OFN President and CEO Lisa Mensah was in the San Francisco Bay Area last week to address a group of impact investors at Confluence Philanthropy’s 8th Annual Practitioners Gathering. Confluence Philanthropy members represent the most advanced foundations, investment managers, and advisors who are distinguished by a commitment to building the impact investing field through collaboration, innovation, and their investments.

Spread over four days and set this year in Berkeley, California, the gathering is an event where asset owners and their advisors meet at the cutting edge of mission-related investing.

Addressing a crowd of 200, Lisa began her keynote address by explaining how CDFIs and Confluence members are well-aligned, linked by common values and missions. She challenged attendees to “disrupt poverty and connect all communities to capital... to opportunity for mobility.”

“In nearly forty years, our scrappy field has grown and diversified. Today we are loan funds, banks, credit unions, and venture capital funds. Across the nation more than 1,000 CDFIs manage more than $136 billion. Financial power houses and thought leaders value us as an integral part of America’s financial ecosystem.”

She added, “CDFIs can be a leading force in this work—the challenge is in our DNA,” and explained that the history of CDFIs is a history of disruption—tying her address to the theme of the Confluence Gathering, “Disrupt the Now.”

“CDFIs don’t disrupt with self-driving cars or Artificial Intelligence,” she concluded, “we disrupt with partnership and innovation to support entire areas and communities of this country that have been left out of mainstream financing.

“So let’s link arms and embrace the challenge of disrupting poverty for good.”


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