OFN established the Ned Gramlich Lifetime Achievement Award for Responsible Finance in memory of former board member and Federal Reserve Board Governor, Ned Gramlich. We recognize one awardee each year at the OFN Conference. The spirit of the award is to celebrate people of distinction who have produced a body of work that sets them apart within the CDFI industry.

We invite OFN members and others to recommend individuals who embody the following characteristics.

  • A career dedicated to the core purpose and values that define opportunity finance
  • An exemplary set of work products in or related to the practice of opportunity finance; and
  • Is an appropriate representative of the opportunity finance industry

2024 Ned Gramlich Award Nominations

Nominations for the 2024 OFN Ned Gramlich Lifetime Achievement Award for Responsible Finance are now closed. Join us at the 40th annual OFN Conference in October to hear from this year’s to-be-announced winner!

Ned Gramlich Award Recipients

ShoreBank was founded 50 years ago in 1973 when the four honorees — Mary Houghton, Ron Grzywinski, Jim Fletcher, and Milton Davis — purchased South Shore National Bank, which was poised to be sold and relocated from the predominantly black South Shore to predominantly white downtown Chicago. The founders sought to rebuild South Shore by empowering the community and investing in its economic development, a radical idea in the days of redlining. ShoreBank’s financial model was replicated in Arkansas and inspired the creation of the CDFI Fund by President Bill Clinton. Although ShoreBank closed in 2010, it leaves behind a thriving community development finance sector.

Barrera is founder of LiftFund, one of the largest micro and small business lenders in the United States. The nonprofit provides a variety of loan and business support services to enterprises of all sizes across many industries and has disbursed 25,000 loans totaling more than $439 million with a 96% repayment rate. LiftFund played an outsized role in supporting and uplifting small businesses during the pandemic, leveraging technology to meet unprecedented demand. In 2020 alone, LiftFund disbursed more than $43 million in loans, more than $54 million in grants, and delivered more than 7,000 hours of business support, serving small businesses at a rate never seen before in industry history.

Tachau cofounded PATF in 1998 as Pennsylvania’s Alternative Financing Program (AFP), as designated by the federal Assistive Technology Act, and it was certified as a CDFI in 2012. Today, the organization enables people to access assistive technology — including adapted vans, wheelchairs, hearing aids, specialized software, adaptive sports equipment, smart-home solutions, and more — with no-fee, zero- and low-interest loans. Since its founding, PATF has extended more than $43 million in low-interest loans to more than 4,200 Pennsylvanians with disabilities. It has also helped more than 15,000 people access assistive technology with information and educational support.

Long is the president and CEO of the Black Business Investment Fund (BBIF), the largest minority-led CDFI in Florida. Founded in 1987, BBIF helps Black-owned businesses statewide gain access to business development training and capital. Long has helmed BBIF for nearly three decades. During this time, the organization has provided loans totaling more than $60 million to roughly 655 Black, minority, and underserved businesses. These investments translate to more than 14,707 jobs in BBIF’s region. BBIF has received $94 million in New Markets Tax Credit awards, leveraging $140 million in projects and creating $12 million in loan pool capital for minority businesses. In 2019 alone, Long raised $31 million for BBIF through partnerships with the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s CDFI Fund and large banks such as Wells Fargo, Fifth Third Bank, TD Bank, PNC Bank, and Truist.

An influential community development practitioner, researcher, and educator, Swack is a professor at the University of New Hampshire, where he has appointments at the Carsey School of Public Policy and at the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics. He also directs the Financial Innovations Roundtable in collaboration with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. Swack was the founder and former dean of the School of Community Economic Development at Southern New Hampshire University and has been involved in the design, implementation, and management of numerous community development lending and investment institutions both inside and outside the United States. Today, Swack’s work at Carsey focuses on building scale in the nonprofit community development sector, innovations in community development finance, microfinance, and new models of social enterprise.

Andrews has been a revered community development leader for more than 40 years. Most recently, Andrews was President and CEO of Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF), a CDFI committed to alleviating poverty and helping families attain economic self-sufficiency. She retired in 2018. Under her leadership, LIIF grew from $35 million to a $1 billion organization, with offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. Andrews expanded LIIF’s focus from solely affordable housing to incorporate a range of community supports, including schools, early care, and education, and health and transit-oriented development. Throughout her career, Andrew has helped shape federal policy and capital program for CDFI’s, such as the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s CDFI Fund, New Markets Tax Credit, Capital Magnet Fund, and more. Before LIIF, Andrews was Chief Financial Officer of the International Water Management Institute, a World Bank-supported development organization. Prior to that, she was Deputy Director of the Ford Foundation’s Office of Program Related Investments.

