Johvanna Sampson, Senior Loan Officer, joined PCDC’s Capital Investment team in 2016. Originally from Louisiana, Sampson recognized the untapped potential and need for health care expansion in her home state.
Since then, Sampson has been the driving force behind PCDC’s impact in Louisiana by establishing relationships across the state, including with the Louisiana Primary Care Association (LPCA).
To date, PCDC has financed two projects in Louisiana totaling more than $11 million in debt financing and almost $20 million in New Markets Tax Credits. The result: an additional 40,600 medical visits in the state’s most vulnerable communities.
On her recent return from the LPCA Annual Conference in Shreveport, Sampson discussed community development, the differences between regions, and her favorite Louisiana pastimes.
You spent 15 years in banking. What were your reasons for joining PCDC, a community development financial institution (CDFI)?
My last five years in banking were spent working in Community Reinvestment Act as a mortgage loan officer. I had the opportunity to partner with several CDFIs, mostly housing agencies, and appreciated the direct impact their work had on the communities they served.
CDFIs are 100 percent committed to serving low-income communities, which was extremely attractive to me when considering PCDC. Quality, affordable housing and health care go hand-in-hand, and these are the most important factors in stabilizing distressed communities. What better way to continue my community development career than with an organization whose mission is to increase access to health care in unserved and underserved communities?
What is it about community development specifically that inspires you?
I’ve always been passionate about “giving back”. From middle school through college, I volunteered at tutoring centers in low-income and underprivileged areas in New Orleans. It sparked an interest and desire to work in communities and with individuals that don’t have access to resources most people take for granted. It made me realize that most people want to do better — and would — if given the proper tools and resources.
The ability to work for an organization like PCDC that provides resources to overlooked communities turns “work” into a “hobby” for me. It motivates me and makes work more meaningful. Seeing the impact our work has — knowing the difference we are making — makes coming to work every day more fulfilling.
How is working in Louisiana different from New York State?
Things are much faster-paced in New York! People move at a slow-to-moderate pace in Louisiana; no one is in a rush. The faster pace in New York carries over into the professional world. The scale of work here is much larger — imagine going from working in a state whose entire population (4.7 million) is nearly half that of NYC alone (8.6 million). Longer commutes generally translate to shorter work days or time in the office. People are more conscious of maximizing their time since time is viewed as precious.
As far as my work at PCDC is concerned, CDFIs are not as plentiful in Louisiana as in New York State, and those that do exist are geared more towards affordable housing. The need and demand for health care financing in Louisiana heavily surpasses the availability.
Regarding New Markets Tax Credits (NMTCs), new construction projects in Louisiana are generally less costly than in New York. For example, building a community health center (CHC) in New York could easily cost upwards of $10 million, whereas in Louisiana, smaller projects often miss the $5-6 million minimum NMTC project size.
Affordable capital isn’t as easily accessible either, given that many CHCs are unable to qualify for lower-cost bank capital. This leaves health centers to delay projects or forego projects altogether. It’s why PCDC’s work in Louisiana is critical: CHC financing requires more creativity, more flexibility, and the ability to think outside of the box.
What do you miss most about living in Louisiana?
Family. Friends. Food. Festivals. I think that sums it up.
I miss warm hugs from family and friends, last-minute get-togethers for no reason, people dropping by unannounced just because they’re in the neighborhood, tailgating at LSU games, etc.
Louisiana (Cajun) food is my all-time favorite — gumbo, jambalaya, chargrilled oysters, red beans and rice, beignets, sno-balls, etc. I desperately miss crawfish season.
There are festivals for just about anything you can think of. My favorites are held in the spring: French Quarter Fest and Jazz Fest. It’s just another excuse to indulge in food and music, as if New Orleanians/Louisianans really need an excuse.
Learn more about Sampson’s work with PCDC, and the financial services we provide, by visiting our Community Investment page.