PAB - News and Information


two foil packets of drugs sit next to a stack of $20 bills

By Lydia Kuykendal
Mercy Investments

February 6, 2024, Adrian, Michigan – Last year, shareholder health work focused on intellectual property protections for branded drugs. Specifically, it sought to clarify the relationship between pharmaceutical company patenting and access strategies. 

That work continues, with the Portfolio Advisory Office filing resolutions at five pharma companies – Eli Lilly, Gilead Sciences, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and Merck. Several regulatory changes over the past year will impact this issue, and we hope that companies see these second-year proposals as a way to prepare for these coming changes.

First, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) empowers the federal government to negotiate some drug prices. Some have argued that it enacts significant patent reform, specifically around the issue this proposal seeks to understand. This comes from a critical provision of the IRA that states the only drugs that qualify to be considered for price negotiations are drugs with no generic competition, thus discouraging extended patent exclusivities. Additionally, three bills addressing patent reform passed out of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in 2023 and, if passed, would impact pharma companies’ current practices.

In addition to the continuing work on patents, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) health group has started a workstream around the right to health. This is a human right: the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, as defined by the World Health Organization. Access to medicines is a critical component of the right to health. 

Target 3.8 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 3 assesses progress toward “access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.” The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health has made clear that states and pharmaceutical firms share the responsibility for increasing access to medicines and recommends that firms “should adopt a human rights policy statement which expressly recognizes the importance of human rights generally and the right to the highest attainable standard of health in particular.”

However, a quick look at drug pricing shows that U.S. pharmaceutical companies are not supporting this right. An analysis by the Rand Corporation concluded that U.S. prices for branded drugs were nearly 3.5 times higher than prices in 32 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member countries. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found “prescription drug costs to be an important health policy area of public interest and concern.”

Shareholder proposals at Eli Lilly, Bristol Myers Squibb, and Pfizer seek to understand whether the business model of pharma companies may pose human rights risks. The current business model of the pharmaceutical sector, which in many instances prioritizes profitability over patient health, often infringes on these rights. Given pending legislation in the European Union that would mandate human rights due diligence as called for in the UN guiding principles, companies undertaking human rights due diligence will be ahead of the curve. 

International human rights organizations have recognized the human right to health for decades. Drug manufacturers have a responsibility to operationalize a business model that promotes this right worldwide. If, as all companies in this industry state, patients are indeed the most essential part of their business, this should be an achievable task.

 


Three business women standing outside look at construction blueprints together

Since 2022, Project Equity has been a lending partner with the Adrian Dominican Sisters Portfolio Advisory Board (PAB). Project Equity, a nonprofit organization, demonstrates a strong alignment with the Sisters’ commitment to mission-driven impact investing in underserved and underbanked marginalized communities. Evan Edwards, CEO of Project Equity, shares the innovative and catalytic efforts of his organization in an article he wrote for Forbes magazine. Read his article here.


Attending the ICCR conference are, from left, Sister Susan Mika, OSB, Sister Ann Scholz, SSND, Sister Judy Byron, OP, Timnit Ghermay and Sister Marilín Llanes, OP.

By Mary Minette
Mercy Investments Consultant

December 8, 2023, New York, New York – The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility’s (ICCR) annual Fall Conference took place October 3-5, 2023, in New York City and featured a variety of speakers and events that related to the work of the Adrian Dominican Sisters Portfolio Advisory Board (PAB). 

The event also provided an opportunity to celebrate the contributions and retirements of Sister Judy Byron, OP, Director of the Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investment, and Pat Zerega, Senior Director of Shareholder Advocacy for Mercy Investment Services. Both have provided many years of staff support to the PAB. 

Defending shareholder rights was a central topic of this fall’s ICCR gathering because of the growing number of bills introduced at the state and federal levels, aiming to prohibit investor consideration of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors. (For an explanation of ESG investment and anti-ESG bills, read this recent article.) With 2023 ESG shareholder proposals seeing decreased support, investors discussed potential actions, namely offering public support for the SEC’s forthcoming disclosure rules and engaging large asset managers on their voting practices. 

