Welcome to the investment-focused section of The Gambrell Foundation’s website. My name is Brittany Priester and I handle all investment-related matters pertaining to the foundation. In my role as the foundation’s Investment Advisor, I implement and manage the foundation’s portfolio, which is a collection of traditional and non-traditional investments. My primary responsibilities include investment policy formation, asset allocation development, manager due diligence and portfolio performance monitoring and reporting, which is fancy speak for saying that I oversee and execute all investment-related aspects of the foundation.
I bring 12 years of investment management experience to the foundation. Prior to exclusively joining the Gambrell team, I was a Portfolio Manager for Maybry McShane Family Offices, a local multi-family office, where I managed assets for family foundations, including The Gambrell Foundation. Before joining Maybry McShane, I was a Family Investment Associate with GenSpring Family Offices, a nationwide multi-family office in Charlotte, where I also managed family foundation investment portfolios. I began my career as an International Investment Analyst at Cambridge Associates, LLC, an institutional investment consulting firm in Washington, DC, where my client base exclusively comprised foundation and endowment investment portfolios.
The Gambrell Foundation’s proprietary Values-Aligned Investment (“VAI”) framework is portrayed in the accompanying diagram, representing how we view the foundation’s portfolio and categorize the different types of investment holdings. The above summary provides a high-level overview of the foundation’s investing framework.
For a more in-depth explanation, please see the following articles, which are posted at the bottom of this page.
A new term was added to our vocabulary this year: anti-ESG. The definition of this word is clear and means opposed to ESG investing. The anti-ESG movement has occurred at the intersection of politics and investment. For example, Florida adopted a resolution barring the consideration of ESG factors in its investment management practices. Also, Texas […]
NCFP hosts The National Forum on Family Philanthropy every two years. While at this year’s symposium in San Francisco, I took the advice of our wise leader to lean into topics you would normally not choose when selecting breakout sessions. As a result, I wound up sitting in a session about climate change since it […]
Established 75 years ago, the CFA Institute (“CFAI”) is a global association of investment professionals that sets the standard for professional excellence and credentials. The organization is a champion of ethical behavior in investment markets and a respected source of knowledge in the global financial community. There are more than 180,000 CFA® charterholders spanning over […]
Since 2020, I have been a member of Nuveen’s Responsible Investing Leadership Council, which brings together thought leaders in the investment industry from around the country to discuss – you guessed it – everything about responsible investing. Given the pandemic, the council’s first in-person meeting was in Chicago in June. The meeting kicked off with […]
Learn about how the Gambrell Foundation worked with the Charlotte Center for legal advocacy to help meet their mission through a Program Related Investment.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) is an independent agency of the federal government with the primary purpose of enforcing the law against market manipulation. Given that U.S. publicly traded companies are responsible for 40% of emissions, the SEC submitted a formal proposal on March 21, 2022, which states that publicly traded companies report […]
As investors, corporations, and regulators place greater importance on ESG-related matters, it’s worth understanding which ESG information has the most significant impact on markets. Attempting to address this question, George Serafeim, Charles M. Williams professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, and Aaron Yoon, assistant professor of accounting information and management at the Kellogg […]
Over the years, the foundation has evaluated several environmentally friendly infrastructure funds and has finally approved one for inclusion in its portfolio, further increasing its allocation to Values-Aligned Investments. In addition to desirable financial targets, this investment also generates and tracks its positive non-financial returns, which I’d like to highlight. When speaking with the fund’s […]
Each year, The Gambrell Foundation team attends the annual meeting hosted by Philanthropy Southeast, formerly Southeastern Council of Foundations. My favorite sessions are usually the investment pre-conference and plenary speakers, and this year was no exception. In my recap, I would like to feature the investment panel comprised of three Fund Evaluation Group (“FEG”) female […]
