The people who work in Community Development Financial Institutions share a dedication to the mission of helping poor communities, but they come from a wide variety of backgrounds. People from two seemingly opposite backgrounds are often found working together in CDFIs: social activists and former bankers.

Social activists:
Many people who manage CDFIs have been community organizers and political activists their entire adult lives. They see lending as a way to achieve the same social goals they previously pursued in the political arena. Many of these founding CDFI managers had little formal training in economics and accounting and had to learn as they worked.
"Working in an inner-city neighborhood, I saw that the issue of capital was critical, and that it was an issue that often was avoided. While civic organization and civic power are fundamental to social change, capital is also."

Jeremy Nowak, The Reinvestment Fund

"I was a commercial lender for four years. Some of the most important things I know I learned from bankers. I think bankers are underappreciated. But, they don't do what CDFIs do. Banks look at historical performance. We look at future possibilities."

Patty Grossman, Cascadia Revolving Fund

Former bankers:
Increasingly, CDFIs are attracting people who have degrees in economics and experience working in conventional financial institutions. This group of CDFI managers is often looking for a chance to do work that is more meaningful and more rewarding than traditional banking. Their technical knowledge, combined with the hard-won practical experience of the CDFI founders, gives CDFIs an organizational strength that is unequaled in conventional banking.