Another session focused on providing investors with tools to engage asset managers on proxy voting. Following the recent rise of anti-ESG sentiment, asset managers significantly decreased their support for shareholder resolutions in their 2023 proxy voting. Asset managers oversee the holdings of investors, their clients, assuring that their decisions on behalf of the investors are made in good faith, aligned with the client’s responsible screening criteria.

ICCR members are urged to engage their asset managers on disclosure of voting policies, with progressive escalation steps for unresponsive managers, including switching assets to a competitor if the asset manager refuses to act.

In another emerging issue, a panel of presenters discussed the growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI), mindful of its impacts on society and democracy. The keynote speaker, Nathalie Maréchal from the Center for Democracy and Technology, explained that the most important decision is when not to use AI in modern work, citing the rise of disinformation, fraud, and misuse of data.

ICCR members continue to advance worker justice issues, and the conference included a session on advocating for companies to provide a living wage. The session’s panel members included an associate at a large retail chain who provided insight into the challenges facing workers, such as low wages, minimal benefits, and employer retaliation for employee criticism. 

A researcher on the panel illustrated the negative impact that underpaying workers can have on long-term shareholder value, as studies show that a living wage supports employee retention and productivity. 

The Racial Justice Investing Coalition moderated a session on racial justice-focused investing and its impact on fostering a stronger democracy. The session provided investors with a chance to learn about best practices from investors already working on this issue.

Another panel offered a presentation on pressing for corporate action on environmental justice and emphasized centering racial equity in climate work, engaging local communities in joint decision-making, and holding parent companies accountable for pollution from owned facilities.

In another session on company accountability, speakers addressed human rights due diligence (HRDD) and responsible contracting. Speakers explained the importance of supply chain contracts, highlighting that shifting risk onto a supplier is not the same as risk management. The panel members recommended that investors advocate for responsible contracts that feature shared commitments and prioritize human rights. 

The ICCR conference provides a valuable opportunity to strategize with fellow faith-based investors for the current shareholder advocacy season.
 

Caption for feature photo at top: Attending the ICCR conference are, from left, Sister Susan Mika, OSB, Sister Ann Scholz, SSND, Sister Judy Byron, OP, Timnit Ghermay and Sister Marilín Llanes, OP.


11 PAB Board members from September 2023

The Portfolio Advisory Board held its Fall meeting in late September at Weber Retreat and Conference Center, where Board members attended to business items, shared the year’s accomplishments regarding shareholder advocacy and community impact investing, and engaged in strategic planning. PAB member Mary Priniski, OP, opened each day with inspiring reflection and prayer. 

Business Items

Sister Marilín Llanes, Director of PAB, provided an update on plans for PAB’s 50th anniversary, to be celebrated on September 26, 2025. A synopsis of the plan is pending approval of the Board in November.

New voluntary staff and Board members were introduced:

• Associate Dee Joyner will serve in the volunteer role of Senior Advisor to PAB for Special Projects. She will help facilitate the adoption and implementation of the 2023-2026 strategic plan and support the planning of the 50th anniversary. 

• Kayoko Lyons, CFA, and Petra Vujakovic from the Cabrini Missionary Sisters Impact Investment Fund will assist with community impact investing.  

• Sister Judy Byron, OP, and Rev. Dr. Sidney Williams Jr. were unanimously recommended as new members of the Board and were confirmed by the General Council. They filled two vacant seats on the Board due to the passing of Pat Daly, OP, last year and the resignation of Corinne Florek, OP, as portfolio manager.

Shareholder Advocacy

Pat Zerega and Mary Minette, PAB consultants with Mercy Investment Services, presented a report on their activities for the 2023 proxy year. They had 66 engagements  – such as meetings and negotiations – with companies in the PAB’s focus areas of protection of human rights, healthy persons and communities, and environmental sustainability. In addition, 18 shareholder resolutions were filed: nine in human rights, three in healthy persons, and six in environmental sustainability. 

One constructive engagement (with Dollar General) garnered a high vote from shareholders of 67.7% regarding practices on the safety and well-being of workers. In addition, the Adrian Dominican Sisters supported signing on to 39 letters, joining other faith-based investors in expressing viewpoints on actions of various companies at odds with our social impact criteria.

