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2023 Conference Highlights

NYS CDFIs: Meeting the Moment

Monday, March 27th & Tuesday, March 28th

Albany Marriott Hotel

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CDFI Coalition leadership at the conference included: John Felton, Southern Chautauqua Federal Credit Union; Nancy Carin, Business Outreach Center Network, Brooklyn; Jessie Lee, Renaissance Economic Development Corp (REDC), NYC; Yanki Tshering, Accompany Capital, NYC; Melanie Stern, Spring Bank, Bronx; Aisha Benson, Nonprofit Finance Fund, NYC; Giovana Bracchi, La Fuerza CDC, Nassau County; Linda MacFarlane, Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region; and Colleen Ryan, Consulting Executive Director, NYS CDFI Coalition.

Conference Summary

On March 27-28, Community Development leaders from across New York State gathered for the Coalition’s first in-person conference since 2019. The conference is New York’s premier statewide community development event, and this year the panels and workshops tackled issues that will help strengthen our communities.

The conference kicked off with welcoming remarks from Linda MacFarlane, the Chair of the Coalition’s Board of Directors, and Colleen Ryan, the Coalition’s Consulting Executive Director.

The Plenary Session addressed changes to CDFI Certification with Alexis Iwanisziw and Terry Ratigan of Inclusiv; Jennifer Vasiloff of OFN; and moderator Jules Epstein-Hebert of Inclusiv. More than 1,300 CDFIs across the country are trying to see around the corner as the US Treasury Department updates its certification standards for the first time since 1997, and the panelists offered their insights to help NYS CDFIs continue to provide vital resources to underserved clients and communities. 

Luncheon speaker Dara Duguay of Credit Builders Alliance in Washington, D.C. outlined how rent reporting can help clients build their credit history and how poor credit scores keep people in poverty. She also shared a video illustrating how CBA worked with the District of Columbia Housing Authority to help its tenants improve their credit records.

“Lending for a Green Future” was the topic of Session I, moderated by Aisha Benson of the Nonprofit Finance Fund, with panelists Jennifer Vasiloff of OFN; Tibita Kaneene of NY Green Bank; and Atalia Howe of the Community Preservation Corporation. As Federal and State funds are being earmarked to confront climate change, they explored how New York’s CDFIs can help work toward climate justice.

CDFI Coalition board members Jessie Lee, Nancy Carin, Giovana Bracchi and advisory board member Kim Jacobs led a spirited discussion with a Small Business Lender Roundtable for Concurrent Session A.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for housing in New York State, but in Concurrent Session B, moderator Eric Dahl of M&T Bank led panelists Mike Borges of the Rural Housing Coalition; Greg Maher of the Leviticus Fund; and Jenny Yang of Enterprise in a discussion of what their organizations were doing to address the persistent shortage of affordable housing.

Matthew Desmond, the Pulitzer Prize-winning, bestselling author of Evicted, discussed his latest book, Poverty, by America as the Keynote Speaker for the Coalition’s 2023 Annual Conference. 

Released the week before the conference, Poverty, by America notes that the United States, the richest country on earth, has more poverty than any other advanced democracy – and asks why.

In his presentation, Desmond offered us new ways of thinking about a morally urgent problem and helped us imagine solutions. He called on us to become poverty abolitionists, engaged in a politics of collective belonging to usher in a new age of shared prosperity and, at last, true freedom.

In addition to conference attendees, the Coalition welcomed more than 50 anti-poverty advocates from around the Capital Region to the talk, book signing and reception.

Day 2 of the conference opened with tips on finding, developing and retaining employees in a tight labor market from Susan Weinrich of the New York Council of Nonprofits. She shared strategies for dealing with contentious and difficult human resources challenges.

Session II featured Alex Horowitz of The Pew Charitable Trusts, who outlined how post-pandemic changes in banking are affecting New Yorkers. He touched on payday lending, big banks making small-dollar loans, and major changes in housing policy.

Concurrent Session C tackled predatory and abusive practices in the housing market, including deed theft. Moderator Madeline Marquez of Ponce Bank led panelists Kerry Quaglia from Home Headquarters; Eddie Wong of Asian Americans for Equality CDF; and Michael Haynes of Center for NYC Neighborhoods in discussion and conversation.

As CDFIs consider both pressures and opportunities to expand geographically, Concurrent Session D invited three CDFIs to share their experiences. Moderated by Dan Delehanty of Dime Bank, panelists Aifuwa Ehigiator of Amalgamated; William O’Brien of Primary Care Development Corporation; and Matt Shapiro of TruFund described how they approached expansion decisions, evaluated potential markets, and declined some opportunities while green-lighting others.

Participants left the conference not only with a box lunch for their trip home, but with inspiration and practical ideas on how NYS CDFIs can continue to meet the moment.


Thank you to our sponsors whose support helped make this conference a success!

Silver Luncheon Sponsor


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