Blaire Palese on QandA.

She’s got 30 years of experience under her belt as a director, chief executive officer, project manager and strategist with non-profits, businesses, government agencies, and the media. 

She’s managing editor of Climate & Capital Media, she’s been co-founder and chief executive officer of 350.org, and head of communications for Greenpeace International. 

It seems that Blair Palese can do it all, as the climate-focused Renaissance woman now adds the newly-created role of director of philanthropy at ethical investment company Ethinvest, to her resumé. 

Her job there will be to maximise environmental and social impact in the company’s philanthropic funds. That is, to manage the funds of 51 of the nation’s wealthy families to help ensure their money ends up in a place where it can make the most positive impact on society and the environment. 

Palese will be based in the company’s Sydney office with a team of 36. The company also has an office in Melbourne – and a Canberra office that was opened just this year in April. 

Several additional staff were hired this month, including in technical and support (too soon yet to name), and two new financial advisors. A new specialist technical paraplanner in the Canberra office is Damien Toms. 

The company now has $1.2 billion in funds under management.

Ethinvest managing director Trevor Thomas says demand is growing for ethical investment and philanthropic wealth management.

“We have grown considerably in the past five years as demand for ethical investment has grown rapidly.

“We can now employ a specialist in the area [of philanthropy].”

Palese’s experience with charities and emerging climate and environmental solutions will allow the company to transition 100 per cent of its charitable trust investments into impact areas with measurable outcomes – from what is currently at 30 per cent. 

“Blair is well respected within the philanthropic sector for her advocacy work, particularly on climate change and the environment.

“We’ve collaborated for over a decade on a range of projects including in the shareholder advocacy space and I know she will bring passion and ideas to the new Ethinvest role.” 

The newly-created role of director of philanthropy seems to be made for her, as Thomas tells The Fifth Estate that Ms Palese was “perfect for the role”. 

The goal of the role is to try and be a strong advocate for the importance of investing philanthropic capital in ways that reflect positive values. 

Thomas said that wealthy individuals and families in Australia are well-placed to leverage their capital to improve the nation. 

He says: “Talking with Blair recently, we asked each other, ‘Why isn’t Australia the happiest country in the world?’ There’s so much opportunity to create fantastic jobs in climate and improve society. We are demonstrating what can be done [when wealth is invested effectively towards a positive outcome].”

“Blair’s role is to work closely with those 51 families to look at how they give, and see if services can be more attuned to our needs. Blair is well-placed to give input about effective placement and good returns on donation dollars… to maximise social and environmental returns, and be a spokesperson for the broader philanthropic community. 

“Blair will be the cheerleader… Her energy and enthusiasm is a great shot in the arm for everybody.” 

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