Mary reported on the anti-ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) movement and its impact on different sectors. For example, there are growing attacks against Climate Action 100+/Net Zero Asset Managers who are falsely accused of violating anti-trust /consumer protection laws. Another area highlighted the economic impact in states that have anti-ESG policies. These policies have forced divestment and decreased returns for pensioners in five states with a negative financial impact estimated at $20 billion. 

This was Pat’s last meeting due to her upcoming retirement. Mary Minette will be the permanent Mercy Investments Consultant to PAB.  

Community Investing

Sister Marilín presented an update on the PAB community impact loan portfolio, presented two loans for renewal, and presented three new loans for approval.

The PAB approved the following loans for renewal:

Community Vision Capital and Consulting has been a borrowing partner with ADS since 1988. This CDFI invests in strengthening low-income neighborhoods and enabling underserved communities to build more racial and economic equity in more than 46 counties in Northern California.

The Cooperative Fund of the Northeast (CFNE) and PAB have been in partnership since 1987. This CDFI facilitates socially responsible investing in cooperatives, community-oriented nonprofits, and worker-owned businesses in New England and adjacent communities in New York.

New loans were approved for the following borrowing partners:

Capital for Change Fund (C4C) was formed in 2016 by the merger of the Greater New Haven Community Loan Fund (GNHCLF), Connecticut Housing Investment Fund, and Community Capital Fund. Capital for Change (C4C) is the largest full-service CDFI in Connecticut, serving a wider bandwidth of people, nonprofits, businesses, and public institutions in need.

Lawndale Christian Development Corporation (LCDC) was established in 1987 by the Lawndale Christian Community Church to fulfill the call to justice in Micah 6:8. LCDC organizes with the community to eliminate health and wealth disparities in North Lawndale, Illinois. LCDC develops and manages affordable mixed-use housing, creates homeownership for working families, and builds cooperative businesses. 

• The African American Alliance’s Black Renaissance Fund (BFR) was formally established in 2020 by the African American Alliance of CDFIs CEOs of Black-led CDFIs. It is committed to closing the wealth gap in Black communities in the United States and identifying opportunities that will result in greater investments in the organizations they lead. The BRF secures grant and debt capital at very low interest rates, allowing members to strengthen their balance sheets, build more loan capacity, and generate more revenue through interest income. 

Celebrating Associate Dee Joyner and Consultant Pat Zerega

PAB was joined by members of the General Council and invited guests to express gratitude to Pat Zerega and Associate Dee Joyner for their many contributions to PAB upon their retirement. Dee retired on July 1, 2023, as Director of the Portfolio Advisory Board, and Pat will be retiring as a Shareholder Advocacy Consultant on October 1, 2023. Cynthia Crim, PAB Chair, and Carmen Mora, Co-Chair,  thanked Pat on behalf of the PAB. Corinne Sanders, OP, PAB General Council Liaison, expressed gratitude to Dee for her many service years with the Congregation in both PAB and the Resilient Communities endeavor. A toast and blessing were offered, followed by a celebratory dinner in honor of Dee.

Strategic Planning

Associate Dee Joyner engaged Board members in discussing the proposed Theory of Change Framework recommended by the Strategic Planning Committee.  

Members reviewed the Theory of Change Framework and definitions of component parts during a daylong process of engagement, working in small and large groups. The four overarching themes for the strategic plan are shareholder advocacy, community impact investing, alignment of the work of PAB for greater impact, and collaboration with internal and external partners. Recommendations were sent to the Strategic Planning Committee to refine and bring back to the Board for a vote by December 2023.

Please see the PAB website for articles on our borrowing partners and shareholder advocacy activities, which are updated monthly.

 

Feature photo at top: Members of the Portfolio Advisory Board are, from left, Kristine Cooper, Office Manager; Judy Byron, OP, Consultant; Joseph Baker II; Corinne Sanders, OP, General Council Liaison; Carla Mannings; Marilín Llanes, OP, Portfolio Manager; Mary Priniski, OP; Pat Zerega, Consultant; Cynthia Crim, Chair; Dee Ann Joyner, Director; and Carmen Mora, Vice Chair.


By Sister Marilín Llanes, OP - Director and Portfolio Manager, Portfolio Advisory Board

The two featured organizations below are making dreams come true for thousands of people on the move who have fled their countries for an array of exceedingly difficult situations. These individuals land in this country with the pressing need to rebuild their lives. Immigrants, refugees, or climate-displaced people arrive without credit and often with a limited understanding of the complex U.S. financial system. The Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) and Enterprising Latinas, Inc., programs of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), are crafting the needed financial products and equipping clients with marketable skills that promote economic mobility and equity.  

The Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Portfolio Advisory Board (PAB) members approved loan requests in June 2023 to Enterprising Latinas and the CEO as new partner borrowers. 

The CEO, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, non-consolidated subsidiary of the IRC, is a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). It has been giving loans nationally since 2011 to low-income refugee and immigrant families and offering small-dollar consumer and business financing to assist with their financial challenges. One of the CEO’s programs is the Supporting Access to Financial Empowerment (SAFE) Fund. A client who accessed an auto loan through this program shares his story:

“Before this, it used to take a lot of time and money to go to work and to go to doctor’s appointments with my family. I used to go to work in one hour and a half by bus or spend money on Uber/Lyft. Now, I can go to work in 20 minutes, and I can take my four-month-old baby and my wife to the doctor and other appointments on time. This loan gives me two to three hours back every day – time I can spend with family or working extra to support my family. I plan to use my new car to work at Uber as a driver in the future, so it helps me earn more money for my family. I am happier and less stressed.” 

black and white photo of an adult man with dark hair, beard, and mustache, wearing a zippered jacket and standing next to a new sedan car.

SAFE participant. Photo courtesy of the CEO.

Recently resettled individuals like this SAFE participant typically come to the CEO to refinance high-interest loans from an auto dealership. That was not the case with this SAFE client, as he accessed an affordable rate, a prime rate for a borrower considered “subprime” in the eyes of traditional financial institutions. Clients find it challenging to be resilient when much of their income is extracted for monthly auto loan payments, leaving no breathing room for emergencies. Compared to more extractive options, the savings on a CEO auto loan allow a family to build emergency savings or pay for other necessities.  

CEO’s mission is well aligned with the Congregation’s 2022 Enactment on Diversity to “ …act to dismantle unjust systems and build the beloved community in which everyone is cared for, absent of poverty, Hunger, and hate."

four latina women wearing pink, white, and black, standing in front of a white wall underneath the logo of Enterprising Latinas
Photo courtesy of the author, from an
on-site visit April 18, 2023.

Enterprising Latinas, Inc. (ELI), a nonprofit organization led by women of color, was founded in 2009 and has operated since 2014. Its focus is to create pathways to prosperity for women and low- to moderate-income families in the Wimauma, Florida, community and throughout Tampa Bay. Its purpose is to create a place for personal and professional development, workforce skills certification, and training for starting or growing micro-enterprises and networking. 

Below is the story of Amarilis and her resiliency and entrepreneurship in action.

“Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico hard, and like many Puerto Ricans, I migrated to Florida to rebuild my life. I was lucky. I found work and started a successful career in retail but found myself wondering if there was more. I was sure that I wasn’t realizing my potential. A neighbor shared with me a brochure promoting Enterprising Latinas and told me about their business class. My natural curiosity led me to them, and before I knew it, I was completing their eight-week business class and working with my business coach to start a new business venture, Be You 360 Photobooth, Inc., which I incorporated in 2022. Today, I am the founding owner. In my first year, my business is projected to make $30,000 in sales. I know now that for me, the sky is the limit.”

Enterprising Latinas’ commitment to empowering women by equipping them with new skills is well aligned with the 2022 Enactment on Women, to “strive to attain gender equality and women’s full and equal participation and decision making in Church and society.”

Both the Center for Economic Opportunity and Enterprising Latinas serve as catalytic containers, investing in financial resilience for transformative impact in the lives of persons and communities underserved by traditional sources of capital. 


 


infographic showing the environmental, social, and governance risks

By Mary Minette, 
Consultant, Mercy Investment Services

The pillars of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) form a basis for responsible investing that prioritizes the long-term health of our economy, societies, and planet. This has been a key component of the approach of the Portfolio Advisory Board (PAB) since its inception as an important expression of alignment between the investments and the mission of the Adrian Dominican Sisters.

As ESG investing has grown as a share of the overall market, an anti-ESG movement has developed among some politicians and state treasurers, who decry such investments as “woke” capitalism.

