Credit Unions Are Like Coral Reefs: Onsite Coverage
WASHINGTON - Annie Donovan, the new director of the U.S. Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, compared credit unions to coral reefs as platforms that support the greatest diversity of business and community development activity.
Donovan took over as director in December 2014.
Just as coral reefs are the undersea platforms that support the greatest diversity of life, credit unions also support a diversity of different approaches to small business and community development, Donovan said during an interview with Cathie Mahon, CEO of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions.
The March 9 interview took place during the Federation’s CDFI Forum it offered during the first day of CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington.
Donovan put defending and expanding the CDFI Fund’s budget at the top of the fund’s priority list for 2015, pointing out that the fund has enjoyed five years of strong bipartisan budget support in Congress, but that the fund cannot take that for granted going forward.
Another top priority, she said, was to listen to CDFIs, including credit unions, as the fund put together a five-year plan, asking for feedback in six specific areas. The areas include data about what CDFIs are doing, innovation, including what is happening and what needs to happen, scale and impact, access, customer service and the fund’s blind spots.
“I never say the word scale without the word impact close behind it,” Donovan said, “because I want to make it perfectly clear that what we are talking about is scale of impact more than scale of size. We don’t want just to get bigger, we want to have a bigger impact.”
Donovan said she would embark on a listening tour to CDFIs this year, probably in July. Currently there are roughly 250 credit unions which have been recognized as CDFIs.