Lending Where it Counts: An OFN Conference for the Record Books

By the numbers, the 2019 OFN Conference will go down in CDFI history: 1 President William Jefferson Clinton; more than 1,500 attendees (the most yet!); 119 sessions across 11 tracks; special policymaker and industry guests; 5 CDFI-led tours through D.C. and Baltimore; 60 Congressional office visits and 4 Congressional Championsnumerous formal and informal networking opportunities; and 43 Expo vendors… it was a feast of learning for practitioners, funders, investors, and policymakers.

From October 20-23, the industry gathered in Washington, DC to showcase Lending Where it Counts, the 2019 Conference theme. In sessions, plenaries, and meetings, we explored and shared new strategies and opportunities for CDFI investment: making a difference for the people and places CDFIs serve. Reaching deep. Getting the job done… Lending where it counts.

See our full list of highlights, with speaker videos, session materials, photos, and blog recaps!

Energy and Inspiration

Attendees were energized and inspired:

“Great variety of topics. Presentations were excellent.  Presenters really did their homework. The workshops are particularly valuable to keeping up with the CDFI industry, trends, new ideas, and more.”

“Having guided conversations about our areas of interest – beyond just hearing what other CDFIs are doing in a PowerPoint – was exceptionally good in terms of building new connections with my peers and seeing some current best practices.”

“The network I have developed at [OFN Conferences] is invaluable throughout the year — learning from each other is always of benefit.”

“As a new organization and emerging CDFI Loan Fund, the firsthand experiences and expertise were invaluable.  We came away with so many ideas it will take us until next year’s conference to sort them all out!”

“This is the only convening where you are able to network with peers and investors that may not live within your region.”

“The best conference yet!”


Among the highlights:

  • President William Jefferson Clinton’s keynote to mark the CDFI Fund’s 25th Anniversary
  • An opening plenary with four national policymakers — Mike Espy, former Secretary of USDA; Anne Hazlett, Senior Advisor for Rural Affairs, Office of National Drug Control Policy; Martin Gruenberg, Board of Governors and former Chairman, FDIC; and Jovita Carranza, US Treasurer — reflecting on Lending Where it Counts
  • CDFI Fund Director Jodie Harris sharing CDFI Fund priorities
  • OFN’s President and CEO Lisa Mensah talking about people who count for CDFIs
  • The annual Native CDFI Awards ceremony
  • Dreaming Out Loud accepting the Justice Grant for its food justice work in DC
  • Researcher and practitioner Michael Swack receiving the 2019 Ned Gramlich Lifetime Achievement Award for Responsible Finance
  • A moving Closing Plenary with Noel Poyo of National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders, Robin Danner of Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, and Martin Eakes of Self-Help and the Center for Responsible Lending, inspiring all of us to keep fighting for social, economic, and political justice
  • Step Afrika! welcoming us to DC
  • And many, many more…

See our full list of highlights, with speaker videos, session materials, photos, and blog recaps!

OFN is grateful for everyone who made this Conference one to remember forever. Sponsors, co-hosts, attendees, OFN members, presenters, special plenary guests, and Expo vendors – Thank you!

See you all in Los Angeles next year!