|WASHINGTON DC, Oct. 11, 2023 – Dr. Robert Bullard, the father of environmental justice, and Jerome Foster, climate activist and White House Advisor, will headline a panel discussion on climate justice as part of the sold-out Opportunity Finance Network Conference taking place Oct. 15-18 at the Washington Hilton. Their message: Climate change gets worse every day, and the communities served by community development finance institutions (CDFIs) suffer the most. Therefore, climate justice must become part of the CDFI core purpose to help low-income, low-wealth, and minority communities withstand its impacts. The discussion, Climate Justice: A CDFI Calling, is emblematic of this year’s conference theme — Capital Meets Purpose — which captures the work CDFIs do to invest deeply in low-wealth urban, rural, and Native communities. More than 2,200 CDFI professionals, funders, investors, policymakers, and other industry stakeholders are expected to attend the four-day event, making it the largest convening of community lenders with a mission to advance economic justice through access to capital. Days after the application deadline for the EPA’s historic Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, a $27 billion fund to mobilize capital to combat the effects of climate change in low-income communities, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael S. Regan will address the industry gathering at the lunch plenary on Tuesday, Oct. 17.
EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan
The event also will feature:80+ breakout and networking sessions across 13 tracks, including several focused on racial equity, inclusion, and accessibility7 tours showcasing CDFI impact on the ground in and around Washington, D.C. In-depth training and workshops offering more comprehensive and interactive learning than the standard breakout sessionsExpo featuring 50+ exhibitors with products and services designed to help CDFIs create an even deeper impact 4 plenaries with thought leaders from the private and public sectors The session featuring Dr. Bullard and Foster takes place 8:30-10:30 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 16. They will be joined by microfinancing expert Duanne Andrade, executive director of Solar and Energy Loan Fund (SELF), and moderator Donna Gambrell, OFN board chair, president and CEO of Appalachian Community Capital, and former director of the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s CDFI Fund.
As one of the world’s most influential voices in the environmental justice movement, Dr. Bullard will share with conference attendees how climate change is an issue for all of us, one that grows in urgency daily. Dr. Bullard leads the Bullard Center for Environmental and Climate Justice at Texas Southern University. An award-winning author, he focuses on sustainable development, environmental racism, urban land use, industrial facility siting, community reinvestment, housing, transportation, climate justice, disasters, emergency response, and community resilience, smart growth, and regional equity. Foster, the co-founder of the youth-led news and civic organization Waic Up, was recently named to a second term on President Biden’s White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council. At age 20, he is the youngest person to be named a White House advisor. Prior to joining the Biden administration, Foster served as an intern for Congressman John Lewis at just 14 years old.
Other mainstage speakers include: Isabella Casillas Guzman, Administrator of the U.S. Small Business AdministrationByron Auguste, CEO and Co-Founder, Opportunity at WorkMaria Flynn, CEO, Jobs for the FutureGeorge Holland, Mayor of Moorhead, MississippiHarold Pettigrew, President and CEO, Opportunity Finance NetworkNoel Andrés Poyo, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Community Economic Development, U.S. Department of Treasury