Initiative CEO Tara Kenchen tapped for prestigious national CDFI leadership program

Tara Kenchen

January 22, 2015 – Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) and the Citi Foundation have selected Tara Kenchen, president and CEO of the Initiative and its investment arm, Initiative Capital, as one of 48 community development financial institution (CDFI) professionals nationwide who will participate in the second annual Citi Leadership Program for Opportunity Finance.

Developed by CDFIs for CDFIs, the unique industry-wide initiative launched in 2014 prepares participants to lead transformational change, ensures strong leadership at all levels of the industry and promotes leaders that represent the diverse communities that CDFIs serve.

Kenchen joined the Initiative in 2005 as legal counsel and vice president of special projects, was promoted to COO and general counsel in 2008, and named CEO of the nonprofit and its CDFI subsidiary in 2014. She leads the Initiative’s statewide work to catalyze economic growth in areas that are hard-hit and underserved.

Prior to joining the Initiative, Kenchen served as assistant general counsel for Self-Help, managing its secondary market servicing relationships with lenders across the United States and monitoring a $1.2 billion mortgage portfolio for delinquent loan management and resolution.

Kenchen is one of a group of emerging, mid-career and executive level professionals from CDFIs in 20 states and the District of Columbia. These participants represent many CDFI types and focus areas, including affordable housing finance, business and microenterprise, community facilities and consumer finance. (Visit ofn.org to see the full list of participants.)

“The first year of the Citi Leadership Program was a resounding success, and we look forward to working with this next group of professionals,” said Mark Pinsky, president and CEO of OFN. “OFN welcomes these leaders to the program. Across the board, each selected participant demonstrates commitment to leading structural and systemic change in the opportunity finance industry. We are thankful for the Citi Foundation’s longstanding support of CDFIs and its dedication to developing talent, which will enable the industry to continue to raise the bar in how we serve low-income, low-wealth, and other disadvantaged communities.”

Beginning in January, the 2015 cohort will meet four times over eleven months and follow a curriculum that OFN developed with the Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania.

“When we have a strong roster of talented and dedicated professionals leading the CDFI industry, we have the potential to create a much deeper impact in the low-income communities that CDFIs serve,” said Brandee McHale, chief operating officer of the Citi Foundation. “This program enables individuals at all levels of their careers to create a road map for personal and professional success while thinking strategically about how to influence the opportunity finance industry for generations to come.”

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About N.C. Community Development Initiative

The N.C. Community Development Initiative and its investment arm, Initiative Capital, a community development financial institution, work to create sustainable economic growth and opportunity in communities across North Carolina that are distressed and underserved. The Initiative works with proven community partners to develop and deliver strategies that work, providing financial capital, innovative solutions and leadership development.

About Opportunity Finance Network

OFN, the leading network of private financial institutions, creates growth that is good for communities, investors, individuals, and the economy. Members of OFN are community development financial institutions (CDFIs) that deliver responsible lending to help low-wealth and low-income communities join the economic mainstream. Through 2012, OFN’s Network originated more than $33.3 billion in financing in urban, rural, and Native communities, and financed development/rehab of 960,000 housing units, started or expanded nearly 94,000 business and microenterprises, and helped create or maintain nearly 600,000 jobs. More information is available at: www.ofn.org.

About the Citi Foundation

The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. We invest in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyze job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant cities. The Citi Foundation’s “More than Philanthropy” approach leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfill our mission and drive thought leadership and innovation. Additional information can be found at www.citifoundation.com.

Many thanks to our sponsors

BB&T Oak Foundation Z Smith Reynolds Foundation Wells Fargo PNC Suntrust Kate B Reynolds Charitable Trust Local First Bank Fifth Third Bank First Tennessee Bank