Joan Bavaria truly changed the lives of millions of people over the world, through her vision, her dedication, her humor, and her humanity.
She has been mentor, hero, and “boss” to those of us at Trillium for over 25 years. Joan’s gifts were a rare combination: tremendous experience and wisdom in the investment business and a passion for the markets; unending commitment to servicing clients; a unique vision for how the capital markets intersect with society and the environment; an uncanny instinct for points of leverage to foster creative change; the powerful leadership skills to bring that vision to light; and the unwavering belief that a single, committed individual can make a difference in the world.
Joan inspired, created, and fostered the use of investment assets to create social, ethical, and environmental change. She was often referred to as the Founding Mother of this field, Socially Responsible Investing, which now accounts for nearly one in nine dollars invested in the United States, a total of $2.7 trillion.
In 1982, she founded Trillium Asset Management Corporation (formerly known as Franklin Research & Development), to pursue and develop the field of what is now known as Socially Responsible Investing. With Joan at the helm, Trillium became the oldest and largest investment management firm devoted exclusively to socially responsible investment. Joan served as Founding President and CEO of Trillium until November, 2008. The company quickly became a model for independent advisors and other professionals serving social investment clients. The model Joan created involves providing clients with customized portfolio management, using both positive and negative screens to reflect social, environmental, and financial goals.
Beyond screening, Joan had the early insight to explore additional ways clients’ investment assets could have positive social impact. She helped establish and promote the concept of using stock ownership to improve corporate outcomes on the environment, human rights, workplace diversity and other areas, using tools such as shareholder dialogue and advocacy. She was also an early innovator in the concept of community investing, directing a portion of client assets to microfinance and community development funds to help capital flow to underserved markets. Joan helped bring the community loan fund idea to Wall Street, and the community investing industry on its own has now grown to more than $25 billion in assets. Throughout, Joan maintained a commitment to share widely these concepts with others in the investment industry, to catalyze and support a network of investors to promote a new and improved capitalism.
Joan’s passion as an investment manager was to explore and develop all possible means of social progress offered by the capital markets, and to educate other concerned investors in their use. In keeping with Joan’s constant objective of supporting other persons and organizations working to build a just society and a better world, Trillium has published research on social issues and investments since 1982, works with clients and companies on their social and environmental management issues, contributes significant resources to social activism and community work, and donates 5% of its before-tax profits to charitable causes.
Joan was an entrepreneur at heart. She had the ability to gather together diverse groups of leaders, advocates, companies and investors to support the expansion and development of engagement between investors and corporations. In 1981, Joan co-founded the Social Investment Forum, an organization of research, advisory, banking and community loan fund organizations dedicated to advancing the concept, practice, and growth of socially and environmentally responsible investing.
One of Joan’s proudest achievements was the creation of Ceres. She was the Founding Co-Chair of Ceres, the largest coalition of investors, environmental and public interest organizations in North America, and the first to bring these disparate groups together for discussion and dialogue focused on environmental change. In 1989, the Coalition released the ten principles for environmental management now known as the Ceres Principles. With Ceres, Joan worked with companies who have endorsed the Principles or who are interested in environmental reporting, community outreach and other environmental justice issues. Among many other accomplishments, Ceres launched the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), now the de-facto international standard for corporate reporting on environmental, social and economic performance. GRI is used by over 850 companies globally.
Throughout her career, Joan generously shared her time and effort with others. She served on the Dean’s Committee for International Development at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and on the Boards of Earthjustice, Green Seal, LightHawk, the Council on Economic Priorities, the Industrial Cooperative Association Loan Fund, the Global Reporting Initiative, and Earth Day Network. She served on the Advisory Boards of the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Greening of Industry Network. She also served as the Chair of the Community-Based Environmental Policy subcommittee of the National Advisory Committee for Policy & Technology, which advises the EPA.
Joan has received numerous awards and recognition throughout her career. In September 2008, she received the Charles R. Schwab IMPACT Award® – an award honoring Joan as an individual trailblazer whose sustained vision, outstanding leadership, client commitment and community engagement clearly demonstrate the value of independent investment advice. Joan commented that this award meant the most to her of all of her awards because it was recognition from the traditional investment world of her transformational effect on the investment industry.
Joan was the winner of the 2005 Botwinick Prize in Ethics, which annually recognizes an outstanding leader who exhibits the highest standard of ethical conduct in business or the professions. In October of 2004, Joan and Tessa Tennant were awarded the City of Göteborg International Environment Prize. In May of 2004 she was named one of the 25 most influential people in the planning profession by Investment Advisor magazine. In December of 2002 she was named by Scientific American magazine as one of the “Scientific American 50.” In October of 2000 she was honored by Global Green USA and Green Cross International President Mikhail Gorbachev with the Millennium Award for Corporate Environmental Leadership.
In November of 1999 Joan was lauded as “Hero for the Planet” by Time.com. Other awards include the New England Women Business Owners (NEWBO) Woman of the Year award in 1994, and two regional awards from Working Women Magazine and their Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards in March of 1999.
Over the past three decades, Joan led the creation of the social investment profession as it stands today; built a highly successful boutique investment advisory firm; brought diverse coalitions of investors, companies, and environmentalists together; and continuously created new mechanisms for using the capital markets for positive social change. With all that she did, Joan never lost her focus on her clients, her employees, her family, and her community. We miss her dearly, and honor her with our continued devotion to her vision.