New legislation in some states prohibits state contracts and investments with investment firms that use environmental or social indicators to inform investment decisions. Sometimes, government entities may not enter contracts for goods or services without written verification that the vendor will not boycott fossil fuels. Legislation of this nature has been introduced in 37 states, targeting investors who have made climate commitments.

In July, the US House of Representatives Financial Services Committee held a series of hearings called “ESG Month” that targeted ESG investors. They introduced bills designed to curtail social and environmental investment and the regulatory powers of the Securities and Exchange Commission to allow for greater disclosure of ESG information. None of these bills is expected to move to the Senate during this session of Congress, but they represent a disturbing trend that would curtail the ability of investors to choose how and where they invest.

In early June, the PAB joined 77 fellow Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility members in a letter asking members of Congress to publicly speak out against these anti-ESG campaigns and efforts to derail environmental and social progress resulting from shareholders’ efforts. The letter encourages members of Congress to advocate for prudent, non-partisan investment practices and to consider the financial damage to state and municipal pension funds due to the anti-ESG legislation.

The PAB will continue to advocate for the importance of addressing these factors in investing and engagement.


 


man in a blue button down shirt sitting at a table helping a woman wearing glasses fill out paperwork

By Sister Marilín Llanes, OP
Director and Portfolio Manager
Office of Portfolio Advisory Board

Redbud Financial Alternatives, Inc. is a community development financial institution (CDFI), which, since 2014, has shepherded and strengthened a handful of rural communities located in underserved and underbanked eastern Kentucky. Redbud is committed to answering the needs of the communities it serves with equitable financial action, often transforming the lives of many. 

In March 2023, the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Portfolio Advisory Board (PAB) members unanimously approved a loan request to first-time recipient Redbud. Redbud’s mission aligns well with the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ 2022 Enactment that beckons us to build “the beloved community in which everyone is cared for, absent of poverty, hunger, and hate.” 

James Caudill, Director, shares how Redbud answered the call for help from this single mom in deep financial stress.  

Lindsey, a single mother of two young children, recently approached Redbud for help when she noticed that the balance on her auto loan wasn’t going down. For over two years, Lindsey had led a successful life in substance use recovery, working as a carpenter and assistant trainer in the Housing Development Alliance’s Hope Building Program. 

Upon reviewing her credit file, we discovered that she was paying a whopping 23.89% interest rate on her loan! We discussed the situation with Lindsey, and afterward, we paid off both her current loan and the finance company loan, using a Redbud loan with a 6.00% interest rate. This financing helped Lindsey save $188.33 a month and lowered her debt-to-income ratio by 7.85%! 

One of Lindsey’s greatest dreams is to be a homeowner, and now, with Redbud’s help in refinancing her car loan, she is one big step closer to realizing that dream.

Predatory lending practices are widespread in eastern Kentucky, impacting the lives of thousands of people burdened with high debt due to unfair and abusive loan terms on borrowers. This results in stripping the borrower of any chance of equity.  

Redbud promotes individual financial stability and greater community development by focusing on financial literacy, financial rehabilitation, and equitable alternatives to high-cost lenders. One of four CDFIs in this area, Redbud has made more than $2 million in fair and affordable consumer loans, collectively saving clients more than $400,000 in interest and fees. 

A client of Redbud shares this note of gratitude:

Redbud has been so easy to work with and extremely eager to help during times that we really needed them. The flood of July 2022 left us with the loss of multiple vehicles and our home was left unlivable. Redbud gave us the ability to purchase a vehicle that we could use for transportation for all of our family members. … Thank you, Redbud!!

We in the PAB stand in solidarity with Redbud as it continues its work for the common good against high-cost lenders and serves as a beacon of hope in answering the financial needs of people with catalyzing action. 


gloved hands hold up a clear bottle of white pills

By Lydia Kuykendal,
Mercy Investment Services

Drug costs in the United States remain one of the main reasons Americans have the world’s most expensive health care. Intellectual property protections on branded drugs play an important role in maintaining high prices and impeding widescale access to medicine. 

Intellectual property describes the rights to creative and intellectual efforts and includes copyright, designs, patents, and trademarks. In the pharmaceutical industry, this often involves patents that cover manufacturing processes, dosing regimens, and product formulations.  

