Native Finance Pioneer Gerald Sherman to focus on family, helping national network of Native CDFIs
After nearly a decade serving as founding CEO, Gerald Sherman (Oglala Lakota) announced plans to retire from the day-to-day operations of ILCC, the American Indian owned and managed Native Community Development Financial Institution (Native CDFI) he helped establish in 2005.
Founded as a collaborative effort between Indian Land Tenure Foundation (ILTF) of Little Canada, MN and the Native American Community Development Corporation of Browning, MT, ILCC has made a name for itself as a national lender to Tribes.
“ILCC’s mission is to help Tribes regain control over their assets, especially land, in order to promote tribal sovereignty, economies, and culture,” says Cris Stainbrook, ILCC board chair and President of ILTF. “Over the past nine years, ILCC has moved from a nascent concept to a going business concern by developing a new lending model for Indian Country which uniquely honors tribal sovereignty through full faith and credit lending.”
Sherman will retain a strong working relationship with ILCC; once a new CEO has been hired he has been invited to take on a board position, filling the position formerly held by Elouise Cobell, the late Native American finance pioneer who, with Stainbrook, helped found ILCC.
“This is an exciting time for ILCC,” said Sherman. “We have built a strong foundation for growth and ILCC is well positioned to expand in the years ahead under new management.”
Under Sherman's leadership, ILCC has risen to become a national leader in the Native CDFI movement. Some notable accomplishments include:
—Innovating Tribal lending based on lending on the full faith and credit of Tribes without requiring the use of land as collateral –simplifying, streamlining, and reducing the cost of purchasing and bringing land under Tribal control and jurisdiction.
—Facilitating over $8 million in loans to 9 Tribes in 6 states and the return of some 30,000 acres of land to Tribal control.
—Enabling the expansion of a health care facility, construction of homes for Tribal members, management of sustainable forests, restoration of wetlands, and protection of sacred and cultural sites.
—Becoming a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) by the U.S. Treasury Department.
—Developing close relationships with investors ILTF, Otto Bremer Foundation, Ford Foundation, Wells Fargo, First Nations Oweesta Corporation, Bank of America, and KeyBank as well as receiving, for the past three years running a total of $2.15 million from the Treasury Department’s CDFI Fund.
—Receiving, the prestigious ‘Visionary Leader Award for Outstanding Achievement’ at the Annual Opportunity Finance Network Conference
Sherman’s commitment to Indian Country was born directly from his childhood on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, one of the most impoverished communities in the U.S.
Sherman’s career in Native finance has spanned nearly 30 years. In 1986, he became the founding board chairman then founding Executive Director of the Lakota Fund, one of the first micro-lending institutions and Native CDFIs in the U.S. to provide loans and technical assistance to Tribal members seeking to start or expand business enterprises on the reservation.
Sherman is a frequent speaker at Native financing conferences and serves on numerous Native community boards, including the Indian Dispute Resolution Services in Sacramento, CA, the International Advisory Council for the Native Nations Institute (NNI) at the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ, and the Native CDFI Network (Vice President).
Sherman especially values the personal and professional relationships forged over the years with ILCC’s borrowers, investors, and board members who shared and helped build this vision: “It has been a great honor working with Tribal leaders and communities to address the credit needs of Indian Country and enable Tribal land recovery and economic development,” says Sherman. “I am especially grateful to ILTF and ILCC’s board for their support. Without all of these relationships, none of this would be possible.”
In addition to continued speaking and board responsibilities, Sherman hopes to remain active in the rapidly expanding national Native CDFI movement. “It’s a great time to infuse ILCC with new energy and to transfer my focus and strategic relationships to the national level to assist Native CDFIs developing financial products for disadvantaged and underserved Native communities,” says Sherman, who was recently elected as Vice President of the newly formed Native CDFI Network.