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USDA Supports Oweesta with RCDI Grant

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SEATTLE, WA  – This week, over 40 representatives from 20 Native Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) will participate in a Capital Access Convening in Seattle, Washington on May 23rd and 24th through First Nations Oweesta Corporation’s Native CDFI Capital Access Initiative, supported through the generosity of Northwest Area Foundation. The goal of the Native CDFI Capital Access Initiative is to enhance participating organizations’ capacity to secure capital, directly responding to unsatisfied financing demand within Indian Country.

The Access to Capital Convening is a two-day event that includes collaborative discussions on effective strategies for accessing capital and networking strategies with intentional partnering entities. The first day focuses on collaboration among peer organizations, learning from industry leaders, and navigating partnerships with foundations and investors. On the second day, the participating Native CDFIs will unite with national, regional, local foundations and investors, as well as nonprofit groups traveling from Hawaii. “We are honored to host an unprecedented event to bring Native CDFIs, Hawaiian nonprofit organizations, funders, and investors together, nurturing long-lasting relationships that increase capital access in Native communities,” says Chrystel Cornelius, Executive Director of First Nations Oweesta Corporation.
First Nations Oweesta Corporation is proud to partner with many strong organizations supporting Native communities, including a key partnership with the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement/Pacific Island Philanthropy Connection. This event is also supported by Northwest Area Foundation, Marguerite Casey Foundation, KeyBank, Corporation for Enterprise Development, Administration for Native Americans, and others.

First Nations Oweesta Corporation was created 18 years ago to address the lack of capital and financial infrastructure holding back economic development in Native communities recognized by its parent organization, First Nations Development Institute. First Nations Oweesta Corporation’s mission is to provide opportunities for Native people to develop financial assets and create wealth by assisting in the establishment of strong, permanent institutions and programs that contribute to economic independence and strengthened sovereignty for all Native communities. For more information, visit

Founded in 1934 and based in St. Paul, MN, the Northwest Area Foundation supports organizations anchored in the culture of the people they serve and dedicated to expanding economic opportunity in under-resourced communities. Its grantees work to build on the entrepreneurial spirit, strong community ties, and untapped potential within communities of Native Americans, communities of color, immigrants, refugees, and rural areas. The work of grantees advances good jobs and financial capability across the Foundation’s region, which includes the eight states of Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon, and more than 75 Native nations. For more information, visit


Paul Bachleitner, Communications Director or 303.774.7836 x213

Oweesta Welcomes New Chief Financial Officer

First Nations Oweesta is pleased to announce that we have hired a new Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Florence Ludka, for the organization. Florence will be responsible for the oversight of all finance related activities and the management of finance staff.

As CFO and part of the senior leadership team, Ms. Ludka will work closely with colleagues to develop and implement forward looking strategic investment and asset management strategies, corporate policy, short and long term financial plans and projections, and development and monitoring of program and fund budgets.

Prior to joining the First Nations Oweesta team, Ms. Ludka worked for the Traverse City Convention and Visitors Bureau (Traverse City Tourism) in Traverse City, Michigan for over 16 years as the Director of Finance and Technology. During her tenure at Traverse City Tourism, Ms. Ludka procured expertise and experience in non-profit accounting, compliance and auditing practices. In addition, Ms. Ludka possesses extensive IT experience in CRM/database management, administration, coaching and training.

Ms. Ludka holds an MBA from the University of Michigan, a Bachelor of Science in public accounting and an Associates of Science in technical accounting. Ms. Ludka completed her undergraduate studies at Lake Superior State University where she later returned as an adjunct accounting faculty member teaching accounting principles, intermediate accounting, auditing, advanced accounting and federal taxation. Currently, Ms. Ludka is in her second year of a six-year Ojibwe language pane immersion program.

Ms. Ludka is an enrolled member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Michigan.