Today concludes our formal year of learning together with the second cohort of the Community Finance Fellowship at Mission Driven Finance. Join us in extending a huge thanks to them for a fruitful year together!
When we first interviewed David Ritcherson, Farah Velasquez, and Xitlali Villa, we were blown away by their charisma, lived experiences, and enthusiasm to use finance as a tool for change.
We first launched the Community Finance Fellowship in 2019 in order to diversify talent in our industry—and get capital into overlooked and underestimated communities where it doesn’t usually flow. Designed to give early professionals a strong start to finance and investing careers , this program provides fellows formal training and critical on-the-job experience with the full life cycle of making private impact investments.
Xitlali, Farah, and David embraced learning and growing with the MDF team. We had the privilege of seeing them blossom as they gained experience in impact investing, underwriting, client support, and more. They’ve left an impact on all of us, our borrowers, and our partners.
Our team reflected on favorite memories with David, Farah, and Xitlali:
My favorite moment with David Ritcherson was when we were interviewing a national education leader who, partway through the conversation, realized that David was a special human and spent most of the rest of the appointment learning more about David and suggesting ways he could help him in his career. Xitlali brought bright energy to our advisory committee process, imbuing the whole experience for our advisors with a sense of optimism and opportunity.
— Laura Kohn, senior director of care & education
Every time I spent 1:1 time with the fellows, I learned something! David taught me about our education systems, Xitlali about the impact of food sovereignty on cultures, and Farah about designing inclusive communities. Finance plays a critical role in all of these areas so I’m excited they will take this experience and do incredible things in the world!
— Melissa Barash, chief of staff
I am impressed by the spirit and enthusiasm of the community finance fellows. I am particularly impressed that within a relatively short time, they became so deeply engrossed with community businesses, learned how to underwrite them (a very complicated process!), and closed several investments each.
— Thai Nguyen, director of client operations
Again, thank you so much, fellows, for working with us at Mission Driven Finance! We appreciate you so much and all the work you’ve done for the organization and the community. We can’t wait to see you continue growing and thriving!
What’s next for the Community Finance Fellowship?
With so much growth and change in the last two years, we are taking some time to tweak the fellowship program and make it even better for the next cohort. Sign up to receive updates. See our blog for more stories about the fellowship.