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New Executive Director at Community Financial Resources

A letter from Community Financial Resources' new Executive Director, Parisa Esmaili

As many of you may already know, Community Financial Resources’ Founder and Executive Director, Lauren Leimbach, has transitioned to the organization’s Board, and I have been given the privilege of moving into the role of Executive Director. I am both humbled and excited to have the opportunity to continue as the head of this remarkable organization and build upon the legacy that Lauren leaves behind. Community Financial Resources exists to pressure the marketplace to shift and become more equitable by organizing consumer demand for high-quality financial products and services for low- to-moderate-income communities that have experienced structural barriers to prosperity. Having had the opportunity to grow and learn from Lauren’s leadership over the past four years, from partner program manager to deputy director, I have gained deep insight into what makes our organization unique. I intend to take our learnings from the past 18 years and continue to move us forward.

Transitions never have a clear or direct path. They are winding, sometimes daunting, but filled with bountiful opportunity, creativity, and growth. And this transition, particularly in the time of COVID-19, is no exception.

Community Financial Resources has always embraced change and innovation as key strategies for addressing systemic barriers to financial equality. In the past months, the COVID-19 crisis has exposed the true nature of income and wealth inequity in America. In response, Community Financial Resources has launched a two-phase Emergency Response Program that provides immediate emergency support through direct deposit – the first step to achieving financial stability – followed by saving and credit-building for the future. Not only have we facilitated the transfer of emergency relief funds to hundreds of families (documented and undocumented), we’ve also been able to turn the unbanked into banked and have seen over 3,000 low-income households receive their economic stimulus funds via direct deposit through CFR’s Focus Card. As a small organization, we have been able to expand our impact through the wide reach of our national partnerships. We understand the needs of our communities and aren’t afraid to push financial institutions to do better. We will continue to transform the financial services and fintech spaces by holding up best practices and raising people’s expectations for a fair and inclusive economy. Our mission to provide solutions for financial inclusion remains the same—a mission I am fiercely committed to. I appreciate the incredible support from the Board, our staff, and our funders. As we forge ahead, I look forward to Lauren’s ongoing guidance and inspiration. Community Financial Resources sees a world where everyone, regardless of income or background, has the tools to achieve financial stability, protect their assets, and establish a foundation to build wealth. We will not give up! Sincerely, Parisa Esmaili

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