Leading asset allocators and fund managers came together at Labaton Sucharow’s Women’s Initiative’s second annual Institutional Investing in Women and Minority-Led Investment Firms event to address the importance of diverse investing. Held at the Four Seasons in New York on September 27, the event featured two all-female panels that explored ways to bring more visibility to women and minority-led investment firms, which remain significantly underrepresented despite qualifications and track records equal to or better than non-diverse investment firms.
“In the two years that we have put on this program, I have learned a lot about the systemic challenges faced by diverse investment firms,” said Labaton Sucharow partner and program co‑chair Serena P. Hallowell. “I have been encouraged to meet so many in the industry that have been fighting the good fight for a long time to move the needle.”
“One thing that stood out to me with this year’s event was how candid the panelists were,” added partner and program co-chair Carol C. Villegas. “I am proud that we have created an environment where speakers and attendees feel comfortable to honestly share their experiences.”
In her closing remarks, partner and program co-chair Marisa N. DeMato encouraged the attendees to collaborate with each other. “We hope our event continues to provide opportunities for diverse managers, allocators, and consultants to work together. Because we believe that by working together, we can all achieve great things.”
Moderated by Meredith A. Jones (Partner and Head of Emerging Manager Research, Aon), the allocator panel included Carolina de Onís (General Counsel, Teacher Retirement System of Texas), Ellen Hung (Deputy Chief Investment Officer, State Universities Retirement System), Danita Johnson (Principal Investment Officer, Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds), and Chavon Sutton (Director, Diversity & Inclusion – Emerging & Diverse Managers, Office of the NYC Comptroller’s Bureau of Asset Management).
The manager panel was moderated by Marilyn R. Freeman (Principal & Manager, Capital Prospects LLC), and included Nili Gilbert (Co-Founder and Portfolio Manager, Matarin Capital), Angela Matheny (Head of Diverse Manager Equity, Colonial Consulting LLC), Ellen B. Safir (Founder and Chief Investment Officer, New Century Advisors), and Lauren Taylor Wolfe (Managing Partner, Impactive Capital).
In addition to the program co-chairs and speakers, the event was supported by an advisory committee consisting of managers, allocators, and consultants. Chaired by Karen Grenon (Assistant General Counsel, Connecticut Office of the State Treasurer), the advisory committee included Corinne T. Babcock (Appointed Commissioner, Los Angeles Fire and Police Pensions), Lara Clarke (President & Co-Founder, Women in Institutional Investments Network), Amy Crane (General Counsel, Rhode Island Office of the General Treasurer), Mary Lisanti (President and Portfolio Manager, Lisanti Capital Growth, LLC), Safia B. Mehta (Managing Director, Outsourced Investment Solutions, Manager Analysis Services, LLC), Angela Miller-May (Chief Investment Officer, Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund), Jacqueline Ray (Special Assistant Attorney General, Mississippi Attorney General’s Office), Betty Salanic (Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Accelerate Investors), Susan Webb (President/CIO, Appomattox Advisory, Inc.), and Mary Jo Woods (Special Assistant Attorney General, Mississippi Attorney General’s Office).
Labaton Sucharow’s Women’s Initiative was founded in 2007 with the goal of fostering an environment of growth, leadership, and success for the Firm’s female attorneys and staff. Since its launch, the Firm has hosted dozens of exceptional guests, including senior executives from a wide array of commercial markets, as well as leaders in politics, law, and global not-for-profits. The program also includes quarterly workshops on practical skills, such as networking, public speaking, and self-advocacy, as well as opportunities to participate and join outside women’s organizations, bar associations, and networking groups in order to build professional profiles. The group is also a proud supporter of Girls Who Invest and Rock The Street, Wall Street, two organizations that seek to bring more women into leadership roles in finance.