2023 Policy and Funding Conference: A Spotlight on Organizations Whose Leadership Reflects the Communities They Serve
The 2023 Policy and Funding Conference was an exciting display of creativity and collaboration! We greatly thank everyone who attended, and deeply appreciate all speakers and panelists who helped make it such a success. Our network – community development organizations, funders, elected officials – exemplified a passion for supporting organizations serving low-income communities of color and led by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).
The conference kicked off with an energetic evening reception thanks to a heartfelt speech by California Speaker of the State Assembly Anthony Rendon. He spoke about his upbringing as a working-class Mexican kid who struggled with grades, to a Ph.D. graduate and progressive champion for BIPOC communities during his ongoing tenure in public office. Rendon expressed his deep belief that the work of community economic development organizations can create more opportunities for people who come from the same background as him, to find the same success. Conference sponsor representative Rockette Ewell of U.S. Bank provided a spirited welcome, followed by a very special Happy Birthday sing-a-long and cake cutting for our very own Board Chair Kerry Doi!
Attendees started their second day with a speech from California Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, Assemblymember Phil Ting. He shared his experience as the first Asian-American to hold the position and provided valuable information regarding the state budget.
He spoke of the many opportunities for community development corporations (CDCs), community development financial institutions (CDFIs), and community action agencies/partnerships (CAAs/CAPs) to receive support from the state in efforts to bring economic development to the low-income communities of color who have been greatly affected by COVID and lack of investment.
Next, we had started our first panel focused on BIPOC-led CDCs. Panelists included CEO of Coalition for Responsible Community Development Mark Wilson, CEO of Mission Economic Development Agency Luis Granados, Executive Director of El Pajaro Community Development Corporation Carmen Herrera-Mansir, and Vice President of the Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment Billy Chun.
Bob Zdenek, a veteran of community development and author of Navigating Community Development: Harnessing Comparative Advantages to Create Strategic Partnerships moderated a discussion about how their organizations built trust in targeted communities by successfully delivering small business assistance, emergency funding, workforce development, affordable housing, and energy services. They have all been able to expand their programs and provide support beyond their initially targeted communities, uplifting all people of color in the communities they serve.
Then came the second panel of the conference which consisted of bankers and funders. CEO of Community Reinvestment Coalition Paulina Gonzalez-Brito led the discussion with Ray Mendoza of City National Bank, Claudia Lima of First Citizens Bank, Agnes Ubalde, and Lynn von Koch-Liebert of the Strategic Growth Council on the various funding opportunities available to BIPOC-led CDCs and CDFIs. They also discussed the ways they have attempted to bring diversity to their lending practices and offer creative structures to provide CDCs and CDFIs with the capital necessary to bring economic opportunity to low-income communities of color.
After lunch, attendees of the conference were treated to an edifying Keynote Speech by California State Treasurer, Fiona Ma. She spoke about her journey to becoming the first woman of color and the first woman Certified Public Accountant (CPA) elected to the position, then to the various programs offered by the Treasurer’s Office to CDCs, CDFIs, and CAAs/CAPs. These included CalCAP and the new Cal IIP – a program that will provide grants enhancing the capacity and ability of CDFIs to provide programs including technical assistance and access to capital to economically disadvantaged communities throughout California. She answered questions from the audience alongside special guest Shela Tobias-Daniel, Executive Director of the California Pollution Control Financial Authority.
The third panel of the conference centered BIPOC-led CDFIs and was moderated by Chief Business Development Officer Pritika Ram of Community Action Partnership of Kern County. The panel included CEO of First Community Capital Jay Diallo, Executive Director of Inclusive Action for the City Rudy Espinoza, CEO of California Capital Financial Development Corporation, California Capital Financial Development, Deborah Lowe Muramoto and COO of Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation Yery Olivares. They discussed the ways smaller BIPOC-led CDFIs are uniquely positioned to provide access to capital for immigrant communities and low-income communities of color. Further, they discussed how banks can be a collaborative partner in bringing responsible economic development to communities that are often at the margins of the economy or underserved by larger CDFIs.
We wrapped up the conference with our final panel of the day, facilitated by CCEDA Board Member Susan Howard. The State Support panel focused on funding opportunities for community economic development organizations and included District 67 Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva, District 80 Assemblymember David Alvarez, District 73 Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris, and District 16 State Senator Melissa Hurtado. They discussed their efforts to support community economic development since the death of redevelopment in 2011, the ways they are using their offices to advance equity for low-income communities of color, and opportunities for funding and collaboration with community economic development organizations.
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