Working to Build an
Economically Just Society

- by Kathleen Nolan, OP

With an eye toward the future,
PAB held a strategic planning session
in the spring to determine its goals
and direction for the next three years.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Portfolio Advisory Board (PAB). In order to celebrate this significant event in the life of the Congregation, current PAB members have chosen a number of ways to recall the development and growth of the board. The stories of the earliest days as recounted by the sisters first called to participate remind us that we were breaking new ground and there was much to learn.

The General Chapter of 1974 recommended that the General Council create PAB "to evaluate our Congregational investments in relation to gospel social principles and to identify means of effecting change toward justice in policies and operations of corporations in which we hold stock." In 1975, PAB came into being and five sisters were asked to serve as the first board.

In 1978, the Congregation made the decision to pursue a grassroots approach to investing and the Alternative Investment (AI) Fund of PAB came to be. The AI Fund would provide low-interest loans to community-based organizations. While the concept of alternative or community investing was in the incubation stage as an industry, it was understood that the resources would go directly into poor communities and disadvantaged populations. These were loans, not grants or giveaway funds, to provide people with access to resources that would help them to help themselves.

In 1991, PAB adopted a Mission Statement that reflects the ever-deepening commitment of the Adrian Dominican Sisters "to be in partnership with the earth and its peoples. Hearing a global cry for justice, PAB, appointed by the General Council, encourages the Congregation to remain faithful to its commitment to be socially responsible in the use of individual and corporate financial resources. Through alternative investments, PAB creates economic relationships with low-income people to help them to become self-determining and to improve their communities. PAB shares economic justice information with our Adrian Dominican Sisters and those with whom we associate in order to remind us of the continual challenges confronting us as we live our call to be co-creators of justice and peace."

As this anniversary year comes to a close, the future becomes the focus. In 1990, on the occasion of PAB's 15th anniversary, Rosemary Ferguson, OP, was interviewed. During the course of her interview she made reference to a favorite painting called "The Potato Digger." Sister Rosemary said that the painting reminded her of Adrian Dominicans, who, like the Potato Digger, are "looking out to future possibilities, to new fields and, at the same time, continue with some kind of suppleness to dig under the soil for new truths and new nutrients that can feed our world and ourselves."

Bob Bossie, SCJ, a staff member with the Eighth Day Center for Justice, states that "the future is an infinite succession of presents." The present realities of today include a widening gap between the rich and poor, systems of unfettered capitalism that "privilege some, dehumanize others and ravage Earth" (Vision 2004). How will PAB continue to respond to the signs of these times? The goal remains the same, to be co-creators of justice and peace by working with others to bring about a world in which all of life is sustained. It is immoral that a few use 80 percent of the world's resources while billions of people are starving, unable to put a roof over their heads, educate or provide health care for their children, and enjoy any quality of life.

Our efforts must be about working with others to build an economically just society. One of the ways that we have done this and will continue to do this is through our AI Fund which expands ownership of productive assets. In other words, it makes every worker an owner of income-producing property for achieving economic justice for all, while at the same time making that owner a stakeholder in stabilizing and sustaining the general growth of the economy. Through the work of responsible investing we are faced with
the challenge of addressing the systems that condone racism, deny freedom of equality to women, impoverish peoples, and ravage Earth.

All Adrian Dominicans must become conversant with the issues on which PAB works; all Adrian Dominicans must begin to feel a real connection to PAB. What if "satellite" offices were established across the country, with local initiatives and collaboration with community development groups becoming the norm? Thirty years from now we could no longer hear, as Margaret Weber, PAB team member often does, "PAB does great work but it is too deep for me."