Rahwa Ghirmatzion, Director of Programs, PUSH Buffalo
Rahwa Ghirmatzion was born in Asmera, Eritrea in the middle of a civil war. She came to Western New York as a refugee at the age of eight with her family, after living in Sudan. She was educated in Buffalo Public Schools and SUNY Buffalo State.
In 2016, she became deputy director of People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH Buffalo), a community organization that works at the grassroots to create and implement a comprehensive revitalization plan for Buffalo’s West Side, with more than $25 million invested in affordable housing rehabilitation, weatherization and green infrastructure.
In this role, Ghirmatzion oversees the organization’s programs and day-to-day operations, which have grown to include housing construction, weatherization, solar installation, job training, and a youth center on Grant Street, as well as outreach and advocacy on public policy issues facing urban communities. PUSH employs 40 people and has renovated more than seventy-five high quality homes over the past seven years.
Ghirmatzion had served as PUSH’s director of programs, overseeing the growth of PUSH’s social enterprises and community development efforts.
“I’m proud of what PUSH has done to prove that everyday residents can lead the way in building a better Buffalo, with quality affordable housing and pathways to good jobs in emerging sectors like solar installation, weatherization and green construction. But there’s so much work ahead to move Buffalo beyond the legacies of racism and economic injustice that are so visible in our communities,” Ghirmatzion said.
For more than 13 years, Rahwa worked with community-based organizations in Western New York that promote community development. She was executive director of Ujima Theatre Company, a multi-ethnic professional theatre company whose primary purpose is the preservation, perpetuation and performance of African American theatre. Ghirmatzion was the recipient of the 2013 Community Leaders Arts Award from the National Federation for Just Communities.
Shawn Ginwright, Trustee, The California Endowment, Confluence Board Member
Shawn Ginwright, a leading national expert on African American youth, youth activism, and youth development. Dr. Ginwright serves as the Senior Research Associate at the Cesar Chavez Institute for Public Policy in San Francisco, CA and is also an Associate Professor of Education in the Africana Studies Department at San Francisco State University. He is the author of “Hope and Healing in Urban Education”, “Black Youth Rising, Activism and Radical Healing in Urban America”, “Black in School- Afrocentric Reform, Black Youth and the Promise of Hip-Hop Culture” and co-editor of” Beyond Resistance!: Youth Resistance and Community Change: New Democratic Possibilities for Practice and Policy for America’s Youth”.
Marina Gorbis, Executive Director, The Institute for the Future
Marina Gorbis is a futurist and social scientist who serves as executive director to the Institute for the Future (IFTF), a Silicon Valley nonprofit research and consulting organization. In her 19 years with IFTF, Marina has brought a futures perspective to hundreds of organizations in business, education, government and philanthropy to improve innovation capacity, develop strategies, and design new products and services. Marina’s current research focuses on how social production is changing the face of major industries, a topic explored in detail in her book, The Nature of the Future: Dispatches from the Socialstructed World. She has also blogged and written for BoingBoing.net, FastCompany, Harvard Business Review, and major media outlets. A native of Odessa, Ukraine, yet equally at home in Silicon Valley, Europe, India, and Kazakhstan, Marina is particularly well suited to see things from a global viewpoint. She has keynoted such international events as The Next Web Conference, NEXT Berlin, the World Business Forum, the National Association of Broadcasters annual convention, and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges annual conference. She holds a BA in psychology and a master’s of public policy from UC Berkeley.
Tracy Gray, Founder and Managing Partner, The 22 Fund
Ms. Gray is currently the Founder/Managing Partner of The 22 Fund, an impact, growth venture capital firm with a job creation mission and investment strategy to increase the export capacity of Southern California manufacturing companies, targeting women- and minority-owned businesses. She is also an Executive in Residence at the Los Angles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) and chairs LACI’s Diversity in Entrepreneurship Advisory Council. In addition, Ms. Gray is the founder of the non-profit We Are Enough (WAE). WAE’s only mission is to educate ALL women on how and why to invest in women-owned, for-profit businesses or with a “gender lens.” Ms. Gray was named one of the 50 “Women of Influence” in business in Los Angeles and is featured in the recently released book “200 Hundred Women: Who Will Change the Way You See the World”. Ms. Gray was formerly Senior Advisor to the LA Mayor, an investment professional at a venture capital fund and a systems engineer on the Space Shuttle program. Ms. Gray holds a B.S. in Mathematical Science with an aeronautics emphasis from the UC Santa Barbara and dual MBAs from Columbia University and UC, Berkeley.
