Capital One Foundation and The Aspen Institute Announce 2015 Fellows of Microbusiness Leadership Program

Capital One Foundation and The Aspen Institute Announce 2015 Fellows of Microbusiness Leadership Program

Emerging leaders engage in fellowship program to build change leadership skills
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.@CapitalOne Foundation and @AspenInstitute announce Microbusiness Leadership program fellows.
Friday, January 23, 2015 - 11:30am

CAMPAIGN: Small Business Development

CONTENT: Press Release

Washington, D.C., January 23, 2015 /3BL Media/ - FIELD at the Aspen Institute and the Capital One Foundation today announced the 2015 fellows of the ELM², Emerging Leaders in Microbusiness Squared Program. ELM² aims to build talent within microenterprise development organizations that create opportunity for aspiring and disadvantaged entrepreneurs. Twelve emerging leaders who demonstrate potential to take on executive leadership and drive change in the microbusiness field have been selected to participate. ELM² is made possible through a $190,000 contribution from the Capital One Foundation.

The more than 25 million microenterprises in the United States play a critical role in providing jobs in communities across the country. Business ownership is also an important source of personal and family wealth.  Microbusiness programs are critical in promoting economic opportunity by supporting entrepreneurs who otherwise lack access to capital and business resources. 

“Building the skills and nurturing the capacity of emerging leaders is vital to making the services of non-profits serving microbusinesses even stronger and more robust,” said Daniel Delehanty, senior director, Community Development Banking, Capital One. “The Capital One Foundation is proud to support ELM2 and the Aspen Institute, and we are committed to investing in and empowering these leaders 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 thrilled to welcome our third class of talented young leaders, who are working to create opportunity in some of our country’s most challenged communities” said Joyce Klein, director of the FIELD program at the Aspen Institute.  “This program allows us to bring the Aspen Institute’s expertise in leadership development to organizations working to solve the pressing problem of growing economic inequality.”

The 12 fellows participating in the program are:

Aaron Aldrich, Business Education Director, Bridgeway Capital, Pittsburgh, PA

Aaron comes to the ELM Squared program with nine years of experience in the banking and finance industry, working as a Branch Manager for several banks before joining Bridgeway Capital in 2012 as an Entrepreneur Loan Officer. He is currently the Business Education Director at Bridgeway, where

he oversees the business technical assistance program.  His project involves replicating Bridgeway’s Business Education Program in the organization’s two new locations in Erie and Uniontown. 


Jonathan Coleman, Director of Programs, ASSETS Lancaster, Lancaster, PA

Jonathan has already led the development of several new projects at ASSETS Lancaster, which he joined after eight years in economic and community development work in Latin America, the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the United States.  His project involves leading the launch of ASSETS Lancaster’s new microlending program.


Elisa Cooke, Director of Compliance, Economic and Community Development Institute, Columbus, OH. 

A recent law school graduate, Elisa is responsible for coordinating with program management to provide critical reporting information to ECDI funders.  ECDI has experienced dramatic growth in the past three years, expanding from a single office in Columbus to locations in Cleveland, Toledo, Akron, and soon southwest Ohio.  Elisa’s leadership project centers on developing and implementing a streamlined yet collaborative process for grants management and compliance to support effective management of its growing funding base. 


Esther Fraser, Director of Communications, Rising Tide Capital, Jersey City, NJ

Esther leads communications at Rising Tide Capital (RTC), which she joined in 2009 as its first Communications Associate.  Her communications team is responsible for one of Rising Tide Capital’s youngest programs, the Start Something Challenge (SSC).  Esther’s leadership project will focus on developing high quality marketing support within the Start Something Challenge, and developing a measurement strategy to ensure that the Challenge is strategically aligned with RTC’s goals of generating outcomes and creating value for its entrepreneurs. 


Ursulette Huntley, Incubator Program Director, Unlimited Future, Inc., Huntington, WV

Ursulette joined the team at Unlimited Future after signing up to take one of its classes with a friend who wanted to start her own business. In addition to her experience at Unlimited Future, Ursulette has more than a decade of professional experience in the direct selling industry. She also owns her own company, a multi-faceted professional training development company that uses the power of positive self-image and self-discovery to teach simple yet powerful business skills. Ursulette’s project will develop a program to help disadvantaged individuals to create and work in cooperatively-owned businesses.


