About Mindy Bell

Carleton College graduate of 1980, volunteering with Divest Carleton to increase alumni representation in this critical movement.

BREAKING: Board of Trustees to vote on divestment in February

By Aldo Polanco, Managing Editor, on October 31, 2022

On Monday, October 31, President Alison Byerly confirmed that following an informal discussion on Friday, the Board of Trustees agreed to vote on divestment in their February session. In an interview with the Carletonian, Byerly stated: “I think [trustees] are very aware and have been for some time of the strong community feeling [regarding divestment]. And so, certainly the students who were protesting this weekend gave specific visibility to it. But this discussion we started more than a year ago and [the decision] was after several years of their feeling a growing tide of interest in the community.” The announcement comes after a weekend full of events from students pushing for the vote. 

As of now, Byerly announced the decision to the Carleton Responsible Investments Committee as well as the College Council. She is expected to make the formal announcement on Thursday’s edition of Carleton Today.

Published in Breaking News and News of The Carletonian


Oberlin joins ranks of 76 US Colleges & Universities publicly pledged to divest from fossil fuels

Oberlin, OH; October 30, 2022

The student- and alumni-led Oberlin Fossil Fuel Divestment Working Group comments on a milestone resolution by Oberlin’s Board of Trustees.

The Board of Trustees of Oberlin College and Conservatory at their October 2022 meeting publicly pledged to the “orderly divestiture of investment funds related to fossil fuel development.”  Oberlin thus joins 1500+ institutions worldwide who have divested over $40 trillion in assets from fossil fuels. They include 76 of Oberlin’s US sister institutions of higher education.[1]  “This is a very important milestone,” commented John Petersen, Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Biology at Oberlin. “The recent decision to make this divestment commitment formal and public sends a message to the world that Oberlin views a fossil fuel free global economy as central to the education and survival of future generations.”  Read the complete resolution.

The Board’s decision was greeted with enthusiasm by climate activists outside the Oberlin community as well.  Bill McKibben, Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College and perhaps the nation’s leading environmentalist, said, “Oberlin has been such a standout in the field of environmental studies—and now it is walking the talk in a powerful way. Many thanks to the students, faculty, and alumni who have persevered for many years to make this happen; that kind of persistence will be key in all the climate fights that lie ahead.”

Oberlin for decades has been recognized for its national and global leadership in significant responses to the climate crisis. In 2006, Oberlin was the first of its peer institutions to formally commit to a zero-carbon campus. It is now nearing conclusion of a major Sustainability Infrastructure Program that will make the entire campus carbon-neutral by 2025.  At the same time, it has quietly and significantly reduced its fossil fuel investment.  

The latest wave of alumni, faculty and student advocacy began in early 2022 with the formation of the Oberlin Fossil Fuel Divestment Working Group. Months of research, analysis, and communication with divestment activists at other universities, notably Harvard, resulted in a May 2022 Call for Oberlin’s Board of Trustees to Link Divestment from Fossil Fuels to its Commitment to a Carbon Neutral Campus by 2025.  Read the full statement:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/1KU6mrkfQphXzehWh7QhWCeVX2qQzFY-L/view?usp=sharing)

The Call underlined the importance of a public pledge“The mega-corporations whose profits depend on fossil fuel extraction show no sign of stopping the machine that is driving life on this planet to the brink,” the Working Group wrote. “Their economic and political power is, on the face of it, unmatchable. It is only through collective action, such as the divestment movement, that there is a chance to stop it.”  In short, the group urged Oberlin to take on a larger responsibility, one that took a stand commensurate with the existential threat facing the planet. 

The Working Group congratulates the Board of Trustees on their critical resolution and thanks the Oberlinians who joined the Fossil Fuel Divestment campaign.  It does so with love for the rising generations of Oberlin students and to express its deepest concern for the unjust burden that is placed on the world’s poorest people.  