When patent protection on a drug ends, generic manufacturers can enter the market with a lower-priced formulation that generally results in increased access to the consumer. For this reason, branded drug manufacturers often deploy a variety of strategies to delay generic competition and extend their exclusivity periods. 

This year, the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ shareholder resolution at pharmaceutical companies addresses a major factor in these costs: the pharmaceutical industry’s patent practices – specifically, patent thickets. 

Patent thickets are the practice of applying for and amassing multiple patents on a single product. Pharma companies create these thickets of dozens to even more than 100 patents around a single product to intimidate and sue their potential competitors out of the market. This lack of market competition raises prices, with U.S. prices for branded drugs nearly 3.5 times higher than in 32 member countries of the Organizations for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).  

The cost makes many prescriptions unaffordable, and nearly 1 in 3 Americans has opted not to fill a prescription – or to split pills, ration doses, or take an over-the-counter drug instead – because of the cost. This pricing structure is devastating to patients who rely on these medicines. In some cases, their lives depend on access to these medicines. 

Sister Judy Byron, OP

“Members of Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) have been engaging the pharma sector for decades to advocate for changes in policies and practices that will increase the access and affordability of medicines,” said Sister Judy Byron, OP, of the Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investment, which led the filing of the proposal at Gilead Sciences. Gilead manufactures medications used to treat COVID-19, HIV, cancers, and more. “These patent practices erect barriers to access that clearly prioritize company profits over people's health. As shareholders, we view this as fundamentally at odds with the purported missions of our companies.”  

This resolution asks four pharmaceutical companies to explain how their patenting strategies impact patient access and to enhance their disclosures of the relationship between patents and patient access. We seek to understand whether companies consider access and affordability when applying for additional patents on a product. 

The resolution received significant shareholder support at Pfizer (30.2%) and moderate support at Gilead Sciences (16.5%), Johnson & Johnson (14.4%), and Eli Lilly (10.4%). The Portfolio Advisory Board will continue to use these shareholder votes to push companies to ensure access and affordability of their products.


Ana and her two children stand at the front door of the home they were able to buy.

By Sister Marilín Llanes, OP
Portfolio Manager of Community Impact Investments, 
Portfolio Advisory Board

Imagine this situation: Mariela, 41, a Latina with limited resources living with an adult child scrambling to pay legal expenses for a divorce. Where will she go for help to get a small consumer loan in the big metro city of Miami, Florida? During this difficult time for Mariela, she turned to Capital Good Fund for a $3,500 Impact PLUS Fund instead of going with payday lenders that take advantage of people in such dire situations. 

“Capital Good Fund made me feel supported, empowered, and confident,” she said. “Capital Good Fund offered options and solutions instead of creating problems. The tools are there. There are people willing to help you.”

Andy Posner, Founder & CEO
Capital Good Fund

The Adrian Dominican Sisters Portfolio Advisory Board (PAB) welcomed in March 2023 Capital Good Fund as new partner borrower. Andy Posner, Founder and CEO launched the nonprofit certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) in 2009 with a mission to create pathways out of poverty and advance a green economy through inclusive financial services. It grants loans nationally – in Rhode Island, Florida, Massachusetts, Delaware, Illinois, Texas, Colorado, New Jersey, and Connecticut – and is incorporated in Providence, Rhode Island.  

The PAB is especially pleased to partner with Capital Good for its commitment to address racial equity and its recognition that racism, discrimination, poverty, and financial exclusion are all linked.  

Capital Good Fund’s mission is well aligned with the Congregation’s 2022 Enactment on Diversity, which calls the Adrian Dominican Sisters to “build the beloved community in which everyone is cared for, absent of poverty, hunger and hate.”

Capital Good engages daily with underserved families and provides tools for savings, building credit, investing in themselves, and avoiding high-interest debt to be able to reach their goals.  

All loans are offered through a financial technology (fintech) platform. Fintech transactions are efficient, reliable, and easily accessible to the client who is often living with time and energy constraints, and limited resources. The array of products Capital Good offers range from car loans, immigration loans to cover cost like green card acquisition and citizenship; consumer loans, weatherization loans to make homes more efficient and emergency loans for unexpected expenses like in Mariela’s story.

