Hedge Funds Care: Fighting for Children

By Jessica Titlebaum (Chicago)

Hedge Funds Care has been funding programs for the intervention and prevention of child abuse for ten years,” said Executive Director of the non- profit organization, Katherine Conroy. “In the future, I would like to see our portfolio expanded to help policy and advocacy as well as research programs.”

Conroy explained that she has been with Hedge Funds Care “since day 2” of the organization’s inception. Rob Davis, Hedge Funds Care founder, was looking for someone knowledgeable in child welfare to assist in the launch of an organization that would help combat child abuse. He found Conroy when she was working at Columbia University as an Assistant Dean. Her experiences at Good Shepherd Services, Community Service Society and as Deputy Coordinator for Youth Services for the Mayor.

Conroy worked with the committee members of Hedge Funds Care to determine what programs to fund and how to assess their qualifying criteria.

“We award grants to programs that will put our donations towards their efforts to help abused children,” she said. “Since these programs need to have a demonstrated capacity of their work we cannot help start-up organizations although we will award grants to start-up branches of an already established program.”

Hedge Funds Care founder, Rob Davis was a 4th grade teacher before becoming a partner at the prime brokerage firm, Merlin Securities. He witnessed the effects of child abuse in his first profession. “I had children in my classroom that had been raped or burned with cigarette butts,” said Davis. “When I contacted the police, they would say it was a family matter and that they couldn’t do anything about it.”

After the collapse of Long Term Capital in 1998, a hedge fund that had leveraged bad debt, Davis wanted to help the hedge fund industry which he believed had been cast in a bad light. He explained that hedge funds are private investment funds limited to high net worth individuals; they are not regulated by the government and therefore, not allowed to advertise or market themselves. Under these circumstances it is more frequent that the public only hear the negative ongoing in this specific sector such as when Long Term Capital collapsed or, more recently, when Amaranth imploded because of their position in the energy market. In an attempt to combat the negative press his hedge fund clients were receiving as well as do something great for abused children; he brought together friends, competitors and contacts he had in the industry.

Hedge Funds Care held their first, and what was supposed to be their only, “Open Your Hearts to the Children” Benefit in 1999 in the ballroom of New York’s Pierre Hotel. Three years later, Hedge Funds Care became a non profit organization with a 501(c) (3) status in the United States and has since become a global venture.

Ms. Conroy, who was hired as Executive Director in August of 2008, is currently working from the New York office. With a staff of seven, Conroy oversees six regional branches covering eight cities in the United States (Atlanta, Boston, Chicago and the Twin Cities, Denver, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco). They also manage three international affiliates in the Cayman Islands, London and Toronto. Each chapter and affiliate has a Committee of Hearts and organizes its own “Open Your Hearts to the Children” Benefit as well as other junior events such as golf outings, bike rides and cocktail parties.

This industry is a very philanthropic one because hedge fund professionals are grateful for their good fortune,” said Davis.

Since 1999, Hedge Funds Care has donated over $18 million to non profit programs benefiting child abuse. If you would like to learn more about Hedge Funds Care or attend one of their “Open Your Hearts to the Children” Benefits please visit their website.