Clara Miller has long believed that an effective economy should strive to benefit everyone, not just those at the top. In 1980 she founded the Nonprofit Finance Fund, a New Yorkbased community development institution that provides capital to innovative mission-driven organizations, and she served as its president and CEO until 2011. In 1996, President Bill Clinton appointed her to the advisory board for the U.S. Treasurys then-new Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, an entity that provides access to capital and encourages economic growth in underserved and distressed U.S. communities.
Miller, 65, has become an important voice in the so-called impact investment movement. To her way of thinking, all investments should be measured by their potential social and environmental impacts as well as by their financial returns. In 2011 she became president of the F.B. Heron Foundation, a $300 million, New Yorkbased foundation whose mission is to help lift Americans out of poverty. In the aftermath of the 200809 financial crisis, the foundation began a process of self-review, examining its investment portfolio and what it could do differently. Last June, Miller unveiled a new investment policy and pledged to commit 100 percent of the foundations assets to mission-related investing.
This is not a new vision of the world, Miller says. It is just about having our institutions be functional, having them make a vital business sector that is employing people.
For people in the impact-investing community, Herons announcement was a watershed moment: It showed that there are institutions willing to dissolve the line between giving and investing while seeking to achieve market rate returns for nongrant assets.
The 2015 U.S. Investment Management AwardsClick to View Profile