BBVA Compass, Opportunity Finance Network Welcome First Class of Opportunity Fellows to Birmingham
• 25 professionals from diverse finance organizations participate in leadership program
• Fellows to explore ways to give underserved communities better access to capital
BIRMINGHAM, AL, March 7, 2017— BBVA Compass and Opportunity Finance Network on Tuesday welcome their inaugural class of 25 Opportunity Fellows to Birmingham for a three-day training session where they'll explore how to lead the change necessary to give underserved communities equal access to capital. Mary Ellen Judah of Huntsville-based Neighborhood Concepts, Inc. is one of the professionals selected for the program.
“I’m honored to have been selected for this prestigious program and excited to learn innovative strategies that will increase access to capital to diverse small businesses in the State of Alabama,” said Judah, who heads up Neighborhood Concepts’ small business revolving loan fund, the North Alabama Revolving Loan Fund.
BBVA Compass and Opportunity Finance Network joined forces in October to develop the Opportunity Fellows Program. The program is designed to boost the leadership ranks and spur the transformation of Community Development Financial Institutions, or CDFIs, which are critical engines of opportunity in low-income communities. Nationally recognized experts in the field of community development chose the 25 Opportunity Fellows from nearly 100 highly qualified applicants, and together they represent emerging, mid-career and executive-level professionals from CDFIs across the country. Judah was selected to participate in the executive level.
“This innovative and robust leadership program brings together participants with different levels of experience with a common goal: to increase opportunity for all people and in all communities across the country,” said Pam Porter, Executive Vice President, Strategic Consulting at OFN. “We congratulate the 25 Opportunity Fellows, and we thank BBVA Compass for recognizing the impact this program will have and for its generous support.”
The Opportunity Fellows Program provides nine months of training with world-class experts in leadership and racial equity from the University of Alabama Collat School of Business and Race Matters Institute. The program kicks off this week at the BBVA Compass headquarters in Birmingham, where participants will engage in interactive activities and experiences and will learn from other leaders in microfinance. They will also spend time with experts to better understand the patterns and causes behind the growing inequity in racial and ethnic minorities, as well as tour the Innovation Depot business incubator.
“We could not be more proud of this leadership program, and of these participants,” said BBVA Compass Director of Corporate Responsibility and Reputation Reymundo Ocañas. “We know that by investing in their future, we’re investing in the future of all of our communities. These are the leaders of organizations who put capital to work directly in low- to moderate-income communities. The idea is to arm them with the tools and skills they need to flourish in this impactful field of community-oriented finance.”
A complete list of participants is available at: http://ofn.org/opportunity-fellows
About Neighborhood Concepts
Neighborhood Concepts is a Huntsville-based nonprofit committed to strengthening communities through the development of affordable housing and the advancement of economic opportunities. Neighborhood Concepts formed the North Alabama Revolving Loan Fund in 2012 to provide micro- and small business loans to small businesses and entrepreneurs in north Alabama who are unable to access traditional sources of capital. Over 60% of loans in the portfolio have been made to low-to-moderate income business owners, 50% have been made to minority-owned businesses and 61% to women-owned businesses. The Loan Fund received U. S. Treasury certification as a Community Development Financial Institution or CDFI in 2015.
About BBVA Compass
BBVA Compass is a Sunbelt-based financial institution that operates 672 branches, including 344 in Texas, 89 in Alabama, 75 in Arizona, 62 in California, 45 in Florida, 38 in Colorado and 19 in New Mexico. BBVA Compass ranks among the top 25 largest U.S. commercial banks based on deposit market share and ranks among the largest banks in Alabama (2nd), Texas (4th) and Arizona (5th). BBVA Compass was recently named Best Digital Bank in North America by global finance magazine Euromoney and the best regional bank in the South & West and best mobile app in Money magazine’s 2015-2016 list of the Best Banks in America. Additional information about BBVA Compass can be found at bbvacompass.com, by following @BBVACompassNews on Twitter or visiting newsroom.bbvacompass.com.
Opportunity Finance Network (OFN), the leading national 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 2015 OFN's network originated $48 billion in financing in urban, rural, and Native American communities. This financing has helped to create or maintain more than 1,044,000 jobs, start or expand nearly 191,000 businesses and microenterprises, and support the development or rehabilitation of nearly 1.5 million housing units and 9,800 community facility projects. For more information, visit ofn.org.