Sonia Kowal, Director of Socially Responsible Investing at Zevin Asset Management, the Boston-based SRI firm, has been promoted to president of the firm, replacing Benjamin Lovell, who is stepping down to work full-time as a portfolio manager.
In a statement, Zevin said that Kowal would take over responsibility for running the firm and continue to oversee the firm’s socially responsible investing and shareholder advocacy activities. Lovell, who was the firm’s president for nearly four years, said he was now looking forward to spending more time with clients as a portfolio manager.
“Zevin is making these changes in response to the growth of the firm, its continued focus on putting clients first and to offer increased opportunities to younger members of the organisation,” the asset manager said.
Founder Robert Zevin remains chairman and chief investment officer. Zevin manages nearly $900m (€700m) in assets for clients such as foundations, religious organisations and family offices.
“Sonia has been with us for five years, earning the trust and admiration of clients and colleagues,” said Robert Zevin. “Her strong credentials in socially responsible investing leave us not just comfortable but enthusiastic about the leadership of our company.”Kowal said she was “honoured to follow in the footsteps” of an industry leader such as Lovell.
Prior to joining Zevin, Kowal worked for ESG (environmental, social and governance) research firm EIRIS as head of its US research office. At Zevin, she has become known for her advocacy of sustainable investing and shareholder rights. In March, for example, Responsible Investor reported on Zevin’s shareholder proposal at US mutual fund company Franklin Templeton. Kowal said at the time that the proposal sought to expose the contradiction between Franklin Templeton’s stated belief in sustainability, as a signatory to the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), and its voting record on the issue at annual general meetings (AGMs) of US firms.
Other recent examples include Zevin’s championing of a proposal at Wal-Mart aimed at getting the US retail giant to disclose its political spending or motions at General Mills, Emerson Electric and Commonwealth Bank of Australia that seek more disclosure about the environmental impacts of their business.
Kowal – in her spare time a teacher of the Ukrainian egg art known as pysanky – is a member of the US Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment (US SIF) and sits on the steering committee of its International Working Group. Zevin statement.