Get to Know Calvert Impact Capital Staff: Justin Conway
April 01, 2020
We're conducting a series of interviews with our staff, borrowers, and investors. We hope you'll follow along and get to know Calvert Impact Capital and our partners better. Our seventh interview in this series is with Calvert Impact Capital staff member, Justin Conway.
Name: Justin Conway Title: Vice President of Investment Partnerships Tenure at Calvert Impact Capital: Fourteen years Places you’ve called home: Newport News, Virginia; Harrisonburg, Virginia; Hong Kong; Washington, D.C.
1. What do you do at Calvert Impact Capital?
I manage the Community Investment Note® program at Calvert Impact Capital, and our relationships with investors, financial advisors, brokerage firms, and distribution partners. So I spend a lot of time with mission-aligned institutions and their financial professionals, as well as work closely with many of our industry partners such as Aeris, US-SIF, and GIIN, to build awareness and get more money flowing into impact investing.
The Investor Relations team that I lead acts as a resource to individual and institutional investors on their impact investing journey, whether that be answering questions about our products or impact investing more broadly. I love that much of our work at Calvert Impact Capital is about breaking down barriers that investors and communities face in getting capital to creating solutions to our social and environmental challenges.
Ultimately, we’re part of building a broader movement of financially educated people who can make better choices on how they use their economic power, which I view as perhaps the most important way each of us shapes the world every day.
2. What excites you most about your work at Calvert Impact Capital?
I am most excited about the positive impact that we create, which is very real to me. I've been fortunate enough to get to know many of our borrowers and I've seen the important work that they do in our communities every day. I’ve also met many of the people that our borrowers serve, including some who have turned their lives around from addiction and crime to becoming community and business leaders.
One of the things I really like about impact investing is it's very tangible. I’m reminded of this every time I walk out of my door in D.C. on my way to the metro, seeing affordable housing and community centers that our partners have played a central role in creating.
It's also very much about the people I work with at Calvert Impact Capital, our staff for sure, as well as our external partners. Working with such smart, diverse, creative, solutions-oriented folks motivates me every day.
3. How did you get to Calvert Impact Capital, and more specifically, into impact investing?
My parents named me Justin after “justice” so I should first thank them for raising me with a strong sense of social justice and responsibility.
In college, I studied sociology and statistics. I pursued my interest in social justice through student activism and campaigns from getting the school to commit to stop using sweatshop labor for its apparel to paying living wages for non-teaching staff. After college, I spent time in Latin America learning about the economic challenges facing local communities. It was there that I saw how microfinance could lift people from poverty.
Not long after, I moved to Hong Kong, where I worked for a nonprofit human rights law group supporting women with legal representation in cases involving trafficking and abuse. While working there, I found that many of our clients were educated and entrepreneurial, yet lacked access to credit or other financial resources and that too often led them to the difficult position they were in. Ultimately, my work in Hong Kong inspired me to shift my career towards microfinance. In early 2002, I moved to D.C. and formally began my career in what we now know as “impact investing.” I started as the Community Investing Manager in a joint role for US-SIF and Green America, which married my international interests with domestic community development.
Overall, throughout my career, I've been very fortunate to call some of impact investing’s pioneers my close mentors. That included Shari Berenbach, Elizabeth Glenshaw, and Tim Freundlich who ultimately brought me to Calvert Impact Capital (then known as Calvert Foundation) in 2006.
4. If you could have a dinner party with any three guests, dead or alive, who would you invite?
I was once asked this question at a conference when I was in college, and at the time, I said the Dalai Lama, Muhammad Yunus, and Samuel L. Jackson.
Since then, I've had the fortune to meet the Dalai Lama a couple of times and spend some time with Muhammad Yunus at various events (see an old interview)
While I've never met Samuel L. Jackson, he seems like a pretty cool guy to kick it with. So, I’ll stick with those three for my dinner party.
5. Do you have any reading or listening recommendations? (Books, podcasts, articles, etc.)
My first recommendation would be for people to take time to unplug and take in the sights and sounds of their environment. Be present.
I always get my daily dose of NPR and the NYT Daily podcast. During this election season, I’ve tried to seek out news from sources that I don't typically gravitate towards or agree with. That's been both interesting and challenging for me. I’d encourage others to do the same.
One specific recommendation I have is to watch Robert Reich's ever-expanding short videos on how the economy and politics work, or don’t work. Usually good content, and I really appreciate the accessibility of his videos.
Other than that, you'll find me either listening to hip hop or my three-year-old daughter singing and dancing to the entire Frozen soundtrack.
6. If you had to describe Calvert Impact Capital in one word or term, what would it be?