The Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA) announced October 20 that Rob Fohr would assume the newly formed role of associate for Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI). He joins MRTI coordinator, the Rev. Bill Somplatsky-Jarman, on the team housed in the Compassion, Peace and Justice ministry area.
MRTI is a three-agency committee formed in 1972 to implement the General Assembly’s policies on faith-based investing.
The MRTI Committee brings together representatives from the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board, the investing agencies of the Board of Pensions and Presbyterian Foundation/New Covenant Trust Company, the advocacy committees on women’s and racial ethnic concerns, the social witness policy committee and three at-large members elected by the General Assembly. MRTI is jointly funded by the Presbyterian Mission Agency, the Presbyterian Foundation and the Board of Pensions.
MRTI promotes the General Assembly mission goals of peacemaking; social, economic and racial justice; securing the rights of women; environmental responsibility and human rights. In the rapidly growing world of faith-based and socially responsible investing, MRTI addresses many important and complex issues including referrals from the General Assembly.
“MRTI has played a key role bringing positive change in issues like child sex trafficking, ending child labor, community reinvestment and mortgage servicing, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and equal employment opportunity, to name just a few,” says Somplatsky-Jarman.
“[Shareholder engagement] is very Presbyterian in the sense that Presbyterians believe that through our faith we make institutions better,” says Fohr. “Part of the goal with MRTI is to educate, so we can have our faith inform our decisions.”
Fohr has served the Presbyterian Mission Agency for seven years in a variety of roles, including seminary relations and as the chief staff person charged with advancing the agency-wide goal of connecting more effectively with young adults. Most recently, he served as the manager of organizational planning and effectiveness for the PMA. Prior to his work with the church, Fohr was a project director and consultant for a media and market research firm in Tucson, Ariz. Academically, Fohr holds a Master’s of Arts in religion from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and has a bachelors’ in business administration from Abilene Christian University in Texas.
“Corporate social responsibility is a field in which I have had much interest since college when I was introduced to the idea that businesses and corporations should behave in a manner that benefits more than just their shareholders,” says Fohr. “I am excited to join the great work done by the MRTI committee, and its member bodies, as I think is there is much opportunity for Presbyterians to continue to make a positive impact on our society through our engagement with publicly held corporations both as institutional and individual investors.”
While pursuing his master’s degree at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Fohr had the opportunity to work with professors, Scott Williamson and Clifton Kirkpatrick, in their research on religious approaches for developing a more just society for the 21st century.
“Through my work assisting Scott and Cliff I became particularly interested in how the intersection of faith and finance can be a mechanism for building a more just economy,” says Fohr. “I later made this subject a focus of my master’s thesis where I concentrated my research around the common ethics pertaining to finance and economics found in the traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. I am eager to apply this knowledge to the work of MRTI and look forward to engaging with congregations and other Presbyterian entities to partner in the work of connecting our faith practices with our financial practices.
“MRTI looks forward to the positive results in social and economic change that Rob’s addition will make possible, and our ability to resource church members interested in faith-based investing,” affirmed Somplatsky-Jarman.
From 2005 to 2006 Fohr served in the Presbyterian Church’s Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) program and was placed in a community development center and a human rights organization in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is a ruling elder, and serves on the session of Highland Presbyterian Church in Louisville. He is married to the Rev. Christine Coy Fohr, who currently serves the PMA as a consultant for mission leaders in Presbyterian World Mission. The two met through the YAV program where she served in Belfast, Northern Ireland.