Davenport began her 30-year community development career in the affordable housing arena at the National Housing Partnership and later at Fannie Mae. She later joined the CDFI Fund, where she was instrumental in implementing the New Markets Tax Credit Program (NMTC), which has attracted billions of dollars in investments in low-income communities. As the Deputy Director of Policy and Programs at the CDFI Fund and later at the CDFI Coalition, Davenport helped grow the CDFI industry and strengthen many individual organizations within it. Berdes committed his entire life to building just and equitable communities. In 1994, he founded Craft3 — then called ShoreBank Enterprise Pacific — a CDFI that provides loans and other assistance to people and businesses in the Pacific Northwest without access to traditional financing. Since its inception, Craft3 has invested more than $442 million in more than 5,500 people and businesses in Oregon and Washington.

Creator of the Lakota Funds, a nonprofit promoting economic sustainability on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Meeks played a vital role in bringing CDFIs to the Native community. In a 2014 interview for OFN’s CDFI History project, Meeks described that experience: “It was hard work and I felt like I got run over by a truck about every other day at Lakota Fund, but it was so worth it for what other tribes have gained through this.” Meeks embodies Gramlich’s spirit and determination in everything she does. She currently serves as chairperson of Lakota Funds and chairs the Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis’ Center for Indian Country Development. She also serves on the board of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines. Prior to joining the USDA, a position she was appointed to by the Obama Administration in 2009, Meeks was president and CEO of First Nations Oweesta Corporation. She also served two terms on OFN’s Board and a six-year term on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, making her the first Native American to join the Commission.

Executive Director of Housing Assistance Council, Loza’s career has centered around advocating for justice and social equality, and providing housing solutions to low-income families and individuals in regions such as Indian country, the Mississippi Delta, the Southwest border Colonias, and Appalachia. In a 2014 interview as part of OFN’s CDFI History project, Loza stressed the importance of securing racial equity, political power, and economic security for peoples of color.

Longtime justice advocate and founder and CEO of Jackson, Mississippi-based Hope Enterprise Corporation/Hope Credit Union (HOPE), Bynum said after receiving the award: “Every day at HOPE we strive to realize Ned Gramlich’s vision of responsible finance for our members. I’m grateful to be part of a movement that is committed to ensuring economic justice for people and communities where there is a dire need for financial inclusion and equality.”

Founder and former President and CEO of CEI, Phillips has dedicated his career to the core purpose and values that define opportunity finance. As a result of his leadership, CEI has received significant state, federal, and private recognition of its accomplishments. Phillips is a leading voice for low-income and low-wealth people everywhere, and especially for people and communities in rural America.

President and founder of the New Hampshire Community Development Loan Fund, Eades has spent more than 30 years working to bend the arc of capitalism toward justice. Her perseverance has made a profound difference in the lives of people working to rise above poverty in New Hampshire and the entire country.

Co-founder of The Reinvestment Fund (TRF), which he led for 25 years, and a pioneer in the opportunity finance industry, Nowak has committed his illustrious career to improving the lives of low-wealth, low-income, and other disadvantaged people and communities by finding solutions to the challenging problems they face.

Florek leads the Mercy Partnership Fund and advocates for impact investing. A Dominican Sister, Florek has dedicated her life, not just her work, to the social justice movement. Working in the field of economic development as a manager, educator, consultant, financial administrator, and strategic planner, for more than 30 years she has helped build assets in underserved communities.

Eakes co-founded and serves as CEO of North Carolina-based Self-Help, a community development lender. His financing innovations and policy leadership have enabled countless underserved people and communities across the nation to own homes and businesses and to build wealth.

The CEO of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (“the Federation”), for more than two decades, Rosenthal championed credit unions serving low-income people and communities.

A Governor of the Federal Reserve from 1997 to 2005, Gramlich was a tireless advocate for responsible finance and embodied the values that define the opportunity finance industry. He was one of very few people at the time to warn publicly that irresponsible mortgage lending practices would likely lead to a financial crisis.


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