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 Donna Gambrell, President and CEO, Appalachian Community Capital to learn more about the candidate. Check out Donna's candidate statement here.

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

I’m a first-generation college graduate who intended to pursue a career in journalism, but got off track—and I’m glad I did!  If I had followed my initial plan, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to live in New York City and work as one of FDIC’s first community affairs officers. The experience was life changing. I got to see with my own eyes the power of community organizing and the impact that persons (both in the non-profit and for-profit worlds) could have in communities determined to achieve economic self-sufficiency. 

If I had become a journalist, I would have missed the opportunity to engage with CDFIs in the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. These were CDFIs who refused to accept the opinions of some that homes, businesses, schools, community facilities, hospitals, and the lives of people who lived in those communities could not be rebuilt.

If I’d ended up working for a newspaper, then I wouldn’t have found my way to the CDFI Fund, which allowed me to witness first-hand the tremendous efforts by CDFIs to stay afloat and to meet community needs at the same time.

These career experiences and my own personal experiences of growing up in some of the same neighborhoods in which CDFIs are engaged today, and seeing the changes that can occur, are what motivate me to continue advocating for the industry.

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

I think the most important roles are for OFN to:

  • Raise the visibility of the CDFI industry with major stakeholders
  • Actively engage and collaborate with other trade associations that serve CDFIs
  • Help CDFIs identify and obtain alternative sources of financing
  • Develop mentoring and leadership programs for new CDFI CEOs (including CEOs of color and women)
  • Dramatically increase OFN membership

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

I bring the perspectives of someone who has worked in the regulatory, government, and nonprofit industries and who has had to navigate both sides of Congress.

I also have an interest in expanding the OFN tent to ensure that more sectors of the industry are included, and that their voices are represented.

I’m at a point in my life where I’m old enough to start seeing repeats of initiatives and strategies, and young enough to still want to be an enthusiastic champion of fresh ideas!

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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