Speakers

2020 Session Topics Include:

  • Soil Wealth: Investing in Regenerative Agriculture across Asset Classes
  • 21st Century Community Development: Investing in Transformation and Innovation
  • Investing in Climate Justice: multiplying social impact by integrating frontline communities
  • The Role of Capital Markets in Addressing Racial Inequality
  • Integrated capital for financing healthy food systems
  • Using Big Data to Integrate Business and Human Rights into Impact Measurement Tools
  • Divest, Invest, Engage: whats next for the fossil fuel movement

Additional Developing Topics:

  • Gender Investing
  • Social and Income Inequality
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Speaker Bios


Omar Blayton

Chief Financial Officer, Sunwealth

Omar is an executive with extensive experience structuring, developing, and managing renewable energy projects, both nationally and internationally. Prior to joining Sunwealth, Omar was Managing Director of Project Finance at Innova Energy Partners, focusing on investments in the renewable energy and energy efficiency spaces. Before that, Omar was Vice President of Structured Finance at Greenskies Renewable Energy LLC, a leading commercial and industrial solar developer. There, he led all financing efforts and assisted with the company’s construction, business development, corporate operations, and legal divisions. Earlier in his career, Omar was a Vice President with Reznick Capital Markets Securities and an associate in Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Leveraged Finance Group, where he managed leveraged buyouts, strategic acquisitions, and corporate refinancing. Before entering finance, Omar was an attorney with Reed Smith LLP serving as an investment management advisor to one of the nation’s largest mutual fund companies. Omar holds a JD from Columbia Law School, an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School, and a BA from Cornell University.

Sharlene Brown

Senior Fellow, Croatan Institute

Sharlene Brown is Senior Fellow at Croatan Institute and director of the Institute's initiative on Racial Equity, Economics, Finance, and Sustainability (REEFS).

Ms. Brown was previously the executive director of the Partnership for Responsible Financial Inclusion (PRFI), where she managed the strategic priorities of the member organizations and coordinated its working groups. Prior to that, she served as national director of Oikocredit-USA, where she raised investment capital and provided development education on microfinance and social performance to investors with more than US$35 million in assets. Ms. Brown also worked with the Grameen Foundation, a member of the Partnership for Responsible Financial Inclusion, as a senior program officer for their Social Performance Management Center, where she oversaw projects for microfinance institutions in sub-Saharan Africa and Middle- East/North Africa. She has also worked in the socially responsible investment marketplace as a business development manager for Domini Social Investments, and as research associate for the Social Investment Forum.

Ms. Brown's immigrant roots inspire her to be of service to others. She has served on the Board of Directors of Women Advancing Microfinance (WAM) International, a global network that supports women working in microfinance and microenterprise development through education and training. Currently, Ms. Brown volunteers as a financial coach to low-income individuals, striving to improve their financial well-being through programs sponsored by Children's First Institute and United Way's Financial Stability Initiative. Ms. Brown shares what drives her passion for financial inclusion and coaching in the podcast She's Got Drive

Scott Budde

President, CEO, and Co-founder, Maine Harvest Federal Credit Union

Scott has 35 years of experience in investment management, banking and consulting with a focus on impact and community investing strategies.  He is currently President, CEO and Co-founder of Maine Harvest Federal Credit Union. Maine Harvest is the first credit union in the country focused on the revitalization of a local food system through lending to small farms and food producers.  Deposits into Maine Harvest FCU are fully guaranteed by the US government through the National Credit Union Administration’s Share Insurance Fund.

 

Maine Harvest FCU received its charter in 2019 after a six-year chartering process under the auspices of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) and the Maine Farmland Trust (MFT).

 

Prior to moving to Maine, Scott worked at TIAA, an $800 billion pension and investment firm where he was an equity analyst and portfolio manager.  He also created the firm’s first investment department focused on social and impact investing strategies and led the development of new investment programs focused microfinance internationally and community development banks in the USA.  Scott’s TIAA work also included overseeing the ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) screening methodology on over $12 billion in assets and the development of new international equity and fixed income screened mutual funds and the launch of ESG screening for institutional investors.

 

Scott’s prior bank experience includes 10 years in finance, strategic planning and credit analysis in Boston. He began his community development credit union work in 2012 and returned to Maine in 2013.  Scott graduated from Bowdoin College and has a Masters in International Affairs from Columbia University that included a Fulbright Scholarship in Hungary.  He lives in Alna, Maine – a bustling town of 700 on the banks of the Sheepscot River in mid-coast Maine with his wife and a poodle-terrier mix named Casco.

WILLIAM J. BYNUM

Chief Executive Officer, HOPE

For more than three decades, Bill Bynum has worked to advance economic opportunity for disenfranchised populations. He began his career in North Carolina, organizing nationally-recognized programs at Self-Help and at the NC Rural Center. In 1994, he moved to Mississippi to launch Enterprise Corporation of the Delta, and in 1995, organized Hope Community Credit Union.   

Today, HOPE (Hope Enterprise Corporation, Hope Credit Union and Hope Policy Institute), provides financial services; aggregates resources; and engages in advocacy to mitigate the extent to which factors such as race, gender, birthplace and wealth limit one’s ability to prosper Since 1994, HOPE has generated more than $2.5 billion in financing that has benefitted more than one million people in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. 

Eric Darrisaw

OMNI Research Group

Eric Darrisaw is a Consultant with Omniresearch group, a Fiduciary Education specialist and provider of research services to money managers, public funds, union plan sponsors, foundations and endowments. 

He began his career working on South African Divestment issues with Cartwright Proxy research a corporate governance and shareholder advisory firm whose clients  included  New York City Comptroller office , New York State Common Fund, State of Connecticut Pension fund, Wisconsin Investment Board,  TIAA CREF , General Motors and Lazard‎ Feres Asset Management. 

Eric served as  Senior Advisor  to the President and National Board of A Philip Randolph Institute the nation's oldest Black labor Civil rights organization and cofounded APREF Capital Stewardship and fiduciary education program. The Institute in partnership with AFL-CIO Center for Working Capital  prepared minority and women union officials to serve as pension fund trustees for engagement of taft Hartley plans on union friendly investor ‎ policies, active ownership, corporate governance, asset allocation, performance metrics and worker collateral benefits.

He advised the 100 + Billion Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility Equality program on board diversity‎, EEO-1 Disclosure and Glass Ceiling shareholder engagement campaigns, including Merck Pharmaceuticals, Home Depot, Coca Cola  and Chevron Texaco. The Texaco campaign resulted in the largest discrimination settlement in US corporate history. 

Christi Electris

Fellow, Croatan Institute

Christi Electris is a founding team member at Croatan Institute. She has done consulting and research on a variety of environmental and social issues, including projects on energy, climate, agriculture, well-being, sustainability indicators, and corporate redesign. A computer scientist and quantitative policy analyst by training, she has designed policy scenario analyses with environmental and social impacts, including the most recent update of Tellus Institute's global sustainability scenarios. She has also designed place-based scenarios in recycling and solid waste management, job creation, and energy efficiency, and developed cost modeling exercises. Since 2009, Electris has been a member of the team tracking trends in sustainable and responsible investing for US SIF Foundation. Recently, in a major report for the Rockefeller Foundation, she analyzed company practices and policies in worker equity at large public and private food and agriculture companies, and she helped to develop a new framework for social and environmental impact investing across asset classes, known as Total Portfolio Activation. As part of the Ford Foundation-funded WealthWorks rural development program, she has developed and conducted several trainings on crowdfunding to support new investment into place-based rural value chains.

In addition to Croatan Institute, Electris continues to be affiliated with Tellus Institute, where she has been an associate since 2007. She has worked as a researcher at MIT Lincoln Laboratory and a research assistant at MIT's Global System for Sustainable Development group, Laboratory for Energy and the Environment, and Sloan School of Management.

Bill Harrington

Senior Fellow, Croatan Institute

Bill Harrington is a Senior Fellow at Croatan Institute. His work centers on boosting the sustainability of the world financial system with the dual aims of rationalizing economic decision-making and avoiding bailouts. He focuses on the capitalization and regulation of derivative contracts and structured finance.

Bill has evaluated products in the international financial markets since 1987, most recently as a research journalist at Debtwire ABS and before that as a senior vice president and derivatives analyst at Moody's Investors Service (Moody's). He also structured derivative contracts that referenced currencies and global interest rates at Merrill Lynch and analyzed the trading patterns of these indices as an economist at The WEFA Group.

Since 2011, Bill has worked to rectify the under-capitalization of the types of complex finance that started and fueled the financial crisis. He has submitted technical comments to US and European regulators, to US and UK legislative committees, and to rating agencies such as Fitch Ratings, Moody's, and S&P Global. Bill also provided insights regarding Moody's rating practices to the US state attorneys general who settled with the company in early 2017.

Bill has self-financed this advocacy and conducts it entirely in the public domain. He regularly speaks to the press, and his work has been profiled in the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Guardian, Bloomberg, Business Insider, ProPublica, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and on the BBC and American Public Media's Marketplace. He places all work on government and other websites and actively engages regulators, market practitioners, journalists, and other parties in on-the-record dialog.

Additionally, Bill serves on the Experts Board of Wikirating.

Joshua Humphreys

President, Croatan Institute

Josh Humphreys is president and senior fellow of Croatan Institute and co-founder and senior strategist of the Institute's Organic Agriculture Revitalization Strategy (OARS). A leading authority on sustainable investing and an outspoken advocate for resilient rural development, Dr. Humphreys has taught at Harvard, Princeton, and NYU. He has also served as a Fulbright Scholar in Paris, a visiting research associate at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, an associate fellow at the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis, a scholar-in-residence at the Rockefeller Archive Center, an affiliate of the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, an associate of the Gunzburg Center at Harvard, an Aspen Environment Forum Scholar, and a fellow at Tellus Institute. Over the last two decades, Dr. Humphreys has advised numerous investors, businesses, nonprofits, foundations, community and labor groups, policymakers and multilateral organizations on sustainability and finance. His insights on trends in endowment management, investor engagement, and impact investing have been widely published and regularly cited in the press. He has served on the advisory boards of Dwight Hall’s SRI Fund at Yale University, the Coalition for Responsible Investment at Harvard, and the Farm-to-Table Working Group of the Just Foods Collaborative.

Kellee James

President, Croatan Institute
Kellee James is Founder & CEO of Mercaris, a market information service and on-line trading platform for organic & non-GMO agricultural commodities.  Prior to Mercaris, Kellee spent five years at the start-up company Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), the first electronic trading platform and registry for spot, futures and options on carbon, sulfur, clean energy and other environmental derivatives. In 2009 she was appointed by President Barack Obama as a White House Fellow and was Crain’s Chicago Business Magazine ’40 under 40’ rising leader.
Previously, Kellee worked with commodity banks in Latin America on risk management and income diversification strategies. Kellee is an Aspen Institute Catto Environmental Fellow and has also served on the board of Net Impact, a membership organization of more than 12,000 MBA professionals committed to sustainability through corporate responsibility. Kellee received her MBA and MA in International Development from American University in Washington, D.C., and completed a BA in Spanish from the University of Kentucky.

JIM KING

President & CEO, Fahe

For thirty years, Jim King has worked to advance opportunity for the people and communities of Appalachia. In 1990 he moved to Appalachia to become one of the first staff members at Fahe. Since becoming President in 2000, Mr. King has led Fahe through a period of unprecedented growth in impact, lending, and territory. He pioneered a collaborative model, bringing scale and performance driven change to nonprofits serving rural and remote communities. He established Fahe’s reputation as a national authority on Appalachia, rural issues, persistent poverty and collaborative impact. Under Mr. King's leadership, Fahe received numerous awards, including the Wachovia Wells Fargo NEXT Award for Opportunity Finance, and has been highlighted in multiple books and publications including “Forces For Good”. Mr. King is a 2006 alumnus of the Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government’s Achieving Excellence program and 2014 alumnus of the Harvard Business School’s three-year owner/president management (OPM) program. He holds an MBA degree from Eastern University, and a BA from Bluffton University. Mr. King serves on many national boards of directors and is currently the board chair of the Opportunity Finance Network.

David LeZaks

Senior Fellow, Croatan Institute

David LeZaks, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, is an environmental scientist and financial activist whose work is centered around developing innovative mechanisms for financing the transition to agroecological farming and food systems.

Before joining Croatan Institute, Dr. LeZaks led the Regenerative Food Systems initiative at Delta Institute in Chicago, where he managed a portfolio of projects that focused on the design and deployment of disruptive mechanisms to unlock substantial capital flows into regenerative agriculture. Previously, he served as an RSF Social Finance Integrated Capital Institute fellow. Earlier in his career, David was a postdoctoral scientist at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where he completed his Ph.D. in Environment and Resources and an M.S. in Land Resources. Afterward, he served as Managing Scientist of the Knowledge Systems for Sustainability Consortium and Program Director of the university’s Agricultural Innovation Prize. Currently, he serves in advisory roles to Mad Agriculture, the Savanna Institute, Nourishn, Council of Development Finance Agencies’ Food Systems Finance Advisory Council, and the Transformational Investing in Food Systems initiative, an allied initiative of the Global Alliance for the Future of Food.

Matt Raker

Mountain BizWorks

Coming soon. 

Paul Rissman

Co-Founder, Rights CoLab

Coming soon. 

David Sand

Chief Impact Strategist, Community Capital Management

David Sand is the Chief Impact Strategist of Community Capital Management. He has more than 35 years of investment management experience and is a trailblazer in the socially responsible/impact investing arena. In 1994, he co-founded Access Capital Strategies and served as its president and chief investment officer from 1994 to 2010. In this capacity, he pioneered the development of market-rate, fixed income impact investments for institutional investors. He then worked as a consultant to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI’s), non-profits and social enterprises. David serves on the following boards: New York Advisory Board for Enterprise Community Partners, Croatan Institute, and AERIS®: The Information Service for Community Investors. He is also a former board member of U.S. SIF: The Forum for Sustainable Investment.

David received his A.B. in American History from Princeton University and an M.P.A from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He holds FINRA licenses: Series 7 & 63.