Brady Quirk-Garvan is a business development associate at Money With A Mission [m], a socially responsible investing firm focused on divesting from destructive industries and making money work for progressive causes. Quirk-Garvan has lived in Charleston, South Carolina for over 15 years and served as Chairman of the Charleston Democratic party from 2016 to 2020. In 2019, Quirk-Garvan became one of Green America’s newest board members. Associate editor Sytonia Reid spoke with Brady to learn more about his background, expertise and vision for the future.
Green America: You went to the College of Charleston and served as Chairman of the Charleston County Democratic party. What role has Charleston played in shaping your worldview and beliefs?
Brady Quirk-Garvan: I grew up in a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts, and went to high school in Ithaca, New York. Until I went to college, I had lived in a very liberal bubble and moving to Charleston broadened my worldview as I started interacting with people who didn’t agree with me politically.
Charleston is also undergoing changes that are at the heart of the climate crisis. There are areas that are flooding that weren’t when I moved here 15 years ago, and there is this sense of pride in living in an environmentally beautiful area that is constantly under attack by climate change and over-development. Charleston is on the frontlines of the climate crisis and climate justice because we have lower income neighborhoods that are rapidly flooding and communities of color that are hosting incinerators and trash operations.
Green America: As a financial planner, can you elaborate on some of the different ways people can give and what ways might be particularly impactful during these times?
Brady Quirk-Garvan: There is no wrong way to give. People might volunteer their time at a nonprofit or those who get bonuses might decide to donate half of it. People who inherit large sums of money can give more through appreciated stocks or DAFs. With DAFs, people can designate money to charities in a tax-advantageous way and that makes it a great planning tool but we must make sure that money is actually flowing to the nonprofits they’re intended for. I encourage those who have DAF’s to start distributing those funds now. What I think is most important is recognizing that most of us can give a bit more and that’s what this time calls for.
Green America: This summer, Natural Investments joined a group of SRI firms in an official statement confronting racial justice. Can you elaborate on the ways the investing community has historically aided racial injustice and how SRI can help correct it?
Brady Quirk-Garvan: Racial justice, environmental justice, and climate change manifest in various ways but at the core, are all deeply connected. The financial sector has historically been one of the worst drivers of racial wealth inequality, and we know that the investment choices of what banks and companies we support leads to huge decisions for entire communities.
For example, there are weapons manufacturers who are trying to drive up prices by turning police into para-military forces, and whether those companies thrive makes a difference in Black and Brown communities. We also know that mega banks not only heavily invest in fossil fuels but continue predatory and discriminatory lending practices toward non-white borrowers. So the SRI community must recognize that racial justice is intrinsically tied to the financial world and we are obligated to stand up and say we need to fix that.
Green America: How are you and your family staying green at home?
Brady Quirk-Garvan: Since we’ve been cooking more we’re cutting down on a lot of packaging and cognizant about buying things in bulk. My wife and I aren’t commuting to work anymore and that cuts 50 minutes of driving a day which is good for the environment but also our family dynamic because we’re all home together more. We’ve had more time to enjoy the surrounding outdoors and would like to sustain these things in the future.
Green America: Your family has been involved with Green America since our beginning. What direction do you think Green America can go in in the future?
Brady Quirk-Garvan: Green America is demonstrating its understanding that the environmental movement isn’t just about saving trees or land, but what neighborhoods factories are put in and whether farms are open to non-white people in terms of land access and capital. My hope is that Green America will become the leader in helping even more people understand that while the movements for sustainability and for racial, climate and economic justice may have different goals, they are deeply related.
Green America: You have experience working on political campaigns. What do you think everyday people can do to bring out voters in 2020?
Brady Quirk-Garvan: When I talk to people about politics, they’re often not intrigued by a bill happening in the halls of Congress. It’s an asphalt plant being built a mile from my house, or a dump moving into a historically Black neighborhood, or marshes being filled with $800K condos. These are the issues that motivate voter turn-out, and I think we need to have conversations with people who aren’t motivated by the presidency about local issues that matter to them.
Green America: What’s giving you hope during these peculiar times?
Brady Quirk-Garvan: History shows us that out of dark times comes enormous burst of light and progress. After the Dark Ages, we had a time of creativity and enlightenment. Out of the despair of the Jim Crow era, we had the Civil Rights Movement with people stepping up and taking action. It’s clear to me that we are in a darker time of civil unrest and undemocratic government, and all in the midst of a global pandemic but what gives me hope is that we are likely to see incredible breakthroughs and societal transformations soon.