Lawyers play a critical role in designing, implementing, and advancing models by which economic and social activity are conducted globally. The Grunin Center administers the award of an annual Grunin Prize for Law and Social Entrepreneurship to recognize lawyers’ participation in the ways in which business is increasingly advancing the goals of sustainability and human development.
The Grunin Prize aims to reward the innovation, replicability and/or scalability, and potential impact of projects and solutions developed by lawyers to advance the fields of social entrepreneurship and impact investing.
This year the Grunin Prize once again attracted nominations from across the globe that are representative of the extraordinary and expanding legal community of practice that is emerging in these fields. Meet the 2022 winner and finalists below
2022 Grunin Prize Winner
The Nature Conservancy - Blue Bonds for Ocean Conservation Program
Nominated legal team: Stephen Valdes-Robles, Senior Attorney, TNC
Supporting legal teams: Antonia Stolper, Counsel to TNC, Shearman & Sterling; Cynthia Urda Kassis, Counsel to TNC, Shearman & Sterling; Andrea Hwang, Counsel to TNC, Ropes & Gray; Christina Houston, Delaware Counsel to TNC, DLA Piper; Andrew Marshalleck, Belize Counsel to TNC, Barrow & Co; Werner Ahlers, Counsel to Belize, Sullivan & Cromwell; Maurice Blanco, Counsel to Citigroup as advisor to Belize, Davis Polk & Wardwell; Jonathan Maizel, Assistant General Counsel, United States International Development Finance Corporation (DFC); Jamie Head, Counsel to DFC, Hunton Andrews Kurth; Christine Steenman, Counsel to Credit Suisse, Allen & Overy; Thomas Laryea, Counsel to the Bondholders Committee, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe; Wanda Ebanks, Cayman Islands Counsel, Maples & Calder.
The project: Despite the ocean contributing an estimated US$3 trillion per year to global GDP, marine conservation is one of the most underfunded UN Sustainable Development Goals. Tackling that challenge, in November 2021, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Government of Belize (Belize) closed the world’s largest debt refinancing for ocean conservation to date. The US$ 364 million debt conversion reduced Belize’s debt by 12 percent of GDP, created long-term sustainable financing of approximately US$ 4 million annually for conservation, and locked in commitment to protect 30% of Belize’s ocean, in addition to a range of other conservation measures.
McDermott Will & Emery - Education Outcomes Fund (EOF)
Nominated legal teams: Ranajoy Basu, Partner, McDermott Will & Emery UK LLP; Priya Taneja, Counsel, McDermott Will & Emery UK LLP
Supporting legal teams: Peter Mason, former global General Counsel, UNICEF; Maria Mkandawire, senior legal affairs specialist, UNICEF; Matt Hoisington, legal affairs specialist, UNICEF
The project: Situations ranging from wartime destruction to the COVID-19 pandemic interrupt children’s learning, which can lead to higher levels of illiteracy and economic deterioration. To address acute global education needs, empower educators to deliver results, and improve learning outcomes for children around the world, the Education Outcomes Fund (EOF) moved to operate as an independent trust hosted by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The innovative partnership provides an ambitious new mechanism for large-scale social financing focused on children’s education. McDermott Will & Emery’s Impact Finance Practice advised EOF and UNICEF on setting up a joint structure, which involved aligning the outcomes-based model in relation to EOF’s existing educational programs in various jurisdictions and ensuring the contractual structure conformed to the fund located within UNICEF. The partnership with McDermott Will & Emery has allowed EOF to operate as an independent trust fund hosted by UNICEF, which provides fund management, legal, procurement, and administrative services to EOF.
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe - The Common Future Character-Based Lending Fund (the “CBL Fund”)
Nominated legal team: Walter Alarkon, Senior Associate, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe; Perry Teicher, Impact Finance Counsel, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe; Quinn Moss, Partner, Co-Head of Private Investment Funds & Impact Finance Steering Committee, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.
The project: The Common Future Character-Based Lending Fund (the “CBL Fund”) is an US$ 800,000 financing vehicle which provides financing to BIPOC entrepreneurs via three entrepreneurship support organizations (each an “ESO”), nonprofit networks which have each developed targeted character-based lending processes and underwriting criteria. These ESOs are well-embedded in their communities and are equipped to both make character-based judgements about an entrepreneur’s readiness to receive a loan and to understand the needs of local BIPOC businesses. This character-based underwriting strategy in effect reverses the traditional approach to lending – instead of a distant, abstracted financial institution allocating capital downwards based on metrics which disadvantage BIPOC communities, the CBL Fund follows a bottom-up approach, enabling trusted organizations within the community to create their own underwriting criteria and refer upward those applicants who fit the requirements. The loans themselves are unsecured, low-interest (1-3%), and have long amortization periods, making them much better fits for these communities than traditional loans. These character-based loans are intended to act as “patient capital”, focused more on cultivating social good than on generating immediate financial return, and allowing BIPOC entrepreneurs with fewer resources a chance at growth.
The screening panel is composed of an internal prize committee that selects the finalists.
The final judging panel is composed of NYU Law representatives and industry experts who select the Grunin Prize winner based on the submission materials, references, and a final interview.
Meet the Judging Panel below:
Deborah K. Burand
Deborah Burand is a Professor of Clinical Law at NYU Law, where she directs the International Transactions Clinic and is Faculty Co-Director of the Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship. She writes and lectures on issues related to international finance, microfinance and microfranchise, impact investing, and social finance innovations such as social impact bonds, social entrepreneurship, and developing sustainable businesses at the base of the economic pyramid.
During 2010-2011, Burand served as general counsel to the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the development finance institution of the United States. Earlier in her career, she worked in the environmental sector (Conservation International), microfinance sector (FINCA International and Grameen Foundation), and US government (Federal Reserve Board and Department of the Treasury). She also has worked in private practice at a global law firm, where, among other things, she supported, on a pro bono basis, the development of the world’s first debt-for-nature swap.
Burand is a member of the board and Investment Committee of the MicroBuild Fund, an impact investment fund sponsored by Habitat for Humanity International. She is an advisor to the Linked Foundation and Social Sector Franchise Initiative. She co-founded the Impact Investing Legal Working Group (IILWG) and Women Advancing Microfinance (WAM) International.
Burand received her BA from DePauw University cum laude, and a joint degree, JD/MSFS with honors, from Georgetown University.