In November, OFN’s Board of Directors unanimously voted to move OFN's headquarters to Washington, D.C. by 2019. This is historic news. For more than 30 years OFN has been headquartered in Philadelphia. The decision to move marks a next phase in OFN’s history as a membership network dedicated to increasing the success of the CDFI field. CDFI Connect spoke to Lisa Mensah, OFN’s President and CEO, about the announcement.
Q: Why Washington, D.C.?
LM: “In Washington, D.C. OFN will be better positioned to promote CDFIs and position the CDFI field for growth. Washington is where so many of the nation’s warriors come together to pull for the causes that move the nation forward. You heard me say at our conference, we must ‘walk together.’ So many of the partners our network needs to be successful are based in D.C. I believe this move is an essential next step in walking together for the benefit of our network.”
Q: What do you hope will be accomplished because of this change?
LM: “I am convinced that OFN is the national association that can help CDFIs become powerful warriors in a fight for economic progress in the U.S. I see economic progress as hard but possible. CDFIs prove this every day. We live in one of the richest nations on the globe with a powerful tradition of ‘perfecting our union’ and I believe that CDFIs are united in the belief that we do not have to leave so many Americans behind. I love being part of the fight to help build more rungs on the ladder so that more people and communities can move forward into lives of greater prosperity. Our CDFI fight is to bring the investment capital to the corners and people who have the hardest time getting this money. OFN was created to help win this fight.”
Q: How will this affect OFN’s operations next year?
LM: “The OFN staff will spend 2018 getting ready for this change. During this transition period, we are committed to ensuring the continuity of our work, the fulfillment of our commitments, and the maintenance of OFN’s excellent standards.”
Q: OFN has also announced an internal realignment. Can you tell us more about that?
LM: “Yes, some organizational changes follow from the decision to relocate the headquarters. OFN is restructuring our lines of business along the lines of increasing capital for the industry, serving our members better, and increasing our visibility and influence with policymakers and other key audiences. As part of this streamlining, the CFO position and three additional OFN positions have been eliminated. Beth Lipson will now serve as Treasurer in addition to her role as EVP, Strategic Initiatives.”
“I thank Fran Lutz, CFO; Liz Lopez, EVP, Public Policy; Pam Porter, EVP, Strategic Consulting; and Annie Holmes, SVP, Equity, Inclusion, and Human Capital for their contributions to OFN over many years of service. Additionally, I want to acknowledge the tremendous work and commitment of our OFN team. With professionalism and patience, I know we will get through these days of transition and leave our community development finance field and our country better for our work. “
Q: How has the news been received?
LM: “Over the past two weeks, I’ve had dozens of conversations with key funders, investors and members—and OFN board members have joined me in making calls to members. We also recently held a regional OFN member meeting in New York. Overall, the responses to our decision to move to Washington, D.C. have been very positive, with the acknowledgment of the huge transition that lies ahead in the next year. We welcome input from our supporters and Jennifer Vasiloff, our Chief External Affairs Officer, is available to address any questions that may come up along the way. We will provide regular progress updates as we embark on this next chapter for OFN and CDFIs.”