2019 Speakers

speakers
Alex Bernhardt

Principal, US Head of Responsible Investment

Alex Bernhardt, Principal and Head of Responsible Investment (RI) for Mercer in the US, is a noted expert in catastrophe, weather and financial risk management with a track record of leading large, complex and innovative multinational projects. In his role as US RI leader Alex works with institutional investors of all types and sizes to address a variety of evolving sustainability challenges in their portfolios with a focus on climate change.

This work includes the facilitation of strategic governance exercises with investor boards focused on supporting ESG integration into investment policies, processes and portfolios. He is also responsible for driving innovation in environmental and social investment risk and opportunity assessment and (co)leads a variety of strategic research projects with internal and external stakeholders.

speakers
Andrew Steel

Managing Director, Global Head of Sustainable Finance

Andrew has over 30 years of experience as a global risk and finance specialist and was recently appointed to lead a new cross sector global team to develop and expand Fitch’s analysis of ESG and sustainable finance. Andrew is responsible for developing Fitch’s sustainable finance strategy, both within the ratings business and across the broader Fitch group, by determining investor and banker needs, and driving the development of new teams to provide products and services for this rapidly growing area. Initially the sustainable finance team is based in London, New York and Beijing, but will expand in size, scope and location dependent on identified constituent needs.
Andrew has held several senior management roles within Fitch over the last 14 years. In Europe from 2004 to 2010 he ran the energy, utilities, project finance and regulated transportation analytical groups. From 2010 to 2017 he was based in Singapore and led the development of Fitch’s Asia Pacific Corporate Ratings Group. Then on his return to Europe in 2017 he was regional head of Fitch’s EMEA Corporate Ratings Group, and also successfully ran a global executive project to transform and improve Fitch’s overseas office network.
From 2000 to 2004, Andrew was head of ABN Amro’s structured industry finance, power and utilities group for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. He also previously worked for Edison Capital Europe as a private equity investment director in infrastructure, for the energy company PowerGen plc (now EON) as a senior project finance manager, and in the banking sector as a mezzanine, leveraged buy-out and cross-border M&A lender and advisor.
From 2006-2010 Andrew actively assisted the United Nation’s Economic Council for Europe advising on energy and risk issues, and was a member of the UNECE Ad Hoc Group of Experts on Sustainable Energy Developments. Andrew speaks regularly at conferences and forums on a wide range of risk based issues. He is currently a trustee of the Great Ormand Street Hospital based children’s charity CLEFT.
Andrew graduated with a BSc Hons in Psychology from Bristol University in 1989, and has a postgraduate diploma from INSEAD business school (CGEM 2016).

speakers
Chris Phillips

Director, Institutional Relations and Public Affairs

Chris Phillips is Director of Institutional Relations and Public Affairs at the Washington
State Investment Board (WSIB). He oversees the WSIB’s client relations, corporate
governance, government and media relations, performance reporting and web/digital
communications. He joined the WSIB in 2015 and has more than 20 years of experience
in communications aspects of investments and financial services. Chris is a member the
WSIB’s Executive Management Team and advisor to its Investment Committee.
Prior to joining the WSIB, Chris worked for 13 years at Russell Investments in both
Tacoma and Seattle. He led the company’s public relations team, contributed to brand
development and later was named to head a global thought leadership program for
content marketing. During 2006-2012, he worked as Managing Director of Marketing at
Threshold Group, a start-up family wealth management office founded by George F.
Russell, Jr. He and wife owned Phillips Communications, a home-based marketing firm,
and early in his career he worked eight years as a newspaper editor and reporter at
community newspapers in Oregon and Washington.
Chris is past president of the Pierce County Library Foundation, past board member of the
Public Relations Society of America – Seattle, and recently served on advisory boards for
the Gig Harbor YMCA, The University of Washington School of Arts and Science, and the
Prison-Pet Partnership Program.
He has a master’s degree in journalism from University of Oregon and a bachelor’s degree
in English from Hobart College. He earned Series 7 certification for investment securities
and Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) from the Public Relations Society of America.

speakers
Kim Thomassin

Executive Vice-President, Legal Affairs and Secretariat

Kim Thomassin has been Executive Vice-President, Legal Affairs and Secretariat since January 30, 2017. She manages the Legal Affairs, Corporate Secretariat and Compliance and Responsible Investment teams. Her mandate specifically involves managing CDPQ’s legal and regulatory activities, including the implementation of legal and governance structures
for all investment transactions. Her team also plays a central role in supporting CDPQ in its globalization strategy. She is a member of the Executive Committee, in addition to being a member of the Boards of Ivanhoé Cambridge, the institution’s global real estate subsidiary, and Cirque du Soleil. She is one of four members of an expert panel on sustainable finance set up by the federal government to engage with Canadian business experts.

