We are writing to announce that Frank Carvalho, founding Executive Director of Mill Cities Community Investments (MCCI) will step down as Executive Director and transition into a consulting role as of July 1, 2020. We are all so thankful to Frank for the passion, resilience and joy that he brought to this work and look forward to carrying forward his vision.
Frank is a practical visionary. He not only saw the need for a dynamic, flexible community development financial institution but was able to bring it to life. His original vision germinated in providing capital to overlooked businesses in Lowell. This soon mushroomed to include housing lending and to encompass Lawrence, Haverhill and all of Middlesex and Essex Counties. Frank has been a uniquely qualified leader for the organization, who brought his deep skills as a banker, non-profit executive, and small business owner into the work. Frank’s multicultural competence and, above all, his profound empathy allowed him to help so many low-income people achieve stable homeownership and grow viable businesses.
Every aspiring business or homeowner that met with Frank went away knowing that he was in their corner, for however long it took to realize their own vision. He saw their potential and could meet them where they were. He offered not just access to capital but also advice, coaching and mentorship. Often enough that advice was not to borrow money. What matters most to Frank was to arm the business or homeowner with knowledge—to know what you can afford, where you want to go, to understand the balance sheet and your customers, and to write your own business plan. Most important, everyone Frank touched was left knowing the value of their word. Frank met with each borrower in person to close every loan and would say that if you look me in the eye and tell me you are going to repay this loan that is the most important guarantee there is. In the best way, Frank and MCCI are character lenders. We believe in the vision and the integrity of all of our customers. Together we have lent over $7MM to businesses and homeowners and 90+% of our borrowers are Black and Latinx and we have contributed to creating hundreds of jobs. These numbers are the beginning and not the end of Frank’s legacy.
Frank is the most optimistic of bankers. And that optimism was required as we have faced multiple crises along with our home communities. We launched MCCI at the beginning of the recession and devastating foreclosure crisis in 2007. We had grown deep roots in Lawrence by the time the City was blown up with multiple gas explosions in 2018. And now in 2020 we see yet again the disproportionate impact that the covid-19 crisis is wreaking on the communities we work in. At every turn, Frank stepped up to lead MCCI and to grow into these crises. Every crisis served to reinforce the importance of Frank’s vision and the need for MCCI. Frank’s optimism has always been clear eyed about the deep structural challenges that low income and particularly Black and Latinx communities face. One of the greatest lessons he taught us all was that there will be another crisis. He has led us with grace and grit through all of this and we continue to grow our mission and ambition despite these seemingly overwhelming circumstances. MCCI is a gift that he helped us create, a resilient platform we hope to continue to grow in scope and ambition. The opportunity is great.
Not being the sort to retire from his life’s passion and mission, Frank will continue to consult with MCCI, coaching the lending teams and working on strategic initiatives. He will also be working with other nascent and growing mission lenders throughout Massachusetts.
The board is fortunate to be able to bring on a seasoned interim executive director, Gregg Davis, MBA to lead MCCI through the transition.
On a personal note, I am so grateful to be a part of this story. Like everyone who has worked with Frank I learned so much, often without realizing that he was teaching me, and have grown in my ambition for the work. I am committed to seeing that MCCI will carry forward Frank’s joy and determination in its DNA. It seems fitting that this day when we say goodbye to Frank as our founding executive and welcome him as a consultant comes at a time when the Black lives Matter movement is waking the world up to what Frank has been saying. I hope that all of our partners, friends, investors, borrowers and co-conspirators continue to work in this spirit to make bigger strides in addressing the racial wealth gap and equity issues that Frank has put front and center in his life’s work (so far!).
Kristen Harol, on behalf of the Board and Staff of MCCI