A vote for Forescee Hogan-Rowles is a vote for real-world experience

Cynthia E. Griffin- | 3/2/2011, 5 p.m.

Forescee Hogan-Rowles is all about business and she has been since she studied fashion design at Brooks College and then created a company that manufactured and distributed better women's junior sportswear in 26 states and four countries.

The California native operated FLIPS for six years and her designs appeared in Women's Wear Daily and the California Apparel News.

From working as an entrepreneur Hogan-Rowles, who earned a bachelor's from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and master's from Pepperdine University in Malibu, both in business administration, took her expertise in how to grow a business and began to work with others to help them do the same.

One of the ways the mother of three did that was to create Westview Economic Development Strategies, a Los Angeles-based training, organizational development and consulting company.

From 1990 to 1993, Hogan-Rowles served as executive director of the Coalition for Women's Economic Development (CWED). This nonprofit entrepreneurial training program targeted women and gave its leader an opportunity to really begin to use her business-building skills. It was there that she would manage and grow the first microenterprise organization in Southern California.

Microenterprise programs, most of which are modeled after the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, provide low-income, start-up entrepreneurs with small pots of loan money through peer-lending. Each time the loan is repaid in timely manner, the entrepreneurs can borrow a larger sum. This allows individuals to build or rebuild credit, while at the same time developing a business that helps them make a living.

Under her direction, CWED wrote the proposal that led to the organization becoming a first-round grantee in the U.S. Small Business Administration Microloan Demonstration program. She also forged one of the first partnerships in the nation between a Microenterprise organization and a Department Housing and Urban Development-City Housing Authority.

All of these activities would ultimately prepare Hogan-Rowles for her current venture--president and CEO of Community Financial Resource Center (CFRC).

Launched shortly after the 1992 civil unrest that rocked Los Angeles, Hogan-Rowles said it was actually in development two years prior to that explosion.

This California nonprofit corporation is certified by the U.S. Department of the Treasury as a Community Development Financial Institution. CFRC is also one the largest providers in Los Angeles County of financial services specifically targeted at low- and moderate-income communities.

Among its offerings are small business loans, first-time home ownership programs, individual development accounts, financial education and technical assistance workshops and BIZTECH--the Business Innovation Technology Center.

At CFRC Hogan-Rowles has truly been able help grow small businesses in the region, while at the same time steering her own organizations through the often perilous waters of nonprofit development.

Since its launch, CFRC has worked with more than 90,000 clients and has been a driving force in helping bring more development to the county by way of small businesses.

But Hogan-Rowles interests have not been solely limited to that arena. In her role as a member of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power board of commissioners, she was involved in the launch of the Los Angeles Infrastructure Academy.