Williams to head the network’s external affairs, leading OFN’s community development finance public policy practice, strategic communications, and marketing
Washington, D.C. – Opportunity Finance Network (OFN), the nation’s leading investment intermediary and network for mission-driven financial institutions serving rural, urban, and Native communities across the United States, has named Dafina Williams as its new chief external affairs officer.
“Dafina is widely recognized as an exceptionally dynamic and critical leader to advancing the community development finance industry, and I am thrilled to see her leadership in this new capacity,” said OFN CEO Harold Pettigrew. “Her deep expertise in community development finance and our network will serve the industry well as it continues along a trajectory of increased growth, attention, and prominence in delivering capital to underserved communities. Equally important, Dafina is deeply mission-oriented, with values that reflect those of OFN and the communities we serve across the country.”
Williams, a 17-year veteran of OFN and leading public policy expert in community development finance, most recently served as OFN’s executive vice president for external affairs, leading OFN’s legislative and regulatory policy initiatives. In this capacity, Williams led advocacy efforts to capitalize billions of dollars in new public investments to the CDFI industry, advanced policies that support affordable, responsible lending, and helped ensure pandemic relief funding was directed to underserved communities.
In this new capacity, Williams will lead OFN’s broad external affairs function, including public policy, strategic communications, and marketing. A critical way that OFN serves its members is by amplifying the voice of CDFIs in Washington, in the media, and in the broader national conversation around economic opportunity and justice.
Williams serves on several external boards and committees, including the executive committee of the Responsible Business Lending Coalition, the New Markets Tax Credit Advisory Board of Self-Help Ventures Fund, the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Association Community Development Council, and the American Fintech Council Community Advisory Board.
Williams earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Temple University, graduating magna cum laude.
Williams succeeds Jennifer Vasiloff, who served as chief external affairs officer since 2017 and has more than a decade of total service to the organization. Having spent her career working across policy, advocacy, and coalition-building to reduce poverty, Vasiloff will continue to support the CDFI industry in the private sector.
Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) is the leading national network of more than 400 community development financial institutions (CDFIs), specialized lenders that provide affordable, responsible financial products and services in low-income rural, urban, and Native communities nationwide. As a trusted intermediary between CDFIs and the public and private sectors, OFN partners with banks, philanthropies, corporations, government agencies, and others to create economic opportunity for all by strengthening and investing in CDFIs.
Since its founding in 1986 and through 2021, the network has originated $100.4 billion in financing in rural, urban, and Native communities, helping to create or maintain more than 2.6 million jobs, start or expand more than 696,000 businesses and microenterprises, and support the development or rehabilitation of more than 2.3 million housing units and more than 13,600 community facility projects.
Opportunity Finance Network