Guest Contributor: Heather Rademacher Taylor, Programs Manager, First Nations Oweesta Corporation
This year will mark the 15th year of the Native Convening at the annual OFN Conference. Each year, the Native Convening includes a Native Gathering Day, Native Track of Sessions, and Native Awards (this year will be the 13th year of these awards), where Native CDFIs come together, learn, and celebrate the accomplishments of their colleagues and the field. This is an important component of the larger OFN Conference.
This year’s theme is Learning & Exploration as during the Native Gathering, we will discuss new research from the field, discuss peer-to-peer fundraising strategies, homeownership products and services (as more and more Native CDFIs are looking at expanding into homeownership), and CDFI Fund awards and compliance issues. During the Native track of sessions, we will offer opportunities to learn about the loan loss reserve, financial coaching as a way to deepen client services, and impact tracking as these are topics of interest to Native CDFIs (and any other organizations interested) in building their capacities as practitioners and organizations.
Finally, the highlight of the year is the Native Awards, which will take place Tuesday, October 9, from 6-8pm. This ceremony, open to all OFN Conference attendees, honors a Circle of Honor awardee and Visionary Leader awardee each year. The Circle of Honor Award recognizes a Native CDFI that is successfully increasing access to capital and financial resources in Native communities and the Visionary Leader Award for Outstanding Achievement recognizes a person who has made a long-term contribution to the Native CDFI industry and whose local financing and asset building efforts make them an inspiration for others.
Overall, the Native Convening means a wonderful week of learning and connecting with colleagues. This opportunity provided by the annual OFN Conference, rejuvenates participants and supports them as they work diligently serving their communities.