You may have noticed we’ve been celebrating Mission Driven Finance being in business for five years with a refreshed logo, new website (welcome!), and flashbacks to favorite milestones. Age 5 is a pivotal developmental time for kids and companies alike. Not only is our look and feel evolving, but our team has been changing to flow more capital to community too.
Setting us up for success
In June of 2021, we bid farewell to Shreya Sasaki, who joined Mission Driven Finance in 2018 as chief operating officer in one of the first senior leadership roles after co-founders Lauren Grattan and David Lynn.
Returning to her roots of addressing social determinants of health, Shreya will soon join Jewish Family Service of San Diego as their senior director of family and community services. We will sorely miss Shreya, and are thrilled for the next chapter in her career, where she will continue supporting the local community—including immigrants and refugees.
During her tenure with us, Shreya laid the organizational foundation for Mission Driven Finance and set up the team for success, including shaping company goals, establishing business processes, and developing talent. Though there is never a great time for a beloved team member to leave, Shreya left us in capable hands thanks to the groundwork she has built.
Some of those capable hands include former Community Finance Fellows Andrew Moncada and Crystal Sevilla who joined the team on a long-term basis as investment analyst and borrower services specialist, respectively. Andrew and Crystal have been instrumental in helping Mission Driven Finance flow $7 million into the community during their fellowship, and we are grateful they have agreed to stay on with us to continue using finance as a tool for change.
A game-changing role
We also recently welcomed Joe Pileri to the role of chief legal officer (CLO), a new role and game changer for Mission Driven Finance. Prior to joining the team, Joe taught and supervised law students in legal clinics at Georgetown University Law Center and American University, where he represented social enterprises and community economic development-focused organizations. Check out Joe’s published articles for more context on why he’s a great fit for our boundary-pushing team.
Why would an investment firm our size hire a chief legal officer at all? If we were a “normal fund manager,” it wouldn’t make sense. But as we’ve been working with client-partners across the country to bring inclusive capital strategies to life, we kept stumbling over complicated legal questions and the proportionately expensive bills to answer them. Even a small investment fund might incur $50,000–$75,000 in legal costs just to start. This number is much higher for those that, like us, want to do things differently and support populations left out of the traditional financial system.
We realized that to truly expand access to capital, we needed to invest in the infrastructure of our capital system. That has started with Joe joining the team this spring and continues with growing our accounting and fund operations capacity. While Joe isn’t directly advising client-partners, he’s helping to frame the right questions to ask of their counsel and streamlining processes so that great projects can move forward—more efficiently, affordably, and inclusively. We’re incredibly grateful to the Surdna Foundation for supporting this capital infrastructure to power more inclusive economies.
In June, we also bid farewell to Laura Galinson, who served as director of community relations. During Laura’s time with Mission Driven Finance, she introduced many philanthropists and nonprofit champions to the power of impact investing.
Last but not least, Carrie Stokes Holst, the very first employee of Mission Driven Finance, is leaving San Diego but remains part of the Mission Driven Finance team as senior manager of impact and borrower services. Carrie and husband Daniel begin a new chapter of life in Billings, Montana, where Carrie has assured us she has found a quality neighborhood ice cream shop. If you know anyone creating social change or working in impact investing in Carrie’s new home region, please drop her a line!
We have learned during 2020 that our team can work seamlessly together regardless of geography. This has in fact cemented for us the belief that the second cohort of the Community Finance Fellowship can be largely virtual. So, while we will miss getting tacos and candy with Carrie especially now that we can gather safely in person, we know that she is just a Zoom call away, and will see her when she visits.