A Corp Board to mull shifting some funds to investment firms run by Black fund managers

Board members will hear a report in April from the Presbyterian Foundation

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

Photo by Giorgio Trovato via Unsplash

LOUISVILLE — The A Corp Board will be hearing a presentation during its April meeting on whether to shift a percentage of about $50 million in A Corp holdings to investment firms that are run by Black fund managers.

Kathy Lueckert, president of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), A Corporation, briefed the board Monday on the asset allocation proposal, which at this point is conceptual.

Several weeks ago, someone asked Lueckert why the A Corp wasn’t investing in Black and brown institutions. “Good question,” Lueckert replied, “and I didn’t have a really good answer,” she told the board.

Lueckert said Anita Clemons, vice president and managing director of Investments for the Presbyterian Foundation, offered up possibilities for the A Corp board to consider. One is to invest a portion of A Corp’s mid-term investments in a new DEI fund (diversity, equity and inclusion) managed by New Covenant Trust Company, a subsidiary of the Foundation. The other, suggested by New Covenant Trust Company, is to invest a portion in the 360 Fund, a fund run by Northern Trust Corp. with African American fund managers.

“The investment industry is not particularly diverse,” Lueckert told the board. “To have a fund with fund managers who are people of color is attractive to me and others.”

One possible complication is that while New Covenant Trust Company meets General Assembly requirements for investments, including the divestment and proscription list maintained by the Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment, the 360 Fund doesn’t do the same kind of screening, according to Lueckert. About 5% of the funds it manages would not meet General Assembly guidelines.

Kathy Lueckert

Lueckert then asked the board: “Is it worth considering not completely adhering to GA requirements if the parallel goal is to invest with minority-owned investment firms to further DEI work in that way? I don’t have the answer, but I think it’s worth wrestling with.”

“I am really intrigued by the proposals,” said the Rev. Dr. Cynthia Campbell, a board member. “My initial reaction is it’s good to start small.”

“I think this is a great start,” said Board Member Tom McNeill.

Information technology

Ian J. Hall (Photo courtesy of the United Methodist Church’s Indiana Conference)

Ian Hall, the A Corp’s chief financial officer and chief operating officer, presented the board with a technology roadmap after noting that technology investments and the headcount of employees devoted to technology have been shrinking over the past 15 years.

Build Consulting, a Washington, D.C.-based firm that specializes in working with nonprofit organizations, has been hired to assess the Administrative Services Group’s IT infrastructure and identify the projects and initiatives necessary to achieve its technology goals.

The process will take about five months and will cost no more than $100,000, Hall said. There’s money to pay for it in the 2022 budget, and the president’s office has a line item for consultancy, he said.

2023-24 budget

While the proposed budget is not yet ready for board consideration, the 2022 budget will require a few adjustments, according to Lueckert. An audio-visual technician will be needed once renovations to the Presbyterian Center’s conference space are complete. Human Resources needs additional generalists, and a project manager for IT and finance is being sought.

For the 2023-24 budget cycle, two linguists will be added to Global Language Resources, with the possibility that they will work to provide translation in languages other than the two currently being provided, Spanish and Korean. A conference center manager will also be needed both to manage and market the conference center, which is being constructed to house the in-person portion of the 225th General Assembly beginning June 18 as well as a studio for the assembly’s online component.

Insurance costs during 2023-24 are expected to rise, Lueckert said.

Cross-agency collaboration

More than a year ago, the Moving Forward Implementation Committee, formerly a commission, ordered the formation of a Coordinating Table to help provide for cross-agency collaboration, Lueckert noted. What should that work look like in the future? Lueckert said the Moving Forward committee is seeking input as it prepares its report to the upcoming General Assembly.

The Rev. Heidi Bolt

“At the last meeting,” said the A Corp Board’s co-moderator, the Rev. Heidi Bolt, “there was a lot of conversation on the foundational trust that needs to be built for cross-agency collaboration to bear fruit.”

“It’s important for us to report on this stuff, but I don’t think it requires outside intervention,” said Board Member Chris Mason. With regular meetings being held by senior staff leading PC(USA) agencies and entities, “I am worried mainly about people getting too specific.”

The Coordinating Table is not in charge of any of these organizations,” Mason said. “The tendency is to turn these tables into super executive committees.” If there’s a gap in cross-agency collaboration, “tell us so we can get it filled,” Mason said.

“I echo that,” said the Rev. Bill Teng, the A Corp’s co-chair. “I feel this needs to be more organic.”

“I enjoy the fellowship aspect of it,” including “getting to know my colleagues,” Teng said. “But I’m not sure what more we can accomplish at this point.”

Following a closed session, the board announced it had approved nominating Teng to serve a second term on the board.


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