Nuveen, a global asset manager, began it’s responsible investing (“RI”) journey in 1970 when clients asked them to engage on product safety and social issues. In 2020, Nuveen asked me to join their RI Leadership Council, representing an elite group of professionals identified as thought leaders who come together to share perspectives on RI developments, […]
Responsible Asset Owners (“RAO”) brings together investment professionals and investors to share thought leadership and innovation regarding responsible investing while also promoting collaboration. I virtually attended ROA’s Europe 2021 symposium and particularly enjoyed the session titled “Impact Investments: How to find, measure, and track them” led by the following contributors: Moderator Chris Perceval – Head […]
After evaluating five Program-Related Investment (PRI) opportunities for the past three years, we are excited to announce the first official PRI for The Gambrell Foundation effective August 2020! Previously, the Foundation passed on PRI opportunities for various reasons, including excessive fees, concerns regarding repayment, and a lack of follow-through from the PRI applicant. We define […]
Wellington Global Impact Fund is one of our long-standing impact investments. I would like to highlight one of the fund’s individual holdings to showcase the manager’s due diligence process and investment philosophy. YDUQS is an international equity position that facilitates access to quality post-secondary education for low- and middle-income Brazilians. Completion of a post-secondary degree […]
The CFA Institute hosted its Alpha Summit, or annual meeting, at the end of May with the tagline, “a meeting of the minds that propels finance forward.” One of the conference sessions titled “The Next Frontier of Sustainable Investing: Measuring Impact” addressed ESG implementation amongst the following panelists: George Serafeim – Charles M. Williams Professor […]
Although my full-time job is working as the Investment Advisor to The Gambrell Foundation, I also give back to the community by serving as Vice President on a board of directors for a non-profit. The CFA Society of North Carolina (“CFANC”) was established in 1971 to provide education and support to the area’s investment professionals. […]
Sustainable investing is gaining in popularity. As a result, investment providers have ramped up their offerings of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) products. However, investors must take a closer look and scrutinize anything with the ESG label to ensure it truly holds sustainable underlying positions. For example, one index fund has “climate change” in its […]
Since 2018, Barron’s has collaborated with Calvert Research & Management to publish an annual list of the 100 Most Sustainable Companies. Calvert’s process begins by taking the 1,000 largest publicly traded U.S. companies and then ranking them based on how they perform regarding shareholders, employees, customers, community, and the planet. Sample data points used in […]
Kathleen Mellody, Senior Government Affairs Officer with the Investment Company Institute, and Julia Enyart, Vice President of Sustainable and Impact Investing at Glenmede, presented on potential Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”) impacts from a Biden presidency with a specific focus on diversity, equity and inclusion, climate change and shareholder rights. President Biden is building one […]
The Nasdaq is the second largest securities exchange in the world, behind only the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”). An exchange is a platform in which investors buy and sell securities, like stocks. Unlike the NYSE, the Nasdaq has no physical location and instead all of its trades are executed electronically. Created in 1971, the […]
Given the market volatility that occurred this year provided the global pandemic, I’d like to highlight one of our values-aligned investments (VAI), which proved to generate both a positive non-financial return, while also outperforming financially throughout a turbulent year. The Gambrell Foundation invests in the Wellington Global Impact commingled fund, which is classified as an […]
The Southeastern Council of Foundations (“SECF”) virtually hosted its 51st annual meeting from November 11-13, 2020. This year’s programming offered one investment-focused session titled, “An Asset Allocator’s Discussion: Strategic Opportunities Amidst a Rapidly Evolving Political and Public Health Landscape.” This session featured two investment professionals from Truist Foundations and Endowments and David Richter from GCM […]
Last week, I cast my vote, and one of the local items I voted on was the 2020 GO Bond, which is the final installment of a four-bond package for the Charlotte community. NC Voters approved the three previous bond installments in 2014, 2016, and 2018. The 2020 bonds are targeting a total issuance of […]
