Basic Info

Name:
Jenna Nicholas
Contributor Status:
Native AdVice
Initial Contribution Date:
05/14/2019

Career Info

Primary Industry:
Events Services, Non-Profits / Philanthropy
Personal Career Headline:
CEO, Impact Experience

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Career Snapshot:

Jenna is the CEO of Impact Experience which facilitates convenings that build lasting relationships between investors, philanthropists, innovators, and leaders of marginalized communities — linking vision with action and directing investment to the most vulnerable communities. Some of these issues include generating employment in marginalized communities such as retraining former coal miners in Appalachia; attracting greater pools of capital to minority and women run businesses and addressing health disparities.Jenna is also President of Phoenix Global Impact, a firm that specializes in impact investing, social entrepreneurship and strategic philanthropy. Through her firm, she has project managed Divest-Invest Philanthropy, a coalition of philanthropic foundations, divesting from investments in fossil fuels and reinvesting in new economy solutions. Jenna spoke at TedX Portland about the Divest-Invest work.

Jenna has also worked with the World Bank Treasury on green bonds and other sustainability projects and with Toniic helping to support an impact investing community.  She has worked closely with the Calvert Special Equities team and is an advisor to the Nexus Global Youth Summit and Ethic, an online impact investing platform. Jenna graduated from Stanford University with an International Relations Honors Degree during which time she also read International Development at Oxford University. Jenna is a Stanford Graduate School of Business MBA graduate, is a PD Soros Fellow for New Americans, recipient of the Stanford Social Innovation Fellowship and an Echoing Green Fellow. Jenna has also been selected as a World Economic Forum Global Shaper and Forbes 30 under 30 for Social Entrepreneurship. Jenna has special links with China and co-taught a course at Tsinghua School of Economics and Management on Business Ethics, Sustainability and Impact Investing. She is an active member of the Bahá’í Faith.

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How did you get into the industry?:

I was blessed to have worked with and to have been mentored by some of the pioneers in the impact investing industry, including Wayne Silby, founder of the Calvert Funds, a $15 billion socially responsible mutual fund. I lived in China, initially doing research on impact investing and philanthropy there for my thesis at Stanford. I became interested in the intergenerational wealth transfer that was taking place and the interest from the next generation in more innovative, impactful financial products. This inspired the work with Wayne Silby, initially  within China and then around the world investing in socially responsible businesses and funds. I then worked with the Wallace Global Fund in helping to build a coalition of over 170 foundations representing $10 billion in assets under management that were divesting from fossil fuels and investing in new economy solutions. I kept on observing how disconnected so many of the funders and companies we were working with were from the communities in which they were looking at investing in. This was a big part of the inspiration for co-founding Impact Experience.

Emerging industry trends?:

With the over $30 trillion dollars in intergenerational wealth transfer that is taking place, there is much interest from the next generation in investing in more innovative, blended finance structures. Furthermore, there is increasing interest from large institutional investors in developing more impact investing options given more interest from clients in these types of products.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?:

My faith – the Baha’i Faith. There is a lot in the Baha’i writings about the concept of living in a state of prayer and this is something that I try to inculcate on a daily basis. Many of the principles in the Baha’i Faith around the equality of men and women, universal participation and independent investigation of truth are also key sources of inspiration for much of my daily work.

How do you motivate others?:

Passion – passion can be infectious!

Career advice to those in your industry?:

Keep pushing the boundaries and don’t take anything for granted! It is not necessary to accept the status quo!

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Motto?:

“To try, to persevere, is to achieve ultimate and complete victory” Baha’i writings. Whilst it is important to be results and outcome oriented, so often some of the greatest impact is in the process.

Favorite People/Role Models?:

Desmond Tutu – I had the opportunity to meet him at a young age and was incredibly struck by both the incredible vision that he had for the world and also the humor with which he engaged in everything.

Favorite Places/Destinations?:

The Baha’i gardens in Haifa, Israel. It is the center of the Baha’i Faith and a deep place of inspiration for me.

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