ABOUT ME

Described by the New York Times “a super-specialist” in human rights advocacy, I have over 20 years of experience helping investors, non-profits, universities, communities, and unions use their power to lobby their governments and hold corporations accountable.

At the socially responsible asset management firm Trillium Asset Management, I pioneered the use of shareholder engagement of oil, gas, and mining companies operating in countries racked by conflict and burdened by repressive regimes in Burma (Myanmar), China, East Timor, and Nigeria.  Working with animal rights groups, I helped file the first shareholder resolution at McDonald’s to improve the conditions of farm animals. I also worked with Greenpeace and U.S. PIRG to file the first shareholder resolutions at BP on climate change.

I have considerable experience working with boards of directors and investment committees. I often advise students, administrators, and faculty on how to develop university endowment investment policies. I have consulted to Amnesty International USA, Human Rights Watch, and Catholic Healthcare West (now Dignity Health) on how to express their mission and values through social screening of investments and shareholder engagement on human rights, social justice, and environmental issues. I have also made presentations on divestment and shareholder engagement to the boards of CalPERS and the University of Washington as well as top executives of the World Bank.

I served on the Committee on Socially Responsible Investment of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) where I helped the Unitarian Universalist Common Endowment Fund screen its investments and engage in shareholder activism on LGBT rights, social justice, and climate change. I also helped negotiate between staff and members to write a business resolution on fossil fuel divestment that passed overwhelmingly at the 2014 UUA General Assembly.

As part of the Free Burma movement, I have organized shareholder activism and the use of state and local selective purchasing laws to put pressure on corporations to withdraw from Burma. I co-authored the Massachusetts Burma selective purchasing law with state rep. Byron Rushing and led the grassroots lobbyng campaign to enact it.  Later, I helped defend the law from challenge at the World Trade Organization and in the U.S. Supreme Court.  I also helped found the U.S. Campaign for Burma and served on the Board of Directors and as Executive Director.

At Oxfam America, I founded the work of the agency’s Private Sector Department. I helped communities around the world affected by oil, gas, and mining corporations to secure support from shareholders and directly engage the companies in order to protect their lands and livelihoods.  I also created a coalition of investors that successfully pressed Procter & Gamble to support farming communities by starting to buy Fair Trade Certified coffee for its Millstone brand.

As Co-chair of the Business and Human Rights Group of Amnesty International USA, I have built the capacity of staff and members to put effective pressure on companies to respect human rights. I also help manage Amnesty International USA’s use of a portfolio of stocks for shareholder activism on issues of human rights.

In all of my work, I’ve helped bring many parties to the table to dialogue with top corporate executives. Through careful facilitation, I’ve helped many corporations reach common ground with their critics and address tough environmental and human rights issues.

I have often been brought in by corporations to help them address tough issues. I have made presentations to top management at Procter & Gamble and Newmont Mining. ExxonMobil invited me to speak about social responsibility and sustainability to its elite management training program.

I especially love my role as an advisory board member of both SumOfUs and the Harry Potter Alliance.

I have a BA (Political Science and Economics) from Loughborough University and I hold an MBA (Accounting and Finance) from Boston College.  I also completed the Prince of Wales’s Business and Sustainability Programme, which convenes leaders of business, government, and the non-profit sector to tackle key social and environmental problems.

 

Recent Posts

Investors to New Chevron CEO: Chart New Course on Ecuador

Investors have launched a new initiative to press Chevron to end its costly and risky legal battle against the Ecuadoran communities affected by its oil pollution.

In a letter sent on April 30th to the new CEO of Chevron, Michael K. Wirth, an international consortium of 36 institutional investors – that collectively represent US $109 billion in assets – urged the oil giant to enter a constructive dialogue on pressing issues that threaten Chevron’s long-term financial stability, including its $12 billion liability for oil pollution in Ecuador.

In November 2013, Ecuador’s highest court confirmed a landmark judgment against Chevron. At an April 2018 appellate court hearing in Toronto, Ecuadorian plaintiffs argued that they should be allowed to seize Chevron Canada’s assets to satisfy the $12 billion judgment against the company.

In the letter, investors challenge Chevron’s aggressive legal strategy against the
Ecuadorian plaintiffs and the company’s lack of willingness to negotiate an expedient and fair settlement. The joint letter also questions whether Chevron has adequately disclosed to investors the potentially massive financial risks of adverse legal outcomes. The investor letter invites CEO Wirth to schedule a meeting and embark on “a new path forward in dialogue with shareholders.”

Pat Miguel Tomaino, Zevin Asset Management’s Director of Socially Responsible Investing, said:

Investors lack confidence that Chevron’s executive team and board are sensitive to human rights and environmental risks. Acute legal risks are playing out in Canada, where the communities ravaged by Texaco pollution in Ecuador are mounting a formidable case.

 

However, Chevron won’t negotiate a settlement that would be fair to communities and clear the air for the company and its investors. Meanwhile, Chevron’s leaders are missing opportunities to avert the existential risk of climate change. Mr. Wirth needs to sit down with investors this spring.

Prior to Monday’s letter, investors have been vocal about their concerns about the state of risk management at Chevron.

Investor Voice, representing clients of Newground Social Investment and a co-sponsor of the international investor consortium, has re-filed for the sixth year a governance proposal to reduce to 10% the threshold for shareholders to call a Special Meeting. This common governance standard is deemed a ‘best practice’ by most institutional investors.

Bruce Herbert, Chief Executive of Investor Voice, said:

Shareholders urgently need the ability to discuss timely matters between themselves and with management – whenever the timing is appropriate, and following an agenda set by shareholders, not dictated by management.

 

This is especially needed at a company like Chevron that has created significant liabilities which were historically not disclosed through public filings, and where fast-moving legal actions threaten seizure of company assets.

Zevin Asset Management, the letter’s other co-sponsor, has filed a shareholder proposal for a vote at Chevron’s May 30 annual meeting in San Ramon, California.

Zevin’s shareholder proposal urges Chevron to appoint an independent board chair in order to better oversee risk management and executives’ strategy on climate change and litigation. Zevin filed the proposal at Chevron’s 2017 annual meeting where it received 39 percent support.

Herbert of Investor Voice added:

Though some issues that face Chevron are new and others have been allowed to fester, the ascension of a new CEO presents a unique opportunity for fresh thinking.
We remain optimistic, while also cognizant that items of this magnitude need to be addressed collectively. Toward that end, we co-organized this international consortium of investors to invite Mr. Wirth and Chevron to the table.

Chevron’s annual shareholder meeting on May 30th will give Chevron’s new CEO, Michael K. Wirth an opportunity to chart his new course for the company. Will he take this opportunity to break with his predecessor’s record of bombast and evasion regarding the company’s oil pollution liability in Ecuador?

  1. Chevron Shareholders Challenge Management Over Ecuador Pollution Comments Off on Chevron Shareholders Challenge Management Over Ecuador Pollution
  2. Shareholders Push New Chevron CEO For Answers on Ecuador Comments Off on Shareholders Push New Chevron CEO For Answers on Ecuador
  3. Chevron Shareholders Still Wary of Risks From $11 Billion Ecuador Judgment 1 Reply
  4. Debating Divestment and Shareholder Activism on Campus 3 Replies
  5. Did Chevron Just Fund its Legal Opponents in Ecuador? 1 Reply
  6. Defending Our First Amendment Rights From Chevron 10 Replies
  7. Why Unitarian Universalists Voted to Divest From Fossil Fuels 8 Replies
  8. Back to Basics in Ecuador (Part 1): What’s the Damage? 35 Replies
  9. Harry Potter and Me Comments Off on Harry Potter and Me