According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury CDFI Fund, CDFIs “share a common goal of expanding economic opportunity in low-income communities by providing access to financial products and services for local residents and businesses.” CDFIs began in the 1880s when the first minority-owned banks focused on low-income areas. Since then, CDFIs have evolved to […]
One of the foundation’s impact investments is the Wellington Global Impact Fund, which strives to outperform the broad stock market by investing globally in the equities of companies trying to solve the world’s greatest social and environmental issues. The philosophy behind this fund’s investment strategy is, “the world’s greatest problems present some of the world’s […]
As of June 30, 2020, the foundation’s primary values-aligned investments (“VAIs”) have generated the following year-to-date returns: Wellington Global Impact Fund (-5.70%) relatively outperformed the MSCI All Country World Index (-7.06%). Charlotte Affordable Housing 5-Year Bond (+5.72%) beat the Bloomberg Barclays 5-Year Municipal Bond Index (+2.18%). Self-Help Women & Children CDs yield approximately 2%. […]
Deutsche Bank Research (“DB”) published a report on July 1, 2020 that analyzed Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”) investing throughout the global pandemic thus far. I’ve highlighted below some of their findings, which I believe are interesting and, in some instances, surprising. The most popular ESG topic at the beginning of 2020 was climate change. […]
An ongoing debate regarding values-aligned investing (“VAI”) is whether or not one must sacrifice financial return in order to generate a positive non-financial return. Our position on this matter is best explained through tangible data points. Please see below for a recap of how the foundation’s unique VAIs performed in 2019. The Wellington Global Impact […]
In mid-November, the entire foundation team attended the 50th annual meeting for the Southeastern Council of Foundations (“SECF”). The foundation has been a member of this organization since 2016, and we find the annual meeting especially thought provoking. Below are highlights from the two conference sessions I enjoyed most: Failing Forward: Learning from Failure as […]
Recently, within a single week, I received two separate calls, one from a community foundation and another from a family foundation, both based in North Carolina, inquiring how to get started with values-aligned investing (“VAI”). As the volume and frequency of VAI-related conversations increases, it is evident the strategy continues to gain support in the […]
Although PRIs are relatively new to The Gambrell Foundation, The Ford foundation originated the concept in 1968. A PRI is money that leaves the foundation’s corpus, counting towards a private foundation’s 5% annual payout requirement in the year made, and goes into the hands of a non-profit or for-profit entity. The primary distinction between a […]
As depicted in the below illustration, the foundation’s portfolio is comprised of two overarching buckets: Classic Investments and VAIs. Classic Investments consist of traditional holdings, such as shares of Google or a U.S. corporate bond, which we only track the financial return. The second bucket, VAIs, comprises traditional holdings analyzed via an unconventional lens tracking […]
Before delving into our unique values-aligned investment (“VAI”) framework and implementation, I would like to summarize and reference additional academic studies, which further dispel the myth that one sacrifices financial return when participating in VAIs. CFA Institute Research Foundation in collaboration with Swiss Sustainable Finance published the Handbook on Sustainable Investments in 2017, which summarizes […]
As previously mentioned, we are members of Mission Investors Exchange, and so I attended their Mission Investing Institute in March 2019, which was extremely informative and altered my mindset in a few ways. For instance, several speakers stated that “all investing is impact investing.” In other words, every investment has an impact, it is a matter […]
As mentioned, a lack of standardization exists within this space. So, we charged our own path and created a proprietary investment framework. The first strategic decision we encountered was whether to take a “lens” or “sleeve” approach when implementing this new investment strategy. A lens approach applies the investment strategy to the entire portfolio; whereas, […]
As you probably know, Sally Gambrell is the foundation’s President and the only child of the foundation’s founder, Sarah Belk Gambrell. In January 2018, Sally introduced the idea of impact investing to me by plopping The ImpactAssets Handbook for Investors by Jed Emerson on my desk with the directive to “figure it out.” Sally first […]