Capital One Foundation and the Aspen Institute Announce 2014 Fellows of Microbusiness Leadership Program

January 23, 2014


Emerging leaders engage in fellowship program to enhance leadership and management skills

 Program is aligned with Capital One Foundation’s focus on helping small businesses grow and local economies thrive

Washington, D.C. – January 23, 2014 – FIELD at the Aspen Institute and the Capital One Foundation today announced the 2014 fellows of the ELM², Emerging Leaders in Microbusiness Squared Program. ELM² aims to exponentially increase the talent within microenterprise development organizations that create opportunity for aspiring and disadvantaged entrepreneurs. Twelve emerging leaders who demonstrate potential for executive leadership and creating real change in the microbusiness field have been selected to participate as fellows in the program. ELM² is made possible through a $170,000 contribution from the Capital One Foundation. 

There are more than 25 million microenterprises in the United States, and these small firms are playing a pivotal role in reviving job creation and communities across the country. Microbusiness programs are critical in supporting entrepreneurs who are creating much-needed jobs and fueling economic growth.

“Capital One Foundation is committed to supporting the next generation of community leaders by investing in programs such as ELM² that help them develop leadership skills, build their knowledge and peer networks,” said Daniel Delehanty, senior director, Community Development Banking, Capital One. “We are proud and honored to welcome all of the fellows to the ELM² program and we are committed to investing in and empowering these leaders by providing them access to tailored training, mentoring and the financial and professional support needed to help ensure their leadership skills flourish and their organizations thrive.”

Participants in ELM² were chosen through an application process, in which they proposed a leadership project that they will engage in throughout the duration of the fellowship. “We’re so excited to begin our work with this talented set of young leaders,” said Joyce Klein, director of the FIELD program at the Aspen Institute.  “This program perfectly blends the Aspen Institute’s focus on fostering leadership with the FIELD program’s deep expertise in microbusiness development.”

The 12 fellows participating in the program are:

Marla Bilonick, Director of Small Business Development, Latino Economic Development Center, (Washington, D.C.):   Marla Bilonick rejoined LEDC in 2012 after first working at the organization in 1999. As director of Small Business Development, she works with her team to provide high-quality bilingual training and technical assistance to entrepreneurs and small business owners in the DC metropolitan area. Her work with ELM2 will focus on strengthening the connection between LEDC’s small business education and lending activities. 

Vanessa Carter, Executive Director, Lend for America, (San Francisco, CA):  Vanessa leads implementation of LFA’s programs, including developing curriculum, resources, and teaching materials for students to learn the fundamentals of U.S. microfinance. Vanessa will develop and lead a strategic planning retreat for LFA as her ELM2 project.

Anthony Chang, Executive Director, Kitchen Table Advisors, (Mountain View, CA):  In leading the recently-formed Kitchen Table Advisors, Anthony is the primary business advisor to farm clients and provides leadership for organizational capacity building and fundraising. Anthony has almost 15 years of experience as a small business advisor, microlender, finance manager and non‐profit leader. In his project for ELM2, Anthony will create and begin to implement a shared leadership plan for the organization.

Alex Dang, Business Development Officer, Opportunity Fund, (San Jose, CA):  Alex strives to deliver capital to underserved microenterprises through impactful loan products and strategic partnerships.  He manages Opportunity Fund’s bank lending partnerships throughout California, and his work with ELM2 will support his new role managing Opportunity Fund’s innovative and award-winning Easy Pay loan product.

Luis de la Hoz, Vice President, Lending Team, Intersect Fund, (New Brunswick, NJ):  Luis was recently promoted from Senior Loan Officer to Vice President of Intersect Fund’s lending team due to his outstanding performance.  His ELM2 project will support his efforts to expand and build a high-volume, high-performing lending team.  

Jesse Golland, Regional Senior Loan Officer for Colorado, Accion New Mexico – Arizona – Colorado, (Denver, CO):  Jesse is the senior loan officer for Accion’s Colorado office, and his ELM2 project will focus on building awareness in Colorado of Accion’s larger loan products.

