Next month the SRI in the Rockies Conference will celebrate its 20th anniversary, a historic milestone to be sure. And it couldn't be coming at a more appropriate time for our industry. It's been a long journey for sustainable and responsible investing, and this year the political winds have finally begun to "fill our sails," if you will. More than that, businesses are increasingly jumping on board with us, and investors from across the spectrum are joining the SRI voyage.

This conference is the oldest and largest annual event for the sustainable and responsible investment industry. Over the past 20 years, leaders and innovators have assembled at SRI in the Rockies in an effort to direct the flow of investment capital in healthier, more life affirming and transformative ways. The SRI industry has come a long way in two decades, and we are particularly pleased right now with the prospects and opportunities that the future holds.

Every year, the SRI in the Rockies agenda promotes education, networking and many opportunities for financial professionals. This year, the SRI community will come together with a keen eye toward harnessing some of the energy created around "greening" the economy and ground it in ways that truly make a difference. For first-time attendees to longtime veterans, the conference strives to ensure that everyone walks away with new information, insights and ideas they can put into practice the following week-along with the inspiration to follow through. The key goal for conference organizers is to provide an experience that participants will talk about with enthusiastic praise when they return home.

Who, What ...

An important aspect of the SRI in the Rockies Conference is the quality of its speakers. Over the years, the conference has become an important forum for leaders in the field to inform, inspire and challenge conference participants. SRI in the Rockies is typically one of the most thought-provoking experiences an attendee will have in any given year.

One such leader is Hunter Lovins, founder and president of Natural Capitalism Solutions. Trained as a sociologist and attorney, Lovins co-founded the Rocky Mountain Institute, which she led for 20 years. Lovins, along with Gil Friend, CEO of Natural Logic and author of The Truth About Green Business, will be holding a conference-concluding discussion on the future of capitalism, talking about what it could be, what it should be, and what it all means for the investment community.

Other speakers on this year's agenda will be influential leaders like Andy Serwer, managing editor of Fortune Magazine; economist James K. Galbraith; Auden Schendler, executive director of sustainability at Aspen Skiing Co. and author of Getting Green Done; Raymond Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America; Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres; and Mark Fulton, global head of climate change investment research and strategy with Deutsche Bank Climate Change Advisors.

The conference agenda also includes Innovest founder Matthew Kiernan, author of Investing in a Sustainable World; Phaedra Ellis-Lamkin, CEO of Green for All; Woody Tasch, founder and president of Slow Money; Craig Metric of Mercer; Peter Kinder, president of KLD Research & Analytics; Scott Budde of TIAA-CREF; and Joe Keefe, CEO of Pax World Funds.

Some sessions at this year's conference include No Return to "Normal"; Reforming the Financial System; Getting Green Done: The Hard Truths; Is it Safe to Get Back in the Water?; Fiduciary Duty and ESG: Myths, Aspirations and Realities; Green Collar Jobs: Connecting the Dots Between Investors and Communities; Measuring Impact: Evaluating Social Return on Investment; ESG Analysis Enhancing Long-Term Shareowner Value; Leveraging Public Relations to Build Your Business; Why the Smart Money Is Going Green; and Active vs. Passive Revisited: Lessons Learned from the Financial Crisis.

Also, the winner of the 2009 Moskowitz Prize will be announced at the conference. The prize is the only global award recognizing outstanding quantitative research in socially responsible investing. A panel of judges from academia and the investment industry will select the winning study. The Center for Responsible Business at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business, the home of the Moskowitz Prize, reported a record number of research entries for this year's prize.

The conference will be held October 25-28 at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa in Tucson, Ariz. To view the full conference agenda, visit


Steven J. Schueth is president of independent registered investment advisor First Affirmative Financial Network LLC. First Affirmative specializes in socially responsible, sustainable, and transformative investing, and supports a nationwide network of investment professionals who work with socially conscious investors. First Affirmative also produces the annual SRI in the Rockies Conference. Schueth can be reached at [email protected].