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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Honoring a Fallen SoCal Fundster Via a Scholarship

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

Friends and family of a fallen PM are honoring her memory by helping other women get their start in financial services.

Yesterday Jennifer DeVoll, CEO of the Pasadena Community Foundation, unveiled the Bonnie Baha Memorial Scholarship, in memory of Bonnie Baha, former head of global developed credit, partner, and senior PM at DoubleLine Capital [profile. Baha died in August 2016.

The scholarship fund will give at least one $10,000 scholarship per year to a woman from financial services who is pursuing an MBA at USC. The scholarship's selection committee includes: Miriam Baha, daughter of Bonnie Baha and marketing operations associate at Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors; Mary Childs, a reporter at Barron's; Monica Erickson, PM and head of the investment grade corporate bond team at DoubleLine; and Melissa Weiler, a managing director of Crescent Capital and ex-TCW colleague of Baha's. The foundation administers the fund.

Folks at DoubleLine starting discussing the idea about nine months ago, Erickson says, then brought in Bonnie Baha's family. They decided on the scholarship fund, administered by PCF, as a way to be able to support individuals (instead of institutions).

"We wanted to have direct input into candidates receiving the scholarship," Erickson tells MFWire. "This had the structure and the flexibility that we needed."

Erickson remembers Bonnie Baha as someone "very much interested in promoting people that were good at their jobs."

"She was very much about merit and really just doing good work," Erickson says. "She understood specifically the issues that women face in finance," such as issues around flexible schedules.

"As along as the job got done and the job got done well, she was happy," Erickson added. "DoubleLine really encourages that [flexibility]. It's really about the type of work or level of work that you're doing, and it's not about face time."

Erickson continues:
Women, unfortunately, are still very underrepresented in finance. It starts at the entry level, dwindles down mid-career and again as you become more senior ... [Bonnie Baha] tried to create a work environment that allowed for the progression all the way through.

The scholarship fund, Erickson says, tackles the same issue by helping out at the beginning of a woman's career.

Applications for this year are due by May 17, with a scholarship award announcement expected in mid-June. This is the pilot year for the scholarship fund, DeVoll explains, and it may be expanded to other schools in coming years.

"We will learn from the responses and the candidates that we see come through," DeVoll says.

"I'm super excited about this. I want to get the word out there," Erickson says. "Hopefully it will grow into something larger and we can carry on her legacy." 

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