Carole Crist sees her role in society as one of public benefit. After an esteemed career in private business and public life, now, it’s all about how, why and who she can help.
While many know Carole Crist as the former First Lady of Florida, she is equally known in philanthropic circles as a champion for those in need. Her personal and professional experiences in public and private life have honed her understanding of the impoverished, the unfortunate or the underserved, which has granted her a keen vantage point on the “who” and “how” one can make a difference.
Crist is a native New Yorker who grew up in Roslyn, Long Island. While her business sense is somewhat innate, she was able to develop her acumen both through qualitative learning and academia. She earned a degree from Georgetown University Business School, and also took the reins of her father’s successful Halloween company – which she helped lead for 25 years.
Her success in this industry, plus her experience as a public figure, seemed to set the stage perfectly for a career in “impact investing.” Impact investing is purpose and mission-driven, where people invest money to advance a social or moral agenda and expand opportunity. Through developing new sectors of economies, or new technologies nationally and globally, impact investing is the proverbial “rising tide that lifts all boats” – to paraphrase President John F. Kennedy.
And, if impact investing is the tide, then Carole Crist is a wavemaker.
Carole is the Founder and CEO of CLC Global Advisors, an organization that works alongside select clients, family offices and colleagues whose shared objective is to invest capital and build businesses that can have the most impact around the world. Carole has worked with tycoons, innovators, disruptors, and pioneers – across a variety of fields – to address problems and propose innovative solutions to expand horizons for the underserved.
“Most impact investment opportunities today are introducing a technologically enabled product or service that enhances and optimizes how people live or how companies operate and do business,” says Crist. “When investing both our human and financial capital with the goal of helping others, we have the ability to fundamentally transform industries – and in turn, transform lives for the better. ‘Disruptive technology’ shakes up the way things are and brings 21st century solutions to the problems facing humankind,” Crist said. Disruptive technologies typically focus on areas like artificial intelligence, automation, clean energy, DNA sequencing, FinTech and blockchain technology.
“The investment community has endless choices for opportunities to allocate their capital—why not deploy it ‘with a purpose’ into ventures that have a positive impact on people’s lives? The good news is that there has been a palpable shift in the mindset and missions of family offices and investment firms globally to do just that – and I try to elevate the conversation on this topic wherever I go.” she continues.
The natural transition of Crist into impact investing came both through an existing personal and professional network, but also through hard work and dedication. Night and day, Carole’s work is not finished, and she views herself as a conduit between those with means and the communities, or regions of the world, in most need.
Coining the phrase “Capital with a Conscience,” Carole began to make waves in various industries and get the buy-in from many leaders who have been able to catalyze change in their respective spaces. Crist’s sense of purpose is only surpassed by her determination to do good, traveling across the globe to rally support around the causes that she sees as most important to the advancement of society as a whole.
In 2019, Carole brought this philosophy to the world stage. Attending the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, Crist surrounded herself with some of the world’s most notable business leaders, political figures, and heads of state, in order to learn more about public policy, geopolitical issues and the importance of ESG practices, and how they relate to valuing businesses in the future. She returned with a renewed sense of enthusiasm – which was only compounded by new collaborations and partnerships developed at the global economic mecca.
“It was a spectacular opportunity where I was able to connect with leaders in both the public and private sectors. We focused not only on emerging industries, but also on the policies and principles that would encourage investment with impact. I left this conference feeling inspired and with the hope that our journey was only getting started.
“That was when I decided to create my own mini-version of the WEF, which I jokingly called ‘Davos West.’ In February 2019, I produced my first Tech Summit at The Yale Club in New York City— the financial and economic capitol of the world. I brought together my new friends and colleagues from all different states and other countries to continue this important dialogue. It was a wonderful event—the attendees really appreciated the intimate setting and also enjoyed the amazing speakers on the panels, which covered a wide range of topical issues.”
Carole’s intention to serve is not solely professional, as she is actively engaged in philanthropy and dedicates a significant amount of her time, energy and resources as a prolific fundraiser for charitable causes. In her personal life, she holds various titles and positions on the Boards of local and national charities. While she still resides full-time in Florida, Carole travels the United States to aid in philanthropic endeavors – spending much of the summer months on Long Island’s East End, where she chairs some of the most successful charity events in the continental Northeast.
Over the years, Carole has hosted the Red Cross Ball in Southampton, the CASA Gala in Florida to help victims of abuse, and later this month will be hosting the SOFO Gala, alongside her longtime friend and wildlife conservationist, Andy Sabin. This spectacular event benefits the South Fork Natural History Museum and Nature Center in Bridgehampton. She is also serving as Co-Chair for The Angel Ball in Southampton, which raises money for cancer research through Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation, named for Denise Rich’s late daughter. This star-studded event honors outstanding individuals who have made significant humanitarian and philanthropic contributions in support of cancer research.
Carole’s strength is “connecting the dots” for the charity—from publicizing the events and gathering attendees, to recruiting others to help sponsor these events, her efforts vastly increase the sums of money raised while advancing the organization’s mission immeasurably.
“I truly believe that we are all connected and feel it is our duty and obligation as ‘citizens of the world’ to do what we can to improve people’s lives and the world we live in,” Crist says.
However, while she is involved in countless philanthropic endeavors, the advancement of opportunity for women remains one of her foremost passions. She emphasizes that only 2% of venture capital dollars go to companies founded by women—a tremendous disparity she hopes to address, both through raising awareness and active engagement in the female-startup world.
“As a mother of two daughters and having been chosen to lead a family business by my father, I decided that there is no more important cause than fostering entrepreneurship and leadership opportunities for women in the business world and do all we can to fuel their success. Of all the social justice causes that exist in today’s world, I see elevating women as my highest calling,” she says. “It would be a great joy for me to mentor women and teach them how to build and grow a business—not only to change a person‘s life, but to support job creation and economic development led by women.”
“If I do my part helping women break into various emerging technologies and fields – as well as the world of venture capitalism – I am confident that we will be looking at a more equitable, inclusive and successful world for future generations,” Crist concludes.
On July 1st of this year, Crist and her good friend Zach Erdem, Hamptons restaurateur, kicked off the summer social season with a private event at Zach’s hot spot, Blu Mar in Southampton. The special guests celebrated not only the 4th of July, but also America’s return to freedom from the pandemic. Fresh off the social scene of Palm Beach and Miami, guests enjoyed resuming in person festivities.
“It was great to finally see Carole again in person—she is an incredible host. With vaccinations, we are all at ease and can get together,” said Sergio Nicolosi, one of the attendees.
“We can all return to normal and sponsor in person events for great causes. Carole brings people together—it is something that comes natural to her,” said her close friend and financial advisor, Greg Matthews.
Carole’s expansive network makes her one of the leading hosts of the charity gala season, allowing her to be involved with numerous organizations that reflect her commitment for giving back. In the charity circuit, Carole found the perfect outlet for her work ethic. Now, with Covid-19 coming to an end, Crist can once again be the perfect host.