Stephanie Gidigbi, SPARCC Policy, Capacity, and Systems Change Director & Senior Advisor, Urban Solutions, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
Stephanie Gidigbi champions public policy solutions that promote economic, social, and environmental benefits for communities. She directs the policy, capacity, and systems change function for the Strong, Prosperous and Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC), a $90 million initiative advancing equitable infrastructure investment. Gidigbi previously served as a political appointee for President Obama and advanced the administration’s economic opportunity agenda at the U.S. Department of Transportation. She worked on Capitol Hill for several years. Gidigbi brings more than a decade of international, federal, state, and local government experience to NRDC's Urban Solutions team. She has a master’s degree from Seton Hall University and based in Washington, D.C.
John Goldstein, Managing Director, Goldman Sachs
John Goldstein is a managing director within Goldman Sachs Asset Management. John joined Goldman Sachs in 2015 through the acquisition of Imprint Capital to help expand the firm’s Environmental, Social and Governance and impact investing capabilities. Previously, John co-founded Imprint Capital Advisors in 2007 to help foundations, families and financial institutions create and manage impact investing programs and portfolios. Imprint made and managed more than 120 investments with its clients and worked with 11 of the 25 largest U.S. foundations.John has served as an advisor or board member to a diverse set of organizations in the impact space, such as the US National Advisory Board of the G8 Social Impact Investing Task Force, McKinsey’s working group on Social Impact Bonds, the UN Capital Development Fund, and the International Interfaith Investment Group. John graduated from Yale University with honors. He was awarded the Richter Fellowship and the Townsend Prize.
Dr. Serena Guarnaschelli, Partner, KOIS Invest
Serena brings more than 5 years of experience at McKinsey&Company, and 8 years at Dalberg. She is an expert in innovative finance and impact investing, and is currently supporting the ICRC with the structuring and launch of the world’s first Humanitarian Impact Bond. She designed and supported the launch of Convergence, a blended finance platform focused on emerging and frontier markets. Serena also worked with Mercy Corps in Darfur. She holds a PhD in Social Sciences from Caltech, with a specialization in Behavioral Finance.
Alex Haber, Philanthropic Advisor, RSF Social Finance
Alex Haber is Senior Program Manager, Philanthropic Services at RSF Social Finance. He is responsible for cultivating giving to and through RSF by providing strategic and advisory support to RSF’s donor clients and stewarding individual and foundation donors to RSF’s collaboratives and field-building initiatives. He has a passion for philanthropy as a tool for economic transformation. Prior to RSF, he held positions in donor services and program management at The San Francisco Foundation, Tides, and Jewish Funds for Justice (now Bend the Arc). He received a BA in Comparative Literature from Cornell University.