Laura Kozien, Director of Marketing and Communications, Accion US Network, (New York, NY): Laura is responsible for building organizational awareness and increasing microfinance customer acquisition for the Accion US Network members through digital, branding, communications, partnership and publicity efforts.  Laura’s ELM2 project will be to leverage new technologies and marketing techniques to increase online lending for the Accion U.S. Network’s five members. 

Barbara Krause, Accounting Manager, Northern Initiatives, (Marquette, MI):  Barbara’s role on Northern Initiative’s finance team includes a focus on developing analyses and reports to analyze the costs and sustainability of the organization’s programming.  Her work with ELM2 will support the organization’s efforts to analyze and refine the financial models for its microenterprise programming.

Aaron Lackman, Manager of the Refugee Program, Business Center for New Americans, (New York, NY): In addition to managing the Refugee Program at BCNA, Aaron is also a loan officer who has underwritten 500+ loan applications during his tenure with the organization.  With ELM2, he will develop a new loan product to allow BCNA clients who operate car services to purchase their own vehicles.

Leticia Landa, Deputy Director, La Cocina, (San Francisco, CA):  Leticia oversees La Cocina’s business incubator and the organization’s growing staff. She is also involved in setting the organization’s strategic direction and plans for expansion as well as with fundraising; her work with ELM2 will focus on La Cocina’s efforts to replicate its work in Brooklyn, NY. 

Brandon Napoli, Director of Microlending, Valley Economic Development Center, (Los Angeles, CA): Brandon brings experience from microfinance and financial literacy work in the U.S. and Africa to his role in leading the microlending program at VEDC.  His work with ELM2 will focus on creating the processes and systems to enable his lending team to close 500 or more microloans in 2014.

Gustavo Perez Eugui, Manager of Lending, New England & Internet, Accion East and Online, (Boston, MA): Gustavo is tasked with the growth and management of Accion East’s New England and National Lending Programs. Gustavo’s focus with ELM2 is to identify improvements to market segmentation, processes, and products and services to enable his team to meet its goal of growing Accion East’s existing Internet portfolio by 30% in 2014. 

ELM², which focuses on the themes of Leadership, Strategy, Organizational Culture and Sustainability, will bring the fellows together over a nine-month period for joint learning and analysis on important issues related to microbusiness development and leadership. Participants also have the opportunity to have a 360 degree evaluation completed with analysis provided by Capital One associates. In-person meetings as well as virtual and networking events will enable participants to deepen their understanding of the four program themes. Fellows will have the opportunity to participate in events and meetings with thought leaders, funders, investors and CEOs, giving them invaluable insight and perspective on new business models and strategies.

ELM² is a project of the Aspen Institute’s FIELD program (Microenterprise Fund for Innovation, Effectiveness, Learning and Dissemination). FIELD has been a leader in conducting research and funding aimed at driving innovation in the U.S. microenterprise field since 1998.

Additional information about the program and the participating Fellows is available on FIELD’s Web site:  Follow the ELM2 program and fellows at @AspenMicro and look for the hashtag #leadmicrodev.

More information about Capital One’s community development work can be found at

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About the Aspen Institute                                                                                                                                                   
The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit

About Capital One Foundation
Established in 1997, the Capital One Foundation strives to build networks, support the development of innovative solutions and encourage the exchange of information and ideas. With a focus on programming and non-profit development that drives education-centered community revitalization, the Foundation provides funding to support programs for safe and affordable housing, financial literacy, workforce and economic development, school improvement, and early childhood education. Using a test-and-learn approach, the Foundation identifies best practices and proven successful metrics and models that can be translated across geographic scope and then shared with the broader community. The foundation’s grant-making serves national and local organizations that inform or implement best practices in the Foundation’s focus areas or operate programs in the designated geographic focus areas which include various parts of Virginia, Louisiana, Texas, New York and New Jersey.

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