In late September 2020, the Citizen Potawatomi Community Development Corporation named Cindy Logsdon as its new director. She sat down for an interview with the Hownikan after her first full week leading the CPCDC.
“My head has just been full this week thinking about opportunities,” she said.
“I am just thrilled that trust has been placed upon me and that they asked me to take this position.”
Logsdon’s husband and children are Tribal members and descendants of the Anderson family, which feeds her excitement and drive at CPN.
“Zero to hero”
She started working for the Tribe’s accounting department in 2003. With 15 years of banking experience, Logsdon quickly received a chance to transfer to the CPCDC as its second employee.
“The CPCDC in my last 16 years has grown financially from zero to hero,” she said. “I mean, it’s really exciting, the upward trajectory that we’ve always been able to accomplish. We’re one of the largest Native (Community Development Financial Institutions), nonbanks in the country.”
CDFIs act as a source of cash and capital to promote economic revitalization in underserved and distressed communities. However, Logsdon says the CPCDC offers more that makes it valuable to Natives across the country.
“We’ve had some great programs, and we are cheerleaders. And sometimes a business just needs someone to know that ‘I have someone to call. I have somebody that’s my cheerleader. I have somebody that’s going to help hold me accountable. I have a friendship with someone at the CPCDC,’” she said.
The staff offers assistance buying a home, starting a business, establishing financial goals and much more through credit counseling and access to federal programs designed to serve CDFIs.
“That’s something I feel passion about, getting access to capital to Native Americans,” Logsdon said. “It’s all the other feel-good stuff, too, but bottom line, that’s our bread and butter. We’re a 45 million dollar organization, net worth and assets at this point, and we’re self-sufficient. … And I just want to carry on and try to look towards the future and what that means to Native American families.”
Learning through doing
After high school, Logsdon sporadically attended college classes into her 30s. She spent 15 years in the banking industry, achieving promotions by putting in the effort and learning something new every day. Logsdon said gaining knowledge “through actually doing” serves her best.
“I do think it is important for a leader to be able to jump in there with the troops, you know, show that it is really teamwork that makes this engine work. And that’s exactly what we have (at the CPCDC) is an economic engine,” she said.
Logsdon graduated with a bachelor’s in organizational leadership from the University of Central Oklahoma in 2017. She shared that achievement with several others on the CPCDC staff who attended college with encouragement from CPN.
“At the same point in time, we had five of us within probably a year and a half received our degrees. So, we went from a staff that was not very educated to everyone being challenged. You know, why not? And it’s been a really, really good experience for the majority of us,” Logsdon said.
She also served as the secretary of the Tecumseh Ag Booster Club, the secretary of the Oklahoma Native Asset Coalition, treasurer of the Native CDFI Network and a board member for the Credit Builders Alliance — all invaluable experience while managing the CPCDC. Logsdon includes connecting with employees and intuitive forethought as leadership essentials.
“I think somebody that knows how to inspire you, is a good listener, is a trait of a good leader,” she said. “I think that training your staff and giving them the tools that they need and pre-thinking the bigger picture. What does this look like in three years, five years, 10 years? … And one day, when I pass this off, I’m going to be very proud of the accomplishments of the CPCDC.”
Managing the future
Although Logsdon began working with CPN more than 15 years ago, the consistent challenges and opportunities for improvement — for both clients and CPCDC staff — keep the job interesting and exciting.
“You don’t do the same thing every day. I think that’s what I like, the variety. It’s not a lot of repetition. But seeing the lives that we can impact and change, I think that is huge … we have seen a lot of success stories through the years,” she said.
The CPCDC has improved and grown as a resource with support from the Tribe, turning it into one of the most successful organizations of its kind in Indian Country. Logsdon hopes to add staff members, double the CDFI’s assets and expand its offerings to clients during her tenure as director.
“We are an influencer in the industry, and I really am proud of that,” she said. “But, I can only imagine in the future that we will continue to grow programs. We’re going to be innovative. We’re going to think outside the box. We’re going to do programs or offer programs that truly benefit and complement tribal members’ lives and financial futures.”