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The Business of Sustainability — A Career in Impact Investing


A few years out of Hamilton, Jessica Pedersen ’15 realized she wanted to be part of an enterprise with a mission, which led her to Pacific Community Ventures, a nonprofit in Oakland, Calif., that works to build a more sustainable, inclusive economy. Pederson is manager of the Impact Investing Research and Consulting Team, working to build the capacity of investors for managing and measuring impact. She agreed to answer some questions about what she does.  

What is impact investing?

Investing with the goal of creating measurable social or environmental benefit alongside a financial return. It’s definitely a rapidly growing industry and has a lot of momentum in the Bay Area, where there’s a high concentration of socially-conscious investors. 

How did you get onto this path and into this emerging field?

At Hamilton I was an environmental studies major and an economics minor, so I’ve been interested in the intersection of business and sustainability for a long time. And I actually took two awesome classes at Hamilton with Julio Videras that increased my interest in impact investing. Vederas (a professor of economics) taught Environmental Economics and then also Economics of Social Responsibility.

What’s the most rewarding part of what you do?

I really enjoy helping to build the capacity of a new industry — impact investing is growing every day, but it doesn’t yet have well-defined systems or processes. It’s really exciting to be part of an emerging industry where you have the ability to help define new norms and conventions, especially when it’s an industry you think is meaningful.

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