Lisa Hagerman, Director of Programs, DBL Partners
Lisa Hagerman, Ph.D., is the Director of Programs at DBL Partners, a venture capital firm whose goal is to combine top-ier financial returns with meaningful social, environmental and economic returns in the regions and sectors in which it invests. Previously Lisa was Director of Programs at DBL Investors, which she joined in 2011. Lisa is leading the strategy and implementation of double bottom line practices working with DBL Partners’ portfolio companies across workforce development, environmental stewardship, community engagement, and public policy. Lisa was previously the Director of More for Mission at the Harvard Kennedy School, a research and advocacy initiative promoting mission investing, in which she built a network of over 90 foundations representing over $38 billion in total assets. In May of 2012, More for Mission merged with PRI Makers to form Mission Investors Exchange. Prior to her role at More for Mission, she completed her doctorate in economic geography. Her doctoral thesis was in economic geography on Public Pension Fund Investment in Urban Revitalization, a project supported by the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations. She was previously a Vice President of Economic Innovation International. In addition, Lisa has ten years of banking experience, three of which were with Wells Fargo Bank in Government Relations where she worked with the community development department and promoted the Bank’s minority lending initiatives. She worked at Citibank for seven years in the Latin American Marketing Division. Lisa holds a Visiting Research Associate position at Oxford University, School of Geography and the Environment. Lisa received her Bachelor of Arts from Bucknell University and her Master of Arts in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
John Hamilton, Vice President of Economic Opportunity, New Hampshire Community Loan Fund
John Hamilton is Vice President of Economic Opportunity at the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, a 34-year old nonprofit that has lent more than $260 million in New Hampshire for affordable housing, child care and economic opportunities. The Community Loan Fund shapes its capital to its borrowers’ needs. This is possible because more than 600 individuals and organizations invest in its shared-risk pool. Those Opportunity NH Investments provide a flexible source of capital that can be deployed with patience, creativity and customized training or education that sets the borrower up for success. Some investors who seek more-direct local lending and a higher risk/reward profile have joined us in business deals that were too large for us to do alone. These co-investments allow us to fill more capital gaps and help investors deploy more capital, locally, in ways that reflect their values and impact goals.
Kate Huntington, Managing Director, Athena Capital
Kate is a Managing Director focusing on alternative investments. She is a co-head of Athena’s research and manager selection team across asset classes. She previously worked as a Consulting Associate at Cambridge Associates where she supported Consultants in managing, advising on, and reporting on a variety of institutional client investment portfolios. Kate started her career as a Research Analyst at Stonebridge Associates, a real estate investment and advisory firm, and then transitioned to economic consulting with both Capital Economics and LECG where she was an Economist/Consultant providing economic analysis and market research to support high-profile anti-trust litigation. She has also worked in the global equity research group at Fiduciary Trust. Kate currently holds the Series 65 license.
Kate has a BA in Economics from the University of Virginia and received an MBA from Yale School of Management.
Erin Harkless is a Senior Investment Director at Cambridge Associates. Based out of the Arlington, VA office, she advises a variety of institutional investors on asset allocation strategy, manager selection, and investment program evaluation. Erin also works with clients to develop strategies for impact and mission-driven investments and is a member of the firm’s Mission Related Investing Practice. She is a frequent speaker at impact investment industry conferences and co-authored a Cambridge research report on governance considerations for impact investors.
Prior to joining Cambridge, Erin held positions at the Princeton University Investment Company, Summit Rock Advisors and Goldman Sachs. Erin received her MBA from the Harvard Business School as a Robert Toigo Foundation Fellow and her BS magna cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis. She is also a CFA charterholder and member of the CFA Society of Washington DC.
Meredith Heimburger, Board Member and Finance Committee Member, Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation
Meredith Heimburger is the Director of Sustainability for Global Endowment Management, an investment firm managing $8 billion for endowment and foundation clients. Meredith started her career as a teacher and held various staff roles with Teach For America. Meredith works with several organizations dedicated to sustainability, responsible investment, and impact measurement: a participant in the World Economic Forum’s Impact Investing for the Next Generation program; a member of the Global Philanthropists’ Circle Impact Investment Group, the Philanthropy Workshop’s Working Group on Climate Change and Energy, the Giving Pledge Impact Investing Affinity Group, the Intentional Endowments Network, and Confluence Philanthropy; a member of the board and finance committee of the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation, which promotes sustainable solutions to human and environmental problems, and the board and finance committee of Equal Measure, a non-profit evaluation organization. Meredith lives in Charlotte with her husband and their two sons.
Lisa Hayles, Institutional Investment Services Manager, Boston Common Asset Management
Lisa is responsible for client relationship management and business development focusing on foundations, endowments and their consultants. She co-ordinates Boston Common's shareowner engagement work around inclusion - focusing on dialogues with portfolio companies and policy initiatives supporting gender equality in the workplace. Lisa serves on the board of the Thirty Percent Coalition, a national non-profit committed to raising the number of women, including women of color, on public company boards across the U.S. She also serves as a resource person on responsible investment issues with the executive committee of the Intentional Endowment's Network, and Confluence Philanthropy's Asset Owner Working Group.
