As we welcome our talented new Executive Director, Marcie Smith, to the Responsible Endowments Coalition this month, we are also sending off an extraordinary colleague. On behalf of the board, I want to recognize Dan Apfel and express our deep gratitude for his leadership and many accomplishments as REC’s Executive Director.
For five years, Dan has helped bring together students and campus communities to harness the power of institutional endowments to support sustainability and social justice.
Under Dan’s leadership, the Responsible Endowments Coalition, working with our partners, has made substantial headway. We have worked with students to build a network that can respond to urgent issues like land grabs in Africa and the Koch Brothers trying to buy the LA Times. We have had major shareholder victories at JPMorgan Chase and Sallie Mae. And we have supported and incubated - with training, organizing, and expertise - the growth of the fossil fuel divestment and reinvestment movement on campus, which has spread to over 400 U.S. campuses.
Countless student actions - with Dan’s guidance and support - have sparked a long-term shift in endowment practices that is leading to real changes for people at colleges and in communities all over the world. In the last twelve months, 11 colleges committed to some form of divestment from fossil fuels. Hampshire College has led a push for responsible investing among administrators. Middlebury College has committed $50 million to responsible investing. Harvard hired a Vice President for Responsible Investing and joined the UN Principles for Responsible Investment and the Carbon Disclosure Project. And just this month, Stanford announced that it would divest its direct holdings in coal.
As we continue to work to address climate change and inequality through investing, we are building on a strong base—due in no small part to Dan’s efforts. In a recent New York Times article, the Swarthmore College students who started the first ever fossil fuel divestment campaign named Dan as the catalyst that helped them get it off the ground.
Dan shares: “I believe that the movement for divestment from fossil fuels, for reinvestment in climate solutions - and for responsible investing in higher education broadly - is one of the brightest spots in grassroots organizing for a more just and sustainable future.”
A heartfelt thanks to Dan Apfel—and to all of you who contributed to our ten years of impact!