Looking Ahead from The Executive Director

Just after 1994, when Shared Interest was newly established, a family made the organization a 15-year loan, noting that they would need the funds when their grandchild was ready for college, but that in the meantime, the money should help South Africa build its new democracy.

I wondered then who would be around to repay that loan. To my surprise, 15 years later, when it matured, I repaid it and others, to the dedicated network of investors that endures today. Participating in this visionary, committed community, as Shared Interest’s executive director, has been one of the great privileges of my life.

In this role, I have learned so much from our partners in Southern Africa, and our stalwart supporters in the U.S. who supported the anti-apartheid and liberation movements as well as the struggles for justice at home. Together with friends from the community and impact investment movements, we have been compelled by the stark parallels between campaigns against institutionalized racism in the U.S. and South Africa; the structural economic oppression that people of color inherited from colonial and slave histories on both sides of the ocean; the exclusion of women; and, more recently, the crises of COVID-19 and climate change our shared interests are clearer than ever.

Last year, Shared Interest’s 25th-anniversary strategic planning process recognized that expecting the same person who had headed the organization for a quarter of a century to continue for the next 25 years was not a winning strategy! Together we developed Plan 2020, which includes our new business model, additional partnerships and plans to build our impact and broaden our footprint, and a leadership transition beginning when I retire on December 31, 2020.

The Board is reviewing candidates and determining the next steps they will share soon. Tim Smith will continue as the visionary Chair of the Board.

It has been such an honor to accompany you and our Southern African colleagues since Nelson Mandela became South Africa’sfirst democratically elected president. You have taught me commitment, courage and hope, even in the darkest times, and the meaning of Ubuntu—I am because you are. I will deeply miss working with you.

Today, in both Southern Africa and the U.S., the ongoing work for racial, economic, gender and environmental justice unfolds like a path that can only be mapped with our feet.

Thank you all for the privilege of joining you on this journey—and for continuing it with Shared Interest.

With humility and profound gratitude,