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 Lenwood V. Long, Sr., President and CEO, Carolina Small Business Development Fund, to learn more about the candidate. Check out Lenwood's candidate statement here.

Tell us about yourself and what motivates you:

I am the President and CEO of Carolina Small Business Development Fund. I have been with the organization since its inception in 1990, along with Martin Eakes, as one of the co-founders. I have a lot of passion for this work and this mission of helping the underserved, those who need capital and other services to fulfill their dreams.

My mentor was Congresswoman Eva Clayton. I served as her Chief of Staff and Vice President of her company. One of the things I learned from her is the notion to approach whatever you are doing with passion. And then you have to find value in your passion. You have to temper your knee-jerk reactions, and to fuel your passion to drive the situation and not let it drive you. I learned so much from her when she went against such great odds, running for Congress as the only female candidate. I learned the value of serving and responding to the underserved. Which is ultimately the vision of my organization, creating equal opportunity for all people.

I myself had humble beginnings and faced a lack of economic opportunity in my community. But over the years, I have been blessed in so many ways, such that I could rise to the point of helping other people realize their dreams. Seeing people succeed makes it very exciting for me to be a part of this work and in this field.

What do you think is the most important role for OFN in the CDFI industry:

You have to put this in the context of the current climate, in which we are seeing a shrinking role of government in fueling access to housing and capital. We’re seeing a decrease in revenue sources for CDFIs and consequent increase in competition for resources. OFN has a great opportunity to champion the values and impact of the work of CDFIs in an increasingly hostile environment, and in the midst of competitive and shrinking resources.

What would you bring to the board over the next three years:

I would like to bring that which I was told I was nominated for: a voice of reason. I bring experience, passion for the values of the industry, and advocacy for the work we do. My experience is based upon working in environments that are not always friendly to the work we do. I have strived to be a voice of reason when critical decisions must be made, and when we have had to navigate competing philosophies.

In times such as these I bring the temperament of someone who is methodical, yet passionate, and who can make decisions with empathy.

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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