Aida Ibragimova, Chief Lending Officer, Justine PETERSEN Housing and Reinvestment Corporation, St. Louis, MO

Aida has extensive experience in international community development, including her work in Uzbekistan as a Program Development Manager for the international NGO Mercy Corps.  She came to Justine PETERSEN in September of 2005 as a graduate level practicum student, and formally joined the staff in September of 2006.  Aida’s project will focus on leading Justine PETERSEN’s effort to expand and replicate its successful Minority Contractor Loan Program in Kansas City. 


Danny Isaacs, Enterprise Development Project Specialist, Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, Berea, KY

Danny joined MACED's enterprise development program in 2006, after working for several family-owned small businesses where he learned to appreciate and understand their critical role in local economies. His leadership project focuses on increasing the scale of the organization’s existing energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, while at the same time ensuring that the programs also reach their desired target market of low- to moderate-income individuals.


Kyle Johnson, Lending Team Manager, Accion Chicago, Chicago, IL

Kyle guides Accion Chicago’s team of loan officers who provide small business loans and coaching to entrepreneurs throughout the State of Illinois and Northwest Indiana.  He joined Accion after working with small business owners as a personal banker at Suburban Bank & Trust.  Kyle’s project will focus on developing and strengthening the organization’s “remote lending” program in order to dramatically expand the organization’s portfolio growth outside of the Chicagoland area.


Brendan Landry, Director of Programs, Rocky Mountain Microfinance Institute, Denver, CO

Brendan has been active in the microfinance field since 2004, when he completed a year of service in the AmeriCorps VISTA program working with at-risk youth entrepreneurs in the Denver Metro area.  In 2008, along with his three co-founders, Brendan started the Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute (RMMFI) to serve the growing need for meaningful business development support and microloans for Denver’s marginalized entrepreneurial community. Brendan’s ELM2 project will be to roll out a new program to further support graduates of RMMFI’s Business Launch Boot Camp.


Jonny Price, Senior Director, Kiva, San Francisco, CA

Jonny leads Kiva Zip, which administers 0% interest, crowdfunded microloans to entrepreneurs, artisans and farmers in both Kenya and the United States. Jonny has led the Kiva Zip program from its inception in late 2011, and overseen its growth over the last three years. Jonny’s project will center on develop a measurement and evaluation process to document the social impact of the Kiva Zip program. 


Teshite Wako, Chief Financial Officer, Neighborhood Development Center, St. Paul, MN

Teshite leads NDC’s accounting department, which oversees the books of 18 separate entities that engage in and support development projects in the Twin Cities using both New Market Tax Credits and Historic Tax Credits. In his role at NDC, he also works directly with entrepreneurs, serving as a trainer in the organization’s entrepreneurial development programs. Teshite’s project will focus on analyzing the true costs of NDC’s microenterprise program and designing ways to increase earned income.


Lauren Williams, Program Manager, CFED, Washington, D.C.

In her role as Program Manager at CFED, Lauren designs and implements projects, conducts applied research, contributes to policy development, and provides direct technical assistance to practitioners for initiatives that enable individuals to achieve financial security and build assets through business ownership. Previously, Lauren managed the Self-Employment Tax Initiative (SETI), CFED’s strategic program designed to demonstrate how community-based organizations can leverage the tax moment to support low- and moderate-income entrepreneurs. Lauren’s ELM2 project is to lead the design, implementation and assessment of CFED’s Microbusiness Solutions Learning Cluster, an initiative designed to support microenterprise organizations in developing innovative financial products and services for low- and moderate-income microbusiness owners.


ELM², which focuses on the themes of Leadership, Change Management, Organizational Culture and Innovation, brings 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 two 360-degree leadership evaluations completed with analysis provided by Capital One associates. In-person meetings as well as virtual and networking events enable participants to deepen their understanding of the program themes. Fellows also 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 working with community-based microenterprise organizations to driving innovation in the U.S. microenterprise field since 1998.

Additional information about the program is available on FIELD’s Web site:  Follow the ELM2 program and fellows at #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 and school improvement. 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.