What’s New? Karin and Steve

In Ecuador, Karin worked with an indigenous community on a livestock production program to improve the quality and quantity of milk, meat, and wool production. Along the way, she picked up the nickname “Dedos Dorados” (“Golden Fingers”) for the 100% survival rate of the animals she castrated, although she insists superior hygiene practices were the critical factor. Karin’s bio states that she picked up “just enough Quichua to get herself in trouble at a fiesta.” She says that her hosts would be speaking to her in Quichua while she answered in Spanish. “I had no idea what they were talking about, but they seemed to be enjoying the conversation.”But rural Ecuador made sense for the young woman who’d grown up on an organic sheep farm in Etna, New Hampshire, just across the river from Clean Yield’s home office.

Karin spent 10 years with KLD Research & Analytics developing, maintaining, and marketing the firm’s standard and custom ESG (environmental, social, and governance) indices. This meant creating model portfolios which investors such as TIAA-CREF would use to create investment vehicles for their clients. She has also consulted to businesses, foundations, and NGOs.

Karin says she is thrilled to be back in the Upper Valley. The Clean Yield staff is hoping we can keep up with Karin, who holds the solo women’s track record for long-distance in-line skating in 24 hours (282 miles) and dashes off to vacation destinations like Mauritius and the Canary Islands when not indulging in photography for fun.

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Steve Lehman grew up in the town of Ripon, Wisconsin. He studied economics at Ripon College, but central Wisconsin could not hold him, and it was off to the big city. While earning a master’s degree in public policy at the University of Chicago, he spent a summer interning for Congressman Ron Dellums of California. That led to a post-graduation stint in the office of Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), where he covered his first love, the environment. “It was a tough time to be a liberal Democrat in Washington, the era of James Watt and ‘trees cause more pollution than cars,’” he remembers.

Returning to Chicago, Steve became an account manager for trust clients at First Chicago Bank (today a part of JPMorgan Chase). Following that, he managed a Federated Investors mutual fund that at its peak had $3 billion in assets.

Over the years, Steve grew uneasy with mainstream money management and felt himself “wanting to try to do something I felt better about while using my skills and experience.” After relocating with his family to the Upper Valley last year, he set about finding work in the sustainable investment field. The rest is history.

Stock analysis appeals to Steve because it is a “combination of art and science and human behavior. I’m very interested in the notion of behavioral investing and the effect of psychology on decisions people make as investors.” Now that he can integrate environmental, social, and governance characteristics of companies into his stock selection — factors he surreptitiously included in his previous investment gigs — he finds it exciting to come across companies that are “trying to do good things or improve their behavior, reduce their environmental impacts, and conduct themselves with integrity.”

Vermont’s politics, environmentalism, and simplicity appeal to Steve and his wife, Nancy, an administrator at Dartmouth College. As do the region’s people, who strike him as interesting and eclectic. “It’s a wonderful place to live,” he says.

Steve is a father to two college-age daughters, and he and Nancy cohabit with Lucy the Labrador retriever and Bubbles, a Chihuahua-Corgi mix (“a completely unwanted dog of undetermined age — a tough little one”). In his free time, Steve enjoys gardening, biking, cross-country skiing, tennis, and hiking.