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March 1, 2024

Hartford Community Loan Fund’s founding CEO Fowler to step down

Rex Fowler

Rex Fowler, founding CEO of the Hartford Community Loan Fund (HCLF), has announced he’s stepping down from his role later this year. 

The HCLF is a not-for-profit community development financial institution that provides financing to underserved communities. Its primary lending initiative is a construction rehab loan program, which includes construction, bridge and permanent loans for small investors acquiring and renovating blighted multifamily or mixed-use properties in Connecticut.  

Fowler said he will be stepping down later this year as soon as the organization's board identifies the next CEO. He said he is leaving to spend some time with family, before pursuing other professional opportunities.   

No further details were provided. 

HCLF has hired executive search firm Koya Partners to conduct a nationwide search for a new CEO.

Fowler has led the HCLF since its 1997 founding, and helped expand the geographic reach of its lending territory from the south end of Hartford to the whole state of Connecticut. 

According to HCLF's most recently available 990 tax form, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2022, the nonprofit reported 11 employees. $2.5 million in revenues, a $1.1 million surplus and $15.4 million in total assets. 

Before joining HCLF, he worked for Fleet Financial Group (now Bank of America) in a range of roles that included creating and leading the bank’s corporate healthcare lending team, commercial lending positions in various Connecticut markets, and creating and leading the bank’s commercial credit analysis training department in Boston.  

Fowler has also served on the boards of numerous Hartford nonprofits including Hartford Catholic Worker, Hartford Land Bank, the Hartford Parking Authority, North Hartford Partnership, Real Art Ways and the Mutual Housing Association of Greater Hartford. 

“It is hard to overstate the breadth of Rex’s contributions to this organization and to the greater Hartford community in his nearly three decades at the helm of HCLF,” said Board Chair Anna Emanuel. “Filling his very big shoes will require an exceptionally ambitious search, which is why the board is undertaking a national search to identify the organization’s next leader.” 
 
Since HCLF’s construction rehab program was launched in 2010, it has provided more than $45 million and leveraged an additional $33 million to rehab over 240 small multifamily properties, the organization said.  The investments have created over 1,200 new units of housing affordable for low-income households with approximately 75% of those in the city of Hartford, the organization said.  

In 2019, HCLF expanded its geographic investment area to facilitate financing across Connecticut.

In addition to lending, HCLF provides technical assistance to its borrowers and advocates for policy changes designed to increase investments in marginalized communities. 
 
“I’m really proud of the work we’ve done getting more capital into the hands of folks who’ve historically struggled to access affordable credit," Fowler said, adding that approximately 89% of HCLF loans have been to non-white borrowers. "I’m excited about the next phase of life and firmly believe that HCLF is in a great position to continue growing and serving even more Connecticut residents.”  

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