Good Guys: Secor's Ray Iwanowski Helps Good Shepherd Services

December 03, 2015   Danielle Beurteaux

The quantitative manager and the charity organization are working together to tackle New York's poverty problem.

   Ray Iwanowski, SECOR Asset Management

New York is a city of extremes. It’s home to 78 billionaires, yet more than 20 percent of its residents live in poverty. Ray Iwanowski wants to apply his financial acumen to helping the latter group overcome their struggles. "I’ve always had an interest in philanthropic causes, and New York City poverty and the situation with families and children really resonated with me," he says.

Iwanowski, 49, is a managing principal and co-founder of $30 billion SECOR Asset Management and chief investment officer of the $220 million SECOR Alpha Fund. In 2007, when looking for a nonprofit board to join, he met Good Shepherd Services’ executive director, Sister Paulette Lo­Monaco, and, impressed by her leadership, joined the board. Iwanowski is also on the organization’s finance committee, where he helps oversee the budget and endowment.

Good Shepherd Services traces its roots back to 1857 and the Sisters of the Good Shepherd. The organization’s current incarnation began in 1936 as a residence for young women. Its service offerings have expanded over the years and now include 86 family, community, education and housing programs and services for youth living in resource-poor areas in New York’s Manhattan, Brooklyn and Bronx boroughs. Most of those they help are between 13 and 24 years old. An early visit to the organization’s South Brooklyn Community High School sold Iwanowski on Good Shepherd’s mission: It’s a transfer high school for students who weren’t succeeding in conventional schools; its goals for students include graduation and employment or a path to a college education. Iwanowski says, "To hear even one kid say, 'I’m so proud I’m going to college; I’m the first kid in my family to do so,’ you feel like there’s hope."

Iwanowski was impressed by the number of people Good Shepherd reaches with its services — about 33,000 annually — and the breadth of the group’s programs.

"Similar to investments, I look for diversification and scale and decision and processes that could make the most impact," he says. "I really felt that, citywide, an organization like Good Shepherd Services could have a much broader impact than something a little more focused."

It should come as no surprise that Iwanow­ski, a quant, looks for data to shed some light on program efficacy. Good Shepherd conducts data-based evaluations for information about, for example, what happens to children when they leave one of its programs. "There’s not a 100 percent success rate," Iwanowski says. "But when you see data and evidence of Good Shepherd’s influence on children and families, to me it’s definitely worth supporting and fighting for."

Iwanowski has been involved with Good Shepherd’s periodic Midnight Madness fundraiser, where teams spend all night running around New York on a puzzle-solving quest. This past year’s event raised $3 million.

Some of that money will be put toward a community center that will be built in Brooklyn’s East New York neighborhood, an area with high poverty levels, unemployment and incarceration rates, in partnership with local antiviolence nonprofit Man Up.

Iwanowski doesn’t expect the myriad of problems faced by the city’s underprivileged to be eradicated any time soon. But he thinks Good Shepherd Services can make enough positive impacts to change lives: "It’s such a tragedy that in a city that’s so affluent there’s such a large population that lives in such dire poverty. Even an organization like ours that can serve 33,000 people is not even scratching the surface and certainly won’t solve the problem, but it’s a reasonable start."

New Yorkers served in FY2015: 33,643
Date founded: 1936
Location: New York
Budget For FY 2016: $87 million

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