It was May 2022. On stage in Las Vegas, Pam Boivin surveyed the fellow Indigenous honorees around her. “It was incredibly motivating to be affiliated with strong Native men and women throughout the country,” she says.
Named a Native American 40 Under 40 award recipient, Boivin, who is Menominee, was being recognized for her work leading Woodland Financial Partners, a Native community development financial institution (formerly NiiJii Capital Partners). Based in Keshena, Wisconsin, the CDFI aids tribal businesses that are launching or expanding operations and offers technical loan assistance to an overlooked market.
Only 27 when promoted to executive director, Boivin pressed on. “At the time, I felt I was underqualified, but that’s part of having grit to really get in there and give it a shot.”
Under her leadership, Woodland Financial has expanded from serving three reservations to serving all Wisconsin tribes — and grown from a staff of two to seven. Beyond Woodland, she chairs the Wolf River Development Co., the economic arm of the Menominee Tribe, and a collective of four Wisconsin Native CDFIs that collaborate on marketing and fundraising. She and her husband, Stewart, also own a small construction company, Boivin Excavating.
Pursuing her Marquette MBA online, Boivin is extending her business acumen, grounding herself in “structures, mechanisms and theories” to be the best service provider she can be. “Our communities are very underserved. There’s a lack of financial literacy and resources. It’s important to figure out the gaps and offer a solution. And you need to have a high-level understanding of economics to see those trends.”