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 Michael Banner, President and CEO, Los Angeles LDC, Inc. to learn more about the candidate. Check out Michael's candidate video and statement here.
Tell us a little about yourself and what motivates you to keep pushing for the industry:
I grew up in Watts and I feel that I am an outcome of what organizations like OFN and CDFIs are focused on creating to make positive impacts in low-income communities and changing lives. I am committed to this industry because of my experience with the two riots in LA. The first Watts riot happened when I was an 11-year old boy from Watts. In 1992, when the beating of Rodney King was captured on video tape, we had the second civil disturbance in LA. The day the Rodney King civil disturbance began I was in my late 30s and had embarked on a successful career in banking. I had just interviewed and accepted a job at America’s largest federally chartered thrift (which was eventually acquired by JP Morgan Chase during the financial crisis) and I was on my way home when the 1992 civil disturbance started. At this point in my professional career and as a “Son of Watts”, twice I witnessed my City going up in flames.
I believe the causes of LA’s urban unrest is deeply rooted in a lack of sustainable economic opportunity in low-income communities. By 1992, I realized that my banking and financial skills should be used to help create opportunity where it was needed. So I turned down the banking job and went on to launch my economic development consulting enterprise to use my expertise to demonstrate how a local kid from an impoverished neighborhood have a positive impact on the lives of residents in low-income neighborhoods.
I believe the real value of OFN and the community development finance industry is to be a trusted steward of capital and relationships that deliver local sustainable impact to communities in need. I consider my life to be a good example of the idea of “for the community by the community.” Often in an organization like the Los Angeles LDC, you don’t have aspirations of being on every corner in America, but in being the best you can be in your neighborhood.
What do you think is the most important role for OFN in the CDFI industry right now?
I have been an OFN member for decades and didn’t think I needed to be on the board until now. In my view, the community development finance industry is at its most critical inflection point since the 2008 financial crisis. The industry is not a huge industry but it is an important one. Now that the financial crisis is in the rear view mirror, we still see that there is a significant amount of economic disparity. I don’t believe anyone really expected the long term hang over from the 2008 crisis to be so severe or realized how long it would take to work our way out of it. In many communities of color, we are still at the bottom trying to get back on our feet despite the fact that the major US financial system is relatively healthy and has a strong capital base; however, people of color still have challenges in accessing capital to change their neighborhoods and improve their lives.
According to Jamie Dimon, JP Morgan Chase Chairman, having capital to deploy is no longer the problem for banks—but what is happening in cities, all across America, is the increasing focus on income and wealth inequality. I believe it remains incumbent upon OFN to continue to advocate for policies and resources that promote the best practices by all CDFIs and other mission-driven capital providers that seek to meet the needs in underserved and underrepresented markets. But, I believe that OFN’s leadership will still need to be engaged in a body of work that fosters greater industry-wide collaboration to produce more equitable outcomes in communities of color.
There are many new opportunities (such as FinTech and other online platforms) to access and deliver capital in ways we never thought of before, but you also now have to have safe guards and practices that don’t destroy trust from the targeted population that has been underserved and preyed upon in the past. I think OFN is in a unique place to create a collaborative effort to bring together the best aspects of Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate (FIRE) and to ensure that these collaborations engage in a way that is inclusive of all communities; especially, those underserved and under-represented communities of color with the greatest needs.
I believe that OFN needs to make sure it is cognizant of the resources needs and policy agenda that serves the needs of its very large CDFI members, that garner a lot of attention and resources, and smaller CDFIs, who probably are under resourced but locally focused, by challenging both to come together in a collaborative manner where they all work together in a seamless network.
What will you bring to the OFN Board during the next three years?
I have a long history of serving on a number of boards of organizations with a community and economic development mission. I believe my experiences with a wide range of organizations will be a major asset during my tenure of the OFN board. I have the experience of developing many collaborative initiatives in the Los Angeles market which is further enhanced by my involvement in other lending association. The most recent example is the SBA Milken Institute Plan for Lending into Underserved Markets (PLUM) which seeks to provide solutions to address the lack of SBA guaranteed lending to small businesses operated by people of color in Baltimore and Los Angeles.
I understand and know how to be an effective board member, so for me there is no learning curve. Throughout my career, I have been known as a problem solver and I am always willing to roll up my sleeves and get to work by executing the goals and objectives of the boards upon which I have been asked or appointed to serve on.
I bring what I would characterize as a West Coast sensibility and understanding of what works and doesn’t work. In California, we have a very diverse population with a huge global economy which means we have a lot of opportunities, and at the same time a lot of problems to solve.
Based on my experience in community development finance, California has often been a laboratory for financial innovation and sometimes we have been a leader in showing how to solve problems as well as showing what the problems are likely to arise with growth and gentrification.
In addition to my experience as a finance professional and board leadership, I bring my existing relationships and industry standing of OFN. I have a 25-year track record of successful community reinvestment act relationship with a number of socially responsible financial institutions that serve both local and national markets.
I am well connected with the Urban Land Institute (ULI), where I have served as a trustee, national urban advisor, and lead many teams in advisory services engagements in major urban markets throughout the America. I believe I have the opportunity to assist OFN in collaborating with ULI to allow both organizations the opportunity to better understand the dynamic relationship between land use issue and access to capital in low-income neighborhoods.
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.