Q&A: Pennsylvania CDFI Network Executive Director Varsovia Fernandez shares how the network is helping small businesses thrive post-COVID.
As the first executive director of the Pennsylvania CDFI Network, Varsovia Fernandez is excited about deepening the organization’s collaboration efforts and helping small businesses thrive post-pandemic.
The network, which is a coalition of 17 Pennsylvania-based CDFIs, has been a volunteer organization since it was created in 1997, as the Pennsylvania Microenterprise Coalition to support CDFIs, small businesses and microenterprises in promoting economic development among low- to moderate-income communities. Following the need and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on small businesses, the PA CDFI Network decided to name its first executive director to help the organization expand.
Fernandez’s appointment last fall comes after the network partnered with the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development to distribute $249 million in grants to more than 14,500 small businesses affected by COVID-19.
Based in the Philadelphia area, Fernandez brings civic and business expertise to the network and has helped organizations achieve business outcomes and expand their roles and contributions to their communities. She also serves as a trustee on the governing boards of Montgomery County Community College, Rosemont College and The Philadelphia Award. She’s a director of the Philadelphia Public Health Management Corporation and a member of the Comcast National Joint Diversity Council.
She spoke with us recently about the momentum of the pandemic relief program and what’s next for the network.
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