Meet our members! AFN’s greatest asset is our members—a diverse network of national, regional, and community-based foundations, financial institutions, and grantmakers—investing in advancing economic opportunity and prosperity. Check back each month and meet your peers!
1: What’s your main interest/focus on asset building in 2020?
My main goal is to focus on supporting structural change through municipal financial empowerment work, since local governments are so well-positioned to connect programs, policies, and funding streams to residents from communities that need support. More specifically, I look forward to cross-linking more of the CFE Fund’s programs (so that Bank On partners can leverage Financial Empowerment Center opportunities, for example), both because this is increasingly how our work is naturally developing, but also because it helps partner cities go deeper when investing in financial empowerment efforts.
2: What’s the most “ah-ha” provoking new book or research that you’ve read in the past year?
I recently read the book Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police and Punish the Poor by Virginia Eubanks. The author wrote this book as investigative journalism to illustrate the structural challenges that low-income families face as a matter of course, which provided a lot of context for the financial empowerment work that we support and layer programs on top of – and also provided some sobering context to the idea that technology is always a productive solution to complex problems faced by those with low incomes.
3: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from a grantee or a colleague?
As we work with city partners, it has become clear that our vantage point as an outsider (and a funder!) can lend enormous weight to our technical assistance guidance, even when our city government colleagues have already been advocating for the same thing! Having an external partner reinforce the importance of city government leading this work, for example, and connect it a national movement – and available funding – can go a long way in convincing senior leadership and other stakeholders of the value of these efforts. We often work with our partners to strategically “use us” to reinforce the points they are already making.
4: What was your first job?
Filing paper patient records in the basement of a local hospital
About I-Hsing Sun, Chief Program Officer, Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Fund
I-Hsing helped launch the CFE Fund over seven years ago, taking on a variety of roles from strategic planning and fundraising to grantmaking and operations. She now focuses more on designing grantmaking and technical assistance programs that build financial empowerment programming into municipal social service systems.