Interview with Ryan Jones-Casey

Shareholder activism + loose-leaf tea + Warré beekeeping = what's keeping long-time member Ryan Jones-Casey kicking right now.

 

Q: Who are you? Introduce yourself as you would at a dinner party.

A: I’m Ryan Jones-Casey, I grew up in CT about an hour from New York City, dreaming of living in a place like Seattle. Now that I’m here, I really enjoy biking from my house on Beacon Hill to Impact Hub, where I spend most of my time helping individuals, families, non-profits and foundations align their investing with their mission and values as the Director of Client Services at Goodfunds Wealth Management. We manage investment portfolios that incorporate environmental and social research, engage with the companies owned in the portfolios, and include investments in things like affordable housing and economic development projects. Our securities and advisory affiliation are with a Seattle based firm, KMS Financial Services, Inc.

When I’m not at Impact Hub, you can usually find me cross-country skiing up at Cabin Creek or in the Methow Valley, backpacking in the Olympics or Cascades, cheering on the Sounders at CenturyLink Field, or biking, running and golfing (my guilty pleasure!) at Jefferson Park on Beacon Hill.

 

Q: What is your background? How does it differ from what you are doing now?

A: I started my career working for a large bank as an Operations Analyst. It didn’t take me long to realize that for me, working for a giant corporation wasn’t very fulfilling. I started thinking about how I could align my interest in finance with my environmental and social values, and enrolled at the Bainbridge Graduate Institute [Editor's Note: our upstairs neighbor!] where I completed an MBA in Sustainable Business. While at BGI, Shaula Massena [an Impact Hub co-founder and investor] introduced me to Eric Smith at Goodfunds Wealth Management, who I’ve been working with for the past 5 years.

 

Q: What are you working on right now?

A: I work on a lot of nuts and bolts items on behalf of our clients. For most people the work might seem a little dry, but I really enjoy helping clients achieve their goals, and it turns out that in order to do that there are a lot of details to be managed! Here are a few real-life examples coming up this week:

1. For a new client, analyzing the potential tax implications of reallocating their portfolio to investments that are more closely aligned with their values.

2. Developing a new investment policy statement for a client that will outline the parameters under which their account will be managed, factoring in their values, time horizon, risk tolerance, and long-term goals and objectives.

3. Joining a conference call organized by the Indigenous People’s Working Group to continue discussing how sustainable and responsible investors can be allies with indigenous people in the US on topics such as human rights, respect for the land, DC football team branding, and coal train ports.

 

Q: Why did you join Impact Hub?

A: I joined Impact Hub because I wanted to be a part of a community that shared my sustainability values. I love that it’s located in one of my favorite Seattle neighborhoods and in the same building as my alma mater, Bainbridge Graduate Institute. I really enjoy running into alumni, faculty and staff!

 

Q: What is something that really excites you right now?

A: One of the best parts of my job is helping clients use their shares of publicly traded companies to file resolutions with companies, asking them to change their environmental, social or corporate governance practices. The depth and breadth of this kind of work has vastly improved over the past ten years - and our office along with the broader sustainable and responsible investing community is having a tangible positive impact. This past year one of our clients used their shares of Goldman Sachs to provide members of the Lummi Tribe (near Bellingham) access to the company’s annual shareholder meeting. While at the meeting, the tribal members were able to start a dialogue with Goldman Sachs management regarding their controversial investment in the company developing the Cherry Point coal terminal, and the obvious implications of the coal terminal on the tribe. About six months later, Goldman Sachs announced that it had divested from the company developing the coal terminal, which many observers considered a vote against the coal industry, and a win for the tribe, and folks who cares about our the quality of our land, water, and air. Advocacy success stories like this keep me excited about the role shareholder activism can play in changing business for good.

 

Q: What’s on the horizon for you?

A: Work: I’m really excited to move into our new office space in the Impact Hub expansion. We’re looking forward to anchoring ourselves in the Hub community and continuing to learn from the members around us!

Personal: My spouse and I are learning about Warré beekeeping and are going to build some hives this winter/spring. If you have any experience with this style of beekeeping, let us know!

 

Q: Where do you usually hang out when you are at Impact Hub? How often are you here?

A: I’m a true creature of habit and you can often find me sitting at one of the workstations outside the door of Unitus Seed Fund [2nd floor, to the left of the Glass Room]. I’m one of the few Impact Hub members who doesn’t drink coffee, but you’ll often find me brewing up loose leaf tea in one of the teapots in the kitchen.

 

Two questions that we ask every member...

Q: What is something we don’t know?

A: I took a year off between high school and college and travelled to New Zealand and Fiji. If you want the full story, let’s have lunch!

 

Q: Give us your top three Seattle gems.

A: Compline at St. Mark’s Cathedral, Capitol Hill: Sunday nights at 9:30PM, hundreds of Seattleites from all walks of life fill the cathedral to listen to the all-male compline choir sing and chant the compline service. The cathedral space is beautiful in a stark, understated sort of way, and the choir’s singing is both haunting and inspiring. The service lasts 30 minutes and is my favorite way to end the weekend and mentally prepare for the upcoming work week.

Cafe Presse, Capitol Hill: Great French Bar-Café. I love ordering their steak frites or chicken roasted to order (takes a full hour but so worth the wait!).

Seward Park: Some of the best old growth trees in Seattle with a 2 ¼ mile loop and Lake Washington views the whole way… yes, please!

 

Contact Ryan at Ryan.Jones-Casey@goodfunds.com.