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.

View the 2014 participants!

How it Works

The program works with three levels of CDFI leaders—Emerging, Mid-Career, and Executive. Each year, leaders from these three groups will focus on leadership challenges specific to their respective career levels while developing the skills and resolve they’ll need to lead structural and systemic change. Once each year, they will all come together to learn from one another.

  • Executive Leaders—Eight to ten executive leaders of CDFIs; for large organizations, C-level executives may be eligible. The Executive Leadership group will address legacy/succession planning, staying focused on mission, developing and achieving strategic goals that are inclusive of the diversity of the markets we serve, and building individual leadership skills to stay relevant in a growing, changing organization.
  • Mid-Career Leaders—Fifteen to twenty 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. The Mid-Career Leaders group will address leadership skills that are effective with diverse constituencies, moving from a mentee to a mentor role, leveraging a professional network, and gaining a broad understanding of what it takes to run a CDFI, including governance and finance.
  • Emerging Leaders—Fifteen to twenty 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. Leadership development opportunities include designing and pursuing a career path, developing a professional network, understanding leadership skills for a diverse world, and gaining opportunities to lead transformational change within their current roles.

Over a period of ten months (January—October 2014), each group will

  • Attend two one-and-a-half day gatherings of fellow CDFI leaders as well as talent management professionals. The Emerging Leaders group will attend a third gathering. Locations and dates to be determined.
  • Come together at a final full-day gathering in October 2014 at the 2014 OFN Conference in Denver. 
  • Participate in regular conference calls and webinars throughout the program. 

Participants will complete assignments in preparation for the meetings, webinars, and calls. 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

  • Executive Directors or Chief Executive Officers. Other C-level executives are eligible to apply; however, priority will be given to Executive Directors and CEOs.

Mid-Career Leaders

  • Department heads, team leaders, or program managers that demonstrate high potential. For large organizations, this may include leaders that are one level below the C-level executives.  For smaller organizations, it includes the level right below the Executive Director, CEO, or equivalent.
  • 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 ten-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 academic and other leadership experts, OFN staff, and Citi 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 locations are yet to be determined.

How much is the stipend?

Stipends will be $250-$500 per meeting. The exact amount is yet to be determined.

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 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 November 8th due date.