Nature Forward Puts Its Money Where Its Mission Is    

Nature Forward Puts Its Money Where Its Mission Is    

Nature Forward commits to 100% of its investment portfolio in Environmental/Social/Governance-screened funds by 2028   

For Immediate Release – September 12, 2023   


Lisa Goodnight ([email protected] or 301-523-5394) 

Vince Robinson ([email protected], or 904-710-8224 )   

Chevy Chase, MD – Nature Forward, formerly known as the Audubon Naturalist Society, inspires residents of the greater Washington, DC region to appreciate, understand, and protect their natural environment. In recent years, Nature Forward has confronted the climate crisis head-on at the local level through advocacy, education, and demonstration. Now, Nature Forward is focusing on how its business operations and financial decisions align with its policy work. The organization is announcing a new policy that will see its $12.8 million asset portfolio entirely invested in funds with excellent scores on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) rankings in five years.   

 “We worked hard to put our money where our mission is,” said Hughey Newsome, Nature Forward Board Treasurer. “It was an exciting challenge to balance our role as responsible stewards of a 126-year-old organization with the urgency of extracting our money from the fossil fuel industry, deforestation, and patriarchal decision-making in corporations.”  

 Prior to 2017, Nature Forward had an actively managed portfolio of stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, which avoided investment in companies in the electrical and fossil fuel sectors due to likely conflicts with wildlife and habitat issues in the mid-Atlantic. In 2017, the Board of Directors, acting as fiduciary stewards of the organization’s assets, shifted to a lower-cost strategy of investing in a portfolio of index funds and began exploring how to maintain returns, keep fees low, and ensure that assets were not invested in activities in opposition to the organization’s values. While committing to environmental objectives, Nature Forward wanted to go further and continued working with its advisors to pursue investment options that would best meet all of the organization’s goals. In June 2023, the Board of Directors voted on a new policy that will see 100% of Nature Forward’s investments move to ESG funds by 2028.   

 “I’m proud that with our new name, we are also announcing this forward-looking new investment policy,” said Diane Wood, President of Nature Forward. “We have an obligation to our donors, past, present, and future, to steward their money to do good work for nature here in the Washington, DC region, while doing our best to steer clear of funding fossil fuel development around the world and making sure our investments align with our core values.”  

 Investment advisor Northern Trust will review Nature Forward’s portfolio performance and ESG investments regularly to ensure the portfolio aligns with the organization’s mission and ESG directive.  

  “Northern Trust will provide in-depth analysis on ESG metrics including alternative energy scores, carbon emissions, water usage, pollution prevention, and green building, among many others,” said Jonathan W. Gossens, CFA, Northern Trust Vice President and Senior Portfolio Manager. “These reports will be shared with the Nature Forward’s Finance Committee and Board annually to meet Nature Forward’s goal of investing in highly-rated ESG companies while matching or exceeding targeted returns.” 

 Mike Tidwell, Executive Director of Chesapeake Climate Action Network, acknowledged the challenges inherent to working within the complex financial system. “We’ve learned that even keeping money in savings accounts at major banks can lead to it being loaned out to finance risky fossil fuel development projects. I’m honored to be a long-time member of Nature Forward and know that they are taking this important step forward towards a fossil-free future. I hope other nonprofits around the region and the nation see this as an example and align not only their program work with environmental protection, but their reserve funds, endowments, and other assets as well.”  


About Nature Forward: Throughout its history, Nature Forward, first established in 1897 as the Audubon Society of the District of Columbia, has championed nature for all by playing a pivotal role in conserving our region’s iconic natural places from development including the C&O Canal, Dyke Marsh and, most recently, Ten Mile Creek. Past member and board president, Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, is credited with launching the now global environmental movement. Nature Forward’s nature experts provide hundreds of opportunities each year for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy, learn about, and protect the environment.