Speaker: Cornelius Pietzner

All Real Living Is Meeting: The Role of Inner-work in Cultivating Community

Cornelius Pieztner, currently a high-impact financial professional, spent the first 45 years of his life at Camphill - a network of intentional communities co-founded by his father Carlos Pietzner. The communities were designed for children and youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Through his interactions and work with teenagers with pronounced developmental disabilities, Cornelius realized that his primary work was not to fix the "other", but to work on himself to cultivate tolerance, acceptance, and love.

"The inner aspect of community" as he calls it, became one of the central inquiries of his life and work - "What would be needed for an aggregation of people to understand themselves and experience themselves as a community of people?"

For more than 30 years, Cornelius has carried this inquiry into leading roles at the intersections of philanthropy, investment, social impact enterprises, transformative education focusing on the well-being of the planet, and commercial ventures toward a human-centered economy. Currently, he serves as the CEO of Alterra Impact Finance GmbH, an impact investment, management, and advisory firm in Switzerland with private equity investments in several European companies. Until 2021, he served as Managing Director of Mind & Life Europe, founded by the Dalai Lama. He also served as Chief Financial Officer on the Executive Board at the Goetheanum, General Anthroposophical Society, Switzerland (2002-2011), with affiliates in 90 countries and approximately 10,000 related institutions in agriculture, medicine, and therapy, (Waldorf) education, ethical banking and business, and the arts. He was the President of Camphill (life-sharing) Communities in North America.

Growing up in a community that had no concept of individual ownership or income, Cornelius also developed a deep interest in understanding money and working with it in new ways to foster greater belonging. His earliest experiment was to set up a youth group fund with the principle, "put what you can, take what you need". His various leadership roles in finance have been guided by his vision of "positive economy" to catalyze a shift from consumerism to "enoughness", rationality to wisdom, and self-interest to compassion for others.

Cornelius is also the steward of the Pietzner Art Collection, composed of over 1,500 artworks from his father and several other revolutionary artists. He is a partner at NOW Partners and serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Karl Konig Institute in Berlin Germany, among other privately held European companies. He has also served on Advisory Boards for Gross National Happiness Center in Bhutan, B Corps Europe, Partnering for Global Impact, and OOOM World. He is the author and editor of several books (Candle on the Hill, Village Life) and presents on various topics in conferences internationally. Born in Northern Ireland in 1957 and having grown up in Pennsylvania, USA, he received his degree (Highest Honors) in Political Science from Williams College, Mass., and was awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. Pietzner lives near Basel, Switzerland and Vienna, Austria.

Join Birju Pandya and Susan Clark in conversation with this remarkable agent of change, impact investor, and community builder.

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