A native of Toronto, Canada, Lisa worked in the UK as an advisor to institutional investors on responsible investment approaches for a decade before relocating to New England in 2013. An enthusiastic traveler, dancer and yoga practioner, she supports Womenade, a philanthropic giving circle funding community-based organizations serving women and girls in the greater Boston Area and also serves on the board of the Boston Impact Initiative, an impact fund focused on economic justice.
Oran Hesterman, Ph.D, President & Chief Executive Officer, Author, Fair Food Network, Fair Food: Growing a Healthy, Sustainable Food System for All
With more than 35 years in the field, Oran B. Hesterman is a national leader in sustainable agriculture and food systems. He currently serves as president and CEO of Fair Food Network, a national nonprofit that pioneers solutions that support farmers, strengthen local economies, and increase access to healthy food—especially in our most underserved communities. Since 2009, Fair Food Network’s signature program, Double Up Food Bucks, has become a national model for healthy food incentives. Hesterman’s 2011 book, Fair Food: Growing a Healthy, Sustainable Food System for All, was heralded by The New York Times as “an important, accessible book on a crucial subject” and is required reading at 25 colleges and universities. Before launching Fair Food Network, Hesterman served as a program director in food systems at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation during the time that the foundation helped seed the local food systems movement with more than $200 million in investments. Prior to his work in philanthropy and nonprofits, Hesterman taught at Michigan State University.
David Hochschild, Environmental Commissioner, CA Energy Commission
David Hochschild was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown in February 2013. He fills the environmental position on the five-member Commission where four of the five members by law are required to have professional training in specific areas - engineering or physical science, environmental protection, economics, and law. Commissioner Hochschild’s career has spanned public service, environmental advocacy and the private sector. He first got involved in the solar energy field in 2001 in San Francisco as a Special Assistant to Mayor Willie Brown where he launched a citywide $100 million initiative to put solar panels on public buildings. He went on to co-found the Vote Solar Initiative, a 60,000-member advocacy organization promoting solar policies at the local, state and federal level. He served as executive director of a national consortium of leading solar manufacturers and worked for five years at Solaria, a solar company in Silicon Valley. In 2007-2008, he served as a commissioner at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. For his work to advance clean energy, Commissioner Hochschild was awarded the Sierra Club’s Trailblazer Award, the American Lung Association’s Clean Air Hero Award and the Department of Energy’s Million Solar Roof True Champion Award. Commissioner Hochschild holds a B.A. degree from Swarthmore College and a Masters of Public Policy degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and was a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs.
Kristin Hull, Founder, Nia Community Foundation
Kristin is a social change agent, entrepreneur and impact investor, helping others invest into the world in which they want to live using finance as a tool for social change. She is devoted to promoting inclusion and diversity in leadership, and to re-envisioning capitalism. Kristin founded Nia Community Investments in 2010, a 100% impact portfolio. In 2013 Kristin launched Nia Global Solutions. Prior to Nia, Kristin served as President and Chair of the Board of the Hull Family Foundation from 2007 to 2011, where she oversaw all of the investment efforts and transitioned the endowment from a traditional investment portfolio to one of the country’s first 100% mission impact invested portfolios. From 1990 to 2007 she worked as an educator in the Bay Area. She earned her B.A. and teaching credentials at Tufts University, her M.A. in Research in Bilingual Education from Stanford University and her Ph.D. in Urban Education from the University of California at Berkeley.
