Cliff Rosenthal is a nationally recognized leader and innovator in bringing financial services to low-income communities and consumers through credit unions in the United States.
During a career spanning more than 30 years as CEO of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, he authored the first concept paper for the establishment of the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund of the U.S. Treasury Department. For two decades, he was a leader of the CDFI Coalition. Under his direction, the Federation invested more than $100 million in local credit unions, with funds raised from the CDFI Fund, social and religious investors, major banks, and foundations.
In his work at the National Federation of CDCUs, he developed innovative programs ranging from Individual Development Accounts (IDAs), to Latino credit union outreach, to a pilot project to develop the next generation of credit union leaders. He assisted the organizing of a dozen credit unions and co-authored Organizing Credit Union: A Manual. His monograph, Credit Unions, Community Development Finance, and the Great Recession was published by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco (February 2012).
Rosenthal left the National Federation in 2012 to launch the Office of Financial Empowerment of the newly created federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), developing initiatives to build the financial capacity and improve access to financial services for low-income and economically vulnerable consumers. He returned to his home in Brooklyn, New York in 2014, launching a career as a consultant and writing a book on the history of the CDFI movement. His clients have included credit union organizing groups, a major national foundation, and the National Disability Institute.
He received the Herb Wegner award of the National Credit Union Foundation in 2005, as well as national awards from the Opportunity Finance Network (Ned Gramlich award); the Insight Center for Community Economic Development; the Network of Latino Credit Unions and Professionals; and awards from the Lawyers Alliance and other New York City organizations. Honoring his post-Katrina assistance, the ASI Federal Credit Union named its community center in the Upper Ninth Ward of New Orleans after Rosenthal.
Rosenthal served on the Consumer Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve System, the board of the U.S. Social Investment Forum, the Fair Mortgage Collaborative, and New Markets Tax Credit advisory boards for Self-Help, the Opportunity Fund, and J.P. Morgan Chase. He currently is an advisor to The Financial Clinic (New York).
Rosenthal earned B.A. And M.A. Degrees from Columbia University, where he was also a mid-career Revson Foundation fellow. He is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy of The New School university in New York City, where he is writing CDFI: History of a Movement.