Before joining CDPQ, Ms. Thomassin was National Client Leader and Managing Partner for the Québec Region at McCarthy Tétrault. As a member of the Leadership Team, she contributed to the firm’s regional and national management while strengthening its national presence. In her 17 years at the firm, she held various important positions and specialized in project finance and acquisition transactions in the energy and infrastructure sectors. She has been involved in several transactions related to large-scale Canadian and international projects. She has also represented public institutions and developers in connection with public-private partnerships.

Ms. Thomassin received a B.C.L./LL. B. from Université Laval and a minor in psychology at McGill University. She also studied at the University of Western Ontario’s Faculty of Law. Ms. Thomassin is a member of the Québec Bar.

Ms. Thomassin sits on the Boards of Directors of Centraide of Greater Montréal and the Foundation of Greater Montréal. In 2016, she received the Quebec National Assembly Medal in recognition of her dedication to initiatives supporting women. Her leadership has received additional recognition, including the Christine Tourigny Award of Merit, the Lawyer Emeritus distinction from the Barreau du Québec and Lexpert’s Zenith Award recognizing her as a leading lawyer. In 2012, the Women’s Executive Network (WXN) recognized her as one of Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women.

speakers
Lauren Smart

Managing Director, Global Head of Financial Institutions Business

Lauren is Managing Director, Global Head of Financial Institutions Business at Trucost, part of S&P Dow Jones Indices. Trucost assesses and prices risks relating to climate change, natural resource constraints and broader ESG factors, enabling companies and financial institutions to understand exposure to ESG factors, inform resilience and identify the transformative solutions of tomorrow.

Lauren is an expert in sustainable finance and, over the last decade, has advised leading fund managers, pension funds, banks and DFIs globally on how to integrate climate change and natural capital analysis into their investment decision making.

Prior to joining Trucost, Lauren was a Senior Investment Associate in Global Equity Research at Putnam Investments specialising in Pharmaceuticals, Chemicals and Aerospace & Defence. She was also a consultant at DFID (UK Department for International Development), working on the Millennium Development Goals for Girls’ Education.

Lauren holds a BA (Hons) and MA from Cambridge University in Archaeology and Anthropology and an MSc in Anthropology and International Development from the London School of Economics. She is also a regular speaker and respected commentator on environmental finance issues.

speakers
Todd Arthur Bridges

Head of ESG Research

Todd Arthur Bridges, Ph.D., heads ESG Research and Strategy Development at State Street Global Advisors and is on the Global Equity Beta Solutions Team. The Global Equity Beta Solutions research team is responsible for research across index equities, smart beta, ESG, and climate. The team leads the thought-leadership efforts in these areas through white papers, academic articles, and new strategy R&D. Prior to joining State Street Global Advisors in 2017, Mr. Bridges was Head of Research at Ethic Investing. In that role, he helped build the financial technology startup, and was responsible for developing the sustainable investing research framework, integrating ESG data into portfolio management, and developing shareholder engagement strategies for the platform. Prior to joining this entrepreneurial venture, he was Managing Director of a cross-disciplinary research institute at Cornell University focused on the role of finance, technology, and governance in sustainable economic development.

Dr. Bridges holds MA and Ph.D. degrees from Brown University, and has completed research fellowships at the National Science Foundation, Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science, Oxford University, and Harvard University. He has published research and presented findings to central banks, sovereign wealth funds, state pension funds, corporate pension funds, and endowments—throughout the North Americas, United Kingdom, EMEA, Russia, and APAC regions.

 

speakers
Vonda Brunsting

Program Manager, Initiative for Responsible Investment

Vonda is the Program Manager for The Just Transition Project. Before joining the IRI, she was the Director of the Capital Stewardship Program at Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which was created  to engage the capital markets and financial institutions in innovative ways. Prior to her time with SEIU, Vonda worked as a community organiser in Chicago, New York, and Boston with the Industrial Areas Foundation. In addition, she co-founded the Trustee Leadership Forum for Retirement Security here at the IRI.  She earned her B.A. from Calvin College and A.M. in Public Policy from the University of Chicago.

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Discussing driving the move to a sustainable and low-carbon economy.
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Attendees represent nations all across the globe with a big focus on Europe and North America