This summer, seven interns have had a hand helping OFN in its work to help create access to a brighter financial future. Working across various departments and tackling numerous projects, our interns make positive contributions and always serve as a reminder of the amazing work that our CDFI Members engage in. Earlier we heard from Grant, Jonathan, and Katherine about their roles at OFN. Today Patsy and Madison share insights into what they have learned in their time with OFN so far.
Meet Patsy Ackerman, by Madison Miller
Patsy is spending her summer interning with the Strategic Initiatives Department. She is from southern New Jersey and studies Economic Development at Eastern University.
As the Strategic Initiatives intern, Patsy contributes to several important projects. One of her main responsibilities is managing applications for the Wells Fargo Diverse Community Capital (DCC) Program. Patsy plays an important role in compiling and reviewing applicant responses. In addition, Patsy conducts online research to support OFN's goal of finding ways to educate students about the CDFI industry. This goal is two-fold: attract a talented and diverse workforce to the industry, and educate future entrepreneurs about avenues for capital.
In addition to her work with Strategic Initiatives, Patsy has been surprised to learn about OFN’s policy work. She has learned about the importance of advocacy and about how reaching out to Congress can have a strong influence on community development.
Patsy’s work in homeless ministry brought her to OFN and the CDFI industry. Expressing a deep desire to serve others, Patsy says, “I really want to help people who are disinvested.” Throughout her time at Eastern University, Patsy has been preparing and serving healthy meals to people experiencing homelessness in Philadelphia. She appreciates her experiences becoming friends with homeless members of our community. However, she also hopes to understand the strategic methods that organizations like OFN practice to end systemic problems like homelessness and poverty. She says, “I’m interested in how to use business as a force to alleviate some of those problems.”
I asked her a difficult question we have each faced when trying to explain our internship to our friends and families: “How would you describe the CDFI industry and OFN’s role to a fellow college student?” No surprise, Patsy gave a great synopsis to introduce someone to the industry. Patsy explained: “CDFIs provide resources like loans and business training to small businesses and organizations in underserved communities. This allows for communities to be empowered and shine from within, and become sustainable over time as the businesses grow and deliver products, jobs, and services. OFN is a member-based organization that gathers CDFIs together to share best practices, facilitate educational trainings, and provide funding so that every CDFI's community can thrive.”
With a passion to serve people, Patsy brings her bright and encouraging attitude into our office each day. I’m thankful to share an office space with Patsy to learn about her life being a vegan ultimate-frisbee-playing twin. After her time at OFN, Patsy will prepare to spend a semester in Malawi. Whether in Philadelphia or Africa, I know that Patsy will continue to positively impact others.
Meet Madison Miller, by Patsy Ackerman
Madison Miller, a Schreyer Honors student at Penn State, is a delightful addition to the Strategic Consulting department at OFN this summer. Coming from beautiful Berwyn, PA, Madison has always been interested in the environment and bringing people together despite their differences. Madison wants to see people love themselves, others, and the world in which they live.
As an intern for the Strategic Consulting department, Madison is working to help the team promote and engage in shared learning within the CDFI industry, as well as assisting the team in providing technical assistance. She works primarily with the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Financing Initiative. She also helped with the evaluation of the Small Business Finance Forum, and is currently working on creating a system to manage subcontractor invoices for consulting. Madison has become very interested in CDFIs, and wishes that more college students knew about them.
She says of her time at OFN, “Working at Opportunity Finance Network has opened my eyes to the world of CDFIs. I have been amazed by how finance, advocacy, communication, justice, and technology blend together at OFN to serve people. OFN proves every day that investing in people and places that don’t have access to traditional capital is a smart decision.”
At Penn State, she is a double major in Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship as well as Community, Environment and Development. Combined, these two majors allow Madison to envision how healthy, sustainable communities should look, and to establish practical business skills to pursue them. When Madison is not busy with schoolwork, she can be found practicing Latin dancing, exploring essential oils, or wishing that more PSU students brought reusable cups to tailgates.
Madison will graduate in December and is considering going to law school to better protect communities and the environment. She has already shown great leadership, work ethic and compassion throughout her work here at OFN. No matter where she goes from here, her community will be lucky to have her.