policies and practices.

    Read more

  • 2022 Briefing Paper: Warren Wilson College

    Warren Wilson College Finds Success Shifting Corporate Behavior by Filing Shareholder Resolutions and Voting Proxies 


    This Briefing Paper: Warren Wilson College, Impacting How Companies Do Business , details how Warren Wilson College has influenced companies’ actions to compel real, positive change in corporate policies and practices.

    Warren Wilson College (WWC) is a liberal arts college in North Carolina and a leader in environmental and social sustainability. In the past 5 years, WWC has focused on applying environmental and social equity lenses to the management of its endowment, including publicly committing to divest from fossil fuels and beginning to fully integrate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into the investment process.

    In 2019, WWC began exploring active ownership as a way to expand the positive societal and environmental impact of its investments, while also reducing risks and maximizing returns in its endowment portfolio. You can read a background on WWC’s work implementing sustainable investing strategies, with a focus on shareholder engagement, in IEN’s 2020 resource: Active Ownership in the Endowment: Warren Wilson College Case Study

    Through partnerships with As You Sow and the Intentional Endowments Network (IEN), WWC has made an impact by actively engaging the companies the endowment invests in, and as a result, can point to real change addressing the college’s two mission-driven focus areas: climate change and racial justice.



    During the 2021-2022 engagement season (fall of 2021 through end of June of 2022), Warren Wilson College signed 32 letters of authorization allowing As You Sow to enter into dialogue and submit shareholder resolutions to companies WWC invested in. Of those 32 signed letters of authorization to engage, As You Sow did not file 14 of the resolutions, as dialogue with each company prior to filing led to an agreement. As You Sow did file resolutions with 14 of the 32 authorized companies, and dialogue with 12 of the 14 companies where resolutions were filed led to impactful agreements that addressed the resolution request sufficiently for all outcomes at companies where WWC authorized engagements.

    WWC has also influenced the actions of companies through proxy voting. From March 2021 through January 2022, 13,000 proxy ballot line items were voted on WWC’s behalf at approximately 1,200 companies, including 420 shareholder proposed ballot items. 

    Colleges and universities across the country can learn valuable insights from the process WWC has developed and followed to engage with the companies in their endowment investment portfolio through proxy voting and shareholder resolutions.

    Read the full briefing paper to learn more (pdf).





    Warren Wilson College’s engagement work is a collective effort made possible through partnerships with the Intentional Endowments Network and As You Sow. The following people have played critical roles in both the implementation of the work outlined in this briefing paper, and the writing and review of this document:

    Alice DonnaSelva, Former Senior Advisor on Shareholder Engagement, Intentional Endowments Network
    Gail Follansbee, Shareholder Relations Manager, As You Sow
    Ben Linthicum, ESG Advisory Committee Chair, Warren Wilson College
    Rachel Lowy, Shareholder Relations Coordinator, As You Sow
    Anthony Rust, Investment Committee Chair, Warren Wilson College
    Nicole Torrico, Program Director, Intentional Endowments Network



  • published Dorien Nuñez in Team 2022-07-11 16:07:44 -0400

    Dorien Nuñez

    Dorien Nuñez (He/Him)

    Senior Fellow

    Read more

  • published Support Our Work in Take Action 2022-06-22 13:17:01 -0400

  •  2023 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit

    University of Miami l Miami, FL
    February 5 - 7th, 2023

    IEN and Second Nature’s annual Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit was hosted at the University of Miami, and took place February 5-7, 2023. The 300+ attendees included college and university presidents, trustees, endowment stakeholders, sustainability staff, and businesses and firms supporting sustainable investing, procurement, and operations.






  • published As You Vote in Engaging Corporations 2022-05-10 14:37:49 -0400



    Make an impact by voting your proxies in line with your endowment's ESG mandates using As You Vote -- a new ESG aligned proxy voting service.

    As You Sow, Broadridge, The Intentional Endowments Network (IEN), and Confluence Philanthropy are partnering to offer this service -- which simplifies proxy voting and empowers endowments and other institutional investors to vote their proxies in line with their ESG mandates, using a time and cost efficient platform with optional customization. 

    All shareholders have the right to vote their proxies, but it is an underutilized process among higher education endowments. Proxy voting is an important tool that endowments can utilize to make an impact, influencing corporate policy on issues like climate change, racial justice, political spending, gender equality, and toxins in the food system. Influencing these corporations has immense impact, as corporate decisions influence policy, supply chains, livelihoods, cultures, and markets on a global scale.

    As You Vote is a rules-based ESG proxy voting system hosted on Broadridge’s ProxyEdge platform. After you sign up, your proxy statement is auto-filled by As You Sow and submitted via ProxyEdge. Nothing else is required, but subscribers can easily change any ballot item prior to auto-submission, and a voting report will indicate whether the ballot was customized.

    Using As You Vote costs $15 per equity, with a $1,500 minimum. These fees are efficient and competitive with other services, and profits are split between As You Sow, IEN, and Confluence Philanthropy -- funding ESG peer-learning and implementation. 




    For more information, watch the videos below, and reach out to [email protected] with any questions.



    Leading Shareholder Advocacy and ESG Groups Crown Champions in Sustainable Investing Contest’s Undergraduate and Graduate Divisions.

    NEW YORK – MAY 3, 2022 – The Corporate Engagement Competition, a semester-long investing tournament that saw student teams from 10 universities across the U.S. and Canada compete head-to-head, has new champions. Bard College in upstate New York and Virginia Wesleyan University in Norfolk are the 2022 graduate and undergraduate division winners, respectively. The contest was hosted by the Intentional Endowments Network (IEN) and focused on sustainable investing and environmental, social and governance (ESG) shareholder advocacy.

    Connor Merk, a junior at Virginia Wesleyan University, said: “We had a great experience with the IEN Student Corporate Engagement Competition. We did not come into this competition as experts in investing, ESG factors, or corporate engagement, but through tutorials presented by IEN, communication with our mentor, and collaboration with the group members, we were able to grow our knowledge in each of those areas.”

    Lindsey Moreau, an MBA Candidate at Bard College, said:As Bard College MBA students, we see an opportunity to drive systemic environmental and social change by leveraging the influence of capital markets. The IEN Corporate Engagement Competition allowed us to demonstrate the value of creating an investment recommendation and engagement strategy that is 1) backed by risk mitigation, market opportunity and long-term returns, 2) seeks to catalyze a more equitable and sustainable economy, and 3) is underscored by a clear financial case for investment.”

    Last week, student teams from Bard College in New York and Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco advanced to the finals in the graduate division, with Bard edging out Presidio to receive top honors for their shareholder proposal addressing human rights risks in the renewable energy supply chain of a major U.S. energy firm. In the undergraduate division, the student team from Virginia Wesleyan University won the final round of competition for its endowment investment proposal focusing on Ford Motor Company with Central Washington University securing second place honors.

    Moreau continued:We built our strategy to inspire system-level thinking in future corporate engagements. We focused on the energy utilities sector because of its critical role in decarbonizing the global economy, and industry leader NextEra energy because of its potential to influence industry expectations and impacts on workers in global renewable energy supply chains. Participating in this competition gave us the opportunity to work alongside faculty, industry professionals and colleagues, and we are grateful and empowered by their support to take our learnings into our professional careers.”

    Merk added: “We chose to study Ford Motor Company, specifically because of their commitment to Electric Vehicle production, changes to U.S.-based manufacturing, commitment to reduce waste and emissions made it a worthy consideration for investment, and its status of being a globally recognized brand. For the engagement strategy, our proposal included the development of EV-Lithium-Ion battery recycling program through Ford's factories and dealerships.” 

    Universities from across the country and Canada participated in the competition as a real-world introduction to sustainable investing and shareholder advocacy. Sponsored by Federated Hermes and TIAA, the competition focused on the responsibility of shareholders to directly engage company management on the risks and opportunities they see to improve company financial performance, as well as social and environmental impact.

    Nicole Torrico, Program Director at the Intentional Endowments Network, said: “The investment recommendations and engagement strategies proposed by the winners of this year's Student Corporate Engagement Competition exemplified the power investors have to hold corporations accountable through shareholder advocacy. Their inspiring strategies showcase how to integrate active stewardship into investment decision making -- an essential skill for the next generation of ESG leaders.”

    A member of the judging panel, Miguel​ CuUnjieng, Associate Director, Engagement, EOS at Federated Hermes, said: “It was impressive to see the robustness of the ESG investment analysis performed by this year’s student teams, at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Following the experience, I am left with greater confidence in the emphasis on ESG in higher education, and awareness of ESG issues by the next generation of professionals. I greatly appreciate case competitions, like the IEN’s in particular, for inspiring and empowering the next generation of leaders to translate passion into profession.

    A member of the judging panel, Megan Fielding, Senior Director, Responsible Investing, at Nuveen, a TIAA Company, said: “TIAA is delighted to support the IEN Student Corporate Engagement Competition this year. At Nuveen, the TIAA asset manager, responsible investing is an integral part of our work and has been for over 5 decades; the Competition offered us the opportunity to see up close the next generation of experts dedicated to ESG principles for our communities and our world, all of whom show strong passion, insight and intellect and left us very inspired!”

