Lisa Cooper, Figure 8 Investment Strategies Founder 

You hear those stories about people living the high-pressure life in the financial industry in New York then deciding to make a move, handpicking a new home in the American West. That’s Lisa Cooper.  After 25 years in the financial industry Lisa moved to Boise for a slower pace and to continue her practice in social impact investing.

I was introduced to Lisa for her work in Boise with refugees. When we talked, Lisa patiently oriented me to the ins and outs of refugee resettlement in the U.S., including some unique differences in Idaho that make Boise a nationally recognized leader.  But I was more taken with Lisa’s personal story. I’m a big believer in the adage “create or be created”.  Lisa is a creator, an entrepreneur. Her Boise friends recognized this in Lisa.  They started sending her resumes of refugees with incredible professional backgrounds but unemployed or underemployed washing dishes or mopping floors. Her friends were asking if she had any ideas to assist these refugees. Lisa and co-founder Tara Wolfson decided to create a program to intervene called Global Talent Idaho.  Its mission is to put refugee professionals to work in higher paying jobs with better skills match. For example, a recent feature in the Idaho Stateman tells the beautiful story of how Global Talent has helped to support a study group of refugee physicians prepare for their U.S. medical exams.  As the story explains, doctors are often in the crosshairs of the humanitarian crises that drive forced migration.

Walking the talk, Lisa founded Figure 8 Investment Strategies LLC, a social investment firm whose financial acumen and insight is built around the talents of professionals who arrived in the US as refugees.  The team of five at Figure 8 now includes a medical doctor and economics professor from Iraq and a civil engineer from Burma. From her 25 years in the investment field, Lisa was eager to put their diverse expertise and perspectives to work on her global investment team. Lisa also has an adopted daughter who was born in Guatemala. When I was sharing my sabbatical goals with her, Lisa said that if she were to take a sabbatical she’d write a book on the profound experiences of immigrants, especially those subject to forced migration.  Not only was Lisa a helpful resource to get me oriented to the issues of refugee resettlement in our cities, she was an inspiration in action and entrepreneurship.