The CDFI Women's Network (CWN) reconvened at OFN's Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. on September 27th. More than 150 women joined the meeting, and there was lots of energy and excitement in the room as we continue to be inspired by the interest in this budding network. Whether you were able to attend the session in D.C. or not, there is a lot to report back on and many ways to get involved in this growing group.

Summary of September 27th meeting:
The meeting recapped for the newcomers what the CWN is all about, which you can see in the presentation we shared onsite. We also celebrated CWN events that took place across the country, and more are in the works or coming up soon. These were our first events organized by CWN members at the local level to provide informal networking opportunities to women in a specific city or region.

During the meeting, we also:

  • Shared a new organizational structure and articulated tasks we need to tackle to make the CWN operational (which you can review in slides 15-16 of the presentation).
  • Learned about the new online CDFI Connect Community OFN rolled out on October 25. OFN has invited the CWN to be one of the first "communities" for this new platform.
  • Learned about an awesome professional development opportunity that came to OFN from Morgan Stanley. OFN is partnering with Landit, an innovative technology platform that creates a personalized playbook for women seeking to move their career forward. Landit offers an amazing range of "free services" that you can access at
  • Set goals for 2017!

Organizational Structure

Megan presented a brief overview of the organizational structure we will use to operationalize the CWN. This is important for several reasons. We want to build the infrastructure to deliver the kinds of resources and programming you asked for at our inaugural meeting in Atlanta last year. To do this, we need to harness your energy and talent. Many of you have emailed, called or spoken to us asking how you can help and we want to offer you concrete ways you can contribute.

To start this process, we would like to focus on building out the Hubs. Each Hub will have its own Team and Captain comprised of volunteers. Our top priorities are the Technology and Communications Hubs as these two Teams will provide both the content and a way for us to communicate with our membership. We are looking for volunteers to lead and staff all the Teams for these Hubs. It would be particularly helpful to have members with expertise in specific areas serve as Captains of each Team. Emily Tunney from OFN will work with our Technology Team, and Debby Stefaniak from OFN will head up the Communications Team, but we will need volunteers to staff and lead the effort to get our network up and running.

To help you select which team best suits your talents and interests, please review the committee descriptions on the CWN web page. If you would like to volunteer to help us launch any of these Hubs as a Captain / Co-Captain or Team member, please sign up here.

We have had a number of women offer to join our Steering Committee and will be finalizing this group in the next month or so. Once this Committee is in place, it will provide guidance to the individual Teams as well as set the direction of the Network. If we are not able to accommodate all of you who would like to serve on this Committee initially, please know there will be opportunities to participate and contribute in the future.

Goals for 2017:
We also set goals for our Network to be completed before we meet at the annual OFN Conference in Chicago in 2018:

  • Activate Committees 
  • Launch and Populate Online Community: Our Technology Team will work with OFN to tackle this goal
  • Grow Membership: We welcome any women working in or with the CDFI industry. If you know someone who would like to join the CWN please encourage them to sign up to be included in our mailing list and receive information by completing this form
  • Complete Survey (including naming the Network): We would like to do a more comprehensive survey of our members to learn more about the types of services, resources, and programming they would like the CWN to offer.
  • Hold 2-4 Programming Events (speakers, webinars, etc.)
  • Organize multiple chapters of the CWN (both geographic and virtual). 
  • Learn from Landit Career Development Program: We will ask women who participate in this opportunity to share learnings with Network members.
  • Design and Implement Mentoring Program: Very ambitious but we would like to at least get started on this goal as so many women expressed interest in this offering.

Other Announcements:
We also wanted to share this announcement from our friends at the Tory Burch Foundation.

Tory Burch Foundation Fellows Program

Do you know a woman entrepreneur who could benefit from the Tory Burch Foundation? Applications have just opened for the third year of the Foundation's flagship Fellows Program!

Women entrepreneurs in the United States are invited to apply online for one of 10 fellowship positions. Fellows will receive a one-year fellowship, a trip to Tory Burch's headquarters in NYC for a 3-day workshop, and a $10,000 education grant. Additionally, a pitch competition will determine one winner to receive a $100,000 grant investment.

Please note: applications must be received by November 9, 2017.

Finally, for anyone who missed it, see this link for a recent OFN blog post about how the CWN got started.

Note: This blog post was adapted from an email sent to the CWN from OFN on behalf of CWN founders Vicky Stein, Community Reinvestment Fund, and Megan Teare, Wells Fargo Community Lending and Investment. The purpose of posting this adapted email is to continue to grow the exposure of the CWN and gain more participants.


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