The OFN 2017 Board Elections campaign is on! There are ten candidates for four seats on the OFN Board. Get to know each one by visiting the campaign site here.  

OFN Members vote on the OFN Board at the OFN Membership Meeting on Thursday, September 28, from 8:45 AM–10:15 AM. Can’t make it to the Conference? Contact Seth Julyan to vote by proxy!

CDFI Connect spoke with Chrystel Cornelius, Executive Director, First Nations Oweesta, to learn more about the candidate. Check out Chrystel’s candidate statement here.

Tell us a little about yourself and what motivates you to keep pushing for the industry: 

I’ve been working in the economic development field, with a rural emphasis in Native communities, for over 18 years.  In that capacity, as well as being a tribal member living within my reservation community, I have seen and experienced the dire need for economic progress and opportunities required to promote healthy and sustainable communities. As the executive director of First Nations Oweesta Corporation, the only Native intermediary CDFI in the nation, we have the honor and privilege to assist Native CDFIs across the nation realize those dreams by capitalizing these institutions to change the economic landscape of their communities. What keeps me driven in this industry is the vast inequalities of capital issuance needed in marginalized communities, the impacts we’ve witnessed nationwide with the advent of CDFIs working within our communities and most importantly, the lives we’ve been able to touch in building personal and community assets in the places and communities that need it most. 

What do you think is the most important role for OFN in the CDFI industry right now?

I believe that the policy work that OFN has consistently excelled in throughout their operational duration is incredibly important, and will continue to be imperative in this time of political uncertainty for the entire CDFI industry.  As a membership organization, having the ability to act as a collective voice for CDFIs is more imperative now than ever.  OFN has also consistently proven to be adept in facilitating larger partnerships with a myriad of foundations, conventional banking institutions and philanthropic entities that essentially encompasses the technical assistance and training needs for the growth and sustainability of our industry, this aspect of services is also incredibly important for OFN to continue for the benefit of CDFIs across the nation to strengthen their capacity in serving their respective target markets.  

What will you bring to the OFN Board during the next three years?

I’ve had the honor to serve on the OFN for the last three years and am running for my currently running for my second term. I believe I will continue to bring a perspective of rural communities needs and more so the opportunities that exist in these areas, in addition to examining collaboratives that can be instilled and fostered to maximize our impacts as CDFIs with broader government agencies, philanthropic resources, and partnerships within our CDFI circles.

To ensure an efficient voting process, please identify your CDFI’s Voting Delegate in advance of the September 28 Membership Meeting and contact Emily Tunney with the delegate’s name. Voting Delegates will be able to pick up their ballots 30 minutes before the start of the Membership Meeting.



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