Our Story

Mission

We promote economic justice and alleviate poverty by increasing the financial resilience and sustainability of community-based nonprofits and enterprises. Through flexible financial products and sound advice, we create opportunities to make socially responsible investments that revitalize Northern and Central California communities.

Vision

We envision financially strong and culturally vibrant communities where each person has access to decent jobs, homes, health care, education, and economic opportunities. We work in partnership with individuals and organizations who share our vision of sustainable communities and social and economic justice.

History

In 1987, our founders had a vision of putting their money to work as a tool for building financially strong and culturally vibrant communities capable of growing their sown seeds of self-determination. We have successfully carried out that vision since the 1980s, by connecting investors to communities, lending to nonprofits, small businesses, and cooperatives, and providing financial and real estate consulting to organizations that share our vision of sustainable communities and social, racial, and economic justice.

Since then we’ve invested more than $350 million to projects throughout California, impacting the lives of more than 1.5 million of our neighbors. Our lending and consulting services support organizations that provide affordable housing, equitable and sustainable access to healthy food, community arts, and critical social, medical and youth services.

Our Values

Conscious Investment

We deploy capital and knowledge that creates long-term systems change to power structures.

Learning

We use evaluation, reflection, and knowledge sharing to inform nimble and innovative approaches to solutions that achieve personal and organizational excellence.

Humility and Respect

We value the wealth of experience, insight, and culture rooted in the communities we work with.

Client Service Focused

We are responsive and consistent in our interactions. Everything starts with our clients’ needs. We adapt our process and offerings accordingly.

Racial and Economic Equity

We recognize that a history of discriminatory financial practices and intentional disinvestment have contributed to a lack of economic progress in low-income communities and communities of color. Community Vision provides capital and technical assistance for communities that have been systemically disadvantaged to ensure fairness in opportunities, resources, and rights for everyone.

Integrity

We are honest, accountable, and transparent with each other and our stakeholders. We value and practice sound ethical character and behavior.

Collaboration

We recognize and engage each other’s strengths to achieve a shared vision or goal.

Our People

We understand that no one knows your problem better than you do, and we believe that client input is integral to all solutions. Working together, we listen to your concerns and apply our experience and wisdom to tackle the financial challenges our clients face. You are our partner throughout the entire process.

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Ann Cameron

Interim President

Ann joins Community Vision with more than 30 years of experience in the commercial banking field. While in senior management roles, she has successfully lead high-impact teams working in commercial lending, branch banking, and private banking for high net worth clients. She has served as Board President or Chairperson for numerous boards including La Clinica de la Raza, Community Vision, Marin Community Clinic and the Mayors Commission on Homelessness. Ann is active in her community, focusing on animal rights and keeping the elderly in their homes as they age. She holds a BS in Business from Dominican University.

Ross Culverwell

Ross Culverwell

Chief Lending Officer

Ross has over 20 years of experience working in finance and economics. He started at Community Vision in 2006 as a loan officer. Prior to that he spent nine years at Moody’s Investors Service, where he analyzed subsovereign debt mainly in Latin America, and helped expand the firm’s presence there. Ross holds a B.A. in Latin American Studies from UC Santa Cruz and a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University (SIPA). While at SIPA, he completed a State Department internship at the U.S. Embassy in Brazil.

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Catherine Howard

Senior Vice President of Programs

Cat has more than 15 years of experience designing and executing community development programs with a focus on lending and grantmaking. She has worked at both national and regional CDFIs, and has a background in affordable housing and healthy food access. She currently serves on the board of directors of California FarmLink. Cat holds a BA in government from the University of Maryland Honors Program, from which she graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa and a Masters in City Planning from UC Berkeley. A native of Washington, DC, she is also a third generation Oakland resident, and proud of her bi-coastal heritage.

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C. Lea Salem

Director of Finance and Administration

Lea has been in her current position with Community Vision since 2006 and has worked in the nonprofit sector for over 25 years. At Community Vision she and her staff of six are responsible for finance, accounting, investor portfolio management, information technology, human resources, facilities, compliance and reporting.

She is a Certified Public Accountant and holds a Master of Business Administration from San Francisco State University. She received her BA in French from Williams College.

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Sabrina Adams

Development Associate

Before joining Community Vision, Sabrina worked in operations and business development for a professional services firm working to enhance the impact of non-profits, Foundations, Federations, and philanthropists in the Jewish communal sector. Sabrina is passionate about working with local, grassroots social change organizations to grow healthier, more equitable communities. She holds a B.A. in English: Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and a M.A. in English Literature at the same institution.

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Betty Banh

Staff Accountant

Betty is responsible for accounts payable, accounts receivable and other accounting functions. Before joining Community Vision in February 2015, I worked at First Place for Youth, a nonprofit organization which is to help foster kids build the skills they need to make a successful transition to self-sufficiency and responsible adulthood. Prior to First Place for youth, she worked as a bookkeeper/general accountant at Port Seafood, Inc.

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Risa Blumlein

Financial Management Consultant

Risa has led and advised nonprofits for 15 years and is delighted to serve the Bay Area impact community at Community Vision. Before joining Community Vision she co-led Social Venture Network, a membership organization of socially-responsible CEOs and investors. Risa has held management roles in finance, operations, strategy and development. She volunteers with CalNonprofits, SF Bicycle Coalition, SF Produce Market and SOCAP, and is a 5thgeneration San Franciscan. Risa has degrees in Sociology and Library Science and enjoys writing as @TheEmoBiz.

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Amanda Bornstein

Real Estate Consultant

Amanda has more than 15 years of experience in nonprofit and small business management, urban planning, and real estate. She has worked for local government, community-based arts nonprofits, environmental advocacy organizations, and others. Amanda holds a BA in American Studies and a BFA in Visual Art, both from Tufts University. She also holds a Masters in Urban Planning from UCLA, with a Design and Development concentration.

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Kelly Ehrenfeld

Senior Real Estate Consultant

Kelly has more than 5 years of experience in community development and commercial real estate finance. As a Real Estate Consultant, she provides technical assistance and expertise related to real estate development and facility planning projects. She also coordinated the closing and funding of over $25 million in loans and $36 million in NMTCs to affordable housing, community facility, and economic development projects. Kelly received a BS in Biology from the University of San Francisco.

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Saul Ettlin

Co-Director of Consulting

Saul Ettlin has over 15 years of nonprofit management experience. Most recently, he was a senior member of Tides’ Administration and Real Estate team where he helped operate multi-tenant nonprofit centers. Saul also worked for the Nonprofit Centers Network promoting and supporting shared space and services. He has a strong interest in expanding the amount of nonprofit owned shared work space. Beyond space, Saul has significant grassroots political and organizing experience. He holds a MPA with a concentration in Nonprofit Management and a BS in Political Science and Community Development. Both are from Portland State University.

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Laurie Gibbs-Harris

Portfolio Manager

Bio coming soon.

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Courtney Gonzales

Content Developer

Courtney was born and raised in California, with roots in Northern and Southern California. She comes to Community Vision with experience in communications, fundraising, program management, research, and evaluation. Over the last 8 years, Courtney worked for non-profits and county government on food systems issues in the Bay Area. Her passion is in food and plant medicine as a way to cultivate healthy communities, social and economic equity, and racial justice. She earned an undergraduate degree in Community-based Health Education from San Francisco State University, and a Master’s of Public Affairs from the University of San Francisco.

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Ruby Harris

Manager, Community Development Lending

Ruby joins Community Vision with 18 years of experience in the affordable housing field, ranging from nonprofit management, program/product design, project management, public policy, finance and grant-making. In her most recent role, Ruby was the Program Manager for the City of San Francisco’s Small Sites Program and was instrumental in preserving hundreds of housing units throughout the city.  Ruby holds a BA from the University of California, Berkeley in Ethnic Studies and City Planning.

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Grayton Huang

Senior Accountant

Grayton has more than 10 years of nonprofit experience in full cycle of accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll, general ledger, government contracts, grants, billing, budgeting and financial statements preparation. He also has 5 years experience in all New Market Tax Credit accounting transactions including accounting system setup. Grayton holds a BA in Accounting from San Francisco State University and a Fire Technology Science Degree from City College of San Francisco.

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Brenton Jackson

Loan Associate

Brenton Jackson comes to Community Vision with more than 15 years of experience working in the mortgage industry. Originally from Indiana, he eventually settled down in San Francisco by way of Chicago, Las Vegas and the Los Angeles area, all the while working in the mortgage business. He is excited to have joined the Community Vision to increase his knowledge about the nonprofit world.

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Juan Jaimez

Consulting Program Assistant

Juan was raised in the Central Valley and joined Community Vision with diverse range of experiences working with community-based organizations. Prior to joining Community Vision, he worked on national voter registration, targeting states with a history of disenfranchisement and helped formerly incarcerated individuals restore their voting rights. Juan is actively involved in his community and most recently collaborated with organizations focusing on education. He holds a B.A. in Politics from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

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Shayon Lashgari

Administrative Assistant

Shayon has more than 10 years of experience in administrative assistance, sales, and customer service across multiple industries. He is also active in his community, volunteering for Compass Family Services, City Slickers Farms, and the Oakland Food Policy Council. Shayon is also a member of several GIS-related organizations including Maptime Oakland/San Francisco, BayGeo, and Urisa. Shayon holds a BA in Political Science from San Francisco State University, a Certificate in GIS from the City College of San Francisco, & is working towards a Masters in GIS from Penn State with a focus on geospatial programming and web map development.

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Eddy Lopez, Jr.

Investor Relations Associate

Eddy has over 16 years of experience as an executive assistant, supporting senior management for both Fortune 500 and nonprofit companies. Eddy is a founding member of the Bay Area All Stars Project, Inc., an after school, performance-based enrichment program for inner- city youth, and currently volunteers with their talent show and development school for youth programs.

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Kiel Lopez-Schmidt

Central Valley Regional Manager

Kiel has a diversity of experience that spans architecture, community development and food business. He has made improving quality of life for all in the San Joaquin Valley the focus of his work. Kiel holds a BA in Architecture from University of California Berkeley and a certification from the National Charrette Institute.

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Cristian Martinez

Office Manager

Cristian joined the Community Vision in 2006 after leaving the environmental field in Santa Cruz, CA. Cristian holds a B.S. degree in Environmental Sciences with an emphasis in Ethics from Humboldt State University. He minored in Spanish and has a penchant for languages and Latin cultures. In past positions, Cristian has served as Office Coordinator and Executive Assistant which has given him a solid foundation to effectively run a growing office as the Office Manager. He also enjoys working with teams and individuals on projects.

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Janna Mancini

Real Estate Consultant

Janna has over 15 years of experience working in the public and private sectors and in nonprofit resource development. She previously worked in the Mayor’s Office of the City of New York and for international human rights advocacy organizations before becoming interested in community development finance. Janna holds an MA in International Affairs from New School University and BA in Political Science from Fordham University in New York, NY.

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Dan McDonald

Deputy Director of Lending, Business Development

Dan has over 30 years of experience in the real estate industry, including debt and equity underwriting, workouts and dispositions, asset management and project management. Prior to joining Community Vision in 2012, Dan specialized in senior housing finance at a regional bank. His community involvement includes board memberships with a nonprofit affordable housing provider and the Red Cross and volunteer work at his children’s schools. Dan holds a B.A. from The Evergreen State College and a Masters in City and Regional Planning from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

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Carlotta Mills

Senior Loan Officer

Carlotta has more than 20 years of experience working with a range of nonprofits, focusing on facility financing and financial operations; her previous roles have included a national grantmaker and a public finance credit analyst. Carlotta volunteers at social services in the Mission District where she has lived for 15 years and is currently Chair of the Mission YMCA. Carlotta holds an MBA from Case Western Reserve University (OH) with a nonprofit concentration, an MA in Women’s Studies from the University of York (England), and a BA in English from Lake Forest College (IL).

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Najla Nemri

Loan Closing Manager

Najla has more than fourteen years experience in loan serving management at CEDLI, a fast growing and evolving lending company with community service mission. She also has worked for City National Bank for ten years as a senior loan processor and department supervisor, and a year at Electronic Data Systems. Najla volunteers for local organizations that provides services for the home-bound and the elderly and she sings in her church choir. Najla has a Bachelors of Science in Mathematics, a teaching diploma and has taken several computer classes in the Computer Science program at San Francisco State University.

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Esperanza Pallana

Senior Program Officer

Esperanza is a strategic leader whose passions are in community driven economic equity, equitable and sustainable food systems and racial justice. She has worked with nonprofits for over 15 years in food systems, environmental health and public health advocacy. Before joining Community Vision, she served as the Director of Oakland Food Policy Council. Esperanza holds a holds a Master of Nonprofit Administration from the University of San Francisco.

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Lychou Phey

Program/Administrative Assistant

Lychou joined Community Vision as an intern in 2017 through the California Coalition for Rural Housing internship program and in 2018 assumed her current role. Lychou holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of California, Riverside.

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Kelly Peterson

Program & Data Analyst

Kelly gained experience in sustainability and business development in the private sector before entering the CDFI industry. She is responsible for monitoring compliance, evaluating and reporting impacts, and contributing to policy efforts at Community Vision.  Kelly is passionate about creating healthy, equitable, and inclusive communities and was actively involved at the Mid-Ohio Food Bank before moving to the Bay Area. She graduated from Ohio State University with a B.S. in Business Administration.

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Martha Rivera

Loan Associate

Martha joined Community Vision in 2016 through the California Coalition for Rural Housing Internship Program, where she was introduced to the CDFI industry and affordable housing sector. Martha is responsible for loan closings and monitoring. She is deeply passionate in creating healthy, thriving, and equitable communities and was involved in community organizing in her hometown of Watsonville, CA. Martha graduated from San Jose State University with a B.A. in Spanish and B.S. in Health Science.

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Owen Serra

Loan Officer

Owen has over 5 years of experience in real estate and community development finance. At Community Vision, he underwrites and sources real estate and working capital loans. Prior to this, he provided economic and financial consulting services to local nonprofits and municipalities, and spent time working and researching in Ecuador, South Africa, and Cuba. He earned his B.A. in Political Science from Davidson College and Masters of Planning in Economic Development and Masters of Public Administration from the University of Southern California. Owen serves on the Board of Directors of the Richmond Art Center and is fluent in Spanish.

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Nate Schaffran

Manager, Food & Enterprise Lending

Nate leads Community Vision’s lending to promote equity in our food system and economy as a whole. He comes to Community Vision with over 15 years’ experience in development lending and social enterprise, with a focus on food and agriculture. He previously worked for a decade with Root Capital, launching the organization’s African operations and building a portfolio of over $30M and a staff of 30+ African professionals. A native of Richmond, CA, Nate holds an MS in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, and BAs in Economics and Political Science from Swarthmore College.

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Sarah Schwid

Consulting Analyst

Sarah comes to Community Vision with a passionate interest in community development and social change, as well as experience in administration and project management at mission-driven and professional services organizations domestically and abroad. Sarah has an MPA with concentrations in nonprofit management and international development from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and a BA in International Relations from Drake University.

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Sally Smyth

Senior Loan Officer & Lending Products Lead

In her roles at innovative nonprofits and at the Federal Government over the last decade, Sally has focused on organizational effectiveness, systems change and public policy. Sally has embraced a number of opportunities to join new mission-driven efforts during their very early stages, and three of these include the Promise Zones Initiative at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Berkeley Food Institute at UC Berkeley and, most recently, Opportunity@Work. Sally completed a Master of Public Policy at UC Berkeley, a BA at Wesleyan University and a year-long ecological horticulture apprenticeship at Alemany Farm in San Francisco.

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Karen Sullivan

Co-Director of Consulting

Karen brings over a decade of experience working in the CDFI and charter school industries. Karen has worked with a variety of nonprofits providing technical assistance, financial training, and credit analysis. She holds a MBA from the University of Southern California and a BA from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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Jessica Townsend

Consulting Program Analyst

Jessica has 3 years of experience providing administrative assistance and process improvement services in a variety of organizations. She has worked for medical facilities, ride-sharing organizations, and tech companies. Jessica is also active in the community, volunteering at a local non-profit assisting with programs for children as well as college students. Jessica holds a BS in Molecular Environmental Biology from the University of California, Berkeley.

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Ernesto Vilchis

Real Estate Consultant

Ernesto has more than 10 years of experience in real estate and economic consulting. His career in public policy, affordable housing, and real estate development is focused on helping to build cities for the 21st century where people can enjoy a high quality of life, and have access to a rich variety of employment and housing opportunities. A native of Mexico City, Ernesto holds a BA in Economics from UC Berkeley and Masters degrees in Public Affairs and Urban and Regional Planning from Princeton University.

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David Wilkinson

Senior Real Estate Consultant

A 30-year community development finance veteran, David has broad experience structuring high impact community facility projects utilizing New Markets Tax Credits and other creative sources of capital. He previously worked at Mercy Housing in Sacramento as its community development director and as a private consultant. David lives in Woodland (Yolo County) where he is an active volunteer, historian, author, and co-founding president of the Woodland Tree Foundation. David holds a BS degree in Finance (with distinction) from San Diego State University and a MA in Economics from San Francisco State University.

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Luba Yusim

Senior Communications Associate

Luba brings experience working with local and international social change organizations in the areas of marketing, communications, program development, and systems development to her work at Community Vision. She holds a M.A. in Public Administration in International Management with specializations in nonprofit management and international development from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and a B.A. in International Studies from the University of Oregon.

Board of Directors

Patricia GoPaul, Chair

Anita Addison, Vice Chair

Joy Hoffmann, Secretary 

Jim Snyder, Treasurer

Colby Dailey, At Large

Andy Madeira

Bryan Ignozzi

John Chan

Stephen Florance

Luis Granados

David Elsaesser

Central Valley Advisory Council

John Chan

Lillia Chaves

Tom Collishaw

Arthur Dyson

Caroline Farrell

Salam Nalia

Daniel O’Connell

Dennis Woods

Luisa Medina

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