Table Topics 2023

Attendees will have the opportunity to join four 30minute table discussions, with distinguished leaders. Offering an opportunity for in-depth engagement on topics of your choice. Pre-event, attendees can select their preferred discussion groups.
Table Topic 1. Sustainable Investing During a Disorderly Transition

Hosted by:
Matthew Christ, Portfolio Manager, Ninety One
and Han Yik, Senior Advisor to the Executive Director and Chief Investment Officer, NYS Teachers’ Retirement System

To reach net zero by 2050, over $4 trillion is needed annually, with 25% dedicated to emerging markets. The transition is unlikely to be neat or methodological – just how disorderly the transition is will be influenced by asset owners, investors, and companies’ own emission reduction plans. This session will explore the powerful alpha opportunity climate finance presents and the various ways in which asset allocators can participate while playing a critical role in a lasting transition to net zero.

Table Topic 2. “Rules of Thumb” for Private Capital: Diligence on Returns Potential & Impact Integrity, from the Fund Manager and LP Perspective

Hosted by:
Marieke Spence, Executive Director, Impact Capital Managers
and Morgan Peterson, Senior Analyst, Impact Capital Managers

Whether you’re an LP looking at impact funds or an impact fund cultivating your portfolio company pipeline, the pressure to generate market-rate returns demands a particularly rigorous diligence on both returns potential and the likelihood of meaningful, measurable impact. The universe of investable opportunities is growing and noisy; labels can be helpful or misleading. Elaborate frameworks and strategies have their place. But returning to core principles and trusting our own strong instincts still has a place in today’s impact investing marketplace. What are some simple tests and screens LPs can use to cut through the noise and identify managers who can deliver on both dimensions? And how can impact funds accelerate getting to yes/no while keeping discipline around their fund thesis? This session will illustrate how some ICM managers and their LPs are approaching these critical questions and invite participants to share and strengthen their own “rules of thumb”.

Table Topic 3. Investing In Nature & Biodiversity

Hosted by:
Myriam Ahmed, Executive Director, Global Sustainability Finance, Morgan Stanley
and Melissa Weigel – Managing Director, Capital Raising, NatureVest

The importance of nature and biodiversity and the rate of its decline over the past few decades cannot be understated. Biodiversity loss and degradation of landscapes and ecosystems have the potential for significant near and long-term negative consequences on people and the planet. Despite the severity of the trends, it has remained challenging for investors to deploy capital at scale. This session will briefly set the context around why the topic is so important and what has been driving increased investor demand more recently. It will then focus on an overview of the investment opportunities that we are seeing across asset classes, including within capital markets, private markets, and wealth management. The session will dive deeper into specific examples within each, recognizing the benefits and challenges associated with these transactions, and the challenges that investors face more broadly in the space. Some examples of which include finding investable opportunities at scale and impact measurement. We hope this can facilitate an active discussion to understand whether institutions are considering nature/biodiversity investment strategies, where they are in their journey, and what challenges they may be experiencing.

Table Topic 4. Bringing Back the S: The Evolution of Social Impact Investing in Private Markets

Hosted by:
Beata Kirr, Chief Impact Officer, The Copia Group
and Angela Outlaw-Matheny, Director of Diverse Manager Equity, Crewcial Partners

With a high percentage of impact dollars having gone to environmental funds, there is substantial opportunity to incorporate social impact investing in portfolio allocations. In today’s headlines, we can also see that worker advocacy and employer pushback for a variety of reasons, including weak benefit packages, fair waqes, scheduling certainty, childcare policies, are all meaningfully on the rise. The wealth gap by race and gender remains very wide, and there is potential for private capital to make a difference. The opportunity set is high – the question is – how do we best seize the moment?

In this context, how are allocators and managers thinking about the following questions:

  • How do we move the needle forward on elevating the “s” in impact allocations?
  • With the Fearless Fund litigation, how do we think about the importance of adding increased diversity to manager rosters and support diverse owned businesses, but balance the litigation risks?
  • What has worked/not worked in diverse and emerging manager programs to date?
  • What is best practice today for quantifying the “S” impact in addition to diversity metrics?
  • What asset classes are best suited to measure and make progress in this area and how does that impact differ?
Table Topic 5. Investing in the Work of the Future

Hosted by:
Blair Miller, Senior Advisor, Two Sigma Impact

This breakout will discuss investment opportunities in the future of work with a focus on access and inclusion.  Over the past decade we have seen drastic shifts in how and why we work.  Work is becoming increasingly distributed, less hierarchical, more demanding of “soft skills”, and much more data driven. This has opened incredible opportunities for those who have been most marginalized in the workplace.  And has created an exciting landscape for investors.  The discussion will cover the changing work landscape, what this means from an impact investing perspective, and how to build a pipeline of investable opportunities in the space.