David Jackson, Interim CEO, Impact Hub Oakland
David Jackson is an Oakland native with a passion for social entrepreneurship and social justice. David has been a lifelong entrepreneur, starting his first business at age nine (a lucrative lemonade stand), and ultimately owning and managing a group of seven independent bookstores for a decade. He transitioned into nonprofit management after acting as a business development consultant for faith-based nonprofits, to serve as the Director of City Team, a long-standing Oakland nonprofit. There he focused on helping the local community facing homelessness, food insecurity, and drug and alcohol addiction. His early commitment to overcoming challenges led him to believe that although times may be tough, there is always an opportunity to bear fruit. In his work, Jackson has always maintained a bird’s eye view of the negative social and economic impacts facing children, families and the displaced. “I sought vigorously to implement programs with youth, the homeless, and marginalized groups in Oakland. My goal was to take the big picture and shift these folks away from the systematic downward spiral.” With over twenty years of experience in entrepreneurship, business development, fundraising, management, and nonprofits, David is excited to serve as the Interim CEO of Impact Hub Oakland, to continue the advancement of an entrepreneurial community and co-working space that creates solutions that work for all.
Douwe Jan Joustra, Head Circular Transformation, C&A Foundation
Douwe Jan Joustra is Head Circular Transformation at the C&A-Foundation. He introduced Circular Economy in the Netherlands in 2010 after a cooperation with Ellen MacArthur in the UK. He is an expert on Circular Economy in business and the performance of governments in enhancing circular economy initiatives. Joustra introduced the perspective on design(-thinking) as an enabling perspective in circular economy. Also, he is responsible for concepts as ‘ecomimicry’ (learning by ecology for economy) and the ‘Ecology of Things’, both also with a focus on societal value development. Within the C&A-Foundation, we look for transformation on technical-, process- and systems level. So, why is waste a waste of energy? We look for new business models, their implementation and leadership as a specific role for philanthropies.
Jon Jensen, Executive Director, Park Foundation
Jon Jensen is Executive Director of the Park Foundation. Park Foundation is based in Ithaca, New York, and awards over $19 million annually via national and regional programs in higher education, media, environment and animal welfare as well as local programs in sustainability, human services, arts and culture, and communications. Jon’s previous positions include Executive Director of the Wildlife Preservation Trust International, Senior Program Associate of the Pew Charitable Trusts, Associate Director of the Pew Conservation Scholars Program, and Senior Program Officer for Environment at the George Gund Foundation. His career in philanthropy includes over 30 years of grantmaking experience and founding trustee roles in the Environmental Grantmakers Association, Funders Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities, and Confluence Philanthropy. He has served a chair of the board for each of these organizations. Jon has spoken at local, regional and national conferences on subjects such as endangered species conservation, nonprofit management, green buildings, smart growth, watershed conservation, foundation philanthropy, nonprofit leadership, journalism, higher education and mission related investing.
Danny Kennedy, Managing Director, California Clean Energy Fund (CalCEF)
Danny Kennedy is a pioneer in clean energy and innovation, managing director of the California Clean Energy Fund, and president of CalCharge, a membership consortium that drives breakthroughs in energy storage technology. In 2007, Mr. Kennedy co-founded Sungevity, Inc., the country’s largest privately held solar company. He also co- founded Powerhouse, the only incubator and accelerator focusing solely on supporting solar entrepreneurs. Mr. Kennedy serves on the boards of VoteSolar, the Solar Foundation in Washington, D.C., and several solar startups, including Powerhive in Kenya and Sunergise in Fiji. He is the author of the clean energy manifesto Rooftop Revolution: How Solar Power Can Save Our Economy—and the Planet—From Dirty Energy. Working in collaboration with other groups, he spearheaded Sungevity’s Solar on the White House campaign, which resulted in the Obama administration’s decision to place solar panels on the First Family’s residence.
