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Lauren's Retirement

CFR has some big news to share...

2020 is an exciting transition year for Community Financial Resources (CFR). We are significantly expanding our team and our work providing solutions for financial inclusion. Soon you will be seeing a new logo and updates to our website reflecting a recently completed strategic analysis of CFR’s unique role in the economic justice movement. Not so obvious are some powerful infrastructure enhancements that will allow us to share more learnings from the rich data sets we have compiled over time from financial product usage and financial behavior surveys. The growing functionality and reach of our technology platforms are also providing even greater opportunities to deliver innovative tools for economic empowerment.

All this positive momentum powered by the energy and ideas of CFR’s talented (and growing) team has allowed me to take a step back and think about the next phase of my life.

I have decided to retire from my 40+ year career in financial services at the end of April and hand over the reins of CFR to my talented Deputy Director, Parisa Esmaili.

When I founded CFR, I had no idea of the significant impact that it would have on the asset-building field. Asset-building is supposed to be a strength-based approach to poverty alleviation but back in 2002, it was all about personal responsibility and boot-strapping. Very few practitioners were looking at structural barriers and systemic issues that created income inequality and wealth concentration. CFR’s candid evaluations of the financial services industry and the impact of extreme capitalism on our society quickly gave us the reputation as that radical organization on the left coast.

Coming out of the banking industry I saw that there was a material portion of the U.S. population either ignored by or preyed upon in the financial marketplace. I knew that technology offered a way of providing better financial products, more effectively designed for low-income/low-wealth households, at a lower cost. I created CFR to give people the tools they need and want to optimize their financial resources. I wanted people to know that there was something better out there and that they should demand to be financially included. And I wanted the industry to take notice. CFR accomplished this goal. I cannot begin to thank all the wonderful folks with whom we have collaborated so far. I have a special appreciation for my public health colleagues that taught me about the social determinants of health and that poverty alleviation must include trauma-informed practices. I am grateful for the supportive CFR board members who put in the energy and took the time to guide the organization. Of course, none of CFR’s success would have been possible without the committed donors and funders that support our work, the financial institutions willing to provide appropriately designed products, and our community-based partners and constituents.

When I step out the Community Financial Resources’ door into the May sunshine, I will have a smile on my face, not just because I will be wearing a backpack, but also because I am confident in the skill and vision of the CFR team to continue to fight the good fight for economic justice and social equity.

See you on the trail, Lauren Leimbach Executive Director - Soon to be Emeritus

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