Raymond Lanza-Weil has joined the Loan Fund as Director of Business Programs. Lanza-Weil comes to VCLF with extensive experience in both the nonprofit and commercial lending sectors. Getting his start underwriting consumer loans at a community bank in California, Lanza-Weil spent a decade underwriting business loans for US Bank in Portland, Oregon before transitioning to nonprofits.
Lanza-Weil says he knew little about CDFIs (Community Development Financial Institutions, such as VCLF) when a banking colleague introduced the subject. The Cascadia Revolving Fund, a highly respected CDFI, was expanding its presence from Seattle into nearby Portland, Oregon.
"I realized I wanted to do something that would more directly benefit people," he recalls. Lanza-Weil signed on with Cascadia as Manager of its Oregon operation, opening the new Portland office, and helping build the businesses of its borrowers. At Cascadia, he worked with borrowers like Glass Alchemy, a start-up wholesale art glass manufacturer that received the Oregon district 2008 US Small Business Administration (SBA) Small Business Person of the Year award. Today, the organization's management has transitioned to the next generation and they're still thriving.
He followed up with a management position at a State of Maryland government loan program and then worked at the CDFI national trade organization, Opportunity Finance Network, as a senior analyst at its spin-off evaluation agency CARS (now Aeris). While at CARS, Lanza-Weil was assigned to audit VCLF for its mission and financial performance, issuing a report to existing and prospective investors.
"I kept my finger on the pulse of CDFIs," says Lanza-Weil, adding that he'd hoped to return to a position exactly like the one he's now filled at the Loan Fund. "At a bank, I wasn't close enough to impact. I was sitting on the other side of the table, helping borrowers. I'd rather be on the same side of the table - which I am, at VCLF," he says. He'll split his time between VCLF's Montpelier office and southern Vermont.