"VCLF is a good model for addressing social problems and the issues we all face. I see it in so many places, in such a concrete way."
You could say that Jane Knodell has always been invested in the work of VCLF – even before the organization was founded.
As an undergraduate at Stanford, she immersed herself in study of economic theory, banking history and monetary policy, which she pursued all the way through to a Ph.D.
Not long after, the University of Vermont learned of Jane’s growing reputation, and in 1986 hired her on to the department of economics. At that time, explains Jane, big changes were brewing in banking policy. “That was when interstate banking came to Vermont,” she recalls. “Until then, most banks in Vermont were smaller, in-state institutions,” she says, explaining that local bank ownership meant lending decisions were based partly on a borrower’s character and community standing, rather than a series of scores and numbers alone.
“So a group of us became concerned about local access to credit from some of these big, out-of-state banks,” she says. That group included Nancy Wasserman, the Loan Fund’s first Executive Director.
“I admired the way VCLF leveraged banks to step up to the plate where banks were absent,” she says. She was particularly eager to promote VCLF’s programs serving small business owners and affordable housing developers, both issue areas close to her heart. (Jane has served on the boards of the Vermont Reinvestment Association and the Burlington Housing Authority; her partner, Ted Wimpey, is Director of the Fair Housing Program at the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity.)
Thus – a VCLF investor was born. “I know that VCLF is very effective and efficient, and that my money will go into expanding access to credit to Vermont’s small businesses, affordable housing and community services,” she says.
Not only did Jane and Ted become investors, they made VCLF a part of their annual giving. Jane also chose to give her time and energy to VCLF; she served on our Board of Directors from 1993 to 1996.
Jane went on to become the first female Provost in UVM's history and entered Burlington city politics, winning a seat on the Burlington City Council, where she advocates for low-income Vermonters in her Old North End community, and supports small businesses and affordable housing developments. In 2013 she was re-elected to her fifth term.
Jane is fully aware of the many ways her work has intersected with VCLF – which brings her back to her reasons for investing. “VCLF is a good model for addressing social problems and the issues we all face. I see it in so many places, in such a concrete way. VCLF is doing great work and making a real difference.”