Bruce Kahn, Portfolio Manager, Sustainable Insight Capital Management, and Confluence Board Member
Bruce has over 26 years of experience in environmental and investment research and management. Currently, Bruce is the Portfolio Manager at Sustainable Insight Capital Management. Previously, Bruce was a Director in Deutsche Bank’s Asset Management division where he acted as an investment strategist conducting high-level analytical research on sustainable investing including clean tech, water and agricultural-based investment strategies as well as ESG/SRI strategies. Prior to that, he managed assets at Smith Barney's Private Wealth Management Group in sustainable investments including agri-business and clean tech for Foundation/Endowment, HNWI and Institutional clients. Bruce currently serves as a Trustee and Chair of the Finance Committee of the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation, and previously served on the Finance committee of the Christopher Reynolds Foundation and as Trustee of the Jesse Smith Noyes Foundation. He also serves as a member of the Board of Visitors for the Gaylord Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and is on the Technical Review Panel of National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Recently Bruce has joined the Advisory Council of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board and serves on the Advisory Panel of Mercer Investment Consulting and Management’s Sustainable Opportunities Fund. Bruce is a recipient of both a J. William Fulbright Scholarship and a National Science Foundation Fellowship in ecological economics and served in the United States Peace Corps in the Republic of Cameroon, (1989-1993). Bruce holds a BA in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology from the University of Connecticut; MS in Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures from Auburn University; PhD in Land Resources from University of Wisconsin, Madison. Bruce currently is a Lecturer of Finance, Statistics and Agriculture courses at Columbia University’s Earth Institute in the Sustainability Management Program.
Erika Karp, Founder and CEO, Cornerstone Capital Inc.
Erika Karp is the Founder and CEO of Cornerstone Capital Inc. The mission of the firm is to apply the principles of sustainable finance across the capital markets enhancing investment processes through transparency and collaboration. In seeking positive societal impact at scale, Cornerstone offers wealth and investment advising, research and strategic consulting, and investment banking services. Working with investors, corporations and financial institutions, the firm drives the systematic analysis of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors throughout the global capital markets.
Prior to founding Cornerstone, Karp was Managing Director and Head of Global Sector Research at UBS Investment Bank where she chaired the UBS Global Investment Review Committee and managed a global team of analysts and strategists. Erika is an advisor to the UN Global Compact’s LEAD Board Development Program, a founding Board member of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Financing and Capital, an advisor to the Omidyar Network’s Know the Chain initiative, and was an advisor to the Clinton Global Initiative’s Market-based Approaches track. Karp has been named among the nation's "Top 50 Women in Wealth" by AdvisorOne, the “GOOD 100” and the “Purpose Economy 100” and one of 50 “Conscious Capitalists” who are Transforming Wall Street.” In fall of 2016, Erika was also awarded the Wells Fargo Leadership award by StartOut, the national nonprofit that connects LGBTQ entrepreneurs to empower great leaders and businesses.
Stanley Keasling, CEO, Rural Community Assistance Corporation, RCAC
Stanley Keasling has been the CEO of Rural Community Assistance Corporation since January 2008. The organization provides training, technical and financial resources to nonprofit organizations, rural and Tribal communities to help build vibrant, healthy and enduring rural communities in the western US. RCAC is a CDFI-certified loan fund with more than $100 million in assets, has an operating budget of over $18 million and employs over 120 staff located throughout the west.
Stan began his community development experience as a VISTA Volunteer with Self-Help Enterprises (SHE) in 1973. He helped establish the SHE community development program which then formed Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC) in 1978. Stan served as RCAC’s division director for community development programs from its inception until 1982. He returned to SHE in 1982 where he managed self-help housing and community development programs. He became executive director of Rural California Housing Corporation (RCHC) in 1986, initiated the RCHC merger with Mercy Housing in 2000 and remained with Mercy Housing as vice president and senior vice president until 2006. His responsibilities included managing the consulting division and eventually all operations in Atlanta, Chicago and Denver regional offices. Stan worked as a private consultant for a short while prior to taking the helm of RCAC.
