15 Voices: An Interview with Bonnie Cockman

Bonnie Cockman

Bonnie Cockman (left) on a client visit in Chiapas, Mexico

As Root Capital’s former SVP of Finance & Operations, Bonnie was instrumental in building the foundation of Root Capital’s “back office” functions, laying the groundwork for our growth and success.  During her seven years at Root Capital, the organization grew from 25 staff members to 125, and increased annual lending from $30 million to $115 million. Prior to joining Root Capital, Bonnie worked as the VP of Finance for Conservation International. She currently serves as at two climate advocacy organizations, as Board Chair of Better Future Project and Managing Director of Mothers Out Front

Root Capital: When did you first encounter Root Capital? 

The first day I met Willy – in May 2007– he introduced me to the whole Cambridge team (which fit in one large room) and serenaded me with a song. I don’t remember the song, but I do remember thinking that I wanted to work with this smart, fun group of people doing such interesting work.  When Willy offered me an opportunity to consult for Root Capital, I accepted his offer on the spot. Four short months later, I became Root Capital’s VP of Finance & Administration and was setting off to places like Chiapas, Mexico to visit coffee cooperatives.  For me, it was a fantastic opportunity to contribute what I knew about building a “back office” while learning the whole new world of impact investing.  Of course there were occasional bumps, but over the years, we as a team created a high-performing, well-supported organization that was able to push the frontier from a strong foundation.

Root Capital: Why have you been involved with Root Capital? 

I came to Root Capital from Conservation International, and I left to work in the U.S. climate movement.  I believe that Root Capital can play an important role in helping the world’s most vulnerable people live in the world’s most vulnerable places.  As the climate changes, Root Capital’s work is more and more urgent.

Root Capital: What is one word that summarizes Root Capital in your mind? 

Entrepreneurial.  The word is over-used, perhaps. But to me, it is the right word because Root Capital is smart, nimble, adaptable, lively and successful – traits that make me visualize an entrepreneur.  

Root Capital: What excites you most about what Root Capital can achieve in the next 15 years?  

I think Root Capital can be part of the solution to help communities around the world mitigate and adapt to climate change.  The Coffee Farmer Resilience Initative  is a perfect example. The opportunity is great, the need is even greater and Root Capital is well-positioned to play a valuable role.  

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