Chrystel Cornelius

Executive Director, First Nations Oweesta Corporation

Longmont, CO

Prioritize Equity, Shift Capital  |  Community Economic Development, Funding / Investment, Rural Community Development, Technical Assistance

Chrystel is empowering Native American communities by helping CDFIs to build wealth & economic independence among tribal communities across the U.S.

Chrystel is the executive director of First Nations Oweesta Corporation located in Longmont, Colorado. She has been working for Native communities for her entire professional career, with 16 years of experience in the economic development field. She worked as a tribal planner for six years for the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians before starting the Turtle Mountain CDFI, which she ran for seven more years. Chrystel is of Chippewa and Oneida descent and has a BS in Business Management. She is currently on the board of the Opportunity Finance Network (OFN), the Turtle Mountain CDFI, and the Red Feather Development Group. She was born in Bernalillo, New Mexico, and currently resides in Colorado.


  • Provide access to capital for Native CDFIs, which has created over 110 affordable housing units, 2180 jobs, and helped start over 860 small businesses.
  • Honor 10 industry leaders and 10 organizations with grants totaling over $200,000 at our Annual Native Convening in partnership with OFN Network.
  • Provide the only Native-specific financial education curriculum, Building Native Communities: Financial Skills for Families. Through financial education courses using that curriculum, First Nations Oweesta Corporation has successfully trained over 600 financial education instructors who have gone on to train more than 25,000 students.
  • Provide technical assistance to over 50 Native CDFIs, strengthening their work.