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Martin Eakes

Chief Executive Officer, Self-Help/Center for Responsible Lending

Martin Eakes co-founded Self-Help, a community development lender, in 1980. Self-Help has provided $11 billion in financing to more than 214,000 homebuyers, small businesses, and nonprofits. Self-Help reaches people who are underserved by conventional lenders—particularly persons of color, immigrants, women, rural residents, and low-wealth families. Self-Help has 77 branch offices in North Carolina, California, Illinois, Florida, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Martin helped establish in 2002 an affiliate of Self-Help, the Center for Responsible Lending, which battles predatory mortgage and payday lenders across the country and fights to protect homeownership and family wealth for working families. He was designated “the greatest enemy in the world” to the 450% interest rate payday lenders, which Martin considers one of his most memorable and significant honors.

Martin has been honored with the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights’ Hubert Humphrey Award, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s MacArthur Fellow Award, Ford Foundation’s Visionary Award, the AARP Inspire Award, Credit Union National Association Wegner Award, National Consumer Law Center’s Father Robert F Drinan Leadership Award, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation National Families Count Award.

Martin holds a law degree from Yale, a master’s degree from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton, and a bachelor's in physics and philosophy from Davidson College. A native of North Carolina, he is a nationally recognized expert on development finance and on campaigns for racial and economic justice.