Each summer, OFN interns have been outstanding additions to our two offices, and this year is no different. Our four interns share a passion for OFN’s work and a desire to grow the CDFI industry. Over the summer, Strategic Communications intern Anna Gomez spoke with Mingming Mao of Knowledge Sharing; Caitlin Tardio of Public Policy; and Jeff Altmeier of Strategic Consulting about opportunity finance, life outside of OFN, and dream dinner guests. This week, we’re turning the tables on Anna! Enjoy our Q&A and learn more about the college senior (and co-host of La Salle TV’s Sportsline cable access show).
OFN Department: Strategic Communications
Major & School: Communication and Marketing at La Salle University, specializing in PR
Hometown: Shamong, NJ
Hidden Talent: I played alto sax in my high school marching band. Our repertoire included Madonna favorites, music from the movie Rocky, and some of Queen’s greatest hits.
What attracted you to the CDFI industry/OFN? What made you apply to OFN?
During the last school year, I interned with the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Arts and Culture and the Creative Economy. When I started with the office there was a shift in its audience-development efforts from trying to not just put on cultural experiences but to also to deliver them across the city—to bring the arts to neighborhood rec centers. Not everyone will want to go—or can afford to go—downtown to pay a lot of money for tickets to a cultural event. That was an immediate shift in my thinking about how to reach people; that it’s important to make services and programs accessible and to give opportunities in communities where there aren’t many.
So when I came across OFN’s summer internships listing, I immediately connected to what CDFIs were doing to expand access to people. CDFIs are in communities and meeting communities where they are. They’re making it possible for people to have opportunity in any number of ways.
Tell us about some of the projects you are working on. How will they help OFN and/or the industry?
The defining project I’ve been working on is a soon-to-launch OFN story bank. I’ve been facilitating different aspects of getting that off the ground. OFN is really working on highlighting stories to showcase what Members are doing and to amplify the voice and impact of CDFIs in the U.S. economy in general. It’s exciting to play a part in contributing to the voice of the industry.
I’ve also developed some content for OFN’s blog, assisted in social media, and helped gather assets for CDFIsInvest.org.
What have you learned about OFN and the CDFI industry that you didn’t know when you started?
I’m really impressed with OFN because there’s a clear understanding that OFN is serving as the unified voice for a lot of loan funds and CDFIs, and that it takes responsibility as an industry (and financial) thought leader. I’ve learned what it’s like to be at the forefront of an industry and have connections to every corner of the country. From offices in Philadelphia and D.C., OFN is lifting up the work of CDFIs and communities in places like Excelsior Springs, Missouri.
What have you learned about strategic communications?
In school, we’re given a formula—an exact process— to follow for crafting messages, getting communications efforts going, and measuring impact. I’ve learned that in the working world, it doesn’t always happen so perfectly. There is more to consider and more coming at you at one time, especially for a national industry. OFN has so much to noodle—for example with social media messages. OFN has multiple stakeholders and its messages need to consider them all in some way. There’s so much strategy behind what the strategic communications team does.
What are you up to this summer when you’re not at OFN?
I work on the weekends at an old school deli in West Philly, cutting meat, making sandwiches, slathering on mayo and dressing. And I’m an aunt for the first time—my brother and sister-in-law had their first baby, Olivia Rose.
If you could have dinner with any one person, dead or alive, who would it be?
Stevie Nicks. I’ve grown up on Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks. I love that she’s super outspoken, and very purposeful in the way she speaks. And if she doesn’t want to talk, she won’t. I dig that. Although it could make dinner interesting!
What are you going to take away from this experience? What’s your lasting impression of OFN and CDFIs?
I really admire the amount of care and attention to detail CDFI practitioners take into their lending practices. They take responsibility as a lender but they care about the projects and the entrepreneurs, and they want to see them succeed. CDFIs don’t just want to make money. There is an amazing kind of thought, care, and passion for making things happen and giving people the best opportunity to succeed. I honestly can’t believe all financing doesn’t work this way in general.
The big impression I have of OFN is that it’s an important voice for CDFIs and for creative financing.
Overall, this experience helped me realize I need to work for something with purpose. I immediately got that from OFN and CDFIs. It’s more than a job, it’s a passion.
“Anna brings it! In her short time with OFN, Anna has become a trusted part of the Strategic Communications team. Her work is outstanding and her contributions go above and beyond the scope of the internship—she listens, considers, and offers valuable and actionable suggestions and insights. The team was down a person this summer while Lindsay Li, OFN’s social media specialist and blog editor, was on maternity leave, and Anna stepped in and up to help fill in during a busy communications time. And beyond doing great work great work, she’s a joy to work with—smart, sharp, professional, funny, and interesting!”
—Sacha Adorno, Strategic Communications intern supervisor