Skip to content

Annual Letter from Our CEO and Board Chair

Written by CEO Daniel A. Nissenbaum and Board Chair Reymundo Ocañas

Dear Friends, 

LIIF – like everyone else in our society – is learning to adjust to a “new normal.” For many the “new normal” began with the COVID-19 pandemic. For us, we began redefining LIIF’s “new normal” in 2019 with the crafting of our strategic plan. As we hit the halfway mark of this transformational four-year roadmap, we feel even more confident in our mission of advancing racial equity through equitable capital deployment, the creation and preservation of affordable housing, and ensuring more communities have access to quality child care and education. Our goal is that everyone in the United States can benefit from living in a community of opportunity, equity and well-being.  

Our country is experiencing challenging and unprecedented times. No matter how challenging times get, we – LIIF – remain committed to the goals set in our strategic plan. Because of this, we have developed innovative strategies that provide us with the financial sustainability and growth needed to fulfill our commitment to drive $5 billion over the next decade to advance racial equity.  

As we charted our new course, setting racial equity as our core focus, we began to see exponential growth. By centering racial equity, we recognized a need to focus on the key components to an equitable community – impact-led lending, affordable housing, and early child care and education. Through this refined focus we attracted a strong new cadre of talent – even in the midst of The Great Resignation – with an even deeper commitment to our mission.  

This refined focus also brought forth our largest public contract to date in our home state of California, working with the Department of Social Services to administer hundreds of millions in grants for the repair and renovation of child care facilities across the state.   

Major change and rapid growth are never easy. We are on a journey that many have pulled back from considering recession fears and rising interest rates. But because of the principles we developed to guide us on our journey to being an anti-racist organization, we are stepping up – instead of back – to support Black, Latino and other communities of color more than ever. We are clear that our ongoing focus on organizational strength and resiliency is key to our ability to remain focused on impact. Every year we assess the unique needs of the moment. This fiscal year it was clear our need to expand and deepen our racial equity work; continue to implement our strategic plan goals; invest in people; and invest in infrastructure.  

By strengthening our platform, we were able to exceed our expectations. We returned to the office in a hybrid model. This helps us maintain trusted community connections while supporting our staff’s safety and work-life integration. We continued to leverage our affiliate, National Affordable Housing Trust (NAHT), to remove barriers to accessing LIHTC capital, such as through the Black Developer Capital Initiative (BDCI). We expanded our work in the Southeast with the Keeping Homes Affordable Preservation Fund, which is a new national fund for affordable housing preservation deals. We increased our public partnerships and deployment of capital to early care and education providers, the majority of whom are women of color entrepreneurs and anchors of their communities throughout our various markets. We advanced the design of our Impact-Risk-Profitability (IRP) framework and built accompanying tools to drive capital in ways that support power and agency for Black, Latino, and other people and communities of color. We continued to engage in deep partnerships such as with Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future (SAHF), Purpose Built Communities (PBC), Lift to Rise and the Coachella Valley “We Lift” Housing Catalyst Fund, and the Strong, Prosperous, And Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC). These serve to keep us in tune with community needs and community-led solutions. In turn, we continue to advocate for more equitable community development policies and regulations, such as a modernization of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) that explicitly addresses racial discrimination within its revised rules.  

We also enhanced our executive management team: Panagiota Mahendru as Chief Financial Officer and Denise Noel as General Counsel, joining us from a national nonprofit deeply rooted in social justice and racial equity and from the U.S. Treasury’s CDFI Fund, respectively. They both bring a deep commitment to our mission, unique understanding of risk management and an enterprise-wide strategic approach. And the same is true for our Board of Directors. We welcomed three new members to our LIIF Board of Directors: Tawanna A. Black, Founder and CEO of Center for Economic Inclusion; Eileen Fitzgerald, Principal and Founder of Thrusight; and Jessica Sager, CEO of All our Kin, Inc., in the early care and education space. We are fortunate to have these powerhouse leaders join our Board, each bringing and offering unique expertise as we redefine and evolve our work. All of this together enabled LIIF to be able to maintain our strong credit ratings through the year, with both S&P and Aeris. 

Our work is complicated, and at times even messy, but we knew this work was not easy. We pledged to push the envelope, and we remain committed to using our resources and platforms to fight for racial equity through our community development work. As we continue forward, your collaboration is key. We urge all our partners, funders and investors to keep the momentum going, and to continue to hold us accountable for the same. 

In partnership,
Daniel A. Nissenbaum
LIIF Chief Executive Officer

Reymundo Ocañas
LIIF Board Chair
Director of Community Banking, Executive Vice President, PNC Bank