California Commissioner Launches Diversity Initiative, Names COIN Board Members

July 1, 2020

California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara on Wednesday announced the launched an “Invest in Our Diverse Communities” initiative to identify diverse woman-, veteran-, LGBTQ, Latinx, Asian Pacific Islander, Black, and Native American-owned investment managers who can guide investments made by insurers into socially responsible affordable housing and environmental projects across the state.

The initiative will identify investments managed or owned by diverse investment leaders to fund targeted projects with social benefits in the state, and is part of the California Department of Insurance’s California Organized Investment Network.

COIN is a program created in 1996 to increase insurance industry capital in underserved, low-to-moderate and rural communities throughout California.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the inequality in wealth that continues to persist in communities across our state, which I believe the insurance industry can help to tackle through socially responsible investments,” Lara said in a statement. ”

Lara’s initiative will add COIN-qualified investment opportunities owned and managed by diverse firms to the Impact Investment Marketplace, an online “central clearinghouse” portal the CDI launched in 2019. COIN-qualified investment opportunities address areas requiring immediate attention, such as healthcare, homelessness and environmental sustainability.

COIN also works with certified Community Development Financial Institutions to help them source funding through insurance company direct investments and public bond offerings. COIN sources CDFI capital-raising initiatives and gauges initial interest from insurers for public offerings of CDFI securities. COIN also notifies insurers of potential investment opportunities in CDFIs and regularly meets with insurer investment staff to “matchmake” specific CDFIs to insurers’ investment portfolio strategies.

Lara also announced his appointments to the COIN Advisory Board. The newest members include the board’s first representative with experience seeking investments that provide environmental benefits, a seat created on Jan. 1 by Assembly Bill 1099, authored by State Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon.

New members of the COIN board, whose terms all end on July 1, 2022, are:

  • Suzanne Anarde, CEO for Rural Community Assistance Corp., a nonprofit that provides training, technical and financial resources and advocacy to support rural communities. Anarde has worked for more than 29 years as a community development professional. Anarde joins the board as a consumer advocacy group representative.
  • Ophir Bruck, who leads signatory relations and strategic initiatives in Western North America for the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment. Bruck joins the board as a representative with experience seeking investments that provide environmental benefits.
  • Stephanie Chan, chief investment officer at the State Compensation Insurance Fund. Chan joins the board as an insurance investment executive.
  • Patricia GoPaul, general counsel for the Low Income Investment Fund, which provides financing and technical assistance to create and preserve affordable housing. GoPaul rejoins the board as a representative with experience seeking investments for low-to-moderate-income or rural communities.
  • Linda Hill, vice president for Aegon Real Assets. She is also a member of the Affordable Housing Investors Council and a member of the Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition. Hill joins the board as an insurance investment executive.
  • Ginger Hitzke, president of Hitzke Development Corp. Hitzke has 23 years of experience in economic development and specializes in affordable rental housing. Hitzke joins the COIN Advisory Board as an economic development practitioner.
  • Jennifer McElyea, senior managing partner at Watt Investment Partners. She is a member on the BizFed Institute board and is vice chair of the Urban Land Institute Public Private Partnership Council. McElyea joins the board as an affordable housing practitioner.
  • Thomas Connell Wilson, chief investment officer for The Doctors Co. Under Wilson’s leadership, the Doctors Co. recently approved a 1% set aside for COIN-approved investment opportunities. Wilson joins the board as an insurance investment executive.

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