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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.
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:
New loans were approved for the following borrowing partners:
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 One of the resolutions (with Johnson & Johnson) was withdrawn when the company agreed to support the shareholder request for a third-party audit of the racial impact of its policies, practices, and products.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.
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.
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.
After serving as Portfolio Manager for Community Investing for the Portfolio Advisory Board (PAB) for the past four years, Corinne Florek, OP (left), will bring this work to completion at the end of this fiscal year. We thank Sister Corinne for her many contributions to the work of PAB, for building long-lasting relationships with borrowers, and for sharing her expertise and commitment to social impact investing.
The General Council invited Marilín Llanes, OP (right), to succeed Sister Corinne in the role of Portfolio Manager. In informing the PAB of Sister Marilín’s selection, Elise García, OP, General Council Liaison to the PAB, stated:
“The General Council is deeply grateful to Corinne Florek, OP, for her extraordinary decades-long leadership in the field of community investing and for her current service as the PAB’s Portfolio Manager. We are delighted to inform you that Marilín Llanes, OP, has accepted our call to take on the role of Portfolio Manager effective July 1, 2022, and that Associate Dee Joyner has agreed to continue as PAB Director through FY2023.”
Sister Corinne will be working with Sister Marilín during an on-boarding period until the PAB Annual Meeting in September 2022. Sister Marilín, currently serving as the PAB Board Chair, will step down from this role following the March 2022 Board meeting. She will remain a member of the Board until July 1, 2022, when she joins the staff as Portfolio Manager. The PAB will elect new leadership at its March meeting.
By Associate Dee Ann Joyner
Director, Portfolio Advisory Board
October 12, 2021, Adrian, Michigan – The Portfolio Advisory Board (PAB) gathered via Zoom September 23-24, 2021, for its annual meeting. They welcomed new Board members, Carmen Mora and Joe Barker, who were both introduced on the PAB website last month. Elise García, OP, General Council liaison to the PAB, also attended her first meeting as a voting member following an amendment to the by-laws approved by the General Council in June.
The PAB also recommended to the General Council the appointment of Carla Mannings to an open position of the Board. The PAB recommended a change to the social impact environment policy to limit investments in any company receiving more than 3% of their revenues producing thermal coal or oil sands. The General Council approved both recommendations.
On Day 1 of the meeting, Judy Byron, OP, consultant on shareholder advocacy, facilitated a panel discussing pesticides and their impact on the environment. Margie Weber, a former PAB staff member and member of the Board, discussed the history of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ advocacy activities on pesticides and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). She emphasized the long, slow process of changing corporate practices, yet the process does result in important changes.
Caroline Boden, with Mercy Investment Services, discussed the work she has been doing with the Interfaith Coalition for Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) with both food and beverage manufacturers and retailers. For example, the ICCR has gotten corporations to commit publicly to reduce their use of pesticides or at least to switch to less toxic treatments. She stressed the leverage these companies have on their supply chain and discussed success in dialogue with Campbell’s Soups and General Mills in reducing pesticide use on the ingredients in their products.
Corinne Sanders, OP, Director of the Congregation’s Office of Sustainability, discussed her office’s work on reducing pesticide use on the Motherhouse Campus. Her office ceased to use chemical-based pesticides that destroy the health of the soil and has transitioned to using neem oil to enhance fruit, berry, and nut tree growth. Neem oil only affects harmful insects, not pollinators.
In conclusion, the panel agreed on the need for a multifaceted approach to advocate consistently and continuously with companies to ensure their policies and practices reduce the use of harmful pesticides and to practice reducing our own personal use whenever and wherever possible.
Sister Judy and Pat Zerega, board consultant on shareholder advocacy from Mercy Investment Services, updated the Board on 2020-21 advocacy activities. On behalf of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, they engaged 43 companies on 65 engagement topics. The Adrian Dominican Sisters filed 17 shareholder resolutions and participated in 55 sign-on letters covering diverse topics. For example, a letter was sent to 21 food and beverage companies on issues of racial justice and food equity.