                     
Ana came to the United States with a dream: to start her own business, buy a house, and create a better life for her children. But she had a problem: she needed $5,000 to get her work permit. That's where Good Fund came in. By providing the loan, Capital Good enabled Ana to get a work permit and launch her business. This opportunity for Ana boosted her credit score, allowing her eventually to buy her own home for her husband and two children. Watch Ana tell her story here.

Mariela and Ana are two of the thousands of individuals and families serviced by the Capital Good Fund team.  

Learn more about Capital Good Fund at https://capitalgoodfund.org/en/.


The 15 members of the PAB

By Dee Ann Joyner, Associate
Director of Portfolio Advisory Board

The Portfolio Advisory Board (PAB) held its spring meeting March 23-24, 2023, at Weber Retreat and Conference Center. The first day was devoted to business items, shareholder advocacy, and community impact investing. The second day focused on strategic planning. PAB member Joe Barker opened the meeting each day with a beautiful reflection and prayer.

The following are highlights from the meeting.

Community Investing

Following a presentation on community investing trends by Charlene Van Dijk, Senior Advisor for Community and Economic Development for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Sister Marilín Llanes, OP, Portfolio Manager, presented an update on the PAB community impact loan portfolio. She then presented five loans for renewal and two new loans for approval.  

The PAB approved the following loans for renewal:

  • The Religious Communities Impact Fund, a collaboration of communities of religious Sisters that the Adrian Dominican Sisters joined in 2017 and was founded by Corinne Florek, OP, almost 15 years ago.
  • Global Partnerships: A borrowing partner with the Adrian Dominican Sisters since 2008, this community development financial institution (CDFI) invests in sustainable solutions that help people living in poverty increase their incomes and improve their lives. It invests in social businesses that bring essential goods and services to marginalized populations in Latin America, the Caribbean, and sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Ecumenical Church Loan Fund (ECLOF): The PAB has been in partnership with ECLOF since 2018. It provides financial and non-financial services to micro entrepreneurs and small-holder farmers in Asia, Latin America, and Africa, including the Dominican Republic and the Philippines.
  • IFF: Since 1988, this CDFI has provided support to strengthen not-for-profits and the communities it serves by offering leadership, capital, and real estate solutions. It operates in 10 Midwestern states, including Michigan, and has been a borrowing partner with the Adrian Dominican Sisters since 2014. Until its expansion, it was known as the Illinois Finance Fund.
  • Latino Community Credit Union: The board approved renewal of a Certificate of Deposit with this bilingual, federally insured credit union and CDFI, which was founded in 2000 to serve impoverished communities in North Carolina. PAB has invested in this mission-driven partner since 2006.

New loans were approved for the following borrowing partners:

  • Capital Good Fund: This CDFI was founded in 2009 with a mission to create pathways out of poverty and advance a green economy through inclusive financial services. It grants loans nationally and is headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island. The PAB is especially pleased to partner with Capital Good because it specializes in smaller loans at affordable rates that help clients build credit scores. It offers car loans; immigration loans to cover costs like green card acquisition and citizenship; emergency loans for unexpected expenses; and consumer loans and weatherization loans to make homes more energy efficient. Loans are offered through a financial technology (fintech) platform.
  • Redbud Financial Alternatives Fund: This CDFI focuses on fostering community strength and individual financial stability through providing equitable financial products and services to impoverished counties in Appalachian Kentucky. It fills the gap created by banks and exploited by high interest rate payday lenders and check cashing agencies. It offers one-on-one personalized services, paired with financial counseling.

Shareholder Advocacy

Pat Zerega, PAB consultant with Mercy Investment Services, and Judy Byron, OP, PAB consultant with the Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investing, presented a report on their activities for the 2023 proxy year. They have engaged with 34 companies on 66 topics in three major areas of focus: protection of human rights, healthy persons and communities, and environmental sustainability. 

In addition, they filed 17 shareholder resolutions, 13 of which were accompanied by some form of dialogue with the companies. One of the resolutions (with Johnson & Johnson) was withdrawn when the company agreed to support the shareholder request for a third-party audit of the racial impact of its policies, practices, and products. The Adrian Dominican Sisters supported signing on to 24 letters, joining other faith-based investors in expressing viewpoints on actions of various companies at odds with our social impact criteria.

