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BBVA Compass, Opportunity Finance Network kick off program to cultivate next generation of CDFI leaders

Cynthia Garcia, Director of Grants & Resource Development for AHSTI, SELECTED AS one of 27 across the nation
Cynthia Garcia, Director of Grants & Resource Development for AHSTI, SELECTED AS one of 27 across the nation

Texas Border Business

McAllen, TX – Bbva Compass and Opportunity Finance Network today announced the names of the 27 dedicated leaders at community development financial institutions who were selected for the 2018 Opportunity Fellows Program, their joint initiative to boost the CDFI industry’s leadership ranks and spur greater access to capital in under-resourced communities.

Amongst the 27 is Cynthia Garcia, Director of Grants and Resource Development for Affordable Homes of South Texas, Inc. “AHSTI is very proud that one of our very own was selected for this competitive program,” says Bobby Calvillo, AHSTI Executive Director. “We look forward to Cynthia using this experience to making an impact in the Rio Grande Valley.”

CDFIs are critical engines of opportunity in low-income communities. They are focused exclusively on bringing capital and technical assistance to those who don’t have access to traditional bank financing. The 27 Opportunity Fellows include emerging, mid-career and executive-level professionals and come from across the United States, including areas with high levels of poverty and income inequality where the work they do is even more pressing.

They will be given nine months of training with experts in leadership development and diversity, inclusion and equity — all designed to better support their organizations’ efforts to deliver responsible, affordable lending to low-income, low-wealth, and other underserved communities, especially communities of color.

These 27 individuals are doing transformational work in our communities,” said BBVA Compass Community Development Finance Manager Tiena Johnson-Hall, who served on the Opportunity Fellows Program selection committee. “They create opportunities for families and small businesses to reach higher and go farther, and the Opportunity Fellows Program is designed to help them carry forward their missions with confidence.”

This is the second year that BBVA Compass and OFN, the leading membership organization for CDFIs, have joined forces to help cultivate the next generation of leaders and prepare them to influence and reshape their organizations and the industry.

The selection committee chose the 27 Opportunity Fellows from among 79 applicants. The 2018 Opportunity Fellows Program will commence in May for the first of two training sessions in BBVA Compass’ headquarters city of Birmingham, Ala. The second training session is slated for September 2018, and the participants’ final stop for the program will be the OFN Conference in Chicago in October.

During the sessions, participants will engage in interactive activities and experiences, and will learn from leaders in community development finance as well as Birmingham community leaders to understand how to facilitate organizational change that promotes greater diversity and inclusion within their CDFIs as they pursue more equitable investment in communities.

To develop the agenda and curriculum, OFN is partnering with the University of Alabama at Birmingham Collat School of Business and the Race Matters Institute.

“We are incredibly excited for this year’s class of Opportunity Fellows,” said Donna Fabiani, Executive Vice President, Knowledge Sharing at OFN. “They represent a diverse range of emerging and seasoned leaders in the CDFI industry that are strongly committed to being drivers of change for equitable impact through CDFI investments.”

Affordable Homes of South Texas, Inc. is a local non-profit organization that provides home ownership opportunities and education for working low-income families.   Nationally recognized, AHSTI provides a range of non-profit housing solutions.

AHSTI takes on the role of land developers, general contractors and as a full-service mortgage company. In addition, AHSTI is a certified HUD Counseling Agency and provides a multi-cultural, in-house pre-purchase counseling and group education program to all clients.

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BBVA Compass, Opportunity Finance Network kick off program to cultivate next generation of CDFI leaders

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