Play BIG Faculty 2016

Carol Newell, Founder, Renewal, and Co-Founder, Play BIG

Photo by Jaime KowalCarol has established a life’s work as a social entrepreneur and philanthropist. Over fifteen years, she has placed $67 million in organizations, individuals and businesses working toward sustainable economic development and social and environmental justice in British Columbia and Canada. After a decade of anonymity, Carol, the founder of Renewal, co-created Play BIG, an initiative to encourage others with wealth to activate their resources for social change. She now co-hosts Play BIG gatherings with Marian Moore and speaks publicly across North America to promote innovative and immediate reallocation of capital to leverage systemic change. Carol is an active member of The Canadian Women’s Foundation (CWF), Hollyhock,  the Threshold Foundation, and  Social Venture Circle.  She received the inaugural 2006 BC Women Award from The Minerva Foundation and in 2007 was deeply honoured to be appointed a Member of the Order of Canada, In 2008 she was awarded a doctorate in Humane Letters from St. Lawrence University.

Marian Moore, Co-Founder and Facilitator, Play BIG

Marian brings her skills as  a facilitator, leadership coach and producer to the work of  helping foster the emergence of a new economy that places ecological sustainability and fairness at its center. She is the producer and lead facilitator of play BIG, a leadership coach and consultant to people with large capital reserves, and a Senior Advisor to RSF Social Finance as part of its Field Building Collaborative.  Prior to play BIG, Marian acted as conference design facilitator for Threshold Foundation, of which she has been a member for twenty-four years. The first half of her career was devoted to television and music production. In the nineties, as co-founder of the national non-profit, Concerts for the Environment, Marian co-produced multi-act stadium and arena concert events featuring such artists as Paul McCartney, James Taylor, Queen Latifah, and REM that brought public attention to environmental issues through multi-media, cross-marketed education campaigns. Marian is a songwriter and singer has three children and lives in Minneapolis.

Joel Solomon, Chairman, Renewal Funds

Photo by Lisa Hartley

Joel Solomon is Chairman of Renewal Funds, Canada's largest social venture capital firm.  Launching in 2013, Renewal3 and the now builds upon the legacy of aligning money with values established by Renewal2 and Renewal Partners.  

Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Joel first moved to British Columbia in the 1980s.  In 1994, Joel and Carol Newell co-founded Renewal Partners to invest in sustainable businesses including Salt Spring Coffee, Seventh Generation, and Happy Planet.  Together, they pioneered a whole portfolio activation to mission and purpose strategy, using an integrated capital for social change approach, with a regional sustainable economy focus.

Joel serves as a Senior Advisor with RSF Social Finance and speaks frequently throughout North America, including a recent TEDxVancouver talk.  He is a founding member of Social Venture Network (SVN), Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), the Tides Canada Foundation, and is board chair of Hollyhock

Joel has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Social Venture Network (SVN) and was recently inducted with Carol Newell into the SVN Hall of Fame. 

Don Shaffer, President and CEO, RSF Social Finance

Don Shaffer has served as president & CEO of RSF Social Finance since 2007.  He grew up in central New Jersey, and comes from a long ancestry of Quaker farmers and small business people in and around Philadelphia.  Don lives in Berkeley, California with his wife Jennifer and their two children, Sabine and Samuel.  He graduated from Cornell University with a degree in American History.

Don has been a social entrepreneur for many years, growing a for-profit education business, a software company, and a sporting goods manufacturer, in addition to a non-profit, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies.

As leaders in social finance, Don and the team at RSF seek to transform the way the world works with money.  In a world where our financial system can be described as complex, opaque, and anonymous, based on short-term outcomes, RSF is constantly asking the question, “How can we model financial transactions that are direct, transparent, and personal, based on long-term relationships?”  

RSF’s total assets have grown 40% in the past three years, to over $160 million.  The organization has made $275 million in loans since 1984, with a 100% repayment rate to investors, and facilitated $100 million in grants.  RSF has incubated, sponsored, and influenced many of the most innovative organizations in the social venture field. 

Mark Finser, Chair of the Board, RSF Social Finance

Mark Finser was a founding member of the group that revitalized RSF Social Finance in 1984. As President & CEO of RSF, Mark grew the organization’s assets to over $120M by 2007, when he transitioned to his current role as Chair of the Board of RSF. Mark brings communities of philanthropists and socially responsible investors together to further RSF’s mission: to transform the way we work with money. Mark is a sought-after speaker in the U.S. and abroad on all aspects of the emerging social-finance arena. He is an active member of the social finance community, serving as a founding board member and now Chairman of New Resource Bank. He was also a member of the founding board of B Lab.   Mark is an advisor to the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE). He also serves as an Advisor to PCGA which now manages  TBL Capital, the company he founded.  His interests include biodynamic agriculture, integrative medicine, and meditation. He lives in Mill Valley, California, with his wife, Heidi, and their two children, Benjamin and Yohanna.

Leslie Christian, CFA 

 Leslie Christian, a leader and innovator in social and environmental investing, is focused on the development of Integrated Capital, a framework for investing that accounts for the global risks of our time as well as the vision, values and aspirations of each client.
Through Leslie E. Christian, LLC, Leslie offers consulting and advisory services to individuals and institutions seeking an integrated capital approach. She also serves as Integrated Capital Specialist at NorthStar Asset Management in Boston and as Senior Advisor at RSF Social Finance in San Francisco. She is a Board member and treasurer for the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE).
During the first 15 years of her career, Leslie worked as a fixed income and derivatives specialist at several firms, including nine years at Salomon Brothers in New York.  She joined Portfolio 21 Investments in 1995 and served as its President and CEO until 2012. She co-founded Portfolio 21, one of the first public-equity mutual funds focussed on long-term ecological risks and opportunities, as well as Upstream 21, a uniquely chartered regional holding company for socially and environmentally responsible businesses. Leslie also co-founded Women’s Equity Mutual Fund, which is now a part of Pax World.
Leslie is a graduate of the University of Washington and holds an MBA in Finance from the University of California at Berkeley. She lives in Seattle, WA with her spouse Heather Andersen.

Dana Pancrazi 

Dana is the Vice President, Capital Markets at the F.B. Heron Foundation.  She found her way to Heron after a variety of interesting career adventures including stints in agriculture, biotech, culinary art, lost wax bronze sculpture, the death care industry, and nearly 10 years at Merrill Lynch. 

She has long been passionate about community economic development, likely owing to some early experiences including the failure of the local creamery to which her family sold milk, the unintended consequences of the federal dairy buy-out of the 1980s.

Dana currently Chairs the Board of Capital Impact Partners, a $1B CDFI; serves on the steering committees for Mission Investors’ Exchange and Markets for Good; and as a reviewer for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as part of its Grand Challenge Exploration Program.

In her role at Heron, she is responsible for deal sourcing, identifying and developing relationships across a spectrum of investors, syndicating capital when possible, and cultivating opportunities to deploy the full range of Heron’s “toolbox” including grants, program related investments and market-rate mission related investments. . She can provide an extraordinary range of practical experience to the play BIG mix.   Dana lives in Connecticut with her husband, their two children, and a revolving door of various animals.