"I am pleased to welcome these talented and accomplished executives to the AEO Board of Directors," said Ms. Harris. "Their combined experience and commitment to the AEO mission will expand and promote our efforts to support small business owners and community development."
In addition, AEO announced that six people will continue as board members. Elected were Roberto Barragan, President and CEO of VEDC, a leading small business lending and development organization; Phyllis Cassidy, founder and Executive Director of Good Work Network, a leading business development organization serving women and minorities; Samira Cook-Gaines, Chief of Economic Empowerment for the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, a leading grassroots membership and advocacy organization; and Thais Rezende, CEO of Bizworld, an entrepreneurship program that promotes financial responsibility, leadership and teamwork skills for elementary and middle school students. Gina E. Wood, Director of Foundation and Institutional Giving at the Atlantic Council, was reappointed to the board.
Connie Evans, AEO's President and CEO, said that she looks forward to working with the board to further the organization's efforts to provide innovative tools, data and information that can help entrepreneurs start new businesses and assist small and microbusiness owners in sustaining and growing their businesses. Ms. Evans emphasized the critical role that Main Street businesses can play in creating good jobs, especially for millennials, and boosting the American economy.
Ms. Evans said it is critical that stakeholders invest resources in initiatives and programs that can help make the microfinance and microbusiness industry more inclusive, particularly by encouraging and supporting women and minorities in their efforts to become business owners.
"Our data indicates that there are many people of color who would start their own businesses if they had capital, information, as well as broader access to the resources they need," Ms. Evans said, adding that one of the strengths for AEO is having a diverse board that thoroughly understands the challenges faced by entrepreneurs with a wide range of backgrounds.
"Working with our talented board of directors, AEO will expand awareness of the significant contributions of small business owners and entrepreneurs—women and men who are fueling the engines of our economy with their hard work," Ms. Evans said. "AEO and its members will continue to support them by developing and deploying technology innovations and trusted guidance that can provide a better way for even the smallest businesses to do everything from access capital to manage their books. One of our priorities is getting innovations in the hands of Main Street and community businesses so they can help make a difference in our society."
About Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO)
The Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) is the voice of innovation in microbusiness and microfinance in the United States. For 25 years, AEO and its more than 450 member/partner organizations have helped millions of entrepreneurs contribute to economic growth while supporting themselves, their families and their communities. AEO members and partners include a broad range of organizations that provide capital and services to assist underserved entrepreneurs in starting, stabilizing and expanding their businesses. Together, we are working to change the way that capital and services flow to underserved entrepreneurs so that they can create jobs and opportunities for all. Learn more about The Association for Enterprise Opportunity at http://www.aeoworks.org/.
Michael K. Frisby
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SOURCE Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO)