OFN President and CEO Lisa Mensah ushered in the OFN Annual Conference with a rallying cry for the CDFI industry: “CDFIs, this is our time!”

In her keynote speech on the first full day of the Conference, Lisa urged CDFIs and industry partners to not be discouraged by today’s divisive times in America. Rather, her optimistic message encouraged us to remember that CDFIs were born — in Chicago, the site of this year’s Conference — to advance economic, political, and social justice. “CDFIs have grown and evolved during turmoil. And in turmoil we find solutions. We offer healing – healing is in our DNA,” she said. 

During the 20-minute speech to a packed audience, Lisa spoke about OFN’s move to D.C. by 2019, where it will double down on, among other public policy priorities, advocating for growing the CDFI Fund, protecting CRA, and crafting a role for CDFIs in the Opportunity Zone space.

She also shared stories of CDFIs who are solving problems in the areas they serve, and ended with a bold call for CDFIs to help bring meaning back to the promise of opportunity: “We must put our blood and our sweat and our tears into ensuring America’s promise isn’t lost. We must lean in harder and more persistently than ever before to actively work for opportunity.” 

Read the full speech here.

More information—including videos, photos, and session material—is available on the 2018 OFN Conference recap page.

 

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