The Citi Leadership Program for Opportunity Finance is a unique and innovative leadership program for CDFIs. Developed by CDFIs for CDFIs, the program supports talent that can lead transformational change, ensures strong leadership at all levels of the industry, and promotes leaders that represent the diverse communities that CDFIs serve.
The opportunity finance industry emerged from the Great Recession stronger and fielding more opportunities than ever. But the industry needs more leaders to leverage these and future opportunities. The Citi Leadership Program for Opportunity Finance is an industry-wide talent development program designed to help new leaders, capitalize on the experience of current leaders, and build a leadership that reflects the diverse communities that CDFIs serve.
The program works with three levels of CDFI leaders—Emerging, Mid-Career, and Executive.
The Citi Leadership Program for Opportunity Finance is offered by Opportunity Finance Network with generous support from the Citi Foundation.
How it Works
Developed by CDFIs for CDFIs, the program works with three levels of CDFI leaders:
Executive Leaders—CEOs or Executive Directors.
Mid-Career Leaders—CDFI department heads, team leaders, program managers, and line-of-business leaders with at least ten years of professional experience, of which at least three years are in the opportunity finance industry.
Emerging Leaders—High-potential early-career CDFI professionals with at least three years of professional experience, of which at least one is in the opportunity finance industry.
Over a period of 11 months, a select group of up to 10 Executive Leaders, up to 20 Mid-Career Leaders, and up to 20 Emerging Leaders will experience the program’s unique curriculum. Developed and delivered by Opportunity Finance Network and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, the curriculum offers a powerful combination of leadership development experiences built around four key elements:
- Transformational leadership frameworks and tools
- Applying transformational leadership to the opportunity finance industry
- Understanding leadership and management
- Building effective teams to lead transformational change
Through four in-person gatherings (in January, April, and June in Philadelphia, and November at the 2015 OFN Conference in Detroit) and regular conference calls, participants will learn from program instructors, their fellow Citi leaders, and their own self-reflection.
Applicants must be employed by an OFN Member CDFI.
Applicants must demonstrate a commitment to leading transformational change. We define transformational change as structural (laws, policies) and/or systemic (practices, norms, values) change.
Eligibility for each level is as follows:
- Chief Executive Officers or Executive Directors.
- CDFI department heads, team leaders, program managers, and line-of-business leaders.
- Accountability for day-to-day operations as well as strategic goals.
- A minimum of three years of supervisory experience and currently supervise others.
- A minimum of ten years into their career, including at least three years in the opportunity finance industry and three years supervising others.
- Early-career CDFI professionals that are recognized by their superiors as capable and smart individuals with high potential that are likely to take on a leadership role in five to ten years.
- A minimum of three years of professional experience, including at least one year in the opportunity finance industry.
Applicants must confirm in good faith that, if they are selected to participate in the Citi Leadership Program for Opportunity Finance, they:
- Will participate in all Program meetings, webinars, and conference calls, and cover any associated travel costs not covered by the Program stipend. Active participation means completing preparatory or follow-up assignments on time; openly sharing their professional successes, challenges, and failures with their cohort; and constructively engaging with their cohort members.
- Intend to continue working in the opportunity finance industry for two years after completing the program.
In addition, the applicant’s supervisor and/or CDFI leadership must commit to supporting the applicant’s leadership learning process by
- Participating in one to two conference calls for the leaders’ supervisors and, if applicable, other members of the organization’s leadership
- Meeting with the applicant after each of the four in-person Citi Leadership meetings
- Providing opportunities for the applicant to share their learnings with the CDFI’s executive leadership team and/or staff
- Providing the applicant with the opportunity to practice what they are learning
Successful applicants will:
- Demonstrate a desire to become a transformational leader in the opportunity finance industry.
- Articulate clear and ambitious goals for what they want to accomplish in their careers in the opportunity finance industry.
- Value the opportunity to work with peers in a collaborative way.
- Be recognized by their supervisor and peers as an individual with leadership potential or—for current leaders--the potential to grow their leadership capacity.
- Commit to approach transformational leadership with a respect for diversity and inclusion.
The selected individuals will represent a range of backgrounds, experiences, and institutions. They will include no more than one individual per CDFI.
Meet a Leader
The Citi Leadership Program for Opportunity Finance has had an impact on program graduates at all levels. CDFI Connect, the daily mobile news source by CDFIs and for CDFIs interviewed selected 2014 program participants to learn more.
Kristin Faust is a 2014 executive leader graduate who took the next step in her career after participating in the leadership program. Kristin shared that "the program helped reinforce my own leadership abilities. And it also reminded me that anyone can be a leader. In some ways leadership is a choice, and that was what I needed to decide. Was I ready to make that choice again?"
