Director of Lending/Program Director

Organization Summary

The Center for Rural Affairs is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that was established in Northeast Nebraska in 1973. For more than 45 years, the Center for Rural Affairs has been a leading force engaging people to build a better rural future. The Center for Rural Affairs is headquartered in Lyons, Nebraska, and has on-site and in-home offices throughout Nebraska and Iowa. The Center for Rural Affairs focuses on small business and farm development, farm and rural policy, research, and community development. Additional information about the Center for Rural Affairs can be found at

Position Description

The Center for Rural Affairs is hiring a Director of Lending / Program Director for the Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP). The Director of Lending / Program Director will report to the Executive Director and provide strategic direction, partnership development, and staff management to a team that includes eight full-time staff and fifteen part-time contractors. The program provides small business training, technical assistance, and lending to small businesses in rural Nebraska. The program makes small business loans up to $150,000 and has an outstanding loan portfolio of $6.2 million. The program began in 1990, and in 2013, became a federally certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). Near 40 percent of program clients are now Latino. Organization leadership anticipates significant growth in the reach and impact of the program in the next five years. The Director of Lending / Program Director will be instrumental to helping to design, guide, and oversee program growth.

Position Details

This is a full-time position located in Lyons, Nebraska, that includes frequent travel across the state to meet with staff, partners, and clients. Compensation is commensurate with experience and a comprehensive benefits package will be provided. Hiring preference will be given to applicants able to work in the Center’s home office in Lyons, Nebraska, full-time. Highly qualified applicants based elsewhere in Northeast Nebraska and able to work at least half-time in Lyons and half-time in an existing or newly established remote office may be considered.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Oversee staff engaged in small business training, technical assistance, and lending to low-income and underserved individuals in rural communities across the state of Nebraska.
  • Lead sales and marketing efforts to further awareness and advancement of the program and services.
  • Partner with the Executive Director to develop program strategy, ensure strategy implementation, and assist with program fundraising. 
  • Direct a team of eight full-time staff, and assist staff in managing fifteen part-time contractors.
  • Serve as a team leader by selecting, onboarding, motivating, guiding, and developing team members.
  • Plan and lead team retreats and team meetings to maximize team alignment and execution.
  • Provide direction, feedback, and recognition to team members through 1 on 1s, quarterly conversations, and reviews.
  • Partner with the Chief Financial Officer to manage program budgeting, loan fund capital management, loan underwriting, and adherence with policy and regulation.
  • Aid team members in developing robust referral networks and maintaining meaningful relationships with borrowers.
  • Support team members in responding to business inquiries and preparing loan application packages for underwriting.
  • Help team members identify loan delinquencies and work with clients to get accounts back on track.
  • Report on program activities, performance, and trends to leadership, board members, and funders.
  • Travel throughout the state of Nebraska to meet with staff, clients, and partners on a regular basis, and outside of Nebraska on occasion.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree in relevant field required.
  • Strong leadership skills; several years of experience motivating, and leading a team of people.
  • Knowledge of small business lending, small business development, sales or closely related field.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills; ability to collaborate and communicate with internal and external stakeholders.
  • High level of attention to detail and ability to problem solve strategically.
  • Reliable and trustworthy; ability to demonstrate a high degree of discretion and maintain confidential information.
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint); ability to learn other technology platforms.
  • Willingness to travel to various sites across the state of Nebraska on a monthly basis.

Application Instructions

Interested individuals can apply by sending their resume, cover letter, and three professional references to The position will remain open until filled.

The Center for Rural Affairs is an equal opportunity employer and provider.

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