Sister Pat Rayburn New Board Chair …
In 2008, Sr. Pat Rayburn literally carried a torch as a torchbearer for the Olympic Torch Relay when it came to San Francisco. Now, Pat will be carrying a figurative torch as the new board chair for RCIF.
Pat became board chair on January 1. She takes over for Sr. Margaret Diener, OP, who served as board chair from 2008-17. “Margaret has been a wonderful chair,” Pat said. “She will be hard to replace. I just hope I do a good job.”
RCIF’s Executive Director, Sr. Corinne Florek, OP believes she will do just that. “She previously served on the board and has extensive leadership experience to bring to this position as well as a strong commitment to the work of economic justice,” said Corinne.
Pat’s three-year term is her second go-around as a board member, having served from 2008-14. As board chair, Pat said she sees her main job as being supportive of Corinne as RCIF heads into its second decade. “Obviously, I’ve always wanted to grow the fund, which will continue to be a goal” she said. “It has almost $10 million. Involving more and more religious communities will also continue to be a goal.”
Pat also sees her role as a facilitator. She said she wants to continue working on diversifying the seven-member board with sisters from religious communities and lay people with expertise in the field of community financing.
As for running board meetings, which are held quarterly, she again sees herself as someone who can ensure the process goes smoothly and efficiently. “I want to encourage everyone to use their voice,” she said. “I want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to voice their opinions.”
Pat’s vision for the board and RCIF is to build on the foundation the organization has established. “RCIF does wonderful work in providing loans to groups that don’t always have an easy time getting a loan,” said Pat, who belongs to the Redwood City-based order of St. Francis of Penance and Christian Charity. “I think it’s a wonderful ministry for sisters’ congregations to be involved in.”
Other board officers for the coming year are Tan Vo as treasurer and Sr. Cathy Minhoto, RSHM, who will continue as board secretary.
Dutch Haarsma … new board member
President/CEO of Idaho-Nevada Community Development Financial Institution, Inc
After 10 years as a commercial banker, Dutch Haarsma began questioning what he was doing with his life. “I was an accidental banker,” he said. “I didn’t feel much connection to the work. I was making the wealthy wealthier.”
Haarsma soon stumbled upon community development lending, which he noted requires the same skill set as commercial banking. He’s now been in that field – which he calls a blending of art and science – for 17 years. “I firmly believe in the ministry of using socially responsible capital to alleviate poverty,” he said. “Philanthropy is a very big tool, but investment can be bigger. If we make good choices about how we use our money, we can change the world.”
Haarsma currently is the President of Idaho-Nevada CDFI. Since 2000, his organization has made 77 loans totaling over $80 million, as well as creating or preserving 512 permanent jobs, 6,280 construction jobs and 3,060 units of affordable housing.
“Affordability issues are creeping into Nevada and Idaho,” he said. “Lots has changed over the last decade. There has been a great deal of growth throughout the Intermountain West. Housing affordability is our emphasis.”
Now Haarsma, who is based in Oakland (“I fly more than I drive.”) is taking another step in his professional development. He is the newest member of RCIF’s board of directors. He is replacing outgoing board member Pablo Bravo.
“RCIF has been a leader in its field for many, many years,” Haarsma said. ”I believe in its mission and the spirit of the organization. The challenge with most funds is that generally there is not enough to go around. I want to help Sr. Corinne find and deploy as much capital as possible.”
The board appointment is not, however, Haarsma’s first contact with RCIF. He has known RCIF Executive Director Sr. Corinne Florek for many years, and RCIF previously loaned $500,000 to Idaho-Nevada CDFI.
Idaho-Nevada, founded in 1999, is relatively new to community financing. “Institutional investors are leery if you are new. They want several years of operation before they consider you. RCIF was willing to invest with us early and for the long term. They provided motivation, and gave us credibility.”
Above all else, Haarsma brings to the board unbridled optimism, no small feat in these challenging times.
“We live in cynical times,” he said. “The bad news spreads faster because of social media. This is the time to have more hope than ever. I get a lot of positive optimism from the work we do and the smiles on the faces of people we help. When you put a roof over someone’s head, you see the hope in their heart. There is more hope than cynicism. It will always triumph.”
Sisters of the Humility of Mary
Yes, bigger can be better. At least, that’s part of the thinking that lead the Sisters of Humility of Mary in western Pennsylvania to team up with RCIF.
The congregation, with about 140 nuns, is located close to northeast Ohio, which is where the Sisters of Humility concentrates its work. Sr. Mary Stanco, Chair of the HM Alternative Loan Committee, said the congregation has been working since 1993 to address various needs in education, housing, spirituality and care of the poor. In recent years, however, the congregation’s relatively small size has made it harder to finance loans. “We evaluated where we were due to the lack of applications we were getting,” Stanco said.
“We were asking if there was value in not continuing on our own.
”Fortunately, the Sisters of Humility chief financial officer, Cathy Bender, came in contact with RCIF at a gathering of finance officers from religious organizations across the nation. “We were deciding whether to cut back or eliminate some of what we do when we heard about RCIF,” Stanco said. “RCIF was there and she (RCIF Executive Director Sr. Corinne Florek) sat in on a couple sessions and brought us ideas to use.”
As a result of that initial contact, the Sisters of Humility joined RCIF and transferred many of their matured loans to the larger organization. “RCIF offers a lot of expertise,” Stanco said. “All the contact they make and the follow up and site visits they do … it’s better done for us. We are just a committee of five sisters. We can’t get out to see all the programs (that apply for loans).”
Stanco said that her community and RCIF share similar values and goals, it’s just that RCIF does it on a much bigger scale. For instance, both are interested in global opportunities. As an example of a mutually shared interest, Stanco mentioned Fonkoze, an organization that helps women in Haiti with loans for everything from survival to microfinancing loans to launch businesses of their own. (See RCIF’s Spring newsletter for more information on Fonkoze).
The Sisters of Humility joined RCIF in August and works to meet RCIF requirements and to follow their suggestions. As such, Stanco said the Sisters of Humility are revamping its own program to work with smaller local programs. Stanco pointed to Cafe Augustine in Youngstown, Ohio as one such program. Opened in October 2015, the cafe helps young people ages 16-24 who are unemployed and disconnected from the working world by providing personalized training, life skills, and job placement for our students.
“Sr. Corinne has done a great job with us,” Stanco said. “We were pretty confident that it would be a good match.”