Read the full interview about Kristin’s experience here.
Mid-Career Leader - COMING SOON
Interview coming soon...
Emerging Leader - Lorena Roman
Lorena Roman is a 2014 Emerging Leader graduate who started her career in small business development in 2007 at Women’s Initiative, a non-profit that provided business training to women. Since then she’s worked with hundreds of small businesses in different capacities, from getting them loan approved as an underwriter, to helping them answer financial and operational questions as a trusted advisor. Lorena is now the Director of Business Consulting at Working Solutions, a CDFI providing entrepreneurs capital and consulting to grow their businesses. Lorena shared that “I feel that this program has changed my communication behavior. Communication is a big part of leadership and I am much more aware of how this plays out.”
Read the full interview about Lorena's experience here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who will the instructors be?
The instructors and facilitators will include academics and leadership experts from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, OFN staff, and CDFI practitioners.
What is the format of the meetings?
The meetings will include formal instruction, facilitated discussion, and informal networking.
Where will the in-person meetings take place?
The January, April, and June meetings will take place in Philadelphia. The November meeting will be in Detroit.
How much is the stipend?
Stipends will be up to $400 per meeting for the three Philadelphia meetings. Stipends will be proportional to travel costs so that leaders traveling from longer distances will be eligible for larger stipends. There is no stipend for the Detroit meeting at the 2015 annual OFN Conference.
I work for an affiliate or a subsidiary of an OFN Member CDFI. Do I meet the eligibility requirements?
Staff of OFN Member subsidiaries that are CDFIs are eligible to apply. Staff of subsidiaries that are not CDFIs are not eligible. Staff of affiliates are not eligible.
Are OFN Allies eligible?
The program is limited to OFN Members. OFN Allies are not eligible. We may reconsider the eligibility criteria next year or thereafter if the program is extended.
I don’t meet the eligibility requirements. Can you waive them?
Unfortunately, we cannot waive any of the eligibility criteria.
For the Emerging Leaders, do internships count toward the requirement three years of professional experience, of which at least one is in the opportunity finance industry?
No, internships do not count toward these professional experience requirements.
Who should letters of recommendation be sent to?
There are two options. The author(s) of your letters of recommendation can either send them to you and you can upload them into your online application or the author(s) can email them directly to the Citi Leadership Program Selection Committee at CitiLeadership@ofn.org. Please tell your author(s) to show the following in the subject line of the email: LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION FOR <Applicant First and Last Name>. The author(s) must submit the letter(s) by the application due date.
Is there a limit to the number of applications a single CDFI can submit, either by total applications from the organization or total per level?
There are no limits on the number of applications from an organization, but no more than one individual per organization will be selected to participate in the program.
What is the timeline for the selection process?
All applications (including letters of recommendation and all other attachments) are due Thursday, December 4, 2014 by midnight Eastern Standard Time.
OFN will notify applicants by the end of the year about whether they were selected to participate in the program.
Are last year’s participants eligible for the 2015 program?
Our goal is to make this two-year pilot program available to the broadest number of leaders and, therefore, year one participants are not eligible to participate in year two.
Are staff from all OFN Members eligible?
Staff from OFN Members in Good Standing are eligible. Good Standing means the Member is current on OFN Member dues; has submitted its completed FY 2013 Annual Member Survey; and is not in default on an OFN Financing Fund agreement, if applicable.
Are OFN staff eligible to apply?
OFN staff were not eligible to apply in year one. OFN staff are eligible to apply in year two. OFN staff will be evaluated the same way as all other candidates and there is no guarantee that an OFN applicant will be selected.
Nov 10 updates:
Is there a group project that participants will work on throughout the program?
No. Unlike some other leadership programs, a group project is not part of the curriculum. Rather, each leader will set their own individual commitment which they plan to work on during the program. These commitments can be big or small, and may change over the eleven-month program. Leaders can discuss their commitments with other Leaders in the program, and specifically with small Accountability Groups of 3-5 leaders within their cohort.
Nov 11 updates:
My roles and experience don’t fit neatly into the requirements for either the Mid-Career or the Emerging Leader level. Which should I apply for?
Apply for the level you think is the best fit for you. If OFN disagrees, we will move you to a different level. We will let you know we are moving you and contact you to confirm that you are still interested in being considered.
Nov 12 updates:
Is there a limit to the number of people that will be selected from a single CDFI?
Yes, no more than one individual per CDFI will be selected to participate (one person across all three levels not one person per level). This is a change from last year when we two people were selected from some CDFIs.
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