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The Economics of Inequality with Karen Wawrzaszek

By title, Karen Wawrzaszek is Principal and Senior Director of Financial Planning at Sullivan Bruyette Speros & Blayney (SBSB). But that’s hardly enough to understand what she does and the impact she’s making in the world.

Karen is an expert on socially responsible and impact-oriented investing and financial planning. She’s led impact initiatives for two privately-held family offices. She’s the former chair of the Washington Area Women’s Foundation. She is the Pomona Society founder, a collective of women in impact who come together to effect systemic change for women and families in the district of Columbia. In full disclosure, she was also our advisor in restructuring the company’s 401K offering to be aligned with our mission and values and remains our closest advisor on all things related to impact investing.

For today’s conversation, we’re building upon the conversation we had with Carolyn Lowery in which we focused on the inner work that is required to understand how privilege, power, and racist systems and structures play out in today’s society. And as Natalie Burke discussed earlier in the season, before we can dismantle those white supremacist systems, we must understand our roles in these systems.

So, to help us along this journey, we’re heading back to June when Carrie interviewed Karen as part of our virtual community conversation series. In light of the wide and growing inequalities across our society, many of which COVID has only further intensified, we wanted to explore the role that business leaders and philanthropists play — in how they use, spend, and save money— that either drive principles of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion forward or perpetuate harmful inequities.

They begin by defining what it means to be an impact investor, and then dig into the issue, by the end having shared some practical tips that we can all take — business owner or not — to drive a more equitable and inclusive economy.

  • 00:00 – Welcome to Mission Forward
  • 00:34 – Introduction to Karen Wawrzaszek
  • 06:06 – Her Personal Journey to Her Perspective
  • 11:04 – Where Has Investing Gone Wrong
  • 18:50 – Challenging the Business Structures
  • 23:09 – The Triple Threat of Inequality
  • 32:44 – Availability of Choice
  • 35:07 – Workforce
  • 40:46 – Apprenticeships
  • 44:53 – How Will Four-Year Universities Adapt?
  • 48:20 – Access to Healthcare
  • 55:06 – Things We Could All Do

This season, we are taking you on a journey to meet ten people influencing and shaping how we communicate at scale for social change. From advertising executives to coalition directors, news editors, campaign managers, and authors, they're all people who are shaping and challenging the deep power of communication. If you’re working to become a more inclusive and thoughtful communicator, there’s nothing holding you back—except you.

Carrie Fox

Carrie Fox is the founder and CEO of Mission Partners, a woman-owned strategic communications firm and Certified B Corporation that guides high-potential nonprofits, foundations, and socially responsible corporations in realizing their greatest social impact. Since launching her first firm in 2004, she has guided hundreds of organizations around the world to lead with purpose, fueling organizations and their missions forward in new and more impactful ways.