Citi Leadership Program for Opportunity Finance

  • Citi and OFN build leaders to strengthen

  • the future of the opportunity finance industry.



The Citi Leadership Program for Opportunity Finance is a unique and innovative leadership program for CDFIs. Developed by CDFIs for CDFIs, the program supports talent that can lead transformational change, ensures strong leadership at all levels of the industry, and promotes leaders that represent the diverse communities that CDFIs serve.

The opportunity finance industry emerged from the Great Recession stronger and fielding more opportunities than ever. But the industry needs more leaders to leverage these and future opportunities. The Citi Leadership Program for Opportunity Finance is an industry-wide talent development program designed to help new leaders, capitalize on the experience of current leaders, and build a leadership that reflects the diverse communities that CDFIs serve.

The program works with three levels of CDFI leaders—Emerging, Mid-Career, and Executive.

The Citi Leadership Program for Opportunity Finance is offered by Opportunity Finance Network with generous support from the Citi Foundation.

View the 2014 and 2015 participants!

How it Works

Developed by CDFIs for CDFIs, the program works with three levels of CDFI leaders:

Executive Leaders—CEOs or Executive Directors.

Mid-Career Leaders—CDFI department heads, team leaders, program managers, and line-of-business leaders with at least ten years of professional experience, of which at least three years are in the opportunity finance industry.

Emerging Leaders—High-potential early-career CDFI professionals with at least three years of professional experience, of which at least one is in the opportunity finance industry.

Over a period of 11 months, a select group of up to 10 Executive Leaders, up to 20 Mid-Career Leaders, and up to 20 Emerging Leaders will experience the program’s unique curriculum. Developed and delivered by Opportunity Finance Network and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, the curriculum offers a powerful combination of leadership development experiences built around four key elements:

  • Transformational leadership frameworks and tools
  • Applying transformational leadership to the opportunity finance industry
  • Understanding leadership and management
  • Building effective teams to lead transformational change

Through four in-person gatherings (in January, April, and June in Philadelphia, and November at the 2015 OFN Conference in Detroit) and regular conference calls, participants will learn from program instructors, their fellow Citi leaders, and their own self-reflection.

Eligibility Criteria

Applicants must be employed by an OFN Member CDFI.

Applicants must demonstrate a commitment to leading transformational change. We define transformational change as structural (laws, policies) and/or systemic (practices, norms, values) change.

Eligibility for each level is as follows:

  • Executive Leaders

    • Chief Executive Officers or Executive Directors.
  • Mid-Career Leaders

    • CDFI department heads, team leaders, program managers, and line-of-business leaders.
    • Accountability for day-to-day operations as well as strategic goals.
    • A minimum of three years of supervisory experience and currently supervise others.
    • A minimum of ten years into their career, including at least three years in the opportunity finance industry and three years supervising others.
  • Emerging Leaders

    • Early-career CDFI professionals that are recognized by their superiors as capable and smart individuals with high potential that are likely to take on a leadership role in five to ten years.
    • A minimum of three years of professional experience, including at least one year in the opportunity finance industry. 

Applicants must confirm in good faith that, if they are selected to participate in the Citi Leadership Program for Opportunity Finance, they:

  • Will participate in all Program meetings, webinars, and conference calls, and cover any associated travel costs not covered by the Program stipend. Active participation means completing preparatory or follow-up assignments on time; openly sharing their professional successes, challenges, and failures with their cohort; and constructively engaging with their cohort members.
  • Intend to continue working in the opportunity finance industry for two years after completing the program.

In addition, the applicant’s supervisor and/or CDFI leadership must commit to supporting the applicant’s leadership learning process by

  • Participating in one to two conference calls for the leaders’ supervisors and, if applicable, other members of the organization’s leadership
  • Meeting with the applicant after each of the four in-person Citi Leadership meetings
  • Providing opportunities for the applicant to share their learnings with the CDFI’s executive leadership team and/or staff
  • Providing the applicant with the opportunity to practice what they are learning

Selection Criteria

Successful applicants will:

  1. Demonstrate a desire to become a transformational leader in the opportunity finance industry.
  2. Articulate clear and ambitious goals for what they want to accomplish in their careers in the opportunity finance industry.
  3. Value the opportunity to work with peers in a collaborative way.
  4. Be recognized by their supervisor and peers as an individual with leadership potential or—for current leaders--the potential to grow their leadership capacity.
  5. Commit to approach transformational leadership with a respect for diversity and inclusion.

The selected individuals will represent a range of backgrounds, experiences, and institutions. They will include no more than one individual per CDFI.

Meet a Leader

The Citi Leadership Program for Opportunity Finance has had an impact on program graduates at all levels. CDFI Connect, the daily mobile news source by CDFIs and for CDFIs interviewed selected 2014 program participants to learn more.

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All interviews are reprinted from CDFI Connect. Copyright © 2015. Subscribe to the free daily digest here.

Kristin Faust

Mid-Career Leader - COMING SOON

Emerging Leader - Lorena Roman

Frequently Asked Questions

Who will the instructors be?

The instructors and facilitators will include academics and leadership experts from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, OFN staff, and CDFI practitioners.

What is the format of the meetings?

The meetings will include formal instruction, facilitated discussion, and informal networking.

Where will the in-person meetings take place?

The January, April, and June meetings will take place in Philadelphia. The November meeting will be in Detroit.

How much is the stipend?

