(This article was originally featured on Medium on April 2nd 2018. You can check out our channel here.)
I was 20 years old when I took my first plunge.
I had just spent the summer before my senior year of college interning at a law firm that I thought I had wanted to work at my whole life. I hated it. I was left with the gut-wrenching realization that I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do.
So I packed a far-too-large backpack and flew to Cochabamba, Bolivia. I spent that glorious summer with a local NGO looking to revolutionize the way families and communities access renewable energy.
It changed my whole world.
I started to think about what I wanted to do based on who I wanted to be. I started defining that path with an eye to the systems primed for disruption, the norms poised for rethinking, and the minds that needed to be changed.
Since that summer, I’ve been on the most breathtaking roller coaster at a hurtling speed. Along that journey, I have sharpened my skills, honed my craft, and challenged what I thought I “knew” almost daily.
I know that this was made possible thanks to the trailblazing institutions that have welcomed me into the fold:
At the United Nations Capital Development Fund, I saw the importance of increasing access to finance for Ugandan and Tanzanian farmers developing critically needed local markets.
At the Rockefeller Foundation, I began to understand the raw power of being a fieldbuilder in an emerging impact investing market, marveling at the role that catalytic capital plays to empower an entire ecosystem.
At BNY Mellon, I awoke to the real potential of asset owners — from HNWI to large institutions — using their capital to bridge profit and purpose with a double bottom line in mind.
And at the Case Foundation, I saw the incredible effectiveness of message and medium at work to motivate those investors that are still sitting on the sidelines.
It is because of these institutions and their intrepid leadership that I was inspired to do something I haven’t done since I overstuffed that backpack and got lost in the magic that is Bolivia.
I took a pause.
And in that pause, I checked in with my 20-year-old self. Was I disrupting systems? Was I rethinking norms? Was I changing minds? Yes —I have worked with some of the most creative, compassionate, and crystal clear thinkers in all the land.
But — more importantly — I realized there’s so much more to do. More systems-changing, norms-disrupting, and mind-changing.
So it’s time to take another plunge.
Today marks the launch of Spectrum Impact, a platform to bring all of the important lessons learned to the doorstep of families, funds, and foundations ready to jump into impact investing.
Over the course of this new chapter, there will be some pausing. There will be hard questions, things to rethink and assumptions to revisit.
But it’ll be the resurgence of an important and hopefully regular exercise — checking back in on why we do this work at all. And when those families, funds and organizations are ready to turn that interest and curiosity into something more, then plunging in together once again.