# # #

Contact: Steering Committee for the Oberlin Fossil Fuel Divestment Working Group

Sue Kerr Chandler ’65, chandler@unr.edu, 775 229-2933

Molly Niles Cornell ’65, mollycornell@comcast.net, 508 274-8843

Sylvia Lotspeich Greene ’65, slotspeichgreene@yahoo.com, 978 809-4409

Sally St.John Volkert  , sallyvolkert@gmail.com, 303 386-2705

[1] Global Fossil Fuel Commitments Data Base, https://divestmentdatabase.org/.

Hope in a World on Fire: a Divest Carleton message

By Gina Atwood, Mindy Bell, Patrick Dunleavy, Rebecca Hahn, Britta Johnson, Brett Smith and Ben Stiegler – October 20, 2022

It can be difficult, in the midst of the climate crisis, to focus on the good things. Lands are flooding, forests are burning, deserts are spreading, climate refugees are increasing, entire species are disappearing and lies about climate change abound. These realities make it almost impossible to find hope.

The danger, when we focus on the bad, is that we may start to believe that things can never change. Yet we know that our duty as citizens, as friends, as humans is to confront the crisis and to do our part to build a better future. If we are to take action, we must have hope.

The alumni and students of Divest Carleton seek to operate from and build on hope: the hope that the many global movements aimed at the climate crisis, including divestment campaigns, will produce a better world. Based on that hope, for the last several years we have been calling on Carleton to divest its endowment from fossil fuels. We’ve found that by doing this work, we grow our own hope.

We learn that we are not alone. As the years go by and the effects of climate change grow ever more obvious, the support for divestment also grows. 244 alums added their voices to the petition at Reunion this summer. Divest Carleton students have gathered several hundred signatures from classmates in just one year. Altogether, 3,721 students, alumni and friends of the college have called on Carleton to divest from fossil fuels. These supporters have written letters to the Board of Trustees, created Youtube videos, posted on social media, marched, talked to their fellow classmates, organized panels, researched, created handouts and on and on. Alone, any one of us would have faltered. Together, we are strong.

Hope also comes from seeing the difference we can make. When our fellow liberal arts colleges — Pitzer, Lewis & Clark, Whitman, Middlebury, Macalester, Wellesley, Smith, Amherst, Reed, St. Olaf, Wesleyan, Vassar, Mt. Holyoke — decide to exit fossil fuels, we find hope in our similarities. If they can do it, so can we! Likewise, with every step we take, from increasing awareness of climate change in the Carleton community to building positive connections with the decision makers of the college, we learn we are making a difference. This births hope.

Finally, we find hope by seeking it. The 2022 climate bill (the Inflation Reduction Act) recently enacted does not solve the climate crisis, but it is the strongest attempt made by our government to act on it. This is a beginning, not an end. The climate protests that made headlines over the past few years have never stopped. Recently, Blame Wall Street protesters in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City and Chicago called on banks to stop funding fossil fuel projects. They may have a tough battle, but they are not giving up. The proliferation of fossil-free and ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) funds shows there is a growing understanding that values have a role to play in investing. We certainly haven’t figured out how to build a just, fair and ethical economy. Many of us are trying to take the first steps. This is hope.

Like ourselves, Carleton is not perfect. We hope that our college decides soon to divest from fossil fuels. We believe the right and the hopeful thing to do is to invest our money in the health of our planet. Carleton has done so much good in other ways. We would not have pressed this hard and for this long if we did not believe that. We are thrilled about the upcoming unveiling of the new sustainability plan that many in the Carleton community have been working diligently to bring to life. Their hard work and persistence give us hope.

It may be discouraging at times, but building a better world will require every one of us doing whatever we can in our own ways.

That is also where our greatest hope lies. A better world can be built by you. And us. And everyone.

Visit divestcarleton.com to learn how to get involved and to sign the petition.

