Cliff Rosenthal

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1. Short:

“Appointed Visiting Scholar, Milano School for International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy in New York City. Independent consultant since 3.2014. Current consulting assignments include policy research on short-term, small-dollar lending, and credit union development. Served as Assistant Director of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, managing Office of Financial Empowerment, focused on low-income consumers (2012-14). Thirty-two years managing a nonprofit, charitable and trade organization serving more than 200 low-income credit unions. Pioneer in developing Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) field. Winner of credit union movement's Herb Wegner Award for Individual Achievement, 2005; Opportunity Finance Network Ned Grammlich Award, 2008; Insight Center for Community Economic Development 40th Anniversary Award, 2009; Lawyer's Alliance of New York City.” (

2. Long:


Cliff Rosenthal is a nationally recognized leader and innovator in bringing financial services to low-income communities and consumers through credit unions in the United States. He is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy of The New School in New York City, where he is writing CDFI: History of a Movement.

During a career spanning more than 30 years as CEO of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, he authored the first concept paper for the establishment of the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund of the U.S. Treasury Department. For two decades, he was a leader of the CDFI Coalition, which represents community development credit union, loan funds, venture capital funds, and microlenders. Under his direction, the Federation invested more than $100 million in local credit unions, with funds raised from the CDFI Fund, social and religious investors, major banks, and foundations. He helped organize a dozen credit unions and co-authored Organizing Credit Union: A Manual. His monograph, Credit Unions, Community Development Finance, and the Great Recession was published by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco (February 2012).

Internationally, Rosenthal worked with the emerging credit union and CDFI movements in the U.K., writing Community Banking Partnership: Legal Structures that Work, published by nef. He has spoken at numerous international convenings, including Ripess 2005 (Dakar) and conferences of the World Council of Credit Unions.

Rosenthal left the National Federation in 2012 to launch the Office of Financial Empowerment of the newly created federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), developing initiatives to build the financial capacity and improve access to financial services for low-income and economically vulnerable consumers. He returned to his home in Brooklyn, New York in 2014, launching a career as a consultant with clients including credit union organizing groups, a major national foundation, and the National Disability Institute. He is a volunteer advisor to CEANYC, the Cooperative Economics Alliance of New York City and The Financial Clinic.

He received the Herb Wegner award of the National Credit Union Foundation in 2005, as well as national awards from the Opportunity Finance Network (Ned Gramlich award); the Insight Center for Community Economic Development; the Network of Latino Credit Unions and Professionals; and awards from the Lawyers Alliance and other New York City organizations. Honoring his post-Katrina assistance, the ASI Federal Credit Union named its community center in the Upper Ninth Ward of New Orleans after Rosenthal. Rosenthal served on the Consumer Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve System, the board of the U.S. Social Investment Forum, the Fair Mortgage Collaborative, and New Markets Tax Credit advisory boards for Self-Help, the Opportunity Fund, and J.P. Morgan Chase.

Rosenthal earned B.A. And M.A. Degrees from Columbia University, where he was also a mid-career Revson Foundation fellow. His earliest work, as a volunteer and professional, included organizing food cooperatives for Native American and migrant worker organizations."


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