Jennifer Kenning, Co-Founder and CEO, Align Impact
Combining her desire for change across the globe and passion for financial management, Jennifer serves as the CEO and Co-Founder of Align. Align serves as an independent specialized impact advisor to high net worth families, individuals and foundations. Jennifer joined Aspiriant in 2002 as an associate in Wealth Management eventually leading the charge as a Director in Wealth Management in the family office division and as a member of Aspiriant’s Board of Directors. In 2017. Jennifer was selected as one of the 16 Innovators as part of InvestmentNews “Icons and Innovators” feature. Jennifer was named “40 under 40” for Investment News in 2014, a finalist for “Rising Star for Family Wealth” report, and selected for Private Asset Management’s “50 Most Influential Women in Private Wealth” in 2016. Jennifer was selected to attend Fortune’s “Most Powerful Women of the Next Generation” Summit and Skoll World Forum. Jenn sits on the industry advisory board for the Center for High Impact Philanthropy, Wharton Social Impact Initiative and Tara Health Foundation joint project aligning investors interests in improving the lives of women. In March and November 2016 and November 2017, Jennifer curated and led an Impact Investing course for the University of Cape Town. Jenn is honored to serve as the Committee Senior Investment Advisor for ImpactAsset’s Annual IA 50 Impact Investing Fund Showcase in 2017 and again in 2018. Jennifer earned a BBA degree in Finance and BA in Economics from the Southern Methodist University and graduated Cum Laude.
Emily Kirsch, Founder & CEO, Powerhouse
In her capacity as Founder & CEO of Powerhouse, a co-working space and seed fund that supports 'intelligent energy' entrepreneurs building software-enabled solutions for the clean energy industry, Emily has emerged as a leader and visionary in the clean energy and entrepreneurial community. At Powerhouse, Emily builds strategic connections between venture capital, corporate leaders, and entrepreneurs to drive innovation in the clean energy industry. Prior to founding Powerhouse, Emily worked as the Statewide Lead Organizer at the Ella Baker Center, where she founded and lead the Oakland Climate Action Coalition, a group of businesses, unions, and community organizations which drafted and secured passage of the most ambitious Energy and Climate Action Plan of any city in the nation. In addition, Emily designed and launched the Oakland Green Jobs Corps with Ella Baker Center Founder and former Jobs Advisor to President Obama, Van Jones. She also launched the Oakland Technical High School Green Academy-- the first three year, green education program for high school students in Oakland. Emily serves on the Board of PV Complete and is on the Advisory Board of the University of San Francisco’s Masters of Science in Energy Systems Management. Emily is the winner of 2017 Entrepreneurship Award from C3E, a partnership between the US Department of Energy, Stanford and MIT. Emily has guest lectured at UC Berkeley and Stanford.
Zach Knight, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Blue Forest Conservation
Zach Knight is Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Blue Forest Conservation. Prior to founding BFC, Mr. Knight started his career in finance at Merrill Lynch where he specialized in structured finance, credit derivative structuring and correlation trading. Zach also served as a high-yield and distressed corporate bond trader before leaving Wall Street to pursue an MBA at UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business with a focus on sustainability and environmental impact investing. Mr. Knight holds an MBA with honors from UC-Berkeley and a B.A. in Economics from Cornell University.
Sonia Kowal, President, Zevin Asset Management
Sonia Kowal is the president of Zevin Asset Management, with responsibility for corporate matters, business practices, strategic planning, and marketing. She is also a member of the firm's investment committee, where she incorporates sustainability issues into investment decision making. She oversees environmental, social, and governance research, proxy voting, and the corporate engagement strategies of the firm. Previously, Sonia headed Ethical Investment Research Services' (EIRIS) U.S. office and was a portfolio manager and investment research analyst at Baillie Gifford in Scotland, where she had responsibility for investments in Emerging Markets. Sonia holds a BS in Zoology from the University of Edinburgh and an MS in Investment Analysis from the University of Stirling, Scotland. She is currently on the board of ICCR – the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, a coalition of faith and values-riven organizations who view the management of their investments as a powerful catalyst for social change. She is also a mentor for disadvantaged youth through Year-Up. When not investing with impact or shaping the progressive minds of tomorrow, Sonia practices and teaches Ukrainian egg art (pysanky) in “a pretty hardcore way”.
The GIG Car, GIG Car Share
I started my career in Berkeley and Oakland in April of 2017. Living life as a one way car share vehicle has been an incredible experience. In just a few months my 499 siblings and I have met thousands of interesting Members and have helped them connect to regional transportation infrastructure, run errands, and move about their daily lives. We've been busy integrating new technology into the business too. I've been fortunate to be part of a few test groups that resulted in bringing new innovations to our entire Gig fleet.