Marcy Murninghan

Co-Founder, Editor and Writer

Marcy has worked as a scholar-practitioner, writer, educator, public speaker, and entrepreneur for more than 30 years, concentrating on complex organizations, politics, and the integration of civic moral values into corporate, investor, and philanthropic governance and accountability. Her sensibilities were forged as a politician’s and journalist’s daughter in Lansing, Michigan, where family and community ties taught her that civic virtue could be lived every day, despite disagreements over style and substance.

Now she takes everything she has learned and is working to build a political economy rooted in civic virtue. That means activating citizens and civic fiduciaries — that is, wealthy tax-exempt institutional investors — in common cause to build “equity culture” and leverage the money power toward public interest priorities.

Throughout the 1970s, she developed programs to advance women’s opportunity and power, particularly low-income women; in the mid-1970s, she worked with Rosabeth Moss Kanter on women’s issues in corporations, including an action research project that became the basis of Kanter’s landmark book, Men and Women of the Corporation. Because of this work, in 1978 she was asked by Superintendent Robert C. Wood to assume responsibilities for the administrative reorganization of the Boston Public Schools, to bring it into compliance with Federal Court-ordered affirmative action goals.

After doing this and graduating with a doctorate from Harvard in 1983 on school desegregation and institutional reform, Marcy moved into the corporate / investor responsibility realm, concentrating on social justice and South Africa. As president of social investment services at Mitchell Investment Management Company, Marcy also concentrated on the range of social policy topics — fair labor practices (including Northern Ireland), consumer quality, environmental stewardship, community involvement, international human rights —  throughout the 1980s.

At that time, her clients ranged from anti-apartheid groups to institutional investors and corporations. She also was widely quoted in the mainstream media for this work. In the 1980s and ’90s, she was a pioneer in linking the corporate governance movement with those engaged in corporate social responsibility / ethical investing.

To learn more about the roots of public pronouncements on “values”, Marcy was accepted to conduct post-doctoral work at Harvard Divinity School in the late 1980s. She ended up teaching courses and running projects on values in public life at HDS throughout the 1990s, including a major project on the spiritual values of CEOs on Wall Street, in Hollywood, and in journalism that examined individual challenges to public leadership and civic moral obligations. During this time, Marcy also collaborated with the late Greg Dees on the early stages of Harvard Business School’s Social Enterprise Initiative, and the early development of the Kennedy School’s Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations. Throughout this period she also taught courses on the history and practice of philanthropy at Babson College, where her students were required to work in homeless shelters as a means of grounding their knowledge of management in service to others and the needs of nonprofit organizations.

Marcy is founding president of The Lighthouse Investment Group (1987), which consults on values-based fiduciary duty, stewardship, and social responsibility issues. In 2007 through 2008 she was an INSPIRE fellow at the Institute for Global Leadership at Tufts University, where she explored ways in which CSR could be linked to disaster resilience and recovery. In 2009-2010 she served as a Research Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative. While there she researched and co-wrote (with Bill BaueThe Accountability Web, a report on the intersection of Web 2.0 and corporate accountability that is being republished in two parts in The Journal of Corporate Citizenship. In 2009, she worked with Bob Massie in founding of the Consultation on Sustainability and Transparency in the U.S. (COST US), a nationwide network of leaders in the sustainability movement. She also has collaborated with the Harvard Islamic Finance Project on pathways between Islam, corporate responsibility, and financial stewardship.

In the world of practice, over the past 30+ years she has advised the Global Reporting Initiative, Ceres, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), KLD Research & Analytics (now part of MSCI), the Council on Foundations (on civic moral values in philanthropy), Ford Foundation (on equity ownership for South African trade unions), The Boston Foundation (on the nation’s first community foundation responsible ownership policy), the New York State Comptroller (on implementing the MacBride Principles), and numerous other organizations, including corporations. From 2011 to 2013 she also was a senior research fellow at AccountAbility, where she wrote monthly trend reports and other thought pieces.

Since 2012, Marcy has consulted with and advised the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB); Boston’s Bay State Banner, an urban newspaper founded in 1965; and Boston Common Asset Management. Since 2015 she has served as a contributing writer and analyst for the Sustainable Investments Institute (Si2) on organized efforts to influence corporate behavior on social, environmental, and governance issues. Most recently, in July 2019 Marcy became a strategic advisor on ESG issues to Skysail Advisors, a Boston-based maritime, transportation, and logistics startup.

In 2018, the New England Journal of Public Policy, a publication of UMass Boston, devoted an entire issue to a selection of her writings, its theme being “Wealth, Power, and the Public Interest: Building Equity Culture and Civic Stewardship.”

Within academe, Marcy has held teaching and research appointments on “money, media, and morality”, philanthropy, responsible ownership and governance, and CSR and disaster response at Harvard, Babson, UNH, UMass Boston, and Tufts University. In 2009 and 2010, she audited courses at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education on the use of interactive digital technology to advance professional learning, civic engagement, institutional accountability, and social change.

Within public life, she is working with former Governor Michael S. Dukakis and a team of others on building the North South Rail Link as a critical piece of first-class regional rail. Along with human rights and climate, infrastructure is a social justice issue that could be strengthened by greater participation on the part of tax-exempt institutional investors. Taxpayers and grantmakers shouldn’t be the only parties that pay for public interest priorities.

Marcy hails from a family of public servants and progressive Republicans. Her father, Max E. Murninghan, was a Purple Heart Marine in WWII, then a city councilor and mayor of Lansing, Michigan, during the 1950s and 1960s; her mother Patricia P. Murninghan was a journalist with The Kansas City Star and International News Service, later serving as an active volunteer and board member of many nonprofit organizations. Marcy’s grandfather, Joseph W. Planck, was an attorney, Michigan’s first Supreme Court Commissioner, onetime president of the State Bar of Michigan and Lansing Board of Education, and, earlier in his career, Lansing’s City Attorney. Marcy’s great-great grandfather Dr. Edgar A. Planck was a Michigan State Senator and committee chair as well as a doctor in southwestern Michigan / northern Indiana at the turn of the 20th century. Both system thinkers and scientists, Dr. Planck and physicist Max Planck were second cousins.

A fierce art lover, in her spare time Marcy enjoys museums, street art, perusing old graphics, fonts, and “ghost signs” on brick buildings, as well as swimming at Blodgett Pool, reading nonfiction, watching good TV, and staying in touch with friends.

Education