Stephen Viederman

Current Activities:

Broadly I am focused on better understanding and action to create necessary changes in individual and organizational behavior in the world of finance moving toward truly sustainable financial markets, with particular focus on the cognitive and cultural barriers to change. How do we better utilize, as opposed to simply distribute, the insights derived from the work of us? Within the foundation and endowment sector how do we change behavior to accept that their fiduciary obligation to the public benefit includes their investments?


My vocation is Grand-parenting. In addition to loving and caring for my own grandchildren, Grand-parenting involves my active commitment to insure that they, and all children, have options to live a full and satisfying life in an equitable, just, peaceful and environmentally sound world.

My occupation is writing, speaking and advocacy on a wide range of issues to meet the obligations of my vocation. These include: redefining the fiduciary duty of foundations and other institutional investors, recognizing the obligations of being a share owner in today’s world; economic and environmental justice including community-driven community development; describing the limits of corporate responsibility; the role of philanthropy in democracy; science, higher education and public policy; and issues surrounding the conceptualization and practice of “sustainability” in the investment community and in the world-at-large.

My commitment also involves me in a number of activities and organizations including: the Advisory Committees of Innovest Strategic Value Advisors, and the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes; the finance committees of the Christopher Reynolds Foundation and the Needmor Fund; the Investor Network on Climate Risk; lead filer of a share owner resolution with ExxonMobil on renewable energy policy; co-founder of the Foundation Partnership on Corporate Responsibility; the faculty of SustainAbility (UK); the Board of the Center for Labor and Community Research (Chicago); and work with communities of color in the Southwest and the Pueblos of New Mexico on community led alternatives to the classic models of community development.

In 2000 I retired from the presidency of the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation, an early leader in mission-related investing, and in the funding of environmental and economic justice.

My work has been published in Asia, Africa, Oceana, Europe and the Americas, where I have traveled and lectured extensively.

A native New Yorker, I received my BA and MA in history from Columbia University in the mid-fifties. I live in New York with my wife of 51 years, a social worker. My grandchildren live in Amherst, Massachusetts and London, England. I am a photographer, serious cook, and a student of Australian Aboriginal Art. I am still trying to figure out what retirement means, which is just fine with me.