Ray has a deep commitment to creating economic opportunity in areas outside of the economic mainstream and to supporting businesses addressing pressing social needs.

Working at the intersection of policy and practice, Ray has led a range of innovative programs and structured investments to address persistent economic development challenges facing rural communities. With over 20 years of engagement in Appalachia and +30 years in the field of economic development, Mr. Daffner has worked with a broad spectrum of public, private and non-profit partners including: federal, state and local policy leaders; non-profit development organizations; social enterprises; and investors including banks, CDFIs, NMTC CDEs, Angel investors and philanthropy.

While at the Appalachia Regional Commission, Ray led investment and provided strategic advice to more than 10 CDFIs that have grown to over $700 million in capitalization. He also led the formation and capital raise of a regional CDFI Intermediary – Appalachian Community Capital – whose +23 members  have over $1 billion in assets.

His New Markets Tax Credit work focuses on providing several types of advisory services including strategic positioning and structuring of CDEs, product development, QALICB transaction sourcing and capital raise, and NMTC Allocation Application preparation and review. He has served on seven NMTC    Community Advisory Boards for CDEs that have deployed over $1 billion in NMTC investment, participating in transaction review. Through this work, Ray has assisted ten CDEs obtain over $400 million in NMTC Allocation. Ray has also served as a reader for the US Department of Treasury CDFI Fund in five rounds of NMTC application review and scoring.

Other related investment activities include:

  • Led efforts to bring Angel Capital financing to Appalachia resulting in the formation of ten regional Angel Investment Funds that have syndicated more than $60 million in transactions,
  • Supported the formation of four Development Venture Capital Funds which raised and deployed  over $75 million in financing,
  • Assist CDFIs receive multiple funding awards from the US Treasury CDFI Fund – FA program and the Opportunity Finance Network – Finance Justice Fund,
  • Founding member of the Appalachian Funders Network, a network of over 60 private and public funders with $5 billion in assets,
  • Formation of Opportunity Appalachia, a three-state Opportunity Zone program with partners in  Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia, working to bring +$200M in financing to 17 OZ communities in rural Appalachia,
  • Directed investment in over 100 Entrepreneurial Support Organizations as part of ARC’s Entrepreneurship Initiative.

Ray has substantial experience in the non-profit and private sectors, having been involved in start-up ventures in food systems, software development and wood products, served in management positions in manufacturing (plastics), and engaged in environmental and biotech research.  More at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/raydaffner/

Ray received his MBA from Yale University School of Management, and Bachelors in biochemistry from Duke University.  He and his wife live in Waterford, Virginia and Lewes, Delaware, and enjoy time with their five adult children, hiking, biking, gardening, and generally being outdoors.  Ray is also active as a volunteer / and non-profit founder in the local interfaith community, and has served as president of his local village association.

Investing in Opportunity