Fern Orie, a strong advocate for the cultural and economic prosperity of Native Americans in Wisconsin is named the 2021 Nan Cheney March for Justice Awardee by Forward Community Investments!
Fern Orie, a strong advocate for cultural and economic prosperity of Native Americans in Wisconsin is named the 2021 Nan Cheney March for Justice Awardee by Forward Community Investments!
Fern fights tirelessly to improve the lives of Wisconsin tribal members in many ways. Knowing one way to improve these members’ lives is by infusing capital into those communities, she was the founding CEO of the Wisconsin Native Loan Fund (WINLF) a certified Native Community Development Financial Institution. The goal of creating WINLF is to provide access to affordable lending opportunities by promoting financial self-sufficiency and improving economic and social conditions on Tribal lands in Wisconsin. Under her leadership, WINLF has deployed over $7 million in loans to tribal members on all eleven reservations and across the state for home improvement, home purchase, down payment, debt consolidation, auto purchase, and starting or expanding small businesses. Along with the loan products WINLF provides development services like financial education, homebuyer education, credit coaching, and technical assistance, to name a few.
“We created WINLF to address the gaps in housing opportunities and create access to broader financing options for tribal members. WINLF has created opportunities specific to native communities by developing programs, services, and loan products based on client needs. Our passion to create systemic change by educating our people and providing access to financing is the mission-driven work we do to create a ripple effect of impact across Wisconsin Indian Country.”, States Fern.
Further exemplification of her fight are her ties to the tribal community in Wisconsin where she serves on the Board of Directors and Loan Committee for Bay Bank, which is the only tribally owned bank in Wisconsin. In addition to her service with Bay Bank, she also is a member of the Program Advisory Committee for the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Community College. Lastly, she was recently appointed as a Tribal Representative by Gov. Evers to the Governor’s Council of Financial Literacy and Capability which provides guidance and strategies to measurably improve the financial literacy, capability, and financial inclusion of Wisconsin residents.
Prior to Fern creating WINLF and her service on the committees listed above, she has strong roots in the housing sector with over 20 years of experience. Her passion for helping tribal members find safe, affordable, reliable housing has always been a priority to her. As the Executive Director of the Oneida Housing Authority, she oversaw daily operations for over 300+ homes, real estate acquisitions for additional housing, and planning and management of programs for new homeowners.
Fern joins an exclusive list of changemakers who have been awarded the Nan Cheney March for Justice Award in previous years. This award was named in honor of Nan Cheney who was a fierce advocate for peace, social justice, and the environment. Previous awardees include Dr. Karen Menendez-Coller, Will Green, Hedi Rudd, and Jacquelyn Hunt.
“It is an absolute honor to be the 2021 Nan Cheney March for Justice Awardee! This distinction has me deeply humbled and has brought out much thought and reflection on my life’s work (thus far!). To be recognized for this honor has unveiled a mirror I have not seen in such a bright light…..I am in awe to be honored as a community leader like Nan. It’s in my blood of several generations to work for our People and our communities. This award fuels my passion to continue elevating our tribal communities. I am beyond grateful to be recognized in Nan’s honor, along with the previous awardees, in the fight for social justice.” Concludes Fern.