On behalf of Divest Carleton Alumni: Gina Atwood ‘91, Mindy Bell ‘80, Patrick Dunlevy ‘72, Rebecca Hahn ‘09, Britta Johnson ‘97, Brett Smith ‘64, Ben Stiegler ‘77

Published in The Carletonian Viewpoint

A Personal Story of Divestment

by Catherine Suter, October 20, 2022

As Carleton Trustees weigh the pros and cons of divesting the College’s endowment from fossil fuels, I want to share the thought process behind my own decision to divest.

I am a great-great-granddaughter of Lauren J. Drake, president of Standard Oil of Indiana (later Amoco, now part of BP) and director of Standard Oil of New Jersey (later Esso, now part of ExxonMobil). When my father died a few years ago, my brothers and I inherited the remainder of ExxonMobil stock that had been passed down through Drake’s daughter, my great-grandmother. It was not a lot, but it was a family legacy. Thus, I was presented with a conundrum: 

Do I keep the stock for sentimental reasons?

Do I benefit from the shares’ skyrocketing value?

Could I be okay with earning money off a company that has and continues to lie, mislead and destroy so much?

Can a single person’s divestment make any real difference?

I had an endless supply of questions like and beyond these.

Ultimately, the decision was easy because my gut knew. I sold the stock. I put the proceeds toward an electric car and felt a big relief, I must say. But it took me a while to find good answers to the questions, and I still question what my best course of action, given my values, is almost daily.

Here is a list of truths that I have found:

  • I’m enormously privileged to “suffer” such a conundrum, to have choices like these in my life. Thank you, great-great-grandfather Drake, for providing our family with so much. I strive to use my privilege for good and not hinder my motivation with shame or guilt.
  • To judge my great-great-grandfather’s work with today’s knowledge is unfair.
  • To feel that I cannot disagree with the oil companies because I have benefited leaves no room for progress.
  • I vehemently oppose ExxonMobil and many other (but not all) natural resource extraction companies on environmental, ethical and economic grounds. I want nothing to do with their profits, even if my daily life depends in some part on them.
  • There’s more than one way to invest wisely.
  • I am one person, no more and no less. I make decisions and interact with others every day. Living by my principles gives me internal peace, and is an important tone in my cacophonous community.

Divestment is what I chose, in my circumstances at the time. And the work continues: I still struggle with both what to do with my privilege and how to make a meaningful impact regarding climate change and environmental degradation. But I never once have doubted my decision to divest.

What will you do with this story? Activism can be complicated, but if you’re sympathetic, you’ve got options. Join me in calling on the Carleton Board of Trustees to divest from fossil fuels and the banks that support them. Further, websites like http://www.fossilfreefunds.org can tell you how your 401(k), retirement plan and other investments measure up vis-à-vis climate impact. The ‘B corp’ designation indicates if a company meets social and environmental sustainability criteria. Keep in mind that publicly-traded fossil fuel companies, as odious as they may be, represent only a fraction of the world’s oil extraction and, also, only the supply side of oil, not the demand for it. We have a lot to do to find a sustainable balance on this planet, and a next step that people — especially those of us with privilege — can take is to address industries that have outsized carbon footprints (e.g. cement, air travel, aluminum). Wherever you are in your motivation to address climate change, keep it going! We all, as individuals and as communities like Carleton, have a role.

Alumni and students who have not already signed the petition calling on Carleton to divest its endowment from fossil fuel companies can do so at bit.ly/DivestCarleton. For more information about Divest Carleton, go to https://divestcarleton.com.

Published in The Carletonian Viewpoint

It Is Time to Be on the Right Side of Climate Change History

Published in The Carletonian on March 1, 2022

By Patrick Dunlevy, Rebecca Hahn, Mindy Bell, Joshua Rabinowitz, Ben Stiegler, Pam Costain, Gina Atwood, Eleanor Haase and Karl Snyder

The following is a letter from Divest Carleton Alumni, a group of alumni calling for Carleton to divest their endowment from the 200 largest fossil fuel companies:

The following colleges and universities have made formal commitments to reduce their investments in fossil fuel companies. The schools are grouped below by the time period in which they announced their decisions regarding fossil fuel holdings.