Pat and Sister Judy also presented the 2021-2022 advocacy plan which the PAB unanimously approved. The plan outlines strategies for PAB’s engagements with companies on issues such as the systemic inequities evident during COVID-19 and the quest for racial justice, as well as advocacy for policies that promote the rights of workers, food justice, and health equity. Investor statements and sign-on letters are often part of the advocacy process in these priority areas.
Day 2 focused on Community Investing. Corinne Florek, OP, Portfolio Manager for PAB, opened the meeting with a reflection excerpted from the social impact finance criteria developed by Richard Rohr’s Center for Contemplation and Action.
Sister Corinne provided historical background on the creation of the Religious Congregations Impact Fund (RCIF), for which she served as Founding Director until her retirement in 2020. Her successor, Sarah Geisler, provided an update on RCIF and its plans for future growth. The Adrian Dominican Sisters joined RCIF as a sponsor in 2017 and moved $1million from the PAB community investing portfolio to RCIF. RCIF and PAB often invest in the same non-profit organizations and collaborate in their approach to impact investing.
PAB then reviewed three loans presented by Sister Corinne. They approved the renewal of loans to Inclusiv, which provides capital to member credit unions serving low-income communities, and Fonkoze USA, a loan fund investing in small businesses in Haiti.
The Board also reviewed a new loan request from the Real People’s Fund, a collaboration among six non-profits serving the East Bay, California area. The purpose of the new Fund is to provide community capital funding to historically divested communities in the East Bay. The minimum loan term is seven years, which is longer that the Congregation’s policy of making loans for terms of one to five years. Because of its enthusiasm about the Real People’s Fund and its possible impact, the Board requested that the General Council amend the policy on the terms of loans so that they can consider approving a loan to the Real People’s Fund at a future meeting.
The last item on the agenda was a review of the community investing social impact criteria with a racial equity lens and discussion on possible changes. The Board postponed this discussion to the next meeting, giving them more time for an in-depth discussion of this important matter.
The next meeting of the PAB is scheduled for March 24-25, 2022.
October 12, 2021, Adrian, Michigan – At its October meeting, the General Council approved the Portfolio Advisory Board’s (PAB) nomination of Carla Mannings as the Board’s newest member. Carla joins the PAB Board immediately to fill an open position and begin a three-year term on July 1, 2022.
Carla is a relationship manager and Senior Vice President of the Commercial Lending Group of City First Bank in Washington, D.C. City First is the largest African American- owned bank in the United States. Before joining City First, she was Chief of Strategic Initiatives for Partners for the Common Good (PCG), with whom the Adrian Dominican Sisters have had a long relationship.
Carla is currently serving on the boards of National Coalition for Community Capital, Opportunity Finance Network, and National Disability CDFI Coalition. She has a bachelor’s degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C. and a Master of Business Administration degree from Brenau University in Atlanta.
"I have worked with Carla on the Resource Center for Religious Institutions, as well as on PCG’s board,” said Sister Corinne Florek, OP, who nominated Carla for the PAB. “She is a woman of great integrity and strong commitment to the work of justice. I feel she will bring much knowledge and experience in community investing. She is a great educator and communicator."
September 13, 2021, Albuquerque, New Mexico — When everyday people and their families prosper, we all succeed. Our neighbors are the drivers and the foundation of their communities. It is clear that everyday New Mexicans are the true experts when it comes to knowing what they and their families need to thrive. Still, families and the voices of everyday New Mexicans all too often go unheard in the conversations that affect them the most.
For 30 years, the Partnership for Community Action (PCA), based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has helped develop strong community leaders and advocates by investing in people and creating a strong voice in the communities they call home. Understanding that people know their own communities best, we encourage families to take ownership of the solutions and to lead the way.
By connecting communities to decision makers, we can create lasting change together. PCA is actively working to fight white supremacy and the literal and figurative violence that it breeds through anti-blackness, the erasure of Indigenous peoples, and the oppression of LGBTQ+ communities.
