Croatan Institute Leadership Update

February, 2024

Hi! I’m Christi Electris and I’m very excited to kick off 2024 by writing to you as the first named Executive Director of Croatan Institute. 2024 marks our 10th anniversary year, and I’m delighted to share that we are planning how we will celebrate our decade of work leveraging finance to build social equity and ecological resilience. Our plans to commemorate this milestone in person with our partners, funders, donors, and broader community will be coming soon! As our first strategic plan comes to a close, we are getting to work on articulating the Institute’s next strategic priorities, and I look forward to reaching out to many of you for feedback and input on how our work has resonated for you and the communities you work with.

I joined my cofounder Joshua Humphreys in launching Croatan Institute nearly 10 years ago after being trained as a computer scientist and a technology and policy analyst and working as a global environmental and social sustainability systems modeler. We wanted to create an independent nonprofit built upon collaboration and partnership to work at the important intersection of finance, sustainability, and social equity. Looking back at what the Institute has achieved over the past 10 years energizes me for the impact we can have as we enter our next strategic planning period.

I am so grateful to work with a committed and thoughtful group of analysts, activists and scholars, and while we have taken great effort to ensure our organization is run democratically and cooperatively, I am stepping into this newly created role to help steer the operations and overall vision of the organization. We are maintaining our collaborative governance model and cooperative ethos as we move forward under a clarified leadership structure in this next phase of growth. And indeed, we are actively growing! Croatan Institute is currently hiring for two full-time positions – a Bilingual Financial Health Coach and a Communications Manager – see details on our Careers Page.

Throughout this growth, we have clarified that we create impact by redirecting finance from extractive models to regenerative ones, making finance more accessible to place-based practitioners and frontline communities; and by fostering the “magic in the middle” by connecting both capital providers and capital seekers to accelerate the flow of capital into the communities that need it most. Much of our work has been crystalizing around two major themes: racial equity and regenerative land management practices and their intersection with finance, reflected through our two core programs, Racial Equity, Economics, Finance and Sustainability (REEFS), directed by my colleague Sharlene Brown, and Soil Wealth, directed by my colleague Joshua Humphreys. These two programs work together to address social and racial equity across finance and agriculture. Earlier this week, we released a cross-cutting report with our partner Meridian Institute that shows this intersectional approach, “Finance for Resilience: An Overview of Risk Mitigation in Agricultural Systems for Farms, Lenders, and Governments.” In our analysis, we identified social and racial equity as a major risk factor, alongside environmental and financial risks, that can be mitigated by investing in resilient agricultural systems. 

As we continue our work on the ground and our systemic work on transformative finance, I invite you to continue on the collective journey:

The challenges of building a more equitable and resilient world can be daunting, and we know that one individual or organization cannot make the change alone. I would like to invite you to collaborate with my team at Croatan Institute and keep us updated on your important work as well. In my new role of Executive Director, I welcome opportunities to connect with you, so please reach out and let’s set up a time to talk. I am proud to steward an organization with such a strong focus on equity and impact. As we continue to grow and deepen our impact, we look forward to expanding and deepening our collaborations in meaningful ways. 

In cooperation,