Amherst College

Boston University

Brandeis University

Continue reading

For many reasons, the time has come for Carleton to divest

By Maddie Halloran, Rebecca Hahn, Mindy Bell and Patrick Dunlevy on May 16, 2021 in The Carletonian

When the fossil fuel divestment movement began at Carleton almost a decade ago, few colleges or universities had committed to moving their endowments out of fossil fuels. By 2014, only two U.S. liberal arts colleges had made divestment pledges: College of the Atlantic and Pitzer College

But today, 10 U.S. liberal arts colleges have made divestment commitments, and not just smaller, environmental schools. Middlebury, Smith, and Wesleyan all committed to divestment within the last few years, and most recently both Amherst and Wellesley did the same.

Besides liberal arts colleges, Rutgers University, Columbia University, the University of Southern California, and Cambridge University have all made divestment commitments in the last few months. Midwest powerhouse University of Michigan committed to divestment this March.

This movement is growing, and Carleton is falling behind.

From a financial perspective, the writing is on the wall. In January of last year, Jim Cramer, the host of CNBC’s Mad Money and the co-anchor of Squawk on the Street, announced:

Continue reading

Divest Carleton from fossil fuels to save our school

By Rebecca Hahn, Maddie Halloran and Mindy Bell, on October 3, 2020

For weeks now, five of the six largest wildfires in California’s history have been burning, turning skies orange across the state. This year’s Atlantic hurricane season is already breaking records, with an unprecedented thirteen tropical storms named before September. 

In August, Iowa’s crops were devastated by a 100 mph derecho windstorm that flattened 10 million acres, followed by a subsequent drought. And of course, throughout the country, 200,000 people have died from a raging pandemic that has shut down the economy, cancelled sports and most other activities, and changed the way that our own Carleton College educates its students.

Continue reading

Divesting: Carleton’s time is now

By Beck Woollen; Published in the Carletonian on February 14, 2020

Carleton is committed to a sustainable future, and the College’s website says so:

“Carleton’s official colors might be maize and blue, but look around campus and you’ll be seeing green.”

The College has made great strides toward its 2011 commitment to be carbon-free by 2050. Several halls on campus have Leadership in Environmental Energy and Design (LEED) certifications, we’re partially wind-powered, and most recently, Carleton installed its geothermal well system, which aims for a 35–40 percent decrease in carbon emissions from the College’s central plant. Whereas these actions all indicate an impressive momentum toward a fossil-free Carleton, there exists a weak link in the chain: our endowment. There is a national momentum building on college campuses in favor of removing fossil fuel from endowments. This act is called divesting, and it is specifically targeted toward the top-200 fossil fuel companies. This figure is composed of the top 100 coal companies and the top 100 natural gas and oil companies worldwide. These rankings are based on emissions potential from companies’ reported reserves. The number of institutions making firm commitments to divest is increasing, and some of them are quite similar to Carleton. On May 4, 2019, several Carleton alumni noted in The Carletonian that “College of the Atlantic, Warren Wilson, Northland, Pitzer, Lewis and Clark, Whitman, and most recently Middlebury” had all made such commitments. Last fall, Smith college joined the list, and our neighbors at St. Olaf are pushing for a similar shift, and so have larger institutions, including Syracuse University, and recently, Georgetown University. This past month, the student body presidents of Big 10 universities unanimously passed a resolution calling upon their institutions to take the same action. For years, Divest Carleton has sought a similar commitment from our Board of Trustees: a freeze on new fossil fuel investments in Carleton’s portfolio and divestment from direct ownership and from any commingled funds that include fossil-fuel public equities and corporate bonds. It is our firm belief that the time to take such action has never been better

The Carleton endowment consists of several main types of investment, the most accessible of which is our direct holdings. Namely, this portion of the endowment entails a more straightforward relationship between investors and firms. In 2015, the Carleton Responsible Investment Committee highlighted that fossil fuels composed approximately 3.2% of the direct holdings or 0.54% of the total endowment at the time. That number has since dropped to zero, meaning that Carleton currently does not possess direct holdings in fossil fuels. This marks great progress. Regrettably, though, there is a critical factor that inhibits Divest Carleton from recognizing the direct holdings as being clean: we are aware of no commitment made by the trustees to not reinvest in fossil fuels.

