For more than 35 years, Reinvestment Fund investments have transformed communities, spanning early childhood education to affordable housing, to expanding access to healthy-fresh food. As we evolve, we have centered our work on racial equity, intentionally focusing on supporting Black and Brown leaders who are championing change in their communities through development.  

Just like the change we lead in communities across the nation as a nationally recognized Community Development Financial Institution (CFDI), we know we also must reflect that change from within—in our leadership, on our staff, and how we work. Our evolving commitment to race, equity, and inclusion forges new pathways of success among those who demonstrate the cultural prowess to listen, be guided by, and leverage community voice to channel our investments toward projects of promise.  

Reinvestment Fund is committed to bringing shared lived experiences to the forefront of how it does business. As such, the organization recently appointed Christina Szczepanski, CFA, as President–Lending and Investing, and Kareem Thomas as Chief Credit Officer. Both join the organization’s senior leadership team and contribute to the organization’s strategic direction. 

They share some thoughts on their career pathways and commitment to advancing the organization’s racial equity lending goals.

Throughout your tenure at Reinvestment Fund, you both have paved the way for creating new partnerships in diverse networks and finding some creative ways to shape how the organization supports Black and Brown borrowers. 

Szczepanski: I have consistently sought out investments that are strategic, intentional, and impactful and center racial equity and community inclusion. My desire to remove barriers to access capital for developers and borrowers of color led to the joint effort with Kareem to overhaul our lending policies and risk ratings. In 2022, we reshaped our outreach, capacity building, and new product development to implement new policies and strategic changes that provide greater flexibility to support borrowers of color. 

Thomas: I joined the organization in 2021, and one of my priorities was examining how we could eliminate barriers for borrowers of color to obtain flexible capital. Through this effort, we were able to rewrite the organization’s underwriting guidelines and credit policy to provide greater flexibility and guidance in our ability to take on projects to support borrowers of color that more traditional lending institutions would overlook. As a result of updating our credit and lending guidelines with Christina’s team, we deployed nearly 50% of our loan originations to BIPOC-owned or led organizations in 2022.

What are your responsibilities in your new role?

Szczepanski: As President, I’ll be responsible for leading our community and national lending and investment strategies to attain our organization’s financial and impact growth goals. That will include new strategic external partnerships, the development of new lending or equity-like debt products and lifting what works in our place-based markets like Atlanta to the benefit of our established national networks such as Invest Health or new networks of organizations to come. I’ll also continue to be responsible for our existing national lending programs such as New Markets Tax Credits and our sector-focused capital programs. 

Thomas: As Chief Credit Officer, I’ll be responsible for organizational credit risk and culture, credit approval, asset management, and lending operations. I’ll also have direct accountability for the performance and outcomes of Reinvestment Fund’s annual AERIS, S&P, and external audit activities and the overall performance of Reinvestment Fund’s $700-million loan portfolio. 

What excites you most about your new leadership role?

Szczepanski: Serving and leading an amazing team of people into the future of Reinvestment Fund. I believe one of my important responsibilities as a leader is to create and maintain an environment where my colleagues thrive. Removing obstacles so they can do what they do best on behalf of the communities we serve. Together, we will ensure meaningful growth in areas that promote quality of life, and to do so, we must create lasting impact through systemic change.  

Thomas: Growing up in North Central Philadelphia, I saw first-hand what happens when disinvestment in communities occurs, particularly communities of color. I am incredibly honored to be in this role at Reinvestment Fund because we reverse barriers that stem from inequitable access to funding—making our capital more accessible to newer borrowers and those not benefiting from inter-generational wealth. That is a personal commitment for me as much as it is for the organization.

Tell us something you’d like our readers to know about you that hasn’t already been addressed.

Szczepanski: In college, I was a member of Clemson University’s NCAA Women’s Rowing team. Despite our different heights and athletic abilities, when my teammates and I were in sync, focused on the same goal, we were powerful. That’s how I experienced the Reinvestment Fund and our community development field. Regardless of which team or department we are a part of, my colleagues and I are aligned and focused on building capital solutions with the underinvested communities we serve to create equitable opportunities. Fifteen years in, and I still cannot think of a more impactful way for me to do systems change work at scale for my fellow citizens. I’m proud of our work and personally, as a mom, I hope that I’m providing inspiration for my three children to follow their passions.  

Thomas: I’ve been in finance for over 20 years. In each role, I’ve always been the colleague who’d help bring people and resources together to impact the communities I’ve lived and worked in. It gave me a sense of pride to break down silos and strengthen partnerships for the common good. My new role at Reinvestment Fund continues to be a dream that is coming true. I am also making my two sons and family proud, and for me, that is the ultimate reward when paired with our impact at Reinvestment Fund. To whom much is given, much is required, and I can’t wait to see what my teammates and I accomplish next.

Reinvestment Fund is a CDFI loan fund headquartered in Philadelphia, with offices in Atlanta and Baltimore. Since establishing its office in Atlanta in 2017, Reinvestment Fund has invested more than $500 million in strategic, intentional, and impactful loans in the southeast region. Reinvestment Fund is a mission-driven financial institution committed to making communities work for all people.

About Reinvestment Fund

Reinvestment Fund is a mission-driven financial institution committed to making communities work for all people. We bring financial and analytical tools to partnerships to ensure that people in communities across the country have the opportunities they strive for affordable places to live, access to nutritious food and health care, schools where their children can flourish, and strong local businesses that support jobs. We use data to understand markets and how transactions can have the most powerful impact, consistently earning us the top Aeris rating of AAA for financial strength and four stars for impact management. Our asset and risk management systems have also earned us an A+ rating from S&P. Since our inception in 1985, Reinvestment Fund has provided over $2.7 billion in financing to strengthen neighborhoods, scale social enterprises, and build resilient communities. Learn more at For press inquires, reach Tiffany Patterson, Managing Director of Strategic Communications at:

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