Stipends will be up to $400 per meeting for the three Philadelphia meetings. Stipends will be proportional to travel costs so that leaders traveling from longer distances will be eligible for larger stipends. There is no stipend for the Detroit meeting at the 2015 annual OFN Conference. 

I work for an affiliate or a subsidiary of an OFN Member CDFI. Do I meet the eligibility requirements?

Staff of OFN Member subsidiaries that are CDFIs are eligible to apply.  Staff of subsidiaries that are not CDFIs are not eligible. Staff of affiliates are not eligible.

Are OFN Allies eligible?

The program is limited to OFN Members. OFN Allies are not eligible. We may reconsider the eligibility criteria next year or thereafter if the program is extended.

I don’t meet the eligibility requirements.  Can you waive them?

Unfortunately, we cannot waive any of the eligibility criteria. 

For the Emerging Leaders, do internships count toward the requirement three years of professional experience, of which at least one is in the opportunity finance industry? 

No, internships do not count toward these professional experience requirements.

Who should letters of recommendation be sent to?

There are two options. The author(s) of your letters of recommendation can either send them to you and you can upload them into your online application or the author(s) can email them directly to the Citi Leadership Program Selection Committee at Please tell your author(s) to show the following in the subject line of the email: LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION FOR <Applicant First and Last Name>. The author(s) must submit the letter(s) by the application due date.

Is there a limit to the number of applications a single CDFI can submit, either by total applications from the organization or total per level?

There are no limits on the number of applications from an organization, but no more than one individual per organization will be selected to participate in the program.

What is the timeline for the selection process?

All applications (including letters of recommendation and all other attachments) are due Thursday, December 4, 2014 by midnight Eastern Standard Time.

OFN will notify applicants by the end of the year about whether they were selected to participate in the program.

Are last year’s participants eligible for the 2015 program?

Our goal is to make this two-year pilot program available to the broadest number of leaders and, therefore, year one participants are not eligible to participate in year two.

Are staff from all OFN Members eligible?

Staff from OFN Members in Good Standing are eligible. Good Standing means the Member is current on OFN Member dues; has submitted its completed  FY 2013 Annual Member Survey; and is not in default on an OFN Financing Fund agreement, if applicable.

Are OFN staff eligible to apply?

OFN staff were not eligible to apply in year one. OFN staff are eligible to apply in year two. OFN staff will be evaluated the same way as all other candidates and there is no guarantee that an OFN applicant will be selected.

Nov 10 updates:

Is there a group project that participants will work on throughout the program?

No. Unlike some other leadership programs, a group project is not part of the curriculum. Rather, each leader will set their own individual commitment which they plan to work on during the program. These commitments can be big or small, and may change over the eleven-month program. Leaders can discuss their commitments with other Leaders in the program, and specifically with small Accountability Groups of 3-5 leaders within their cohort.

Nov 11 updates:

My roles and experience don’t fit neatly into the requirements for either the Mid-Career or the Emerging Leader level. Which should I apply for?

Apply for the level you think is the best fit for you. If OFN disagrees, we will move you to a different level. We will let you know we are moving you and contact you to confirm that you are still interested in being considered.

Nov 12 updates:

Is there a limit to the number of people that will be selected from a single CDFI?

Yes, no more than one individual per CDFI will be selected to participate (one person across all three levels not one person per level). This is a change from last year when we two people were selected from some CDFIs.

Leadership Resources


Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain

Built to Last, Jim Collins

Good to Great, Jim Collins

Great by Choice, Jim Collins

How The Mighty Fall, Jim Collins

Finding Your True North: A Personal Guide, Bill George and Andrew McLean

True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership, Bill George and Peter Sims

Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful, Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter

Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, Daniel Goleman

Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success, Adam M. Grant

HBR Guide to Getting the Right Work Done, Harvard Business Review

Get on the Balcony, Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky (excerpt from Leadership on the Line, can be purchased at

Leadership without Easy Answers, Ronald A. Heifetz

Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive through the Dangers of Leading, Martin Linsky and Ronald A. Heifetz

When Leaders Leave: A New Perspective on Leadership Change, Priscilla Rosenwald and Lesley Mallow Wendell

The Cathedral Within: Transforming Your Life by Giving Something Back, Bill Shore

Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matter Most, Douglas Stone and Bruce Patton

The Leadership Moment: Nine True Stories of Triumph and Disaster and Their Lessons for All of Us, Michael Useem and Warren Bennis

Powers to Lead, Joseph Nye

Power of Followership, Robert E. Kelley

Followership: How Followers Are Creating Change and Changing Leaders, Barbara Kellerman

Achieving Success Through Social Capital: Tapping the Hidden Resources in Your Personal and Business Networks Paperback, Wayne E. Baker

Articles and Reports

What Business Can Learn from NonprofitsPeter F. Drucker, Claremont Graduate School

Strategic IntentGary Hamel, London Business School and C.K. Prahalad, University of Michigan

Reaching the Summit: Rodrigo Jordán’s Leadership Lessons from the Andes, Interview with Knowledge@Wharton

Too Good to Fail, James E. Post, Boston University & Fiona S. Wilson, University of New Hampshire

Diversity Matters, Vivian Hunt, Daniel Layton, and Sara Prince, McKinsey & Company

Leading Teams, J. Richard Hackman

Is there a Big Five in Teamwork? Eduard Salas, Dana Sims, and Shawn Burke

Web Sites and Videos, Research by Marty Seligman and Angela Duckworth

The Nature of Adaptive Leadership, Ronald A. Heifetz

First Follower: Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy

'When Worlds Collide': Navigating the Minefield of Social Media