Holden Lee officially took on the roles of Chief Financial Officer and Chief Investment Officer at Tides just a few short months ago. Since then, he has hit the ground running in leading the organization through a transformative time. In his roles, he oversees finance, client impact, investments, administration, physical security, and real estate throughout Tides’ entities in support of its mission to build a world of shared prosperity. Holden also manages and oversees policy development, investment management, accounting and reporting services, budgeting and planning, financial analysis, governance, workflow processes, and systems.
Holden brings to Tides a long history of experience in finance and philanthropy. He has honed a unique and invaluable perspective from decades of hands-on, pioneering work at the intersection of the public, private and philanthropic capital markets. He served as the Chief Financial and Investment Officer with the Jewish Federation of San Francisco, where he oversaw the operations of its endowment and philanthropic services, as well as the Investment Committee and its independent investment consultants. Prior to that role, he was a Managing Director at Cambridge Associates, advising endowments of mission-driven organizations on their investment portfolios and developing impact investing frameworks. Holden’s career includes serving as a nonprofit CFO and as a private equity investor. He earned an M.B.A. from the Wharton School and an A.B. in politics from Princeton University.
We caught up with Holden to ask a few questions about why he came to Tides and what he’s most excited about.
Why did you join Tides?
Tides is an exciting organization at a very exciting time. It is going through profound change, and to be part of that change and build on the work that’s come before is an amazing opportunity.
How does this work build upon your career?
My career has been a mix of various kinds of elements and issues that Tides’ work addresses. My work has been in the investment space for nonprofits, particularly in the impact space for the last 20 years. I bring a lot of experience directly related to the types of work Tides does. I came to Tides from the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, which is similar to Tides in that it is a philanthropic platform that does a lot of innovative work. I was in a position where I had the ability to take my career and all the lessons I’ve learned from it and apply it to an evolving organization.
What are you most looking forward to at Tides?
I am most excited about figuring out how to continue to bring innovation to a space that is moving very quickly: social impact investing. That includes bringing the discipline of financial and investment management to achieve more impact. I also truly enjoy working with people who are mission-aligned and hope-aligned.
Impact investing has been around for some time, but in the last five years in particular, it has gained a lot of momentum. As impact investing becomes more mainstream, what is the next frontier? My career has been about pushing this envelope. Tides’ commitment to being a leader and innovator and its unusual position in the marketplace—given the organizations, funders, and issues it works with — the ingredients are all there to push social impact to another level.
What is your experience in philanthropy?
My career spans more than 20 years of looking at how to bring different kinds of actors and different types of money to help solve pressing issues of our time, and in a way that makes the most of a collective effort in public, private, and philanthropic partnerships. That’s why Tides is an interesting platform, especially now given the world is more open and more ready than ever.
What’s your connection to the Bay Area?
I have been in the Bay Area for more than 20 years. I’ve lived in different places and grew up in Hong Kong before moving to the U.S. My parents are immigrants to the U.S and became naturalized citizens, and I carry that with me. I went back to Hong Kong in the 1990s to work and moved to San Francisco nearly 25 years ago. I love the Bay Area for its natural beauty and for its cultural diversity. This has been home for my husband and our daughter.