For more perspectives from Blair Miller read her most recent Op-Eds on reframing the career track, the soft skills revolution, and restructuring professional pathways for the future of work.

Table Topic 6. Investing in Workplace Equity in Public Markets: What does the data really tell us about this untapped opportunity?

Hosted by:
Diana van Maasdijk, CEO & Co-Founder, Equileap

Indexes emphasizing companies committed to gender equity and inclusion once again outperformed their broad market counterparts in the last year, representing a rare bright spot among indexes focused on responsible and environmental, social and governance criteria. What is behind this outperformance? Does the reason for this really matter? Or should investors simply jump on the opportunity to change a male-dominates workforce while making a financial return? This session will look at the hard data around gender equality in corporations, not only at leadership levels, but at all levels of a company, the gender pay gap, parental leave, safety for women in supply chains, and more, and open up a discussion about how to encourage responsible investors to include a gender equality lens to their investment strategies.

Table Topic 7. Living Our Values: How Private Foundations & Family Offices are Pioneering Impact Investment

Hosted by:
Jessica Droste Yagan, CEO & Partner, Impact Engine & Manager of Yagan Family Foundation and personal assets which are nearly 100% aligned with impact

A 2023 report found that Private Foundations and Family Offices in the U.S. collectively manage over $3 trillion in assets, and Families and foundations. While they have been leading the way in shifting investment assets toward more alignment with their values and missions, the untapped opportunity is enormous. We know it is possible to optimize between financial returns and positive social impacts. In this conversation, we will share personal experiences and questions from our work moving our own or others’ family and foundation assets into impact investing.

Table Topic 9. Aggregating impact capital in biotech for the 90% of unmet health needs worldwide — bringing down the costs and increasing the breadth and access of medicines

Hosted by:
Barbara Handelin, PhD, CEO, The 90/10 Institute

Dr. Handelin, a 40-year veteran biotech scientist and business entrepreneur, will share her perspective on why we only have ways to detect, diagnose or treat 10% of all human diseases — it’s about the cost of capital. And she will show participants why that paltry portfolio costs us so much — it’s about the perspective and purpose of capital today. Then she will engage participants in a discussion of how to solve for this depth, breadth, and access challenge – it’s about benevolent capital. (In fact, it’s also about more planet-friendly manufacturing, more efficient distribution, policy changes in the patent and payor systems, but we’ll focus here on the impact investing aspects, which offer the quickest meaningful opportunity to change outcomes for the better.). Dr. Handelin and The 90/10 Institute offer a pathway forward to fuel an exciting new industry — Biotech 2.0 — with a broader, more public-benefit purpose: a profit-making and patient-maximizing industry. Bring your investing hats, your curiosity, and your experience to this roundtable and help pressure-test and advance the models for this new and much-needed opportunity to fundamentally change the way medicine is delivered.

Table Topic 10. Leveraging Donor-Advised Funds for Impact Investing

Hosted by:
Jennifer L. Trivelli, Senior Director, Communications & Marketing, Mission Investors Exchange

Are you interested in helping clients meet their financial, charitable, and impact investing goals? Donor-advised funds (DAFs) are a popular choice for tax-efficient giving and can also be a valuable tool for impact investing if there are sufficient opportunities to direct and recycle capital across socially and environmentally responsible initiatives. The National Philanthropic Trust documented a dramatic increase in DAF contributions and grantmaking in its 2022 study, with $234 billion recorded in DAF charitable assets in the United States. For donors interested in impact investing, what strategies and best practices are being embraced by professional advisors, DAF sponsors and asset managers? How are savvy sponsoring organizations increasing donor engagement with impact investing and turning to DAFs for additional mission-aligned capital? Together, DAFs and impact investing offer a powerful toolkit for those seeking to create meaningful change in the world while managing their financial resources effectively.

Join your fellow 100 Women in Finance attendees for a facilitated discussion on DAFs and impact investing, and network with other executives active in this space.

Table Topic 11. Opportunities in Climate Impact Investing

Hosted by:
Caroline Abramo, CEO & Founder, Pana LCE

Pana LCE (Low Carbon Economy) Investments is a forward-looking investment firm focusing on real asset technology, bridging the funding gap between venture capital and infrastructure investments.

The timing for such investments is highly relevant, given the increasing awareness of climate change’s impacts, evidenced by extreme weather events and insurance payouts. Market volatility and societal pressure, along with corporate and financial sector pledges totaling trillions of dollars for sustainable initiatives, make this a significant opportunity.

Join CEO & Founder Caroline Abramo  in a conversation around:

  • Pana sectors, targets and returns
  • Why climate now and investor perspective
  • Investable areas – Private markets, material science and incentives
Table Topic 12. Driving Growth for Climate Inclusion

Hosted by:
Rekha Unnithan, Managing Director, Nuveen

The world’s challenges are vast and not going unnoticed. The US alone has allocated $2T in recent years to tackle climate change and inequality. Consumers are increasingly seeking sustainability and transparency in their purchases. Sustainable investing, now a $1T market, demonstrates the commercial value of impactful endeavors.

