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Foundation Endowments…Activate!: Aligning Investment Strategy with Social Justice Values

Thursday, October 3, 2019 -
10:00am to 12:00pm PDT
Northern California Grantmakers
160 Spear Street, Suite 360 | San Francisco, CA
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In-person attendance for this event is now at capacity. Please join us via webinar by registering on Zoom.

Given the scale of social, economic and environmental crises our communities are facing, it is hopeful to see foundations making bold shifts to their grantmaking. Yet funders committed to justice recognize that grant dollars alone are not enough to manifest the kind of transformation needed to create a better future for people experiencing systemic oppression.

In recent years, the philanthropic field has begun to reckon with the reality that most foundations’ endowments are invested in ways that are out of alignment with their values, exacerbating the very problems that their grant dollars aim to solve. While we’ve seen a promising adoption of impact investing, a practice that intends to generate social and environmental impact alongside financial returns, it is clear that this is just a first step in a much longer journey to leverage the full weight of the endowment toward building a just and equitable future.

What if we were to radically expand our imaginations and envision a truly transformative investment approach that contributes to the creation of local, regenerative and democratic economies that build wealth in the same communities that our grants are supporting, while ensuring that our investments are providing more value than they extract?

Join Northern California Grantmakers and Justice Funders for a conversation with foundation, investment and movement leaders to re-imagine how philanthropic wealth can be managed and stewarded to respond to the urgency that our communities and our planet are experiencing. We’ll hear stories and lessons from forward-thinking Bay Area funders who have begun the journey of transforming their investment strategies, as well as social justice organizations that are creating grassroots economic enterprises and investment funds that inspire a truly radical vision for aligning our investments with our grantmaking strategies.

Regardless of where your foundation is on this journey, you will find practical entry points, gain valuable knowledge and receive concrete resources to spark dialogue and action.


Anthony Chang, Executive Director, Kitchen Table Advisors

Anthony Chang is the son of Asian immigrant small business owners, and has been working to support entrepreneurs in immigrant communities for 20 years. His current work is at the intersection of economic opportunity, ecological land stewardship, racial and gender equity, and sustainable food and agriculture. He is currently a Director at Kitchen Table Advisors, a nonprofit that fuels the economic viability of a multi-racial next generation of sustainable small farms and ranches; serves on the board at BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies); and is a 2020 Castanea Fellow. His previous experience includes 12 years at Opportunity Fund, one of the leading nonprofit microlenders in the country; starting the direct farm microloan program at California FarmLink; and serving on the board of RSF Social Finance. 

Vivian Yi Huang, Deputy Director, Asian Pacific Environmental Network

APEN organizes API community members to advance an environmental, social, and economic justice agenda. Prior to working at APEN, Vivian spent seven years advocating for statewide policy, legislation, and budget funding for immigrants, communities of color, migrant farmworkers, and women. 

She was Director of Legislative Advocacy at Asian Americans for Civil Rights & Equality (the Sacramento office of Chinese for Affirmative Action, Asian Pacific American Legal Center, and Asian Law Caucus), as well as Deputy Director of Policy at the California Primary Care Association (the statewide organization representing community health clinics). Vivian also worked on federal policy a as  Presidential Management Fellow.

Alexandra LaForge, Director, Arabella's Advisory Team

Alexandra LaForge is a director on Arabella’s Advisory team. Working out of the firm’s San Francisco office, Alexandra works with foundations, families, and individuals who are interested in creatively deploying capital to achieve social and environmental impact as well as financial return. Alexandra works with Arabella clients on both impact investment portfolio strategy as well as the investment process and individual investments, bringing a decade of knowledge in early-stage impact investing to the Arabella team.

Previously, Alexandra served as interim executive director of Investors’ Circle – Social Venture Network (IC-SVN), a community of more than 550 impact investors and business leaders creating social, economic, and environmental change. Before orchestrating the IC-SVN merger, Alexandra spent 10 years at Investors’ Circle designing and managing programs focused on energizing, educating, and engaging impact investors and entrepreneurs. While at IC, Alexandra oversaw the sourcing, screening, and review of over 5,000 investment opportunities and more than $30 million invested. Her work has been both local and global: she oversaw the growth of local impact investing ecosystems across six US markets while also leading entrepreneur development and investor capacity building in the global health sector. Closer to home, Alexandra serves as a portfolio strategy facilitator for Pipeline Angels and volunteers for the Young Women Social Entrepreneurs’ San Francisco Chapter.

Alexandra graduated from the University of Notre Dame, where she studied English and international peace studies, and where her interest in social change sparked her fascination with social enterprise.