    The ten colleges participating in the competition were: Arizona State University, Bard College, Central Washington University, New York University: Stern School of Business, Presidio Graduate School, Ryerson University, University of California Berkeley: Haas School of Business, University of Minnesota, and Virginia Wesleyan University.

    Each student team worked throughout the spring 2022 semester to produce both a written investment recommendation for a publicly-traded company listed on any major exchange and a proposed shareholder engagement strategy that aligned with IEN’s Social Equity and Climate Goals. Along the way, the students received sustainable investing and shareholder advocacy coaching and training from members of IEN and As You Sow, an in-kind sponsor and educational partner.

    A panel of judges selected the winners based on their presentations, provided evidence, scale of embedded ESG analysis, and the creativity and efficacy of the shareholder engagement strategy to both improve company financial performance and make a meaningful positive social or environmental impact.

    MEDIA CONTACT:   To receive a copy of the investment competition final presentations or interview any of the participating teams and/or sponsors, contact Alex Frank, (703) 276-3264 or [email protected].


    The Intentional Endowments Network (IEN) is a peer learning network of colleges, universities, and other mission-driven institutional investors working together to achieve their risk and return objectives through investment actions that create a thriving, sustainable economy. IEN has more than 200 network members including endowments, asset managers, investment consultants, nonprofit partners, and individuals.





  • published Commitment to JEDI in About 2022-01-10 12:15:13 -0500

    IEN's Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Statement

    Crane Institute of Sustainability, the nonprofit home of the Intentional Endowments Network (IEN), is committed to making justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) part of the culture and the strength of our organization and work. We believe that diversity improves the creativity and problem solving of our organization and enhances the impact of our work.  We strive to recognize, and help others recognize, the implicit biases we hold and how those affect our decision making and worldviews. We aim to be an anti-racist organization and to help breakdown the unjust systems to enable the development of more equitable and just systems in all facets of society including education, business, finance, governance, and civil society. 

    We value cognitive diversity - the different ways that people think and communicate - and demographic diversity, as it relates to age, color, disability, ethnicity, family or marital status, gender identity or expression, language, national origin, physical and mental ability, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, veteran status, and other characteristics that make our employees and constituents unique.

    We work to integrate JEDI into our structure and mission.  We are continuously seeking opportunities for staff training, exploration, and education on JEDI topics.  We proactively build our networks to include more people from diverse backgrounds including our board of directors, staff, interns, steering committees, and working groups.  We seek continuous improvement in developing skills to create a welcoming and inclusive environment within our organization and through our network activities.  We believe this helps to retain employees, board members and network members.  We prioritize JEDI in the design of our programs, making every effort to ensure we always have women and people of color and diverse perspectives on the agenda for all programs.

    Our programming goals include dismantling racism and supporting the careers and professional development of traditionally marginalized or underrepresented groups to help create a more equitable and just society, aligning with the mission of the organization.   

    Learn more about our ever-evolving programmatic work on these topics via the Investing in Social Equity page



  • 2022 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit 

    It was inspiring coming together virtually at the 2022 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit to reflect on our accomplishments and be empowered to pursue climate justice with dedication for a just and carbon free society.

    About the 2022 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit
    The Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit, hosted the Intentional Endowments Network and  Second Nature is the premier annual gathering of higher education leaders committed to addressing inequality and the climate crisis. The 2022 Summit (April 5-8, 2022) brought together over 650 registrants16 sponsors23 Host Institutions and 11 organizational partners and provided the space for courageous conversations, creation of new partnerships, connect with peers and cross-sectoral climate sectors to find solutions to the most consequential climate and justice issues of our time. 

    Sessions Highlights

    The four days of the programing covered a range of higher education sustainability topics across operations, endowment investing, academics, and policy. These conversations offered participants unique opportunities to connect on the urgency of climate action and the ways to drive capital toward solutions and frontline communities.

    The Summit opening Keynote session, Towards a New Mission for Higher Education, featured Dr. David Orr, Dr. Santa Ono, Terri Taylor and Dr. Fatemeh Shafiei who discussed engagement and collaboration opportunities Higher Education need to explore in order to address the complexities of climate justice in their respective campuses. The speakers highlighted the need for higher education institutions to establish a balance between the tragic sense of life with technological optimism, the necessity to empower students and collaborate with the governments and to focus on the problems and solutions that will have the biggest impact. Watch session recording 

    Higher education needs to rethink and redefine its mission in this time of extreme inequality, climate crisis, and threats to democracy." David Orr

    It is incumbent upon institutions that value evidence-based reporting and the truth to take a strong stance in prominent media and our own communication channels. Democratic nations and institutions are fragile but the climate crisis is upon us and not going to wait for democracy to spread around the globe so we need to work with everyone and cooperate on existential challenges to address the problem democratic or not." Dr. Santa Ono

