This November, Wharton Social Impact Initiative had the honor of hosting Liesel Pritzker Simmons through the Angella and David Nazarian Social Innovators in Residence program, an annual series that hosts leaders who leverage business-based solutions to solve economic and social challenges in communities around the globe.
Simmons is the co-founder and Principal of Blue Haven Initiative, a family office dedicated to investing for-profit and non-profit capital to advance solutions to social and environmental challenges. She is also the co-founder of the IDP Foundation, a private foundation with a mission to mobilize resources and strategic support to increase educational opportunities.
During her residence with us, Simmons lent her considerable expertise to WSII, to our students, and to the social impact community at large. Over two action-packed days, she convened with WSII’s entire team to discuss the opportunities ahead in our work with impact investing, entrepreneurship, and strategic corporate social impact as well as the various intersections they have in urban innovation, emerging market growth, and gender-lens investing.
As a supporter of WSII’s recently-released research report, “Great Expectations: Mission Preservation and Financial Performance in Impact Investments,” Simmons met with our impact investing research team to discuss the potential of this work and plans for future research. The student-run Wharton Impact Investment Partners (formerly WSVF) enjoyed hands-on training as Simmons walked through several of Blue Haven Initiative’s deals and processes.
Simmons also held small-group meetings with members of Wharton Women in Business, with Wharton MBAs, and with undergraduates. Students said they loved the opportunity to meet in the intimate and interactive format.
“She was clearly very knowledgeable about the field, and I learned a lot about impact investing and the role it plays in international development,” said one WIIP member.
“She was so friendly and open to all thoughts and ideas we had. She is so impressive in her personal and professional career but she spoke to us with open ears and mind to whatever thoughts we had,” said another student.
Her visit concluded with a Blue Haven Initiative employer info session, hosted by MBA Career Management and led by alum Lauren Cochran.
To hear more about Simmons’ work, you can listen to her appearance on the November 12 episode of SiriusXM’s Dollars and Change on Business Radio 111 powered by The Wharton School. And stay tuned for an interview soon-to-be-published from Knowledge@Wharton.
At WSII, we look forward to our continued relationship with Simmons, and to welcoming future social innovators to inspire and educate the Wharton community.