Nuveen, a TIAA Company, has been a leader in impact investing for over a decade with a $1B committed directing the capital to companies solving problems. Recognized in the top 10% of verified impact managers by BlueMark, their approach centers on the interconnected challenges of climate change and inequality. Nuveen invests in growth-stage businesses poised to scale, companies already proving their ability to profitably address these social and environmental issues but in need of primary capital. Their focus markets are the US and India.

In this conversation with Rekha Unnithan, you’ll gain firsthand insights into Nuveen’s impact strategy for climate inclusion. As impact-focused private equity investors, they target asset-light businesses with substantial markets, strong margins, customer traction, and capable management. Nuveen’s “lockstep approach to impact” emphasizes that a significant portion of a company’s revenue stems from products and services that either mitigate climate change or offer affordable essential services to underserved communities. This holistic approach underscores their dedication to fostering sustainable growth with a positive societal impact.

Table Topic 13. Material Impact: Making Impact Communications Matter

Hosted by: Mary Beth Kissane, Executive Vice President, Peregrine Communications
and Hannah Beard, Vice President, Peregrine Communications

The current state of the US sustainable investment landscape is increasingly polarizing. Coupled with continued scrutiny around greenwashing, never before has it been more
important for managers to understand the challenges they face in communicating with investors and other external audiences.

Join members of the Peregrine Communications team in discussing their new research into how impact investors are communicating their offering externally and how to be authentic yet diplomatic.

Table Topic 14. Investment Opportunities in Sustainable and Regenerative Agriculture

Hosted by:
Lisa Sebesta, Founder, Sitari Capital

Agriculture has long been identified as a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. But better agricultural practices are now understood to help reverse those emissions and sequester carbon. While the number of consumer brands dedicated to sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices have proliferated, additional investment capital in production and processing systems is needed to meet increased demand and transform and expand existing production and supply chains.

This session will explore the ways investors can support the transition to better agricultural systems across a multitude of asset classes. It will also discuss the various impacts that better practices can have on the environment, human health, and local communities.

Table Topic 15. The Technology Revolution – Technology as a Force for Good

Hosted by:
Deborah Jackson, Founder & CEO, Plum Alley

Every aspect of our lives and business has changed by technology. Think of e-commerce, social media and the tech giants with outsized money and power.  There is more to come on the horizon.  Healthy living past 100, autonomous vehicles, robots. Can we harness the power of technology to solve our biggest problems or is technology part of the problem? Should we be afraid or optimistic? If we don’t act now, we’ll be left behind.

  • Are new technologies helping with Impact or are they an impediment?
  • How can you factor in the unintended consequences or bad things that can happen with technology?
  • Is AI your friend or enemy?
  • How should we bring our capital and agency to help direct the future?
Table Topic 16. Sierra Club Foundation’s Journey as an Impact Investor & Active Asset Owner

Hosted by:
Loren Blackford, Senior Advisor, Sierra Club

In alignment with their mission and values, Sierra Club and Sierra Club Foundation were early leaders in:

  • Implementing negative screens based on environmental considerations;
  • Helping create funds and strategies for positive climate and justice impacts;
  • Supporting BIPOC and women managers;
  • Being active asset owners, including through shareholder resolutions calling on major financial institutions to stop financing fossil fuel expansion and to respect indigenous rights.

Join Sierra Club Senior Advisor and former Sierra Club Foundation Board and Investment Committee Chair, Loren Blackford, for a discussion about what we’ve tried, what we’ve learned and why we believe that, together, we can shift trillions from an extractive, unjust economy to one that is more regenerative and just.

Table Topic 17. The Evolution of Impact Management

Hosted by:
Lisa Hall, Impact Chair, Apollo Global Management
and Sarah Gelfand, Managing Director, BlueMark

Join team members from BlueMark and Apollo Global Management Inc. as they discuss the evolution of impact management. Lisa and Sarah will bring their deep bench of experience and expertise to the table, drawing on relevant data and case studies from BlueMark and Apollo to illustrate their learnings.

The session will cover topics such as:

  • The growth and adoption of market standards
  • The evolving relationship between GPs and LPs in the ongoing effort to maximize impact value creation through collaboration and engagement
  • The necessity of good impact management processes and practices in achieving good results (with clear examples from Apollo’s own portfolio)
  • The rise, evolution, and benefits of third-party verification
Table Topic 18. What Works: Creating Lasting Sustainable Values in Investment Portfolios

Deepika Sharma, Head of Global Manager Selection at BlackRock
Tara Mei Smith, ESG Integration at NYC Pension
Hosted by:
Betty Salanic, CEO & Podcast Host, Accelerate Investors