    "1 in 10k of non-green jobs transition into a green job. We need to educate students and incorporate climate plans." Terri Taylor 

    "When we deprive ourselves of having everyone at the table we limit our ability to generate solutions." Dr. Fatemeh Shafiei


    On the second day of the Summit we had a plenary session conversation on Integrating Sustainable Investment Options into Higher Ed Retirement Plans featuring Ali Khawar, Acting Assistant Secretary U.S. Department of Labor, Tiffany McGhee, Chief Executive Officer & Chief Investment Officer Pivotal Advisors, Amy O'Brien, Global Head of Responsible Investing Nuveen (A TIAA Company) and David Finegold, DPhil President Chatham University

    The panel members elaborated on the importance of having sustainable investment options to drive impact and ways higher education employees can advocate for ESG options. Employees of all 4500 colleges and universities in the U.S have invested about 1 trillion  their retirement savings. The Schroders’ retirement survey showed that 9 of 10 of those surveyed would like a sustainable investing option and 69% of them said that they would consider putting more money in their accounts if it was available. Watch session recording

    It is time for a movement where [a sustainable retirement plan] is looked at in a more holistic way and open the conversation around what’s going on in the retirement plans.” Amy O'Brien

    “If you are not an expert about this topic then you should hire someone that is.” Tiffany McGhee

    “Once the new rule is out, I recommend the managers to engage in a conversation with your supervisor about what’s taken into account and how to keep it into account.” Ali Khawar


    Summit participants were privileged to listen to Megan Red Shirt-Shaw, Director of Native Student Services University of South Dakota as a keynote who spoke on Beyond Land Acknowledgements - How Higher Education Can Commit to Transformative Change.

    Megan accentuated on the fact that acknowledgment of dispossession is an important component of land acknowledgments. Acknowledging the land that institutions reside on is a result of land acquisition hence campuses don't own the land and to imply otherwise is offensive to tribal communities. She recommended in addition to making land acknowledgements, Higher Institutions should partner with tribal communities and work toward repareations by either giving the land back, or provide tuition free education to natives of the lands on which the universities are located. Watch session recording

    "I can remember the first time I heard a land acknowledgment. I felt seen."  Megan Red Shirt-Shaw

    "We think of land as something that we own; the notion of buying land is offensive to Native people who were disposed of those locations, but instead think of having a relationship with land by thinking how often we connect (have a relationship) with nature, land and earth." Megan Red Shirt-Shaw

    2022 Summit Session Recordings

    The 2022 Summit sessions recordings is currently available. See some of the sessions recordings below: 

    Endowments Sessions

    Net Zero/JEDI Sessions


    Asses the full summit playlist here 

    Thank You to Our Sponsors, Host Institutions and Organizational Partners

    Without you, this event wouldn't have been possible!


    We will be back in-person for the 2023 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit in Miami, Florida.

    Questions? Please contact Nicole Torrico at [email protected].

  • COP26 Underscores the Need for Endowments to Lead on Climate

    World leaders, titans of industry, and grassroots activists in Glasgow, Scotland over the past two weeks for COP26, also known formally as the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference: a global effort to create plans to collectively limit global warming in coming years and decades. The goal to this point (per the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement) has been limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. 

    But so far commitments and actions, leave that goal in doubt. Many scientists are saying that with the weakened text in the Pact the goal of 1.5 degrees is all but dead - unless these commitments are fulfilled and ambition is ratcheted up quickly. 

    This underscores the importance of investors in driving businesses to accelerate progress toward net zero to avert the massive suffering and loss of value that will accompany temperature rises over 1.5 degrees C.  The folks at GreenBiz outlined 13 big deals that made COP26 the ‘Business COP’.

    And there is a lot of momentum among investors - including endowments - to push credible, authentic steps for a just transition to net zero in the business community.  The cost of capital for fossil fuels has risen sharply, diverging from that for renewables due to investors shifting investments through fossil fuel divestment and/or ESG strategies.  The Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) recently released a new Net Zero Standard which will be a key tool for investors in monitoring companies' progress toward net zero. And there is a growing recognition that investors must take an intersectional approach to climate change and social inequality, as Cambridge Associates' new paper on Climate Justice summarizes.

    Here at the Intentional Endowments Network, we believe that it will take an all-hands-on deck approach to curb emissions, which is why we convene and support endowments in learning about Net Zero Portfolios, making the commitment, and participating in shareholder engagement efforts to get portfolio companies onto decarbonization pathways. To help meet the 1.5-degree limit, the global financial system must play an essential role in the overall effort to reduce the amount of carbon emitted into the atmosphere -- as discussed below, endowments and the higher education sector are critical to making that happen. 


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