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Welcoming A New Board Chair And Members In 2020

by Yanki Tshering

It is with a great deal of gratitude that we salute Larry Rubenstein, who has served as our Board Chair for the past three years. Larry is stepping down this year and handing over the Board Chair position to Board Member Kwame Marfo.

Larry’s leadership and commitment to our mission has enabled BCNA to double our impact in three years and to attract diverse sources of funding for loans and grants. We are very pleased that he will stay on the board and continue to guide us.

Kwame, who has been chairing BCNA’s Loan Fund for the past three years, will bring to his new role a hands-on understanding of our client’s needs, which vary from small credit-builder loans of $500 for our refugee clients to loans of $250,000 to help small businesses grow and create new jobs.

Kwame, whose family emigrated from Ghana, grew up in the Bronx and earned a BS with honors from Binghamton University, an MBA from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, and an MSc from the London School of Economics. He is a co-founder and Managing Partner of the Africa Empowerment Fund and the founder of the West Africa-focused investment platform, Diaspora Capital LLP, where he chairs the Investment Committee. He has over 15 years of experience in business, government, civil society, and media across four continents, including a previous role in strategy and business model analysis at the Bank of England. He has written for Business and Financial Times, Citi Business News, Africa at LSE, Modern Ghana, Applause Africa, and the Africapitalism Institute.

We are very fortunate to have Kwame’s leadership through the next stage of development supporting our goal to double our lending to $10M a year by 2023, while maintaining the quality of our services that is the trademark of our organizational culture.

We are also very pleased to welcome Tim Zhakselekov and Joan Carty as the newest members of the BCNA Board.

Tim is a Senior Vice President and Business Banking Market Manager at Santander Bank where he leads a team of relationship managers who work with companies in Manhattan, Staten Island and Brooklyn, with revenues between $5 million and $25 million. Prior to joining Santander in 2017, Tim worked at Citizens Bank, HSBC, M&T and BB&T in various capacities, including retail and commercial banking and international banking. Tim not only supports BCNA’s mission to provide access to credit, he is also passionate about enhancing our ability to market to potential micro and small business clients.

Joan is President and CEO of the Housing and Development Fund (HDF) in Stamford, Connecticut, which provides financing to developers of affordable housing, technical assistance to local governments, homeownership counseling and down payment assistance to first time homebuyers and, since taking over in 1994, Joan has grown its funding pools from $8.5 million to more than $140 million. She also served as a public interest director on the board of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston for the last 10 years. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from the College of New Rochelle, an M.S. in urban affairs from Hunter College, and a law degree from Fordham University School of Law. As a board member of the Housing Partnership Network and a Loan Committee member of the National NeighborWorks Association (NNA), Joan is involved in current and critical housing policy issues on a national level. Joan’s expertise in the CDFI sector will be critical as BCNA implements its growth plan for the next three years.

Thank you Larry, welcome Tim and Joan, and we are looking forward to continued success in 2020 under Kwame’s leadership!