Chicago, IL (April 19, 2023) – IFF, a nationally recognized mission-driven lender, real-estate consultant, and community developer for Midwest nonprofits, announced today that Nakea West, who previously served as Managing Director, Resource Development, has taken on the new role of Chief Equity and Diversity Officer (CEDO). Mollie Dowling joins IFF as Vice President, Resource Development, succeeding West in leading the work with philanthropic partners. Both will join IFF’s senior leadership team.
With deep commitment to equity and to becoming an anti-racist and anti-oppressive organization, the CEDO role was created to further develop, implement, and monitor IFF’s strategy both in internal administration and external programmatic efforts. In this role, West will lead the work to create an inclusive organizational culture in which diverse, lived experiences and perspectives are celebrated and leveraged to tackle racist and oppressive systems, policies, and practices at the intersection of nonprofit facilities and finance. West previously served as founding co-chair for IFF’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Transformation Team (EDITT) and has been a key player in ensuring IFF’s equity in practice.
As Vice President, Resource Development, Dowling will lead the strategy and stewardship of fundraising efforts to maximize IFF’s impact across the Midwest. Dowling joins IFF from OAI, Inc., a workforce development organization that serves 4,000 customers annually to fill skills gaps through training that leads to safe, meaningful employment, where she served as Executive Director since 2014. Prior to becoming Executive Director, Dowling also served as Career Development Specialist, Program Manager, Senior Program Manager and Director. She had been with the organization since 2002.
“For nearly 50 years, CDFIs have stood in the gap in service to communities where mainstream finance could not or would not reach. The addition of a CEDO is imperative in IFF continuing to work towards tackling racist and oppressive systems,” said IFF CEO Joe Neri. “Nakea and Mollie add a wealth of knowledge and diverse experiences to IFF’s senior leadership team. Nakea’s previous success leading work with our funding partners is a great precursor to how she will take the helm to advance IFF’s equity, diversity, and inclusion work. And Mollie brings an incredible amount of experience to this role. We look forward to her collaborating across our region to further amplify IFF’s impact.”
For nearly 50 years, CDFIs have stood in the gap in service to communities where mainstream finance could not or would not reach. The addition of a CEDO is imperative in IFF continuing to work towards tackling racist and oppressive systems. Nakea and Mollie add a wealth of knowledge and diverse experiences to IFF’s senior leadership team.
“It is IFF’s responsibility to understand the ways in which we may unintentionally be upholding systemic racism and other systems of oppression. We must interrogate our products, services, and practices to ensure that we are leveraging our knowledge, capital, and resources to advance equitable and transformational outcomes in under-resourced communities and the CEDO role will allow us the opportunity to do that more strategically and with intention,” said West. “It’s been so meaningful to work alongside a team of thoughtful people that are willing to ask the hard questions, and I’m looking forward to continuing my journey with IFF in this new role.”
“I’m excited to join IFF and put my vast fundraising and leadership experience to work for an organization that is so thoughtfully supporting communities around the Midwest,” said Dowling. “I’ve been familiar with IFF for some time and am so appreciative to be a part of an organization that forwardly advocates for diverse voices in leadership and beyond.”
Prior to joining IFF in 2018, West led strategic fundraising and funder engagement for Project Vote and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, both in Washington, D.C. She received a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from The University of Chicago.
Dowling has a bachelor’s degree in Women’s Studies from Northeastern Illinois University and masters in community development from North Park University. She was also a 2017 Fellow of University of Chicago’s Civic Leadership Academy and a 2021 Fellow of Leadership Greater Chicago.
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Media Contact: Laura Silverman, Director of Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org