Calvert Foundation Appoints Lisa Hall President and CEO

After four-month search, foundation selects its new leader from within

Calvert Foundation has appointed Lisa Hall its new president and chief executive, the foundation board’s co-chairmen, Wayne Silby and John Guffey, announced Thursday. Hall had been serving as interim head of the foundation since August, when Shari Berenbach left after 13 years to take a position in the Obama administration.

Calvert Foundation, a separate entity from Calvert Group Ltd., is a nonprofit organization that provides investors the opportunity to achieve financial returns while empowering people living in low-income communities in the U.S. and around the world.

Hall (left) joined Calvert Foundation in 2005, taking on management of a $76 million loan portfolio as chief lending officer. Since then, she has more than doubled that portfolio to nearly $190 million, while keeping losses under 1.2% during the recent financial crisis, the statement said.

“As we look to the next chapter in Calvert Foundation’s history, we are proud to appoint Lisa Hall to be our next leader,” Silby, a co-founder of Calvert Foundation, said in the statement. “As we went through a process of careful consideration, we concluded that the best candidate for this job came from within. I have full confidence in Lisa, and look forward to both working with her and supporting her in her new role.”

During her career, Hall has held multiple policy and financial posts at the Enterprise Foundation, JP Morgan Chase, Travelers Insurance, Fannie Mae and in the Clinton administration. She currently serves on the boards of Mentor’s Inc., The Funders’ Network and ROC USA. She is also a member of the CARS (CDFI Assessment and Rating Systems) Advisory Council and a non-board member of the Policy and Communications Committee of the Corporation for Enterprise Development, a national nonprofit organization.

In a telephone interview with AdvisorOne, Hall said she will spend the next couple of months on a listening tour, getting feedback and soliciting input from stakeholders about how Calvert Foundation can better connect its investors with worthy causes.

“That said, we have a business to run,” Hall said. “We have an ambitious business plan that anticipates growth that I’m going to be following closely to make sure we meet this year. We grew last year at about 12%, which we thought was pretty fabulous in this very uncertain environment we’ve been operating in, and I would anticipate we’ll have similar growth rates this year.”

Hall said the foundation also did a lot of work off-balance sheet in 2010. This included a partnership with Citi, in which Citi committed $200 million of its own capital to a vehicle called the Communities at Work Fund. Calvert Foundation manages the fund’s assets, and in the second half committed approximately $60 million of that capital to community development financial institutions (CDFI)borrowers. Another $40 million of the Citi allocation has been approved but not yet dispersed, Hall said.

In addition to the partnership with Citi, Calvert Foundation manages assets of high-net-worth families and other entities through its wholly owned subsidiary called Community Investment Partners, which is an RIA. Hall hastens to add that these are not mutual funds, a misapprehension that might arise from confusion over the Calvert name. These client assets are effectively separately managed accounts.

“My goal is for Calvert Foundation to expand and grow in all these areas,” she said.

Hall noted that her other very important goal for this year, and a big reason for her listening tour among stakeholders, is a forward-looking strategic plan Calvert Foundation expects to put in place by early 2012.

“We’re really excited and happy about the success we’ve had under Shari’s leadership, and she’s left behind an incredible legacy. When she arrived on the scene, we were something like a couple million in assets under management, and now we’re going to be close to $500 million in assets under management. But we feel like we’re at an inflection point in terms of investor interest and impact investing. We want to leverage this opportunity and do a strategic plan to figure out how we continue to serve the market in the future.”

Calvert Foundation’s chief activity is direct investment in communities. It raises money by selling Calvert Foundation Investment Notes through some 250 broker-dealers. It then invests directly in CDFIs and affordable housing organizations domestically and internationally mainly in microfinance institutions (MFIs).

Hall said that about 40% of the foundation’s portfolio is international, and most of that is in MFIs. It has microfinance investments in Cambodia and Mongolia and in Kenya and Tanzania, but the majority of these investments are in Latin America. “We pride ourselves on lending to high-credit-quality institutions; the more mature ones are in Latin America, so we’re disproportionately in that part of the world.”

Hall concluded: “I’m excited about this opportunity. I really feel that it’s both a personal and professional opportunity of a lifetime. I’m very grateful to the legacy that Shari left behind, and am excited about what the future promises.”

(Photo credit: Ben Zweig for Calvert Foundation)

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