2018 People's Choice

2018 People's Choice Topics

In 2018, the annual IILWG/Grunin Center Conference: Legal Issues in Social Entrepreneurship and Impact Investing—in the US and Beyond, featured an inaugural People’s Choice theme. The following four panels were selected and presented at the 2018 conference.

Governing Impact Investment Funds: What Have We Learned So Far? As many impact investment funds now have been operating for several years, this panel offered a chance to revisit the range of governance structures used in impact investment funds, and to determine what is working, what has proved challenging, and what has given rise to unexpected results. The panel examined different governance models being used by impact investment funds and identified lessons learned from the structures, information flows, and composition of governance bodies.


• Julie Abrams, Founder and Managing Director, Impact Investing Analytics
• Aaron Lewis, Deputy General Counsel, Habitat for Humanity International
• Edward Marshall, Partner and General Counsel, Developing World Markets
• William A. Wilson III, Founder and Partner, Wilson Williams

Moderator: James Mercadante, Partner, Reed Smith

What’s Faith Got To Do With It? Social entrepreneurship and impact investing are driven by wanting to make a difference in the world. But what are our ultimate motivations for doing so, and what values, traditions, or experiences inform our motivations? Is our desire to act based on an overstated belief in our own ability to solve the world’s most complex problems? Can a broken human condition underlying these problems be fixed by human efforts alone? This panel explored these topics—and why they matter— from a faith-based perspective (specifically, from a Jewish and Christian worldview). They also discussed how faith-based organizations have been, and continue to be, actively involved in the impact investing space, long before the term “impact investing” was even coined.


• Todd Johnson, Founder and CEO, iPAR
• Abagail Nelson, Senior Vice President, Programs, Episcopal Relief & Development
• Rabbi Josh Ratner, Director of Advocacy, JLens
• Christopher Rowe, Vice President of Investments, Church Pension Group

Moderator: Jonathan Ng, Attorney Advisor, US Agency for International Development (USAID)

Beyond Pro Bono: Putting Purpose Into Our Law Practice—A Global Perspective. Law firms with traditional practices have been among the mainstream players that have moved into the impact investing and social enterprise space in recent years. This panel explored how participants have grown and sustained impact practices within law firms across the globe. It also touched upon external factors that can support the development of this practice area.


• Constanza Connolly, Senior Associate, Beccar Varela
• Jay Finkelstein, Partner, DLA Piper
• Shannen L. Naegel, Of Counsel, Morrison Foerster
• Jennifer M. Oertel, Partner, Jaffe Raitt Heuer & Weiss
• Glenn Vassallo, Managing Director, GRT Lawyers

Moderator: Scott M. Curran, Founder, Beyond Advisers

Community-Driven Investment Strategies. This panel focused on how public and private investment can be guided by community-identified needs. The panelists explored how to maximize community participation in the development of investment priorities, fund allocation decisions, and capital-raising strategies. Panelists also discussed the range of legal strategies and capacity-building approaches necessary to effectively leverage community-based knowledge, skills, and resources.


• Clark Arrington, General Counsel, The Working World USA
• Susan R. Jones, Professor of Clinical Law, The George Washington University Law School
• Nicole Motter, Attorney and Strategy Consultant, Cutting Edge Counsel
• Danielle Torain, Senior Consultant, Frontline Solutions

Moderator: Dorcas R. Gilmore, Principal, Gilmore Khandhar