NJCC unveils $1B growth strategy to expand impact area, drive equity and opportunity in underserved communities

Bernel Hall, President and CEO, New Jersey Community Capital

At its spring celebration May 1, New Jersey Community Capital unveiled an ambitious five-year, $1 billion growth strategy developed to drive equity and opportunity in underserved communities.

The community development financial institution, or CDFI, is not only accelerating its mission to finance and develop affordable housing, small businesses and school and child care facilities, but expanding its geographic focus to serve eligible communities nationwide.

To support its broader efforts, NJCC also has added key team members to its board and leadership team.

“We plan to leverage our deep-rooted expertise and proven community finance model to become a national leader in driving equitable development. We have an expansive roadmap that aims to catalyze widespread economic stability and wealth generation through innovative, accessible financial solutions,” NJCC CEO and President Bernel Hall said during the event.

“The heart of our strategy is our unique business model. It has been so effective that we believe it will enable us to scale our lending, equity investment and real estate development programs beyond the tri-state area. Initially, we plan to extend them along the Eastern Seaboard and, eventually, across the nation. We are not just growing in scale — we are enhancing the depth of our impact by targeting communities that are most in need of transformative capital,” Hall explained.

Alongside geographic expansion, NJCC’s roadmap includes growing its two subsidiary firms, University Ventures and Community Asset Preservation Corp. These entities support a broad spectrum of critical community-based needs — from affordable housing and quality educational facilities to robust social services.

“Each of these ventures are designed to reknit and strengthen the fabric of the communities they support. At the same time, they ensure that our investments offer the double-bottom lines our funders hope to achieve by generating social and financial dividends,” Hall added.

As NJCC embarks on this ambitious journey, several accomplished leaders recently joined its executive team and board. All bring unique strengths and experiences to the CDFI that are key to its expansion and goals. They include:

  • Sabrina Conyers, a seasoned partner with McGuireWoods LLP, joined the NJCC board of directors and the Investment and Credit committees. Conyers brings extensive expertise in tax transaction planning, corporate governance and real estate finance to guide financial strategies and ensure all investments the organization makes are not only impactful, but financially prudent.
  • Claudia Lima, a veteran impact investor, joined the NJCC executive team as chief investment officer. She will oversee NJCC’s investment, lending and real estate subsidiaries. Prior to joining NJCC, Lima was an executive vice president at SDS Capital, where she managed a $200 million impact investment fund. Prior to SDS, she was managing director of community lending and investments at CIT Bank, a division of First Citizens Bank, covering 22 states. Lima will be based in Los Angeles as part of NJCC’s national expansion efforts.
  • Johvanna Sampson will join NJCC as managing director of lending with over two decades of community development and lending experience. Sampson has worked in retail banking, commercial lending, mortgage lending and, most recently, as vice president of commercial lending at BlueHub Capital. Throughout her career, she has been instrumental in driving market expansion in the Southeast, West Coast and Midwest, and will lead NJCC’s lending capacity nationwide.
  • Brian Waweru, an emerging market private equity investor with 15 years of experience at renowned institutions like Blackstone and RMB Ventures, joined NJCC as director of strategic investments. Waweru will expand NJCC’s private equity and mezzanine debt initiatives as part of NJCC’s specialized small business investment company’s investment platform, University Ventures.

“As we expand our operations, these leaders will play a pivotal role in not only executing our strategic vision, but redefining what is possible in community development finance,” Hall said. “Their diverse skills and shared passion for economic justice position NJCC to lead effectively across the nation.”

The NJCC Spring Celebration also included the formal recognition of NJCC’s most distinguished partner organizations. NJCC presented the following awards:

  • Funder of the Year — PNC Bank;
  • Developer of the Year — GonSosa Development;
  • Community Organization of the Year — The Children’s Home Society of New Jersey;
  • Small Business of the Year — JAS Group Enterprise Inc.