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Panelist Biography

Guest Speaker Biography - Casandra Slade

Last Updated: June 15, 2010

Casandra Slade is Vice President – Community Development Officer at Lake Forest Bank & Trust, a $1.8 billion asset community bank that is part of a $12.2 billion asset holding company, Wintrust Financial Corporation, where she is responsible for managing the bank’s community development initiatives that have a positive impact on the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) program.  Prior to Lake Forest Bank & Trust, Ms. Slade served as Vice President – CRA Officer for National City Bank with responsibility for Northern Illinois.  Ms. Slade consults nationally on real estate, housing, organizational, community development and strategic planning.  Ms. Slade began her professional career with a food bank in Wisconsin and comments, “I guess banking was always in my future.”  In her short tenure with Lake Forest Bank & Trust, she has established a very successful and nationally recognized lending program – the “Small Dollar Loan” – which lends small amounts of money to lower income borrowers to counteract the plethora of payday lending.  In its first year of operation the loan program assisted over 100 households with $90,000 in these “Small Dollar Loans”.  Due to the success of the loan product, it was featured in an article in the Clearinghouse Review:  Journal of Poverty Law and Policy (July-August 2009).

She is a sought after speaker on innovative and flexible lending products that are win-win opportunities for the community and financial institutions. She has presented at the FDIC Alternative Small Dollar Loan Symposium in Chicago, as well as a panelist for a webinar on “Integrating Asset Building Opportunities into Domestic Violence Advocacy” and a panelist/presenter at the Alliance for Economic Inclusion on “Encouraging Un-banked Consumers to Save” and in May 2010 co-presented the workshop “Empowering Domestic Violence Survivors to Create Assets and Wealth” at the national Northwest Area Foundation’s “Grassroots & Groundwork” conference in Portland, OR.  Her career in lending took off when in 1993 she co-founded a housing counseling non-profit organization in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that is now a NeighborWorks affiliate.  During her 10-year tenure as Executive Director of this organization, Housing Resources, over 2,000 individuals received counseling and became first time homebuyers.  Ms. Slade has more than 20 years of experience in housing counseling, faith-based community initiatives, education and community development and programs to reach the un-banked and under-banked.

Ms. Slade received her Master’s from Marian College and BS in Economics from University of Wisconsin Milwaukee in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Ms. Slade was named a 2008 Woman of Achievement by the YWCA Lake County.  Ms. Slade was a former member and chairman of the Affordable Housing Committee of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago.  She also chaired the Chicagoland CRA Roundtable a group of CRA Officers from large banks in Chicago.  Ms. Slade was recently appointed to the State of Illinois – Governor’s Task Force on Children’s Savings Accounts and is a member of the State of Illinois Treasurer’s Banking Advisory Task Force.  Ms. Slade currently serves on the board of the North Chicago Chamber of Commerce and YouthBuild Lake County and resides in the northern suburbs of Chicago with her husband and two children.