On July 11, 2023, the Presidents’ Council on Impact Investing (“Presidents’ Council”) announced the appointment of Tonya Allen, President of the McKnight Foundation, as its newest Co-Chair.
Tonya Allen joins Don Chen, President of the Surdna Foundation, in leading the group, which comprises the heads of 20 U.S. foundations with more than $80 billion in combined assets and a shared commitment to practicing and promoting impact investing to create a better future. Allen succeeds Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation, who served as an inaugural Co-Chair and led the group’s efforts to coordinate support for the impact investing ecosystem.
The U.S. Impact Investing Alliance convenes the Presidents’ Council to pursue shared learning, deepen commitments to impact investing and foster opportunities to pool investment and grant capital to catalyze the growth of the field. For example, in 2021 the Presidents’ Council published a joint letter calling on policymakers to establish a cross-agency entity to coordinate public and private sector action on an inclusive economic growth agenda. The Presidents’ Council has also worked to incubate and launch the Tipping Point Fund on Impact Investing, a donor collaborative aimed at supporting the growth and integrity of the impact investing field through strategic grantmaking.
Foundations can mobilize powerful capital to scale people-centered climate solutions, to build wealth in underserved communities, and to create a more just economy—and we have an even greater impact when we work together.—TONYA ALLEN, PRESIDENT
“I’m honored to join Don and take the baton from Darren as Co-Chair of the Presidents’ Council,” Tonya Allen shared. “I look forward to working alongside the Council’s members to create and pursue an ambitious shared vision for the future. Foundations can mobilize powerful capital to scale people-centered climate solutions, to build wealth in underserved communities, and to create a more just economy—and we have an even greater impact when we work together. The Presidents’ Council is catalyzing a growing movement of investors putting the full weight of our considerable resources behind our missions to deliver a prosperous, just, resilient economy for all, and I could not be more excited to get to work.”
The McKnight Foundation—a Minnesota-based family foundation that advances a more just, creative, and abundant future where people and planet thrive—has emerged as a leading impact investor in recent years. Allen led the organization as it became the largest private foundation in the nation to commit to net zero, building on almost 10 years of impact investing in which they’ve built a $500 million climate solutions portfolio. In 2022, McKnight launched the GroundBreak Coalition, a group of over 40 corporate, civic, and philanthropic leaders committed to finding innovative financing solutions to build a racially equitable and carbon-neutral future in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region.
Allen is a leader and a change agent with a passion for co-creating an equitable, sustainable world. In 2021, she became president of the McKnight Foundation, where she heads a majority women, majority people-of-color senior leadership team and a diverse team of about 60. In her first year at McKnight, she championed using the Foundation’s investments to advance net zero goals, and elevated its voice and leadership to rebuild Twin Cities neighborhoods and small businesses impacted by Covid-19 and the 2020 civil unrest.
“The impact investing field has evolved and grown significantly in recent years thanks to the leadership and collaboration of key champions across industries,” said Darren Walker. “I am honored and excited to pass the baton to one of those leaders, Tonya Allen, who I know will build on the progress to date as the newest Co-Chair of the Presidents’ Council.”
“The Presidents’ Council is an important forum bringing together philanthropic leaders with a commitment to advancing the principles of impact investing for a more equitable economy for all,” said Don Chen. “I am honored to welcome Tonya Allen into her new leadership role and look forward to partnering with her to help catalyze further growth and collaboration across the impact investing field.”
“Tonya brings an invaluable perspective to our work as a powerful impact investing leader who is as passionate about addressing climate change as she is about racial equity,” said Fran Seegull, President of the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance. “We look forward to working with her and the entire Presidents’ Council to help mainstream impact investing and continue to build this field.”
About the Presidents’ Council on Impact Investing: The Presidents’ Council on Impact Investing comprises the heads of 20 leading U.S. foundations with a shared commitment to practicing and promoting impact investing. Together, they hold more than $80 billion in combined assets. The Presidents’ Council is co-chaired by Tonya Allen, President of the McKnight Foundation and Don Chen, President of the Surdna Foundation. The U.S. Impact Investing Alliance convenes the Presidents’ Council regularly to pursue shared learning, deepen commitments to impact investing and foster opportunities to pool investment and grant capital to catalyze the field.
About McKnight Foundation: The McKnight Foundation, a Minnesota-based family foundation, advances a more just, creative, and abundant future where people and planet thrive. Established in 1953, the McKnight Foundation is deeply committed to advancing climate solutions in the Midwest; building an equitable and inclusive Minnesota; and supporting the arts and culture in Minnesota, neuroscience, and global food systems.
About the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance: The U.S. Impact Investing Alliance (“Alliance”) is an organization dedicated to building the impact investing ecosystem by bridging market gaps and addressing shared challenges. The Alliance’s long-term vision is to place measurable social, economic and environmental impact alongside financial return and risk at the center of every investment decision.