OFN Team Visits Los Angeles for West Regional Meeting

Caroline Valvardi

Recently, the Opportunity Finance Network team headed to the West Coast to visit member CDFIs and host the West Regional Meeting. The team began their trip on June 26 with a visit to OFN member Genesis LA. Led by President and CEO Tom De Simone, the Genesis LA team shared the impactful work they are doing to build and restore community facilities, housing, and small businesses in underserved Los Angeles neighborhoods, particularly through their pilot Community Owned Real Estate (CORE) project. 

Later, the OFN team headed to the offices of member PACE Finance Corporation to learn about their transformative work to provide financing and capacity building services, including credit building and workshops focused on topics like digital marketing and cyber security, to owners of startup and growing businesses in Downtown LA and citywide.  

After the member visits, the OFN team also took a tour of the 2020 OFN Conference venue—the JW Marriott at L.A. LIVE!

The next day, OFN held its West Regional Meeting at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco’s Los Angeles branch for nearly 60 practitioners from the CDFI industry. After introductions and a brief overview of OFN’s current public policy priorities, attendees broke into small groups to share insights related to salient CDFI industry topics specific to their region, such as promising approaches to addressing the homelessness crisis in California. 

Following lunch, attendees had the opportunity to participate in two sets of concurrent sessions led by CDFI practitioners from the region: 

  • Catalyzing Healthcare and Community Development Partnerships 
    Moderator: Colleen Flynn, Build Healthy Places Network 
    Panelists: Jennifer Kawar, Nonprofit Finance Fund; Rachel Meiers, Kaiser Permanente; Ramon Mendez, Enterprise Community Partners; and Tim Zaricznyj, Providence St. Joseph Health 
  • The Community Owned Real Estate (CORE) Project 
    Presenters: Pavlin Buchukov, Genesis LA; Tom DeSimone, Genesis LA; and Rudy Espinoza, Leadership for Urban Renewal 
  • Opportunity Zones and Your CDFI 
    Presenters: Jennifer Vasiloff, Opportunity Finance Network; Tunua Thrash-Ntuk, LISC Los Angeles 
  • The True Cost of Capital – the results may surprise you! 
    Presenters: Iosefa Alofaituli and Daniel Fernandez, Opportunity Fund 

Thank you to all who made the trip from around Los Angeles, Oakland, Utah, and beyond to participate in and contribute your valuable insights to our 2019 West Regional Meeting! Also, special thanks to Wells Fargo for sponsoring our 2019 Regional Meetings. 

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