Dear Friends of WSII,
After ten years as Wharton’s Vice Dean for Social Impact, I have decided to step down from this terrific role and to return to being “just” a member of Wharton’s fantastic faculty. June 30, 2022 was my last official day as Vice Dean, and I am delighted to pass the baton to my colleague and friend, Professor – and now Vice Dean – Witold (Vit) Henisz.
Thank you for your interest, support, and partnership in growing impact at Wharton over the past ten years. I am so proud of all we have done to understand and elevate the role of business in building a more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable global economy. Ten years ago, the Wharton Social Impact Initiative was very much a start-up – a hope and an idea that Wharton students, faculty, alumni, and other interested stakeholders could and would come together to build a leading center for training and research exploring and advancing the role of business and finance in solving the world’s greatest challenges. Over the last ten years, we have done just that.
With the generous support of our donors and advisors, the leadership of Wharton’s deans over the past ten years, the teaching and research of our faculty, the passion of our students and alumni, and the interest and involvement of industry leaders, Wharton has become a leading center for training and research on impact investing and purpose-driven leadership. Each year, WSII’s signature programs – including the Turner MIINT, the Fund for Health, Wharton Impact Venture Associates, and the Total Impact Portfolio Challenge – give 1,000 students across Wharton, Penn, and the world hands-on experience in impact and ESG investing. The Bendheim Loan Forgiveness Program allows recent Wharton MBA alumni to build careers of impact in the non-profit sector, government, and business. Our cutting-edge research programs – including the Impact Finance Research Consortium (with Harvard Business School and Chicago Booth) and the Project Sage Series on Gender Lens Investing – provide unique data and rigorous insights to inform and strengthen impact finance. Our monthly podcast, Dollars and Change, reaches thousands of listeners, offering engaging and informative conversation about the role of business and finance in supporting environmental sustainability, social justice, diversity, and inclusion. And more and more Wharton faculty members are conducting research and offering courses focused on the social and environmental impact of finance, business analytics, entrepreneurship, marketing, management, and more.
Under Vit’s leadership, and with the strong support of Dean Erika James, this work will grow and expand. As Vice Dean, Vit will guide and build the School’s new ESG Initiative, bringing together WSII’s work on impact investing with the work of other Wharton centers focused on climate, risk, and business ethics to strengthen Wharton’s leadership in these important areas. Sandi Hunt, WSII’s Managing Director, will be the new Managing Director of the ESG Initiative and the other members of our great team – Michael Brown, Jay Corbin, Vaibhav Gowda, Riya Kadam, Raj Sebastian, and Yuri Seung – will join the ESG Initiative too.
This is an exciting time for impact and ESG at Wharton. Please join me in congratulating Vit, Sandi, our team, and Wharton for this bold move to strengthen the School’s work in serving a world undergoing tremendous change. And please stay in touch. I would love to hear from you as I lead Wharton’s Impact Investing Research Lab (under the umbrella of the ESG Initiative), host the Dollars and Change podcast, and teach and research social impact, leadership, and organizational change.
Serving as Wharton’s Vice Dean for Social Impact has been a joy. I am so grateful to the WSII team, to Wharton’s faculty and leadership, to our donors, students, and alumni, and to all of you. Thank you.
Edward H. Bowman Professor, Professor of Management
Faculty Director, Impact Investing Research Lab