In Memoriam: Shari Berenbach

Submitted by greenamerica on February 21, 2016

The green business and socially responsible investing community lost a great leader with the passing of Shari Berenbach, President and CEO of the US African Development Foundation.

As leader of the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) since 2012, Berenbach was a pioneer in promoting economic growth and prosperity in Africa and an advocate of impact investing for vulnerable and underserved populations, promoting investments that generate beneficial social and environmental impact as well as ensures the resilience of USADF grantees and their communities. She also led the Microenterprise office at the US Agency for International Development from 2010 to 2012.

Berenbach was a champion of microfinance and community and impact investing. Prior to her time at USADF, she served as Calvert Foundation’s President and CEO from 1997 to 2010, and remained on the Board of Directors until her passing.

Justin Conway, Vice President of Investment Partnerships, lauded Berenbach for “taking the organization from a great idea to being a leader in the impact investing sector. She began her microfinance career in the early 1980s, and has since touched so many important organizations, programs, and people in our industry. In everything she did, she was innovative, tireless and tenacious. She inspired so many in their professional journeys, and she will continue to inspire our work and commitment to social good.”

USADF Chairman Jack Leslie said, “Shari was a champion for the most vulnerable in Africa, tirelessly working to be sure that communities and people are not left behind as Africa rises. She was an innovative leader, launching new initiatives to enable more Africans to be a part of the continent’s growth story.”

Denise Hamler, Director of Green America’s Green Business Network, said that “Shari was a true leader and passionate champion for the work of microfinance, who lifted millions out of poverty. Her work will live on through Calvert and the many institutions that she influenced. We had the great pleasure of working with her daughter Moriah as a Green America intern. She had the same brilliant mind and tenacity as her mother. May we all be inspired by Shari’s footprint – and continue in her spirit the hard work for all people who are climbing out of poverty with dignity and grace!”

Fran Teplitz, Co-Executive Director of Green America, said that “Shari was a profoundly committed and hard-working advocate for economically marginalized people. She brought tremendous drive and creativity to her work and to the microfinance field. I, and my Green America colleagues, are honored to have worked with her over the years and will always be thankful for her insights and support.”

USADF shared this tribute movie to honor her life:

Berenbach was battling advanced breast cancer, and is survived by her husband Jim and daughter Moriah. Calvert Foundation and Frontier Market Scouts are creating an annual fellowship in honor of her commitment to supporting professionals looking to build their experience in impact investing and innovative finance.

Memories, letters, and photos of Shari Berenbach can be sent to Calvert Foundation via email to or mail to Calvert Foundation, Attn: Dina Curtis, 7315 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 1000W, Bethesda, MD 20814. Everything received will be passed along to her family.


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