When Carlos Rangel was hired as a portfolio manager at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in 2010, he didn’t have the typical credentials of a money manager at a multi-billion-dollar endowment.
Rangel grew up in Mexico City, spending his childhood and adolescence moving between there and the U.S. After graduating from a master’s program in finance from the University of Michigan-Dearborn in 2007, he worked as an analyst and assistant portfolio manager at value boutique Managed Asset Portfolios.
“I didn’t have the normal pedigree,” Rangel told Institutional Investor. “But they considered me because they had this broad lens.”
Over the past decade, Rangel has worked his way up at the Kellogg Foundation, from portfolio manager to director of investments. In January, he was appointed to the chief investment officer position.
“It’s very different from what I used to do as an investment director,” Rangel said. “I’m more removed from the investment portfolio. I’m more thinking about the team and how I can empower them to continue to make the best decisions and continue to drive the performance of the portfolio.”
The Kellogg Foundation was one of the first institutional investors to embrace ideas of racial equity. In 2007, the fund’s board of trustees declared itself an “anti-racist” organization, committing to “promote racial equity and racial healing as core strategies for achieving its mission.”
“I'm the beneficiary of those policies,” Rangel said. “I would not have been a typical candidate that would be recruited to the foundation. I went to a school that would not have been a normal recruiting ground for a financial services firm, and I had a manager that took a chance on me.”
At the Kellogg Foundation, 60 percent of the internal staff are people of color, and the turnover rate for people of color in the last five years is 12 percent, according to 2019-2020 fiscal year numbers. On the board, 42 percent — or five out of 12 of the members — are people of color.
In his current role, Rangel is continuing the foundation’s diversity and racial equity work. In July, he was named as a finalist for Advocate of the Year at Institutional Investor’s upcoming Allocators’ Choice Awards, having been nominated for his diversity and inclusion work at Kellogg.
“Carlos made a personal commitment many years ago to spend his career putting the financial markets to work for the benefit of society and understands that every dollar the foundation earns on our investments improves conditions for children,” La June Montgomery Tabron, the foundation’s president and CEO, said in a statement.
In particular, Rangel has worked closely on the continuation of two racial equity initiatives at Kellogg: Expanding Equity, a program that supports hundreds of companies in advancing racial equity, and Racial Equity 2030, a global challenge in honor of the foundation’s 90th anniversary that aims to implement solutions for social, economic, political, and institutional inequities.
“I believe that I need to pay the development and investment the foundation made in me forward,” Rangel said.
Expanding Equity, which was started in 2020 in partnership with five other financial services firms, is an optional program for company participation in workshops led by the Kellogg Foundation. In these workshops, foundation leaders teach strategies for retaining, recruiting, and supporting diverse talent. Participating companies also receive a racial equity mini-diagnostic report, a third-party analysis of the racial breakdowns of their staffs. Currently, Expanding Equity has 59 participating companies, but Rangel said he hopes to expand the program during his tenure as CIO.
“It has now moved beyond financial services to industries like consumer goods and retail,” Rangel said. “We’re looking at different sectors beyond financial services while still engaging with managers representing over $3 trillion in assets on the financial services side.”
The other initiative, Racial Equity 2030, also began in 2020, a commemorative 90-year anniversary for the foundation that coincided with the social fermentation caused by George Floyd’s murder. The initiative aims to crowdsource global ideas for racial equity. Over the next decade, leading up to Kellogg’s 100-year anniversary, the institution will allocate $90 million toward racial equity initiatives.
“Last year was a watershed moment for us as an industry,” Rangel said. “In my experience, investors are thinking about their legacy. Up until last year, there was an ability to be in denial of the problems that continue to exist. It’s inspiring now to see that business leaders are adopting [racial equity] as part of their legacies.”