Virginia Community Capital announces new CEO

September 21, 2021 | In the News

Community development finance veteran Amir Kirkwood named new leader

Virginia Community Capital (VCC) has announced the hiring of Amir Kirkwood, formerly of Opportunity Finance Network (OFN), as its new president and CEO. In January, founding executive director Jane Henderson announced her plans to retire after four decades in the banking industry.

VCC, a community development financial institution (CDFI), was born out of a $15 million investment and a vision for an institution that served Virginia’s economically excluded communities. The organization has driven $1.8 billion in total impact in the Commonwealth since its launch in 2006. This includes nearly 12,000 jobs created or retained and over 10,000 affordable housing units financed. In addition, VCC subsidiary LOCUS Impact Investing has worked with mission-driven philanthropic organizations across the nation to unlock $57.8 million in funds committed to communities since 2017.

“I am excited about Amir’s choice to join our organization. He brings the talent and market knowledge to lead this organization into its next phase,” said Henderson. “While we have accomplished much in 15 years, there is still tremendous need in our communities. Amir will bring additional innovation, strategy, and a depth of understanding about the community development sectors this organization currently serves.”

Kirkwood’s background is rich in community development finance expertise. He comes to VCC from Opportunity Finance Network, a national association of CDFIs that helps money flow to communities underserved by traditional finance by providing capital, advocacy, and capacity building for its members. In his role as Chief Investment and Network officer at OFN, he is responsible for the strategy, development, implementation, and risk management of OFN’s financial services. He also manages network services for its membership, which includes over 350 CDFIs nationwide.

Prior to joining OFN in 2019, Kirkwood served as First Vice President for Commercial Banking at Amalgamated Bank, where he worked as lead originator for mission-focused lending to nonprofits, CDFIs, impact investment funds, and foundations. Also serving as Senior Advisor to the Amalgamated Foundation, he advised nonprofits, CDFIs, and investment funds on impact finance strategies.

“I am excited to join the team at VCC and lead the organization into its next phase of growth. VCC provides a set of financial and advisory services unique to community development,” said Kirkwood. “The capacity to provide both innovative financing and place-based investment services demonstrates Jane’s original vision and the organization’s potential. After 20 years in community and economic development, I can attest to the importance of VCC’s multi-disciplinary approach to bringing deep impact and growth to communities.”

VCC’s spirit of innovation will thrive and grow under Kirkwood’s leadership. In recent years, the organization has continued to develop innovative solutions to support the ambitions of economically excluded communities in Virginia and beyond. In 2019, VCC and LOCUS Impact Investing launched the national Community Investment Guarantee Pool (CIGP), a first-of-its-kind financing tool designed by the Kresge Foundation that provides a central depository of philanthropic guarantees. CIGP has provided over $16 million in guarantees to intermediaries focused on small business, affordable housing, and climate sectors to date.

VCC also recently launched the Economic Equity Fund, a statewide $10 million loan fund that provides low-cost financing and free technical assistance for small, minority- and/or women-owned businesses that were disproportionately affected by the economic impact of the pandemic.

Kirkwood and VCC look forward to reimagining the future of community development finance alongside likeminded partners. The organization will use lessons learned from responding and rebuilding during a tumultuous period in the nation’s history to support a more equitable and inclusive economy. The coronavirus pandemic and nationwide reckoning around social and racial inequities have impacted every corner of Virginia and beyond, with that impact hitting the most disinvested communities the hardest. The contributions and aspirations of individuals and families in those communities will continue to be VCC’s focus as it expands and evolves its products and services.

Kirkwood will officially join VCC on November 1, 2021, and he will operate out of his office in northern Virginia. Henderson will aid in Kirkwood’s onboarding and provide assistance where needed to ensure a smooth leadership transition.