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Photo: courtesy of NALCAB
Marla Bilonick working in her role as president and CEO of NALCAB.Photo: courtesy of NALCAB

U.S. Treasury Department CDFI Fund Chairwoman, Marla Bilonick, hopes to lead a legacy

Bilonick’s experience in urban and international settings gives her great confidence in progressing the priorities of the Advisory Board.

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Tables are places where discussions are made and ideas are shared, at least Marla Bilonick thinks so. She finds strength in the diverse representation and leadership on the Community Development Advisory Board.

Since becoming chairwoman of the US Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund on Dec. 8, Bilonick feels honored and excited to lead.

“It is a total honor to be involved at this level in work I’ve been doing for my entire career. So, I felt really good at representing my organization, my experience, and myself at the table,” Bilonick told AL DIA. 

She hopes to hold larger discussions surrounding COVID’s impact on CDFI’s nationwide, and wants to improve the process for how institutions become verified.

Prior to filling the chair, CDFI Fund director Jodie Harris had first approached Bilonick about her nomination by President Joe Biden to be appointed to the advisory board.

Bilonick said the official appointment came to her surprise when she saw her name published on the White House website.

Her role as advisory board chairwoman carries much significance in the fund’s history.

After being unanimously elected by her peers, Bilonick became only the second woman to hold the position, and the first Latino person. She believes her “double-hat perspective” offers a lot on the board.

“I feel that what I will bring to the table is a sensitivity to, not just to our [Latino] community, but everyone who is at the table, and give them opportunities,” said Bilonick. “I’m all about unity.” 

Upon joining the board, Bilonick said she was immediately impressed by the diverse roster that makes up its members. She commented how refreshing it was to see this level of representation at the CDFI Fund, compared to other institutions across the country.

Bilonick said her experience largely covers urban settings in places like New York and Washington, D.C., where she has worked. Her roots in community leadership extends from supporting small businesses impacted by 9/11, to aiding those heavily impacted by COVID-19.

As the current president and CEO of the National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders (NALCAB), Bilonick said she now has a “bird’s-eye view” for what occurs in communities across the nation.

“I have a grounding in what it is to deliver this work, but at the same time I now have input from a lot of other people already doing the work in any kind of community,” she said.

NALCAB provides a particular focus on economic mobility for Latinos.

With international experience and leadership in America, Bilonick sees connections in her work between Latin American communities in need of economic support and communities here.

“My grounding in microfinance is from legends in the field, and I really got to see it in action in communities in Latin America that are not too different from communities that I lived in like NY, or D.C.,” she said. 

Bilonick is expected to serve a four-year term as chairwoman on the advisory board. Within those four years, her end goal is to leave behind a legacy of moving CDFI priorities forward.

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