Pettigrew will lead the network at a historic moment for CDFIs and the communities they serve
For Immediate Release: March 22, 2023
Washington, D.C. — March 22, 2023 — Opportunity Finance Network (OFN), the nation’s leading network of community development financial institutions (CDFIs), announced today that Harold B. Pettigrew Jr. will be OFN’s next president and CEO. As current CEO of the Washington Area Community Investment Fund (Wacif), Pettigrew heads one of the Washington, D.C. region’s leading CDFIs, guiding the successful growth and transformation of the organization to a thriving CDFI serving communities throughout the region. Pettigrew will serve as OFN’s third president and CEO, joining the organization in this official capacity in June 2023.
“I am truly honored to lead OFN at this pivotal moment in our nation’s history,” said Pettigrew. “CDFIs are more important than ever to the well-being of America’s communities, and at no point have they been better positioned for impact, growth, and capital deployment in communities that need it most.”
As chief executive, Pettigrew will lead OFN at a crucial time for the CDFI industry. The pandemic’s economic impact, combined with galvanizing national outrage over racial and social injustice, sparked unparalleled investment in CDFIs and unprecedented public attention and recognition for their important role as agents of economic justice.
“Harold is a tremendous leader and the right person to build on this momentum,” said OFN Board Chair Donna Gambrell. “We are delighted that Harold is bringing his deep economic development experience and commitment to equitable economic opportunity to OFN. Harold has qualities that are so critical to this unique position and industry, among them expertise, passion, vision, and determination.”
Pettigrew will direct OFN’s ongoing efforts to raise $1 billion for the Finance Justice Fund, a bold initiative to grow capital resources for CDFIs serving rural, urban, and Native communities. And he will guide a growing staff in its work to support OFN’s nearly 400 members, execute plans to expand the membership, and strengthen the industry through capacity building, engagement, advocacy, and capital.
“We are excited to have such a talented and highly-respected leader of an OFN member join us as the next CEO,” said Beth Lipson, chief financial officer, and OFN’s interim president and CEO. “Harold has a wonderful balance of intelligence and humility that will bring out the best in our team as we work together toward our goal of economic opportunity and justice for all.”
Pettigrew will head OFN at a time when it is poised for accelerated growth, deeper impact, and greater influence. In the past few years, OFN has partnered with the Biden-Harris Administration to secure new catalytic funding for CDFIs and minority depository institutions. OFN has also forged bold new partnerships with corporations and philanthropies, including a $25 million gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. And, Pettigrew assumes this new role at a time when the industry is facing the single greatest opportunity to accelerate the clean energy transition by bringing federally funded green finance to communities most impacted by climate change.
Pettigrew’s expertise in economic development and opportunity finance spans more than 20 years of leading public, private, and nonprofit organizations focused on social, racial, and economic equity and justice. A Washington, D.C. native, Pettigrew has spent his professional life working to expand economic opportunity and capital access for communities that have been historically left behind by traditional finance. Prior to joining Wacif, he was the director of entrepreneurship for Prosperity Now, where he led national efforts to advance policies and programs that increased business success for low-and moderate-income entrepreneurs across the United States.
Prior to Prosperity Now, Pettigrew served as Washington, D.C.’s small business director, where he was the city’s chief advocate on issues impacting small businesses. In this capacity, he led the city’s agency supporting the economic growth of small businesses and economic revitalization of commercial corridors, negotiated over $375 million in economic development projects, and led trade missions to Singapore, South Africa, and China to open international market opportunities. In 2021, President Biden appointed Pettigrew to serve on the Department of Treasury CDFI Fund’s Community Development Advisory Board, advising federal agencies on inclusive and equitable financing and economic development strategies. He also served on the Community Investment Council for the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
Pettigrew has received numerous industry awards. The Washington Business Journal recognized him in 2021 and 2022 as one of the Power 100 most influential business leaders across Greater Washington. Pettigrew is also a member of the Leadership Greater Washington Class of 2021. His fellowships include a 2017 OFN Opportunity Fellow and a 2016 Common Future Local Economy Fellow. He was a 2015 Next City Vanguard, is a fellow of the 2021 Class of the Finance Leaders Fellowship, and is a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.
Pettigrew earned a master’s degree in urban planning from New York University and a bachelor’s degree from NC State University, where he served as a member of the university’s Board of Trustees.
About OFN: Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) is a leading national network of more than 390 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.