Shari Berenbach, a former official with the U.S. Agency for International Development who had served as president of the U.S. African Development Foundation since 2012, died Sunday at her home in Bethesda, Maryland. She was 64.
The cause was breast cancer, said her husband, James Heaney.
Berenbach was the director of the Microenterprise and Private Enterprise Promotion office at USAID for two years before joining the African Development Foundation, an independent federal agency that awards grants to community groups and small businesses on the continent.
At both agencies, she focused on microfinance initiatives, which provide low-income individuals and small businesses with loans and other financial services.
From 1997 to 2010, she served as president of the Calvert Foundation, a nonprofit investment company in Bethesda started by the founders of the Calvert Group mutual fund company. Under her direction, the organization grew to invest more than $500 million in nonprofits and small businesses around the world with the aim of reducing poverty.
Shari Sue Berenbach was born Sept. 17, 1951, in Los Angeles. She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. She received a master’s degree in Latin American studies from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1982 and an MBA from Columbia Business School in 1990.
Berenbach began her microfinance work in the early 1980s as a program director for the now-defunct Partnership for Productivity International, a Washington-based nonprofit that trained and advised entrepreneurs around the world.
She served on boards and committees for such groups as the Financial Accounting Standards Board and the Association for Enterprise Opportunity, a microbusiness advocacy group.
In addition to her husband of 23 years, survivors include their daughter, Moriah Heaney, also of Bethesda; a brother; and a sister.