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Member Highlight: Mark C. Callaway


If you've attended an Annual Meeting session on impact investing in the last few years, you've probably heard from Mark Callaway - there might be no bigger evangelist for the practice in all of SECF's membership.

Mark, who was elected to the SECF Board of Trustees at this year's Annual Meeting, developed an interest in environmental and social issues while living in Northern California in the 1960s and 70s - that led him to later embrace the Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) movement in the early 2000s.

Mark said impact investing will continue to be a focus in his work as a Board member.

"I feel very strongly about the Impact space and wanted to make sure that I could continue to focus in that area," Mark said. "I think the opportunity to showcase Impact Investing at the 50th Annual Meeting will be an ideal opportunity for us to focus on the work that is being done in the Southeast in this space that doesn't usually get the opportunity to be highlighted."

Mark is president and a trustee of Morning Star Foundation, Inc., which was established in 1994. His philanthropic background goes back much further, however, as part of the family behind the Callaway Foundation, Inc., and the Fuller E. Callaway Family Foundation. The foundations have a long history of investing in LaGrange, Georgia, and surrounding Troup County.

Morning Star Foundation was created by Mark mainly to provide his children with an introduction to philanthropy.

"I started the foundation with the idea that it would be an introduction to foundation work for my children. Each one of my older children were nominated to the board when they were 16," he said. "All of the currently serve on the board."

One of Mark's children, Fuller, has gone on to participate in SECF's Hull Fellows program and has joined his father in presenting on impact investing at SECF's Family Foundations Forum.

"I think serving on the Morning Star Foundation for the last 16 years nurtured his interest in serving on the two older and larger Fuller E. Callaway Foundations," Mark said.

Morning Star Foundation, not surprisingly, has embraced impact investing in managing its own portfolio, and even in determining which advisors it works with.

"The Morning Star Foundation started working with asset managers that use Environment, Social and Governance scores of publicly-traded companies, picking those with high ESG scores as an additional selection factor about five years ago. We now only consider asset managers whose use ESG screening part of their selection criteria," Mark said. "We also joined the Divest/Invest pledge that says that we will not own any fossil fuel companies in our portfolio because we believe that they are one of the factors that are effecting negatively climate change."

Mark said the foundation will continue to emphasize impact investing as a way of working toward its overall mission.

"We are a very small foundation so every dollar that we can use to help effect change, the better," he said. "There are larger, well-known foundations that are members of SECF and many that are not that are effecting change in the same way and we embrace the opportunity to explore that alternative funding option."

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