Changing the Face of Finance

 Sue Boles Toigo ’65
“To affect social change,” says Sue Boles Toigo ’65, “you have to share the wealth.” That is why 25 years ago, she and her late husband Bob Toigo started The Robert Toigo Foundation, which aims to “change the face of finance” by giving opportunities to minorities in or entering the financial services industry.

The foundation’s programs include prestigious business school fellowships, mentoring, networking, and training in ethics and leadership. It has about 1,000 alumni, who comprise an active and engaged community. Sue thinks of them as a family: “Like kids, when they go off to college, they still come home.” Alumni initiate new programs at the foundation, such as an endowment initiative and the “Bridge to Business” program, where two gifts of $100,000 go to the most exciting business ventures.

Sue and Bob started the Toigo Foundation after a career change. She had been working for the California Children’s Lobby, and Bob had been chief of staff of the California State Assembly. He had suggested that the two do something different after state government, so they founded a company providing educational seminars about global investment to pension fund representatives. Their company invited groups of 40 representatives from large pension funds to seminars in Tokyo and other international destinations.

“It dawned on me that I was sitting around a table with 40 white men,” Sue says, “which is wacky because the United States is the most diverse country in the world.” And so the Toigo Foundation was born with a pilot program involving summer internships for seven Columbia Business School students.

According to Sue, in the years since the foundation’s beginnings, abundant research has documented the benefits of diversity
on decision-making outcomes. “There’s so much evidence that it’s good for business and that sharing the wealth is good for com- munities,” she says, adding, “Clients appreciate good citizenship.”

The lesson of good citizenship is one that Sue remembers from her time at Spence, when she worked on the Social Service Committee, distributing toys to children in need. She recalls Spence being “the most challenging school I attended. The work gave me confidence to do almost anything.” She later studied at Occidental College, focusing on diplomacy and world affairs, and then spent her last two years of college at Berkeley, studying sociology.

Today, in addition to volunteering at
 the foundation, Sue works at Fitzgibbon Toigo Associates, which promotes emerging money-management companies owned by women and minorities. The firm helps the companies market to pension funds, foundations and other institutional investors. She travels frequently to raise money and meet with clients, but has also remarried and always makes time for her husband, two grandchildren and rescue dogs.
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