Recap of OFN Midwest Regional Meeting in Chicago
OFN held our 2022 Midwest Regional Meeting on June 21 at the Blue Lacuna co-working space in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. This assembling was our second in-person regional meeting since 2019, following our Southeast Regional Meeting in Berea, KY, on June 8. From opportunities to network with fellow CDFIs from the region to an insightful discussion about efforts to create an Illinois CDFI state coalition, attendees experienced an inspirational, productive day together.
With more than 70 participants representing CDFIs, government agencies, investors and funders, and other partner organizations, the meeting opened with Calvin Holmes, president of OFN member Chicago Community Loan Fund (CCLF), introducing CCLF client Tracy Powell, co-founder of Momentum coffee and Blue Lacuna with his wife Nikki Bravo.
Next we heard from OFN SVP, Public Policy Dafina Williams who gave a D.C. policy update, which included the 2022 Congressional Outlook, CDFI Priority Legislation, Small Business Administration (SBA) Community Advantage Program, and more.
During a facilitated discussion, each CDFI had the opportunity to provide a status update of the challenges and opportunities their organizations are facing. Then attendees voted on topics to discuss in small group sessions. Following the open space discussions, we had lunch provided by CDFI-funded business Catering Out of the Box.
After lunch, Galen Gondolfi, chief strategy officer at Justine PETERSEN, and DeMario Greene, director of policy and government relations at CCLF, discussed plans for an Illinois CDFI state coalition and how other CDFIs and partners can get involved.
The meeting concluded with Lisa Mensah giving her OFN President’s Report. She reflected on the importance of the CDFI field particularly through the pandemic and why we need to continue advocating for our industry going forward. She also discussed key activity at OFN and what to expect from OFN in the near future, including the 2022 OFN Conference in New York City.
OFN thanks the many participants and supporters of our 2022 Midwest Regional Meeting, especially Wells Fargo for generously sponsoring all three of our 2022 Regional Meetings.
OFN will host our last OFN Regional Meeting of the year in Oakland on July 12.