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Is there a topic you think would make a compelling conference session? Do you know subject matter experts - in or outside of the CDFI industry - who can speak effectively on the topic? Consider submitting a session proposal! The deadline for proposals is Sunday, March 17, at 11:59 pm ET. 


Session Proposal Form

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Hope to see you in Columbus!


Great Lakes Lender Conference: Lending Innovations


Greater Columbus Convention Center | August 6-8 


Submission deadline: Sunday, March 17, 2024 

Submit your proposal at  


Join thought leaders including top SBA officers, business lenders, entrepreneur support organizations, industry pros, civic leaders, and small business owners in Columbus as we share ideas and generate solutions, at the 2024 Lending Innovations conference. 


This conference is designed to educate on capital access and SBA lending best practices, while sparking cross-functional conversations, collaborations, and connections you won’t find at any other industry conference.  


Gear up now to help create more equitable prosperity and drive positive social change through small business empowerment and capital access. 

The 2024 Great Lakes Lenders Conference will feature dozens of expert-led sessions on a variety of topics, and we invite you to help us shape the curriculum! We are now seeking compelling session proposals from organizations and presenters that offer a wide range of perspectives. 

Commitment to participate 

By submitting a proposal to participate in the Great Lakes Lenders Conference (or agreeing to be included on another presenter’s panel proposal), you commit yourself and any co-presenters to following through with the steps necessary to participate. This includes obtaining funding for the costs of travel or participation as needed, keeping your schedule free of conflicting commitments for August 6-8, 2024, and fully preparing for the conference. All presenters are encouraged to enjoy the conference and take full advantage of desirable networking and learning opportunities. However, we are unable to guarantee coverage of any out-of-pocket expenses. 

All presenters must register online for the conference by the presenter registration deadline. Registering will give you access to meals and lounges, assure expedient entry, confirm your name is represented as you prefer on your name badge, etc. 


Requirements for Sessions Proposals 

We are aiming to offer approximately 50-80 breakout sessions, which should be inclusive of these organizations and roles: 

  • Organizations
    SBA lenders and entrepreneur support ecosystem partners, including microlenders, mission-driven lenders, CDFIs, WBCs, MBDAs, MDOs, SBDCs, and others. 

  • Roles
    C-level executives; back-office and operations specialists; and marketing, development, and engagement specialists 


When submitting your topic, consider the conference will mostly include attendees from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio, with a national audience in certain sectors. 



  • Session Length: All sessions will be approximately 45-60 minutes for breakout sessions, with no more than 30-40 minutes of presentation and at least 10 minutes of discussion and Q&A. 

  • Panels: we strongly encourage the maximum number of speakers to be limited to four, including the moderator.  

  • Proposal Limit Per Organization: No more than three proposals per organization will be considered, so please submit your top choice(s)!  

  • Proposal Requirements: Submissions must include proposed title, summary, learning objectives, and optional background documents for the session, along with bios and headshots for all proposed speakers. 

  • Collaborative proposals: We hope to present diverse panels and viewpoints, so proposals indicating collaboration with more than one organization are highly encouraged. If we receive high quality proposals of similar topics from multiple organizations, please be aware we may ask organizations to collaborate as a panel. 

Session Tracks & Areas of Focus 

The Great Lakes Lenders Conference features a diverse set of tracks and areas of focus for sessions, each tailored to encompass a variety of topics of interest.  

When submitting your proposal, you must choose at least one of the designated content areas to help us correctly identify the theme of your session. Please note that we reserve the right to reassign your session to another content area, if necessary, based on your proposal or the number and topics of sessions already scheduled. 

  • Lending fundamentals for beginners; prudent lender standards for new-to-SBA lenders 

  • General professional development and business topics 

  • Industry and economics  

  • Lending sales and marketing  

  • Capital access for small businesses 

  • Mission-based lending and serving under-resourced markets 

  • Entrepreneur support and training for loan clients 

  • Development of funding sources and partnerships 

  • Value of and best practices for technical assistance and training for lending clients 



Presenter and Session Policies 

  • Conference Registration: Session presenters will be required to register, though all conference fees will be waived. We regret that the conference cannot provide compensation or travel reimbursements to presenters except in specific instances. 

  • Session Organizer: The Session Organizer will be the primary contact for all communications regarding the selected proposal and the session. The Session Organizer assumes full responsibility for the design of the session, the coordination of all session presenters (if applicable), and successful session delivery. 

  • Session Scheduling: The conference planning committee will determine the scheduling of all sessions. By confirming speakers’ participation in the session proposal, you agree they will be available for any of the times designated for sessions, from 1:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, August 6, 2024 through 5:00 p.m. EST on Thursday, August 8, 2024. 

 Timeline & Submission Instructions 

  • Session Proposals Due: 11:59 pm ET on Sunday, March 17, 2024.  

  • All proposals must be submitted online. We will not accept hard copies.  

  • Presenters Informed of Selection Decision: Monday, April 1st, 2024. 


If you have questions about the process or your session idea, please contact Shema La Rosa at

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