Carleton students currently matriculate from 42 countries and all 50 states. As anthropogenic climate issues proliferate both domestically and internationally, it stands to reason that many Carls’ homes may already be facing the negative consequences. As a whole, the fossil fuel industry has engaged in egregious behaviors, which range from negligence toward indigenous peoples in the path of their pipelines to active efforts to suppress the truth about climate. In effect, profits from the fossil fuel industry are blood money. Divest Carleton finds that the financial support of these harmful corporations contradicts the conscientiousness and global engagement that Carleton stands for. The college mission explains that our institution seeks to “prepare its graduates to become citizens and leaders, capable of finding inventive solutions to local, national, and global challenges.” Our investment portfolio ought to walk the talk.

When reflecting on the history of college investments, it is noteworthy that Carleton hesitated to completely divest from apartheid-era South African companies. In reflecting on the collapsing apartheid regime, divestment is seen as having been effective. Divest Carleton believes that our institution still has the option to help lead the fossil fuel divestment movement, not to simply follow. We suspect that fossil fuel companies are unlikely to be the only blue-chip stock in our direct holdings, indicated by their small percentage of the 2015 endowment.
We foresee divestment being particularly influential for two reasons: cumulative economic impact and public image. With respect to cumulative economic impact, gofossilfree.org states that 1,184 institutions are currently committed to divestment. While the effect of Carleton divesting is small in isolation, it is far more imposing when attached to a movement of this magnitude. As for public image, it is our belief that investment condones the behavior of a firm. It is thus a very strong vehicle for societal change. As arguably the most imminent threat to our future, climate change is now more serious than it ever has been. Divest Carleton finds that committing to not reinvest in the top 200 fossil fuel companies is necessary for Carleton to best serve its role as an environmental leader, and as a steward of our futures.

Thus, we call upon the Board of Trustees to make a firm commitment to not reinvest in the fossil fuel industry as part of Carleton’s direct holdings – a commitment is all that is needed to make these clean. Additionally, Divest Carleton believes a similar commitment ought to be made in the comingled funds portion of our endowment. Having grown up in Minnesota and knowing of Carleton for the majority of my life, it is my personal belief that continued negligence toward these commitments highly misrepresents the role of environmental leadership Carleton advertises and holds in the public eye.

Letter to Urge Full and Permanent Divestment

Letter to the Chairs of the Board of Trustees and its Investment Committee, from Divest Carleton

By The Students of Divest Carleton on January 17, 2020

Dear Mr. Weitz and Mr. Wender:

We were recently heartened to learn that, as of September 30, 2019, Carleton no longer holds any direct public equity stocks in fossil fuel companies.

This marks a significant change in Carleton’s portfolio. Five years ago, Carleton was directly invested in nine major fossil fuel companies, and only one remained on the list in June 2019. We urge the Board of Trustees and its Investment Committee to continue down this encouraging path, taking further steps to distance the College from similar investments, including:

  1. A commitment not to reinvest in direct fossil fuel holdings.
  2. A plan for analyzing the fossil fuel holdings in Carleton’s commingled funds and divesting from as many as possible, as quickly as possible.

We have long believed that remaining invested in the world’s biggest fossil fuel companies is both fiscally irresponsible and ethically indefensible. It is also a betrayal of Carleton’s mission statement. To stay beneath the warming limit set by the Paris Agreement of two degrees Celsius, 80 percent of the world’s fossil fuel reserves must be left in the ground. Supporting major fossil fuel companies is at odds with the College’s mission to prepare its students for “lives of learning that are broadly rewarding, professionally satisfying, and of service to humanity.”

