Root Capital is pleased to welcome Scott McDonald as our new Chief External Affairs Officer. A longtime supporter of our work, Scott recently sat down with us to share more about his background and role at Root Capital.
Over the past three-plus decades, Scott has contributed to game-changing organizations in the fields of social finance, international development, and more. Most recently, Scott comes to us from the ONE Campaign and (RED) where he served as Chief Development Officer. From 2021–2022, Scott was a member of the Root Capital Board of Directors, including serving as the chair of our Development Committee during our most successful fundraising year to date.
We hope you’ll join us in welcoming Scott to our team.
Root Capital: What drew you to Root Capital?
Scott McDonald: I must admit I’ve been a bit of a Root Capital fanboy for a long time. Much of my career has been spent in markets where agricultural enterprises were essential, but critically underserved. For more than a decade, I’ve seen firsthand how Root Capital’s right-sized credit and capacity building help these businesses realize their full potential. This support was rare when Root Capital launched in 1999, and it remains all too scarce today. Root Capital has proved its model is transformational—not just in unlocking economic prosperity, but also in fighting climate change, deepening gender equity, and creating opportunities for the next generation of rural leaders.
In 2020, I had the good fortune to join the Root Capital Board of Directors. Since then, I’ve had a front-row seat as Root Capital launched a five-year strategy that reflects its decades of impact while pivoting to prepare rural businesses in the face of seemingly ever-growing crises. Knowing the urgency of these challenges, I joined the Root Capital team so that I could have an even more direct, immediate impact in this all-important work. I’ll miss working alongside my peers on the Root Capital board—among the most committed I’ve seen in my decades of nonprofit work—but I’m excited to continue engaging them as partners in our mission to support rural communities.
Root Capital: Chief External Affairs Officer is a new role. Why did Root Capital create this position and what will you be doing?
Scott McDonald: Our Development and Communications and Marketing teams have been effectively connecting our work with donors, investors, and partners that want to make a difference. As Root Capital undertakes our 2025 Strategic Plan, the Chief External Affairs Officer will serve as a navigator, helping to unite and enhance the work of both teams so that we can more effectively resource our mission of transforming rural communities.
Root Capital: What are you most excited to begin working on?
Scott McDonald: A wave of financial innovation is crashing over philanthropy and impact investment, blurring the line in the sand between the two. This revolution is unlocking greater impact than ever before. Since its founding, Root Capital has been on the vanguard of blended capital, helping donors and investors maximize their impact within their risk appetite. Now, we need to continue innovating to ensure we can meet the evolving needs of our community and mobilize more resources to the rural communities that need it most.
Root Capital: What unique skills or perspectives do you bring to the table?
Scott McDonald: Having led a number of organizations at pivotal moments in their histories, I see myself as a bit of a paradigm shifter. Over my career, I’ve worked in areas that overlap with Root Capital’s domain. In a prior role at a climate organization, I helped develop a mission-linked socially responsible investment fund that provided operating support for greater climate action. In my time working in humanitarian action, I collaborated with philanthropist-investors to leverage funding that can be used as loan capital to support economic opportunities for refugees. I’m eager to use those experiences to support Root Capital’s mission of building resilience and prosperity in rural communities.
Root Capital: What else should we know about you?
Scott McDonald: I’m a lifelong learner. That has gifted me with an eclectic bookshelf and also led me to continue pursuing informal as well as formal education opportunities—for example, I’ll be finishing up my MBA later this year. It also means that I’m always eager to look at a problem from a new angle. A curator by training, the art world helped shape my perspective as a storyteller and resource mobilizer. It remains a big part of my life and I’m an avid collector of contemporary art as well as traditional Japanese woodblock prints (there’s that eclectic taste again!).
Thanks for joining us, Scott. We’re grateful for your work on the Root Capital board and excited to have you here!