Forum at San Francisco State University

The Intentionally Designed Endowment Forum at San Francisco State University

August 25-26, 2016
Seven Hills Conference Center, San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Ave, San Francisco, CA 94132

The San Francisco State University Foundation and the Intentional Endowments Network were pleased to host this forum that brought together decision-makers, including presidents, trustees, CFOs, CIOs, and other key stakeholders by invitation only from campuses in California and the region to advance the conversation on endowment investing in the context of 21st century sustainability challenges.

As the focus on the impact of the $550 billion in endowment funds of the nation’s higher education institutions continues to grow, this was a timely event to explore the risks and opportunities that sustainability challenges pose to investment portfolios. 

California campuses have been leaders in taking action on climate and broader sustainability challenges in operations, education, and research. They have also been pioneering the exploration of how endowment investment portfolios align with these efforts.  This interactive, invitation-only forum provided an opportunity for campus leaders to learn from peers and experts about current trends and best-practices.

Keynote speakers:

Jagdeep Singh Bachher, Chief Investment Officer and Vice President, Investments at the University of California was the dinner keynote speaker on Thursday. He is responsible for managing the UC pension, endowment, short-term, and total-return investment pools, totaling approximately $91 billion in assets. In recent years, the Office of the Chief Investment Officer of the Regents has initiated a variety of innovative approaches to sustainable investing. Dr. Bachher has been a champion for change in the investment business and gained an international reputation as an innovator. Read his full bio


Ira Ehrenpreis, is Founder and Managing Partner of DBL Partners, a leading impact investing venture capital firm, currently investing out of a $400M fund. Ira is a recognized leader in both the venture capital industry and the energy innovation sector.  In 2007, Ira was named one of the “Top 50 Most Influential Men Under 45" and in 2014 was inducted into the International Green Industry Hall of Fame. Read his full bio


Location: Seven Hills Conference Center, San Francisco State University, 800 Font Blvd, Mary Ward Hall, San Francisco, CA 94132 

Duration: 1.5 days, 1pm Thursday, August 25 – 4pm Friday, August 26

Size: Approximately 100-120 attendees  

Participants: By invitation, participants were senior administrators (presidents, vice presidents, CFOs, CIOs) and trustees from colleges and universities, philanthropic foundations, sustainable investment experts from investment management firms, advisory firms, and non-profits. Student leaders were able to attend at the invitation of their institution’s president or senior administrator. Investment industry attendees were limited to approximately one-third of the participants. We encouraged campuses to send teams (e.g., presidents, CIO, CFO, trustees) and use this time for accelerated learning and action planning.

The program was designed to be useful to the full range of participants from those considering these issues for the first time to those who have been implementing sustainable investing practices.

Format: The forum was not be a typical conference. The format was highly interactive, and included brief presentations from expert speakers, conversational panels to deliver content and seed conversation, small-group dialogue sessions at round tables, and facilitated, interactive action planning exercises. The Chatham House Rule applied. 

Content and program design: Program content was driven by responses from participants on what their key questions were on these topics at the time, and what they hope to get out of the event. The agenda was designed to build through the day to deliver necessary content, facilitate peer-to-peer information sharing and learning, and result in pragmatic, actionable outcomes for participants to take back to their institutional roles. Key topics covered (depending on participant feedback) included:

  • Trends and strategies (sustainable investing, impact investing, ESG investing, shareholder engagement, divestment)
  • Financial performance
  • Fiduciary duty
  • What’s happening on other campuses
  • Fostering constructive dialogue with campus stakeholders and educational opportunities


About the Intentional Endowments Network

The Intentional Endowments Network is a broad-based, collaborative network advancing intentionally designed endowments through a variety of strategies (e.g., ESG integration, impact investing, shareholder engagement) that can make a significant and critical contribution to creating a healthy, just, and sustainable society. 

Working closely with and through leading organizations and initiatives – including Ceres, the Principles for Responsible Investment, Second Nature, AASHE, the Sustainable Endowments Institute, the Responsible Endowments Coalition, CDP, and many others – the network engages key leaders and stakeholders in the higher education, business, and non-profit sectors. The IEN recognizes the need for (1) safe spaces to learn from peers and experts; (2) a non-prescriptive approach; (3) alignment of various efforts and opportunities for action endowments can take; and (4) an emphasis on the process of engaging stakeholders and making decisions on these issues in often contentious environments. It provides opportunities for learning and education, peer networking, convening, thought leadership and information exchange.

Since April 2014, IEN has held five forums with Hampshire College, Arizona State University, Mount Holyoke College, the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado, and Portland State University. Over four hundred people participated in these events, ranging from presidents and trustees to students and non-profits, providing very positive feedback on the events’ content, relationship building opportunities, and unique design.



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