Such future lives are threatened by an ongoing, increasingly severe climate crisis—especially those of Carleton’s most economically vulnerable students.

As you know, there is widespread support in the Carleton community for divesting the endowment from fossil fuels. Over a thousand students signed a divestment petition and 75 faculty members submitted a letter arguing in favor of divestment. So far there are over 1600 names, including over 1500 living alumni from 68 classes, on the alumni Divest Carleton petition.

Several peer colleges, including Whitman College, Middlebury College and Smith College, have recently decided to divest their endowments from fossil fuels. If Carleton wishes to preserve its “long-standing reputation for leadership in environmental initiatives,” as described by President Poskanzer in the 2011 Climate Action Plan, it is time to take explicit responsibility for the impact of its financial resources. It is time to permanently and fully divest the endowment from fossil fuels.

We hope to hear your response to the Divest Carleton movement soon.


Rebecca Hahn, on behalf of the alumni of Divest Carleton

Tuomas Sivula, on behalf of the students of Divest Carleton

Published in Viewpoint

Letter to Trustees

Dear Trustee:

Prior to this month’s Carleton Board of Trustees meeting, we are writing to update you on recent developments in the Divest Carleton alumni movement, which continues to gain momentum and to support and partner with student actions on campus.

In the last year, we have added nearly 300 signatures to the alumni petition, for a current total of 1595. This includes 1496 living alumni signatures: over 5% of the entire population, representing 68 classes.

These alumni make their interest in divestment known in multiple ways. Since Carleton missed this June’s deadline to divest its endowment from fossil fuels, $2418.13 was distributed from the Carleton College Fossil Free Fund to the nonprofit environmental organizations 350.org and MN350. This brings the total lifetime distributions from the fund to $9199.76, collected from 121 donations. The fund will remain open for further donations through the upcoming academic year, with its next due date set as June 2020. Its current balance sits at $2100.

June 21, 2019, Goodhue Superlounge

At this year’s reunion, a concerned group of alumni organized a panel discussion on divestment from fossil fuels and socially responsible investing. It featured student, alumni, and faculty panelists speaking on topics such as the economics of Carleton’s endowment, the history of the Divest Carleton movement, and the role of the Carleton Responsible Investment Committee (CRIC) in the college’s ethical investing decisions.

This event filled the Goodhue Superlounge, with 88 audience members eagerly volunteering questions and comments throughout the hour and a half time slot.

As the Divest Carleton movement grows, so do the worldwide movements to divest and the wider awareness of the threat of climate change. So far, 1135 institutions with managed assets of $11.48 trillion have committed to divesting from fossil fuels. Recently, the entire University of California system joined their ranks, committing to divesting its $13 billion endowment and $70 billion pension. UC’s CIO and Investment Committee Chair stated: “We believe hanging onto fossil fuel assets is a financial risk.” Just this past Friday, Smith College announced that it would also divest its $1.9 billion endowment. Both the ethical and the safe choice, these days, is to divest from fossil fuel stocks.

Many Carleton students and alumni joined this September’s Global Climate Strike, which organizers estimate drew 7.6 million people into the streets to demand systemic action in response to climate change. These protesters and all the alumni, faculty, parents, staff, and students of Divest Carleton agree: the time to act is now. We invite you to read a recent Viewpoint article, submitted by alumni and students, on the ways in which the college can better address the climate emergency, including by divesting from fossil fuels.

Thank you for your time, and for all you do for Carleton. Please let us know if we can answer any questions.

The Divest Carleton alumni leadership team

Mindy Bell ‘80
Eleanor Haase ‘79
Rebecca Hahn ‘09
Maddie Halloran ‘14
David Loy ‘69
Kathryn Olney P’15
Peter Scheuermann ‘12
Dimitri Smirnoff ‘15
Brett Smith ‘64
Rev. Dwight Wagenius ‘64