Meet NeighborWorks Capital Board Member Caroline Horton

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Get to know Caroline, a Board Member since 2015. She also serves as Chair of the Finance Committee. Caroline is Chief Financial Officer of Aeon, where she’s worked since 1998. She is responsible for Aeon’s real estate asset management, finance and accounting functions. Since 2007, Caroline has been a member of the STRENGTH MATTERS CFOWorking Group which has developed a series of white papers on external reporting best practices for the nonprofit affordable housing industry. 

How did you come to be on the NeighborWorks Capital Board? What motivates you as a Board Member?

In 2015, NC’s Board reached out to me about joining. I’d been the CFO of Aeon, a NeighborWorks America member, for years. We do multifamily development, so I know the importance of access to capital and have lots of experience as a borrower. Joining the Board was an opportunity to be part of bringing more capital to our collective work as well as learn about the lending side of the affordable housing sector.

What are the highlights of being Chair of the Finance Committee?

NeighborWorks Capital has a strong financial position which provides lots of opportunity for growth, so that’s definitely a highlight! We have Committee members with deep experience, which makes for meaningful questions and conversations with the management team. It’s a highlight for me when that generates ideas or perspective or information that adds real value to the management team’s work. Also, I do appreciate seeing all those financial reports—yes, I am a finance nerd. I enjoy learning and understanding how a business works financially and the financial statements tell that story.

What has your board experience with NeighborWorks Capital taught you about, or have you been able to take back to, your full-time position?

I’ve learned how a lender evaluates a borrower, underwrites a loan and assesses risk. That is very useful as a borrower — it helps to anticipate questions during underwriting and through the loan term. I’ve learned about CDFI capitalization, leverage ratios, interest rate spreads and aligning capital characteristics with loan characteristics. Also, how a CDFI balances borrowing and lending and, consequently, forecasting and scenarios. Plus the importance of aligning debt covenants across many capital sources and having them reflect how the organization is growing. My first encounter with NeighborWorks Capital’s detailed debt covenant schedule prompted me to closely review my own. 

Congratulations on being named CFO of the Year! Go read Caroline’s interview in the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal to learn more! But one more question before we go: which destinations are on your traveling & exploring bucket list?

Oh, the possibilities! I’ve had my eye on a week-long cookery course in Lecce, Italy (The Awaiting Table) for several years. That might just be my post-pandemic splurge. I’d love to go sailing in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. The Four Corners area of Colorado and New Mexico, especially Mesa Verde and Chaco. The national parks of Wyoming and Montana. Exploring the villages and pubs of Scotland. Quebec City.

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