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NJCC Expands Its Impact Area, Investing Goals and Investment Team

Bernel Hall, President and CEO, New Jersey Community Capital

At its 35th anniversary celebration, New Jersey Community Capital highlighted its recent achievements and new strategic plan to support homeownership, economic development and wealth creation in underserved neighborhoods nationwide.

New Brunswick, N.J. – May 21, 2024 – New Jersey Community Capital (NJCC) unveiled an ambitious five-year growth strategy developed to drive equity and opportunity in underserved communities at its spring celebration on May 1st. The community development financial institution (CDFI) is not only accelerating its mission to finance and develop affordable housing, small businesses and school and child-care facilities but also expanding its geographic focus to serve eligible communities nationwide. To support its broader efforts, NJCC has added key team members to its board and leadership team.

NJCC’s Unique Business Model Delivers Double Bottom Line Results

“We plan to leverage our deep-rooted expertise and proven community finance model to become a national leader in driving equitable development. We have an expansive roadmap that aims to catalyze widespread economic stability and wealth generation through innovative, accessible financial solutions,” NJCC President and CEO Bernel Hall said during the event.

“The heart of our strategy is our unique business model. It has been so effective that we believe it will enable us to scale our lending, equity investment and real estate development programs beyond the Tri-state area. Initially, we plan to extend them along the eastern seaboard and eventually across the nation. We are not just growing in scale—we are enhancing the depth of our impact by targeting communities that are most in need of transformative capital,” Hall explained.

Alongside geographic expansion, NJCC’s roadmap includes growing its two subsidiary firms, University Ventures and Community Asset Preservation Corporation. These entities support a broad spectrum of critical community-based needs—from affordable housing and quality educational facilities to robust social services. “Each of these ventures are designed to reknit and strengthen the fabric of the communities they support. At the same time, they ensure that our investments offer the double-bottom lines our funders hope to achieve by generating social and financial dividends,” Hall added.

Accomplished Leaders Join NJCC To Power Its Expansion

As NJCC embarks on this ambitious journey, several accomplished leaders recently joined its executive team and board. All bring unique strengths and experiences to the CDFI that are key to its expansion and goals. They include:

  • Sabrina N. Conyers, a seasoned partner with McGuireWoods, LLP, joined the NJCC Board of Directors, Investment and Credit Committees. She brings extensive expertise in tax transaction planning, corporate governance and real estate finance to guide financial strategies and ensure all investments the organization makes are not only impactful but also financially prudent.
  • Claudia Lima, a veteran impact investor, joined the NJCC Executive Team as chief investment officer. She will oversee NJCC’s investment, lending and real estate subsidiaries. Prior to joining NJCC, Lima was an executive vice president at SDS Capital, where she managed a $200 million impact investment fund. Prior to SDS, she was managing director of community lending and investments at CIT Bank, a division of First Citizens Bank, covering 22 states. Lima will be based in Los Angeles, California as part of NJCC’s national expansion efforts.
  • Johvanna Sampson will join NJCC as managing director of lending with over two decades of community development and lending experience. Sampson has worked in retail banking, commercial lending, mortgage lending and most recently as vice president of commercial lending at BlueHub Capital. Throughout her career, she has been instrumental in driving market expansion in the Southeast, West Coast and Midwest and will lead NJCC’s lending capacity nationwide.
  • Brian Waweru, an emerging market private equity investor with 15 years of experience at renowned institutions like Blackstone and RMB Ventures, joined NJCC as director of strategic investments. Waweru will expand NJCC’s private equity and mezzanine debt initiatives as part of NJCC’s specialized small business investment company’s investment platform, University Ventures.

“As we expand our operations, these leaders will play a pivotal role in not only executing our strategic vision but redefining what is possible in community development finance,” Hall said. “Their diverse skills and shared passion for economic justice position NJCC to lead effectively across the nation.”

Keynote Speakers Addressed NJCC’s Legacy of Impact

In a keynote address, NeighborWorks® America’s SVP of Field Operations Kathryn Watts lauded NJCC’s ability to apply creative and innovative solutions to affordable housing challenges. “They [NJCC] keep us on our toes by always stretching the envelope with creative, groundbreaking business strategies,” Watts said. NeighborWorks America awarded nearly $2 million in grants in New Jersey projects alone in the last fiscal year, catalyzing $350 million in total investments.

Acting Commissioner Jacquelyn Suárez of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs also addressed the audience during the event. “New Jersey Community Capital’s mission of advancing equity and opportunity through strategic investments in traditionally underserved communities intrinsically aligns with the work of the Department of Community Affairs,” Acting Commissioner Suárez said. “Creating affordable housing, supporting local communities and promoting equitable redevelopment are central components to what we do at DCA, which is why we truly appreciate NJCC’s efforts in these important areas.”

The NJCC Spring Celebration also included the formal recognition of NJCC’s most distinguished partner organizations. NJCC presented the following awards:

  • Funder of the Year — PNC Bank
  • Developer of the Year — GonSosa Development
  • Community Organization of the Year — The Children’s Home Society of New Jersey
  • Small Business of the Year — JAS Group Enterprise, Inc.

With these changes to its Strategic Plan, NJCC reaffirms its commitment to investing in areas that traditional finance has overlooked, striving to close the wealth gap and fostering economic inclusivity. The Spring Celebration marked the start of a new and exciting chapter for NJCC and served as a launchpad for future ambitions that aim even higher and reach even further.

To support NJCC in its efforts to increase affordable housing, advance community development and promote women- and BIPOC-owned businesses, visit newjerseycommunitycapital.org.

About New Jersey Community Capital:

NJCC is a nonprofit community development financial institution (CDFI) dedicated to creating thriving communities through strategic investments and knowledge. Founded in 1987, NJCC has grown to serve as a critical architect of community development initiatives, driving economic stability and prosperity in underserved areas.

 

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