Rodney Jones-Tyson, who has been at Robert W. Baird & Co. since 1998 and currently serves as a managing director, joined the IFF Board of Directors in 2011 and became chairman this year. Since working as an intern at Citibank while attending high school, Jones-Tyson has spent his entire career in the financial services industry.
When did you first become involved with IFF?
I first learned about IFF in 2010 from Carl Jenkins, who is a vice president in the Community Investments group at BMO Harris Bank. Carl had been both a board member and board chairman of IFF. I became involved with IFF in 2011 when I formally joined the board. During a breakfast meeting with Trinita Logue, Joe Neri, Carl Jenkins, and David Crawford (former IFF board member and recent board chairman), we discussed the many ways in which IFF was having an impact in communities throughout the Midwest. I was drawn to the organization because of its long and successful history of being a leader in supporting charter schools.
What do you believe are the essential components for stronger communities?
Partnership is the most essential component for stronger communities. In countless cities, IFF has worked in partnership with other organizations, including other community development financial institutions. IFF has taught me that no single social service agency, nonprofit organization, governmental body, or person can build stronger communities—they come from having multiple constituents working together. We are seeing that effort in the work that IFF has recently begun to do in Detroit. While IFF has tremendous resources, both in terms of intellectual and financial capital, groups still need to work with each other rather than against each other if we want to make a sustainable impact.
How can IFF keep contributing to stronger communities?
As board chairman, my goal is to encourage, challenge, and support the entire IFF team in continuing to find unique and different ways to serve communities. Sometimes we will get it right and sometimes we may get in wrong. I have learned that failure is something that we almost always experience on the way to a larger success. If we never fail, then we are not trying hard enough to create change.