In 2015, PCA envisioned a redevelopment project centered on racial equity in Albuquerque’s South Valley, a community that has been divested from for generations. Through thoughtful and intentional community engagement with local residents, the idea of the Social Enterprise Center (SEC) was born. The project is an innovative approach to economic development, funded by public and private partnerships and led by PCA and the Southwest Creations Collaborative who have a combined history of more than 55 years of developing community-centered solutions.
The SEC will immediately employ more than 50 people on a family-friendly campus that includes nearly 20,000 square feet of commercial space. Services include a manufacturing facility operated by Southwest Creations Collaborative, childcare space for the employees within the SEC, a family/community engagement and training center, and educational support services for families.
Notwithstanding the major challenges our organizations have experienced during the pandemic, both PCA and Southwest Creations Collaborative have continued their programs and services for families. The SEC will be an innovative model that serves the economic and social needs of the community during a time when economic security and family wellbeing is at the forefront of major policy decisions. We look forward to being a part of the solution for families in our community as we rise out of this pandemic.
The Social Enterprise Center is scheduled to open in the fall of 2021.
Feature photo: Construction begins on the Social Enterprise Center, located in the heart of the South Valley in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
August 20, 2020, Adrian, Michigan – Cynthia Curry Crim was named Vice Chair of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Portfolio Advisory Board (PAB). In this position, she will be working on the PAB’s executive team with Associate Dee Joyner, Director of Resilient Communities for the Congregation, and Sister Marilín Llanes, OP, Chair.
Established by the Adrian Dominican Sisters more than 40 years ago, the PAB helps the Congregation to use its resources justly, in ways that resonate with its mission. The Corporate Responsibility aspect focuses on using dialogue and shareholder resolutions to keep corporations accountable in areas such as the environment, treatment of workers, and responsibility to local communities. The Community Investment aspect offers low-interest loans to community-based enterprises that serve communities and people in need.
Now in her second year as a PAB member, Cynthia is excited to be serving on the executive team as Vice Chair. The executive team is involved in behind-the-scenes work and strategic planning – “a lot of planning to make sure that each time the PAB meets, we have a productive meeting,” she said. “We’re just trying to make sure that the Board members have the right information, to make the meetings more engaging.”
Cynthia said serving on the PAB fits right in with her work experience. From about 1993 to 1998, she worked in Chicago as director of nonprofit organizations. “All my work centered on family and children, but I also realized you have to look at housing, education, and health,” she said. She wanted to change focus, “not to leave the nonprofit community but I really wanted to see a bigger part of the work.”
Cynthia then served as Associate Executive Director of the Steans Family Foundation in Chicago. The Executive Director was “totally committed to the community and really believed in engaging community residents about the decisions that were going on,” Cynthia said. She compared this work to the Congregation’s focus on helping to form resilient communities in specific geographic areas of the country.
Cynthia and her family moved to St. Louis in 2002. After working for Nonprofit Services Consortium, an intermediary that collaborates with local nonprofit organizations, Cynthia was hired 15 years ago by Dee Joyner to work at Commerce Bank, managing part of its corporate foundation and two family foundations.
Cynthia said Dee invited her to serve on the PAB. “I had known about her work with the Adrian Dominican Sisters while she was at Commerce,” Cynthia said. “She would talk about being on the PAB, but never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be asked [to serve on the Board].”
Working on the PAB has enhanced her knowledge. “What I have learned is that investment in the community can be direct or indirect,” she said. She sees the corporate responsibility aspect, and particularly shareholder advocacy, as having an indirect but profound effect on the community.
“How many people in underserved communities have any idea of the impact that corporations have?” she asked. “So the work that the Sisters are doing – advocating that corporations look at what they’re doing in terms of how they’re polluting the environment – has a major impact on those who have no voice. That is a powerful tool to use.”
Cynthia sees the work of community investment as being directly involved in the local communities. “I like that during this time of COVID and Black Lives Matter, I have really seen in our last meeting this commitment to walk the talk and try as best as possible to make a difference in the communities, making sure that people who are already struggling can somehow get some relief,” she said. “To be part of this is pretty special.”
Portfolio Advisory Board, Adrian Dominican Sisters | 1257 E. Siena Heights Drive | Adrian, Michigan 49221
Phone: (517) 266-3523 | Email: