US SIF Conference in Washington DC
I had the opportunity at the beginning of June to attend my first US SIF - The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investing Conference, in Washington DC. This was a gathering of 430 people focused on learning more and furthering the responsible investing industry.
Now, it's always good to be in DC - no matter which administration is in power, the energy in the city is invigorating and always seems like hope is in the air (even when sometimes it isn't)
I started my trip by visiting Capitol Hill for US SIF Hill Day. I had the chance to visit the offices of both North Carolina Senators as well as my local Congressman along with Ann Yerger, the former head of the Council of Institutional Investors. Of course, we talked with staffers at each office (they are the ones who do most of the work) and we discussed mostly shareholder advocacy. There's a couple of bills in the House that would limit your rights as a shareholder to have a voice. I explained how important it is for shareholders to be able to work with companies to improve practices and be more socially and environmentally responsible.
When it was appropriate I also mentioned pricing carbon, climate change risks and gender equity issues. And Ann was a joy to work with!
Each staffer I talked with was informed and engaged. They wanted to hear what we had to say and asked good questions. I felt like the process worked! Thanks to John McDonald at Senator Burr's office; David Simons at Senator Tillis' office and Matt Mulder at Congressman McHenry's office!
The following two days were full of keynotes and breakout sessions. It was nice to see people I knew and meet new friends. I particularly enjoyed the roundtable session with the early adopters of SRI, Frank Coleman, Amy Domini, Tim Smith and Cheryl Smith. They told some great stories about the struggle to get the industry to where it is today.
Another session I enjoyed was SEC Commissioner, Robert J Jackson, Jr. He voiced his support for responsible investing and some of the frustrations he feels as businesses fight shareholder engagement and advocacy.
Finally, no trip to Washington would be complete without stopping at one of the Smithsonian museums. This trip, I decided to visit the National Portrait Gallery and see the new Obama Portrait. Below are some highlights from my visit:
Make sure to visit the National Portrait Gallery the next time you're in DC - you won't be disappointed!