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Citi Leadership Program for Opportunity Finance

  • Citi and OFN build leaders to strengthen

  • the future of the opportunity finance industry.



The Citi Leadership Program for Opportunity Finance is a unique and innovative leadership program for CDFIs. Developed by CDFIs for CDFIs, the program supports talent that can lead transformational change, ensures strong leadership at all levels of the industry, and promotes leaders that represent the diverse communities that CDFIs serve.

The opportunity finance industry emerged from the Great Recession stronger and fielding more opportunities than ever. But the industry needs more leaders to leverage these and future opportunities. The Citi Leadership Program for Opportunity Finance is an industry-wide talent development program designed to help new leaders, capitalize on the experience of current leaders, and build a leadership that reflects the diverse communities that CDFIs serve.

The program works with three levels of CDFI leaders—Emerging, Mid-Career, and Executive.

The Citi Leadership Program for Opportunity Finance is offered by Opportunity Finance Network with generous support from the Citi Foundation.

The application process for the 2015 class will open November 3rd. Check back on that date to download the application.

View the 2014 participants!

How it Works

Developed by CDFIs for CDFIs, the program works with three levels of CDFI leaders:

Executive Leaders—CEOs or Executive Directors.

Mid-Career Leaders—CDFI department heads, team leaders, program managers, and line-of-business leaders with at least ten years of professional experience, of which at least three years are in the opportunity finance industry.

Emerging Leaders—High-potential early-career CDFI professionals with at least three years of professional experience, of which at least one is in the opportunity finance industry.

Over a period of 11 months, a select group of 8-10 Executive Leaders, 15-20 Mid-Career Leaders, and 15-20 Emerging Leaders will experience the program’s unique curriculum. Developed and delivered by Opportunity Finance Network and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, the curriculum offers a powerful combination of leadership development experiences built around four key elements:

  • Transformational leadership frameworks and tools
  • Applying transformational leadership to the opportunity finance industry
  • Understanding leadership and management
  • Building effective teams to lead transformational change

Through four in-person gatherings (in January, April, and June in Philadelphia, and November at the 2015 OFN Conference in Detroit) and regular conference calls, participants will learn from program instructors, their fellow Citi leaders, and their own self-reflection.

OFN will provide a modest travel stipend to partially offset the cost of travel; each participant’s organization is responsible for covering the difference.

Eligibility Criteria

Applicants must be employed by an OFN Member CDFI.

Applicants must demonstrate a commitment to leading transformational change. We define transformational change as structural (laws, policies) and/or systemic (practices, norms, values) change.

Eligibility for each level is as follows:

  • Executive Leaders

    • Chief Executive Officers or Executive Directors.
  • Mid-Career Leaders

    • Department heads, team leaders, or program managers that demonstrate high potential.
    • Accountability for day-to-day operations as well as strategic goals.
    • A minimum of ten years into their career, including at least three years in the opportunity finance industry and three years supervising others.
  • Emerging Leaders

    • Early career CDFI professionals with at least three of professional experience, of which at least one is in the opportunity finance industry. Associate to vice president level. Looking to identify their career path.
    • Recognized by their superiors as capable and smart individuals with high potential that are likely to take on a leadership role in five to ten years. Have a track record of performance, taking on responsibilities and achieving goals. Unique, passionate perspective – bring fresh ideas, challenge the status quo.

Applicants must confirm in good faith that, if they are selected to participate in the Citi Leadership Program for Opportunity Finance, they:

  • Will participate in all Program meetings, webinars, and conference calls, and cover any associated travel costs not covered by the Program stipend. Active participation means completing preparatory or follow-up assignments on time; openly sharing their professional successes, challenges, and failures with their cohort; and constructively engaging with their cohort members throughout the 11-month program.
  • Intend to continue working in the opportunity finance industry for two years after completing the program.

Selection Criteria

Successful applicants will:

  1. Demonstrate a desire to become a transformational leader in the opportunity finance industry or—for current leaders—a desire to exercise transformational leadership.
  2. Articulate clear and ambitious goals for what they want to accomplish in their careers in the opportunity finance industry.
  3. Value the opportunity to work with peers in a collaborative way.
  4. Be recognized by their supervisor and peers as an individual with leadership potential or—for current leaders--the potential to grow their leadership capacity.
  5. Commit to approach transformational leadership with a respect for diversity and inclusion.

The selected individuals will represent a range of backgrounds, experiences, and institutions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a limit to the number of applications a single CDFI can submit, either by total applications from the organization or total per level?

There are no limits on the number of applications from an organization.

Who will the instructors be?

The instructors and facilitators will include academics and leadership experts from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and OFN staff.

What is the format of the meetings?

The meetings will include formal instruction, facilitated discussion, and informal networking.

Where will the in-person meetings take place?

The January, April, and June meetings will take place in Philadelphia. The November meeting will be in Detroit.

How much is the stipend?

Stipends will be approximately $400 per meeting for the three Philadelphia meetings. There is no stipend for the Detroit meeting which is being held in conjunction with the annual OFN Conference.

I work for an affiliate or a subsidiary of an OFN Member CDFI. Do I meet the eligibility requirements?

Staff of OFN Member subsidiaries that are CDFIs are eligible to apply.  Staff of subsidiaries that are not CDFIs are not eligible. Staff of affiliates are not eligible.

Are OFN Allies eligible?

The program is limited to OFN Members. OFN Allies are not eligible. We may reconsider the eligibility criteria next year or thereafter if the program is extended.

I don’t meet the eligibility requirements.  Can you waive them?

Unfortunately, we cannot waive any of the eligibility criteria. 

For the Emerging Leaders, do internships count toward the requirement three years of professional experience, of which at least one is in the opportunity finance industry? 

No, internships do not count toward these professional experience requirements.

Who should letters of recommendation be sent to?

There are two options. The author(s) of your letters of recommendation can either send them to you and you can upload them into your online application or the author(s) can email them directly to the Citi Leadership Program Selection Committee at CitiLeadership@ofn.org. Please tell your author(s) to show the following in the subject line of the email: LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION FOR <Applicant First and Last Name>. The author(s) must submit the letter(s) by the application due date.