Lisa Cooper, president of Figure 8 Investment Strategies, has always integrated a social component into her work. Sustainability, social impact, and corporate governance drive decisions at her Boise-based investment management firm and she actively hires and trains immigrants and refugees to lead her investment research.

“In our industry there’s a lot of talk about the need for a new generation of investment professionals to match an increasingly diverse and globalized audience,” says Lisa. “My goal is to build a team of analysts with deep knowledge of other sectors of the economy, multiple language skills, and a deep understanding of other cultures so they can evaluate things in context.”

Last year, in an effort to bring diverse perspectives to her new company, Lisa created a part-time research internship program for immigrants and refugees and looked to Global Talent Idaho’s pool of skilled professionals to fill the positions. This innovative program was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal, and three of her interns—Serpil Rawson from Turkey, Richard Naing from Burma, and Ahmed Aljuboori from Iraq—have since become permanent staff. All three are GTI alumni.

Her staff has already found ways to utilize their growing financial knowledge to benefit the refugee community. Richard Naing views himself as an intermediary between the Burmese community and the world of finance. He informs the investment community of refugee needs and also teaches investment basics to the Burmese community–many of whom, he admits, still keep their money under a mattress.