Gayle Peterson

Gayle Peterson

Associate Fellow

Saïd Business School 
Executive Education Centre 
University of Oxford 
Egrove Park 
OX1 5NY 


Gayle is co-founder of an international consultancy offering strategic guidance in leadership development, programme strategy, and impact measures to leading foundations, corporations, impact investors, governments, and intermediaries.

With more than 20 years’ experience as a strategist, philanthropist, and trusted adviser to social investors worldwide, Gayle has managed and assessed more than US$15 billion in philanthropic and impact investments. She has advised social investors in more than 45 countries and has taught social investing classes worldwide.

Career highlights that have helped shaped Gayle’s researching, teaching and consulting include: Programme Director for the Great Lakes Protection Fund, where she created the first bi-national grant-making programme with the Great Lakes Governors and Premiers to promote environmental sustainability, economic development, and multi-sector collaboration. She has also served as Executive Director, Milkweed Editions, a literary press where she created an award-winning children’s literacy programme; and Chief of Staff, Commissioner of the Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, where she advocated for policies to expand employment opportunities for women.  

Gayle holds an MA in Social Policy and Law from the University of Chicago and an MSc from the HEC-Paris School of Management and Oxford University. She is a contributor to Alliance Magazine, the Financial Times, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, and the Huffington Post.


Gayle’s research focuses on leadership and the role of business in addressing complex and systemic issues to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Gayle has interviewed more than 1,200 executives in social finance in 20 countries, representing the World Bank, family offices, pension funds, corporations, private and community foundations, and impact investors.

The research has resulted in 20 programmes of studies and two books: Good, Evil, Wicked: The Art, Science and Business of Giving; and The Promise and Peril of Social Finance: the Impact of Big Finance and Big Technology on the World’s Poor.


Gayle remains committed to working at a community level and contributing to the social finance field.

Recent examples of her engagement include:

  • member, UNICEF Grand Jury Resource Mobilization Challenge
  • member, Impact and Sustainable Finance Faculty Consortium, a community of global academic institutions teaching impact investing
  • advisory member, PACT Northwestern University Hospital Palliative Care Division, to provide more coordinated and compassionate health care services for patients in hospice and palliative care
  • advisory member, Climate Generation, to promote youth engagement in climate education
  • advisory member, Minnesota Opportunity Zone Advisors
  • speaker, “Cautionary Tales in Impact Investing”, Global Impact Investing Network Conference
  • speaker, “Education and SDGs in Emerging Economies” and Judge for Impact Award, EMPEA, a global industry association for private equity capital in emerging economies


At the School, Gayle is Co-Director of the Impact Investing and Social Finance programmes. She challenges students to tackle the world’s most complex problems through ethical and deliberate leadership.

She co-founded the Women Transforming Leadership programme and has taught on the Oxford Impact Measurement, Consulting and Coaching for Change and MBA programmes.

Gayle has lectured at Smith School of Business, Queen’s University and Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University.