Aura Appoints Former Obama Appointee Oscar Gonzales to Lead Government & Community Relations Program
Gonzales, a veteran community activist with 25 years experience, to collaborate with legislators and community leaders on Aura’s responsible and innovative solutions for low-income workers.
SAN FRANCISCO— Aura, a CDFI certified fintech disrupting the predatory lending industry with loans that help low income people, not hurt them, today announced the launch of its Government and Community Relations Program. Oscar Gonzales, former USDA Executive Director in CA, has been named Vice President for Community and Government Relations. He will lead the effort to expand Aura’s work with state and federal legislators and to partner with community leaders who represent low-income workers and families as Aura grows to serve more states beyond California, Illinois, Texas and Arizona.
Earlier this year, the US Treasury Department awarded the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) certification to Aura’s white label lending service. With that federal recognition, Gonzales looks to expand Aura’s public-private partnership to improve the lives and financial health of low-income households. He will extend Aura’s Washington, DC presence and work closely with state-level lawmakers, policy makers and regulators to solve for the "last mile" problem in financial services; providing access to affordable and rigorously underwritten capital for the 66 million underbanked and unbanked Americans. Aura’s technology and new business model solves for this, combatting the evils of predatory lenders.
"I joined Aura because we have the potential to bridge the massive gap between what our government and private enterprise can do to help hardworking, lower-income communities across the country. But it only happens with the right collaboration," said Gonzales. "My wife Christine is the granddaughter of Cesar Chavez, and his words, 'we don't need perfect political systems; we need perfect participation,' are particularly apt today. By establishing greater cooperation between our public officials, community leaders, and financial institutions and technology companies, we can help so many Americans get on a path to financial success." More of Oscar Gonzales' story can be read here.
Gonzales has a long track record of working at the federal and state level to promote upward mobility and economic justice in the U.S. Prior to Aura, he served as the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Executive Director in California where he oversaw Farm Service Agency (FSA) programs across 58 counties. Gonzales managed 27 USDA field offices across California, the largest agricultural producing state. His government background includes working as Deputy Chief of Staff for USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and for top California leaders -- Governor Davis, Assembly Speaker Villaraigosa, and Senate Majority Leader Romero.
Prior to working in government and politics, Gonzales worked with various nonprofit organizations, including the Constitutional Rights Foundation, Building Up Los Angeles, Corporation for National Service, California Community College Foundation, National Hispanic Environmental Council, East Los Angeles Residents Association, and the UFW Foundation. His wife Christine Chavez works at USDA as a public affairs officer and is active on civil rights issues.
Aura’s mission is to build financially healthy low-income communities and end reliance on predatory lenders by providing affordable credit to the underserved in America. Aura loans are intentionally designed to help borrowers succeed at repayment and build good credit. Sixty-seven percent of its repeat customers grew their credit score by an average of 312 points when applying for a second loan. Currently available in more than 700 locations across California, Texas, Illinois and Arizona, Aura has provided hundreds of thousands of loans to low-income households since launching in 2014.