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Meet RSF’s Integrated Capital Fellows, Part 2

JESSICA NORWOOD

Jessica Norwood advises and speaks worldwide on the intersection of culture and investing, emerging leadership, voting rights, community investing, and black wealth creation. A recent Nathan Cummings fellow and BALLE fellow, Jessica is a lifelong fellow of the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University and Southern University’s College of Business for Emerging Leaders. A former Political Power and Social Change fellow at the Hip Hop Archive at Harvard University, Jessica’s innovative work has been profiled by NPR, Essence Magazine, and Fast Company.

The Runway Project is providing support and capital to help Black businesses take off. With The Runway Friends & Family CD, this national company is offering a certificate of deposit that provides safe, above market-rate returns while bridging the African American friends and family funding gap. With a focus on promising, early-stage, black-owned businesses, loan capital has been provided to 7 companies since 2017, most of which are women-owned.

STEPHANIE RANDOLPH

Stephanie Randolph is a member of the Cassiopeia Foundation team, formerly blue moon fund, an innovative philanthropic investment vehicle that supports its programmatic priorities solely through impact investing. Stephanie provides intelligence and analysis on opportunities to drive social change, internal project management, and relationship stewardship across a diverse range of stakeholders to cultivate mutually beneficial strategic relationships. Stephanie has a long history and passion for sustainable community development, particularly in Appalachia.

Working with the Appalachia Funders Network, Stephanie has developed Impact Appalachia, a market-making fund, to accelerate economic opportunity in a six-state region. This systems-level approach will balance and blend a $17 million pool of catalytic capital to unlock and deploy a $40 million investment fund. Working closely with community leaders and multi-sector partners, Impact Appalachia will provide tailored capital stacks to enterprises and community investments that build long-term economic self-sufficiency.

NINA SOL ROBINSON

Nina Robinson is an impact capital convener with over ten years of experience advising mission-driven companies on strategic growth, capital raising, impact, and organizational development with Nina’s work leading to the creation of 400+ local good jobs and the facilitation of over $10 million in capital investments. At ICA Fund Good Jobs, Nina managed a $2.2 million investment portfolio and provided consulting, capital raising support, and board participation to seed portfolio companies.

Nina recently launched Soulful Investments which designs integrated capital strategies for mission-driven entrepreneurs, investors, and organizations with partners such as RSF Social Finance, The Runway Project, Homestead Ventures, and the Impact America Fund.

NITA SHAH

Nita Shah is the founder and executive director at Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon (MESO). MESO was founded on a simple yet remarkable notion that low-income individuals could achieve economic security through entrepreneurship. MESO has matched individuals from disenfranchised, displaced, low-income, immigrant/refugee, unbanked, minority, and underserved communities with the services and support needed to succeed in business, from individualized consulting to marketing and financing. Over the past 14 years, MESO has provided assistance to over 2,000 entrepreneurs with $5 million in loans to 611 entrepreneurs, generated 250 market research reports, and placed over $2.5 million in matched savings. Clients have increased net revenues upwards of 1600%, purchased homes, and improved their financial outlook.

Nita is launching an impact fund of $3 million that provides a funding source for entrepreneurs unable to get financing through traditional sources that is also an investment avenue for investors and foundations committed to mission and impact.

LORA SMITH

Lora Smith is the executive director of the Appalachian Impact Fund, a social impact investment fund anchored at the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky in Hazard, KY. Previously, Lora served as the Network Officer for Central Appalachia at the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation directing the foundation’s strategic grantmaking in the region. Lora currently serves on the Steering Committee of the Appalachia Funders Network (AFN), a network of 80+ private and public sector funders focused on the shared goal of an equitable Appalachian economic transition. She is co-chair of AFN’s Food and Agriculture Systems Working Group and helps lead AFN’s Equity Committee.

The Appalachian Impact Fund (AIF) makes grants in support of economic opportunity and direct impact investments that support community-led economic development. Located in the coalfields of Appalachia, AIF invests in community capacity, real estate development, and entrepreneurship to support community economic development for a successful economic transition in Eastern Kentucky.

ANN WHITTEMORE

As director of community investments at Highlands Associates, Ann Whittemore manages a portfolio of unique investments in sustainable agriculture and forestry, local food systems, renewable energy, and local community-building enterprises.

She also acts as community investments advisor to Tamalpais Trust, supporting the development and strengthening of Indigenous-led initiatives, organizations, and global networks that promote and serve Indigenous cultures, economies, and lifeways, values and knowledge, human rights, ceremonial practices, and the protection of sacred waters and lands.

Ann is working to increase access to capital in Native American communities by partnering with Native-led and Native-aligned organizations whose leadership builds capacity, deploys funds, and creates economic equity in areas that have long been underserved by traditional finance.

CELINA ADAMS

Celina Adams is CEO of Celina Adams Consulting a strategic philanthropy and impact firm dedicated to guiding clients to fulfill their best intentions for people and the planet. Celina and her collaborators work with a wide variety of clients including families, foundations, nonprofits, and community organizations. Having led work at a range of institutions including the Timberland Company, The NH Charitable Foundation, and the Thomas W. Haas Foundation, Celina brings a depth of knowledge, creativity, and purpose to her work.

Celina is using integrated capital principles to design a “New Blue Economy for the Gulf of Maine.” This project is a place-based approach that employs a range of capital to support the just transition to a sustainable fishery while fostering regenerative aquaculture and blue carbon sequestration.

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