Mission Investors Fill The Baltimore Marriot

ON June 28, 2016

From 10 people huddled in a conference room 20 years ago to over 500 attending May’s Mission Investors Exchange bi-annual conference, we sure have come a long way. Today’s “hybrid thinkers” see no problem aligning their beliefs with their investments. They view the old way of thinking as too binary, forcing a false choice between profits and purpose.

For me, it was a hair tingly at the back of my neck few days in Baltimore. To see two huge foundations, MacArthur and Kresge, announce exciting new initiatives to mobilize capital from ALL sources, including individuals, shows how this movement is going mainstream. To hear the founder of Priceline and other venture capitalists talk about doing good and doing well, points the way toward a new attitude about money and what capitalism can be.

Most of all, seeing Kate Wolford take the main stage and modestly describe McKnight’s thoughtful approach was a very proud Minnesota moment. I love the fact that McKnight has quietly gone from 10% of assets devoted to impact investing to 25% without a lot of fanfare. In fact, the more than a dozen Minnesota impact investing leaders in attendance created a noticeable presence thanks to local innovators such as Karen Florez with the Minneapolis Foundation and Amy Jensen with the Northwest Area Foundation. But that’s how we roll here in the land of humble, hardworking, do it/don’t just yak about it culture.

On a personal note, Kate made my day/week/year when she said, “Susan, I’m so glad you’re here and in this role serving as MCF Executive in Residence. Now you have the standing to help connect and activate our community.” Indeed, I am living my dream this year, thanks to great colleagues and support from MCF and the Bush Foundation.

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What I'm doing now

Top of my mind these days is investing in line with Diversity, Equity, Inclusion values. Many institutions promised bold moves after George Floyd was murdered. Who is following through and doing this well? Racial justice requires new pathways for capital flows. I’m excited to be part of the McKnight Foundation’s Groundbreak Coalition, aiming to deploy $2b in flexible capital over 10 years to disrupt the status quo. In Minnesota we are a generous state, a charitable state, a hard-working state: we need to try new approaches to create that famous quality of life for all. We are leading a session on Place Based Impact Investing at the Mission Investors Exchange conference in Baltimore. Reach out if you’ll be there so I can include you in the informal MN meet-ups.