Recap of OFN Southeast Regional Meeting in Jacksonville, Florida

Anthony Wilder Puzzuoli

OFN’s Southeast Regional Meeting took place on Tuesday, May 21, in balmy Jacksonville, Florida. Around 80 attendees representing CDFIs, funders, government agencies, and other partner organizations joined together at the Jacksonville Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta for a packed day of learning, knowledge sharing, and networking.

Sameera Fazili, senior adviser to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s community and economic development group, and Connie Smith, manager for Wells Fargo’s Diverse Community Capital program, kicked off the event by welcoming attendees.

Following opening remarks, Seth Julyan, OFN’s executive vice president of membership, provided an update on current events at OFN, highlighting recent staff hires and the organization’s recent move from its headquarters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Washington D.C. Before sharing their own updates and breaking into smaller discussion groups, attendees also heard from OFN’s vice president of public policy, Dafina Williams, who shared a detailed update on CDFI-related policy news.

In addition, CDFI Fund Director Jodie Harris joined attendees in Jacksonville to give an update on the agency’s latest activities and to field questions. She also reassured attendees that the CDFI Fund would announce the 2018 round of New Markets Tax Credits awards soon. (They did, just two days later!)

After lunch, attendees took part in two discussions. During the first session, entitled “Community Development Finance, Job Training, and Quality Jobs,” Sameera Fazili and Seth Julyan led participants in an interactive conversation centered around partnerships between workforce development organizations and CDFIs that aim to improve economic mobility for workers.

Stewart Sarkozy-Banoczy, senior advisor at 100 Resilient Cities, led the last session of the day, entitled “Financing Resilience.” This presentation focused on ways CDFIs can impact the growing resiliency movement by helping to make our communities safer, more equitable, and more prosperous in the face of manmade and natural stresses.

OFN thanks the many participants and supporters of our Southeast Regional Meeting, especially Jodie Harris for making time to join us in Jacksonville; Wells Fargo for their generous sponsorship of our six Regional Meetings this year; and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta – Jacksonville Branch for hosting!

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