(May 20, 2011 – New York, NY) On Wednesday, May 18, the Lawyers Alliance for New York honored National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (Federation) President/CEO Clifford N. Rosenthal for his public service leadership at the 2011 Business Law & Leadership Gala at Gotham Hall in Manhattan. More than 450 leaders from the legal, financial, and nonprofit sectors gathered at the gala to celebrate partnerships between lawyers and nonprofits and their collective power to transform New York City communities.
|Federation President/CEO Cliff Rosenthal being honored by the Lawyers Alliance for New York at Gotham Hall on May 17, 2011.
In 2009 and 2010, the Federation and its allies in the CDFI movement worked with the U.S. Department of the Treasury to create the Community Development Capital Initiative (CDCI), which invested capital in financial institutions serving low-income communities. Through that program, the Federation partnered with the Lawyers Alliance to pair 45 community development credit unions (CDCUs) with pro bono counsel from 15 law firms in New York and across the nation. The assistance provided by those firms enabled participating CDCUs to close on approximately $70 million in low-interest CDCI Secondary Capital loans.
Federation President/CEO Cliff Rosenthal commented on the honor. “I’m humbled to be recognized by the Lawyers Alliance for New York, since I feel it is I who should be thanking them,” said Rosenthal. “The fact of the matter is, that thanks to assistance from the Lawyers Alliance [for New York] and their network of pro-bono attorneys, nearly 50 low-income designated, CDFI-certified CDCUs were able to access almost $70 million in long-term, low-interest secondary capital from Treasury,” he explained. “That kind of money is simply not out there in the current economy, so for our CDCUs to be able to access these funds to expand their service in low- and moderate-income communities nationwide has been a major victory for our movement.”
“Anyone who worked on this project knows just how daunting some of the requirements were for CDCI funds,” Rosenthal elaborated. “Many of the program’s regulations were designed with trillion-dollar banks in mind under the original TARP authority and carried over to the CDCI program. This made it especially challenging for many drastically smaller credit unions to comply,” Rosenthal explained. “I can confidently say that without the assistance provided by the Lawyers Alliance and the pro bono counsel from attorneys nationwide, many of our credit unions would have been forced to drop out of the program. They literally saved our members hundreds of thousands of dollars in lawyer fees, and helped us bring millions in much-needed capital to low-income communities across the nation.”
Established in 1974 by a coalition of credit union leaders dedicated to revitalizing low-income communities, the Federation advocates for and provides financial, technical, and human resources to CDCUs nationwide. In the mid-1980s, Rosenthal called for the creation of a National Neighborhood Banking Corporation, which became the pivotal first step in a campaign that ultimately resulted in the 1994 establishment of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund.
Other honorees included Louise M. Parent, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, American Express Company; and Deirdre Stanley, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Thomson Reuters.
According to Lawyers Alliance Board Chair Thomas H. Kennedy, “No other event in New York City draws together a more extraordinary mix of nonprofit and business leaders and transactional lawyers. I am thrilled to participate in this year’s event, as I deeply value the talents and expertise of the Lawyers Alliance staff and its committed volunteer network as well as the leadership and impact of this year’s honorees.”
The event provided an overview on Lawyers Alliance’s scope of services for New York nonprofits and featured several successful nonprofit client projects from the past year, along with the outstanding pro bono attorneys who assisted them. Jon Eric Hilsenrath, Chief Economic Correspondent, The Wall Street Journal, served as Master of Ceremonies.
Lawyers Alliance is the nation's oldest and largest provider of business and transactional legal services to nonprofit organizations and the leader of a nonprofit network of legal service providers in a dozen major urban areas and regions across the country.
A video recording of Rosenthal's acceptance speech is available by clicking here.
© 2011 National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions.