Member Snapshot Blog

Member Name:
Gary Newcomer
 
Title:
Director of Operations, Community Builders Network
 
Name of partnership, coalition, or collective impact initiative:
St. Louis CDFI Coalition
 
What is your effort trying to achieve?
The St. Louis CDFI Coalition is a partnership among eight Community Development Financial
Institutions (CDFIs) to foster a comprehensively healthy and racially equitable St. Louis community through support for nonprofits, small businesses, and communities facing disinvestment.
The Coalition was founded in 2016 and comes together to:
1. Promote positive financial strategies, products, and policies for underserved communities.
2. Drive strong partnerships with key community stakeholders
3. Raise awareness of the critical role that CDFIs play in the community
4. Collaborate to drive innovative financial tools for high-impact community investments.
 
What are some of your strongest beliefs that support the work you do or your approach to it?
Lifting up voices – Elevating the work, talent, and successes of others is essential. Whenever an opportunity arises, always ask “who else would be a great fit for this?” It’s why efforts like Neighborhood Leadership Fellows is so important.
 
Trust is everything – When people don’t trust each other, everything falls apart. We also don’t inherently deserve anyone’s trust just because we’re new or good intentioned.
 
Transparency – We’re people. We make mistakes. We get busy with other priorities. We carry baggage with us. I wish it were easier, but it’s best to get these things out in the open. I need to do better at this as an individual. Vulnerability – Be vulnerable. Let go of control when doing the work, which can be especially hard for white folks. Don’t hide your beautiful personality either!
 
And someone’s gotta take notes! – If you don’t have notes or a picture, the conversation never happened. Always leave a meeting/event/whatever with some notes or a picture. Men are less likely to volunteer as a notetaker which can be frustrating.
 
If there was one piece of advice you would give someone just starting out in a role similar to yours as a partnership/coalition facilitator, what would it be?
Talk less. Ask more questions. That’s also my advice to myself in this point in my role.
 
What are you most proud of about your work? Tell us about a small win or big achievement and why it matters.
Our Coalition’s google drive. We try to put everything on there (e.g. budget, grant narrative, meeting notes, etc.) in an effort to be more transparent. It can be messy and complicated and trying, but it’s all out there and we share viewing access with anyone who wants to see it.
The google drive is definitely a small win and feels silly to list, but it’s helped reduce the burden for the facilitator to be an intermediary for communication and makes it easier to share information. Want meeting notes from October 2017? Our current budget? The last strategic plan? It’s all there.
 
Other CDFIs around the country have even used some of the materials and narratives we created to start their own Coalitions from example materials on our shared drive. St. Louis gets the reputation for being fragmented and siloed so it warms my heart when we can be a collaborative resource for other parts of the country.
 
What might someone be surprised to know about you?
I’m a big fan of the United States’ #1 most watched show on Wednesday nights: Survivor. I even participated in a 10 week local version of the competition back in 2011.
 
What’s the best way for other Thread STL members to contact you?
Not LinkedIn. I never check my LinkedIn. Email me: gary@communitybuildersstl.org
 
What’s the best way for other Thread STL members to learn more about your effort?
Visit our Coalition webpage (https://www.communitybuildersstl.org/cdfi-coalition) or find some time to talk with a Coalition member. I’d be happy to connect you.
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*For more information on CBN, please visit their website here.