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Ned Gramlich Lifetime Achievement Award
Sr. Corinne honored for community investment work

Sister Corinne Florek, OP, receives her lifetime achievement award from Opportunity Finance Network President and CEO Mark Pinsky and Director of the CDFI Fund Donna Gambrell

Adrian Dominican Sister Corinne Florek, OP, received the Ned Gramlich Lifetime Achievement Award from Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) in recognition of her long-time dedication to community investment.

The award was presented Nov. 4 during the 2010 Opportunity Finance Network Conference at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco. It was named in memory of Ned Gramlich, who had served as a member of the Federal Reserve Board and as a board member of OFN.

“I am deeply honored to be a recipient of this award,” said Sister Corinne, the director of Mercy Partnership Fund and the Religious Communities Investment Fund (RCIF). She accepted the award on behalf of U.S. Catholic women religious, who were among the first to invest their money in non-profit community organizations. She particularly pointed to the work of the Adrian Dominicans, the Sisters of Mercy, and numerous other congregations of women religious who risk their funds by investing them in non-profit organizations.

She began working for community investment funds after earning her MBA from the University of Notre Dame. “I began in 1980 in the hills of Appalachia with a commitment to fostering cooperatives and creating economic opportunity,” she said. Managing the community investments of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Portfolio Advisory Board gave her “the broader perspective of all the economic issues facing the poorest communities, as well as their systemic causes.”

Sister Corinne has also directed the economic development programs for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD); managed the microenterprise loan fund and then served as the interim executive director for Women’s Initiative for Self-Employment; managed Kentucky Hills Industries, a craft cooperative; and coordinated Justice Organizers, Leadership and Treasurers (JOLT), a coalition of faith-based organizations.

Sister Corinne feels strongly that the investment of funds in community organizations is an important part of the ministry of women religious. In the early days of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, she pointed out, the congregation received calls for sisters to serve in parishes and schools across the nation. “Now we get calls from non-profits and… our money is on mission,” she said. “We’re creating partnerships… We’re really a presence in more communities than we realize” through these investments, she said.

Sister Corinne also emphasized the importance of the community organizations. These organizations serve their local communities in such areas as affordable housing and the training and support of low-income entrepreneurs who are starting their own small businesses. “It really is a partnership,” she said. “It takes all of us”—the investors, the community organizations, and the people whom they serve—to bear fruit and serve the needs of the people.

Watch a video of Sister Corinne's acceptance speech on the OFN web site.