Rachel J. Robasciotti, Principal & Wealth Manager, Robasciotti & Phillipson

Rachel J. Robasciotti founded Robasciotti & Philipson in 2004 and continues to head the firm as one of its two partners, directing overall policy, strategy, and communications. In addition, Rachel still serves as a Wealth Manager and specializes in advising clients on philanthropy, legacy giving, employment negotiations, business transitions, and complex equity compensation.

As a young, queer, woman of color, in an industry that is dominated by older white men1, the odds were against Rachel when she started her own firm. Nonetheless, she was already well-versed in the finance industry and had proven her skills by being awarded the top financial planner at MetLife Securities in 2003. In addition, Rachel built up resilience when she was diagnosed with and beat cancer at the age of 22. Her strong sense of self, fierce determination, and desire to give back to the community encouraged her to forge a new path. When she started Robasciotti & Philipson, rather than following the industry standard practice of excluding emotions from finance, Rachel chose to integrate emotional intelligence into financial decision making. The firm continues to use the model she developed. This progressive approach of inviting a client’s emotions into conversations has strategically informed key financial decisions for countless happy clients.

Among her many recognitions, Rachel was named one of Financial Advisor Magazine’s 10 Young Advisors to Watch and, after more than a decade of providing clients with independent and impartial advice, her story was featured in a national television advertising campaign by Schwab Advisor Services. As a founding member of the Women’s Wealth Initiative, a nationwide group of female wealth managers, Rachel is especially proud of serving as a role model and creating pathways for more women and people of color in personal finance.

Rachel holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley where she studied Economics. Prior to founding the firm, she obtained her Series 7 (General Securities Representative Examination) and Series 66 (Uniform Combined State Law Examination) licenses. She currently serves as Treasurer of the Board of Directors for LPAC (the Lesbian Political Action Committee) and, previously, served on the Board of Directors for Horizons Foundation, the Foundation to End Sexual Violence, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. In addition, Rachel is a member of the Funding Queerly Giving Circle, one of the largest, community-based LGBTQ+ funders in the United States.

Rachel is a math nerd, natural medicine enthusiast, and passionate community activist. When she’s not cuddling Maya’s cat, promoting social justice, or creating spreadsheets, Rachel can be found cooking nutrient-dense food or meditating in her sunny apartment in San Francisco.

Doria Robinson, Executive Director, Urban Tilth/Cooperation Richmond

A third-generation resident of Richmond, CA, Doria grew up spending weekends at her grandparents’ church ranch, in Fairfield, California, tending chickens, turkeys, rabbits and hogs on its small farm with her grandmother.

Doria previously acted as the Program Manager at Urban Creeks Council in Berkeley, Coordinator and Manager for Community Stewardship Programs at the Watershed Project, and Instructional Assistant in the West Contra Costa Unified School District. She also worked at Real Food Company in San Francisco, an early proponent of organic and sustainable agriculture, and with Veritable Vegetable, a women-owned organic produce distribution company, also in San Francisco. Today, Doria is the Executive Director of Urban Tilth, a community based organization rooted in Richmond dedicated to cultivating a more sustainable, healthy, and just food system. Urban Tilth hires and trains residents to work with schools, community-based organizations, government agencies, businesses, and individuals to develop the capacity to produce 5% of Richmond’s own food supply.

Doria holds a BA in Media and Film Production from Hampshire College as well as a BA in Environmental Studies from San Francisco State University. She is a Certified Permaculture Designer, Certified Bay Friendly Gardener and a Certified Nutrition Educator. Doria currently lives in the neighborhood she grew up in in Richmond with her wonderful 11 year old twins.

Sonja Swift, Board Member, Swift Foundation

As a child my grandmother asked me to pick an animal for her to sponsor, a first brush with her type of philanthropy. I said wolf. She was furious that I’d pick a predator but sent me a card anyways with a photo of the Mexican wolf. I was so proud of that card, not because she had donated money in my name but because I had allied myself with wolf. Years later while visiting friends on the White Earth reservation I would learn that the Ojibwe word for wolf is ma’iingan: guide, one who shows the way.

The origin of the funds that seeded this foundation is a courier service that transports packages around the world. The surname itself, Swift, with roots in Old English, a swifte, was a name given to a messenger or courier, one with speed. I have often thought about this symbolism as it is the work I do, traversing between halls of economic influence and the courageous work of partners on the ground facing off blunt attacks on life way and territory.

Working programmatically with the foundation I am deeply committed to a vision of coherency, accountability and integrity, which has often required that I ask hard questions about philanthropy and also of myself. As a writer, I do not shy away from complexity. Born and raised in a valley of oaks, my own cultural framework is land-based. Today I call home San Francisco, California and the Black Hills, South Dakota.

Target Audience

This event is open to NCG members, Justice Funders members, nonmember funders, and nonprofit organizations. 


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