Following the mid-year report, Pat and Sister Judy were joined by Mary Minnette of Mercy Investment Services and shared their observations on trends in shareholder advocacy to inform further discussion by the PAB as part of its strategic planning process.

Celebrating Corinne Florek, OP, and Judy Byron, OP

Cynthia Crim, center, Chair of the Portfolio Advisory Board (PAB), stands with Corinne Florek, OP, left, and Judy Byron, OP, as the PAB thanks them for their service.
 

The PAB and members of the General Council expressed gratitude to Sister Corinne and Sister Judy upon their retirements for their many contributions to PAB. Sister Corinne retired effective June 30, 2022, as portfolio manager, and Sister Judy will retire as shareholder advocacy consultant on June 30, 2023. Contributions were made to the Opportunity Resource Fund and to the Intercommunity Peace and Justice Council respectively in honor of Sisters Corinne and Judy. 

Cynthia Crim, PAB Chair, thanked the retirees on behalf of the PAB and Corinne Sanders, OP, General Council Liaison and voting member of PAB, led a toast before members of PAB shared stories and appreciation.

Strategic Planning

Day two of the PAB meeting was devoted to engaging the board in a discussion of a proposed strategic planning process recommended by its Strategic Planning Committee. Cynthia and Sister Marilín began the day by leading a discussion of the book The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee. Members of the board had been asked to read the first three chapters of the book, which introduces the premise that racist policies impact everyone, not just those persons they are designed to hurt.  

Following a discussion of how this impacts the work of PAB, the board spent the rest of the day discussing a logic model, the Theory of Change, as a framework for strategic planning. The discussion was led by PAB member Carla Mannings and Sister Marilín.

After an explanation of the Theory of Change Model, Carla and Marilín presented proposed vision and mission statements recommended by the Strategic Planning Committee. The board adopted the following to guide its work:

PAB Vision: Rooted in the vision, mission, and enactments of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, the Portfolio Advisory Board envisions a beloved community without poverty, hunger, homelessness, and ecological degradation. The beloved community is shaped by its collective voices and is committed to promoting racial and gender equity and systemic changes to policies and practices of institutions inhibiting its realization. Building on its collaborative strength, the beloved community is an active, healthy, and thriving space where all are welcome and have a voice.

PAB Mission: The mission of PAB is to use the assets of the Adrian Dominican Sisters to build the beloved community. We invest in community organizations that create opportunities for those who are marginalized and that embody values of collaboration, inclusiveness, right relationship with Earth, and racial and gender equity. We use our voice as shareholders in corporations to promote policies and practices that build the beloved community.  

The board then reviewed the outputs from the PAB September meeting discussion of the Enactments and agreed upon four overarching themes for the strategic plan: 

 • Shareholder Advocacy
 • Community Impact Investing
 • Alignment of the Work of PAB for Greater Impact
 • Collaboration with Internal and External Partners

A fifth area, Sustainability, will be integrated with the Shareholder Advocacy and Community Impact Investing themes.  

The board began work on developing impact statements for the four themes and affirmed continuing to use the Theory of Change framework for its planning process. The Strategic Planning Committee will take the work of the board back to further develop each theme and return with recommendations for the board to consider in September.

The meeting ended with honorable closure. Please see the PAB website for monthly articles on our borrowing partners and shareholder advocacy activities.
 

Feature Photo at top: Attending the Portfolio Advisory Board Spring 2023 meeting are: standing, from left, Joseph Barker II; Associate Dee Ann Joyner, Director; Bibiana “Bless” Colasito, OP, General Council Co-Liaison; Marilín Llanes, OP, Portfolio Manager; Kristine Cooper, Office Manager; Cynthia Crim, Chair; Pat Zerega, Consultant; Carmen Mora, Vice Chair; Mary Minnette, Consultant; Carla Mannings; Corinne Sanders, OP, General Council Co-Liaison; and Janice Brown, OP, General Councilor and former Board member. Seated or kneeling, from left, are Corinne Florek, OP, retired Consultant; Judy Byron, OP, Consultant; and Mary Priniski, OP.


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Portfolio Advisory Board,  Adrian Dominican Sisters | 1257 E. Siena Heights Drive | Adrian, Michigan 49221
Phone: (517) 266-3523 | Email: