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

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

Emerging leaders engage in fellowship program to enhance leadership and management skills. New program is aligned with Capital One's focus on helping small businesses grow and local economies thrive
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.@AspenInstitute and @AskCapitalOne today announced the fellows of the ELM² #leaders #entrepreneurs
Monday, March 4, 2013 - 1:15pm

CAMPAIGN: Small Business Development

CONTENT: Press Release

Washington, D.C., March 4, 2013 /3BL Media/ – The Aspen Institute and Capital One today announced the fellows of the ELM², Emerging Leaders in Microbusiness Squared Program. ELM² is a new program aimed at exponentially increasing the quality of talent focused on catalyzing opportunity for aspiring and disadvantaged entrepreneurs. Eleven 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 $165,000 contribution from the Capital One Foundation.

“Capital One is committed to supporting the next generation of community leaders and investing in programs such as ELM² that help emerging microbusiness leaders develop management skills, build their knowledge and peer networks,” said Daniel Delehanty, senior director, Community Development Banking, Capital One. “Capital One is honored to welcome all of the ELM² fellows, and we are committed to empowering them with access to tailored training, mentoring and the support needed to help their leadership skills and organizations thrive.”

According to the Aspen Institute, there are 20 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’s investment in ELM² is aligned with the company’s focus on helping small businesses grow and local economies thrive.

“We’re so excited to introduce the ELM² fellows, and look forward to helping these emerging leaders build the professional skills they need to make a positive impact within their organizations,” said Joyce Klein, director of the FIELD program at the Aspen Institute.  “Like many other types of nonprofits, microbusiness programs suffer from scarce resources that make it difficult to invest in staff and leadership development. This partnership with Capital One builds on the Aspen Institute’s expertise in fostering leadership to provide the microbusiness field with a much-needed means of building its future leaders.”

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. The 11 fellows participating in the program are:

  • Jamie Beasley, Latino Program Director, Mountain BizWorks, (Asheville, NC): Jamie has been working with Mountain BizWorks in various roles for the past five years. As an ELM² fellow, his goal is to increase the size of the organization’s loan portfolio by creating a microloan department.
  • Amanda Blondeau, Business Advancement Center Director, Northern Initiatives, (Marquette, MI): Leveraging nine years of community development experience, Amanda became the inaugural Director of Northern Initiatives’ newly launched Business Advancement Center in 2010. As an ELM² fellow, she will focus primarily on microloan clients who have the potential to grow and make a greater economic impact.
  • Kevin Kong, Managing Director, Renaissance Economic Development Corporation, (New York, NY): A native of Chinatown in New York City, Kevin graduated from Columbia University and Cornell Law School.  Through his participation in ELM², Kevin seeks to expand Renaissance’s technical assistance and lending network by partnering with other community and grass roots organizations in Houston, Atlanta and St. Paul.
  • Celina Pena, Chief Program Officer, Accion Texas, (San Antonio, TX): Celina leads a team of professionals who guide entrepreneurs through all phases of business education, MMS, Accion’s lending platform solution, and employee training along with the company’s strategic planning. As an ELM² fellow, Celina will focus on building better metrics for measuring key performance indicators for Accion’s frontline sales and learning teams. She is a former WBC director and grew up as part of her dad’s small business firm in Harlingen, Texas.
  • Dave Policano, Senior Associate, Finance and Business Development, Grameen America, (New York, NY): At Grameen America, Dave is involved in numerous strategic initiatives including financial planning, new branch expansion and implementing organizational processes. Dave’s ELM² project will help Grameen America launch a credit union or acquire a new third-party financing source.
  • Kristin Schell, Credit Building Manager, Justine PETERSEN, (St. Louis, MO): Kristin is the lead trainer for the Chicago Credit Building Coalition and the Asset Building through Credit Pilot Program and has helped 16 non-profits work with clients to build credit with a secured credit card product.  As part of her ELM² project, Kristin will manage a small group of Justine PETERSEN staff to review and update the organization’s microbusiness policies and procedures.
  • Shaolee Sen, Vice President of Strategy and Development, Accion, the U.S. Network, (Brooklyn NY): Through her work, Shaolee supports her firm belief that with access and opportunity, small businesses have the power to create lasting economic and social change. During her ELM² fellowship, Shaolee will focus on developing her strategic leadership skills as she and her colleagues begin writing a three-to-five-year strategic plan for the Accion U.S. Network office.
  • Metta Smith, Credit Supervisor, Accion New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, (Albuquerque, NM): Prior to joining the staff at Accion in 2008, Metta volunteered for the Take ACCION Task Force, a group of volunteer bankers who reviewed Accion's larger loan requests. Through her participation in ELM2, Metta would like to enhance her leadership and restructure the lending team to enable the organization to realize its goal of expanding its impact in the regions it currently operates.
  • Jennifer Sporzynski, Director of Microenterprise Resource and Policy Development, Coastal Enterprises, (Portland, ME): Jennifer has devoted her career to community economic development, working with small business owners in the United States, Guatemala (as a Peace Corps Volunteer) and Paraguay. At CEI, she oversees the Women’s Business Center and StartSmart business counseling programs and coordinates the delivery of the microloan program. During her ELM² fellowship, Jennifer will refine her leadership and process skills to implement the microlending portion of the organization’s new business plan.
  • Christina Stockamore, Senior Small Business Lending Officer, Latino Economic Development Center, (Washington, D.C.): As Senior Small Business Lending Officer, Christina assists small business owners who are traditionally underserved by the formal financial sector to access loans to start or expand their business. Christina’s ELM² fellowship project will be to lead the creation of a marketing platform to support the launch of “CAFE” (The Community Asset Fund for Entrepreneurs), the new face of LEDC’s lending program.
  • Roberto Valdez-Beltran, Regional Senior Lender for Accion New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, (Tucson, AZ): Roberto Valdez-Beltran has been working for the organization for more than four years and was the first loan officer recruited in the Arizona market. As an ELM² fellow, Roberto will take leadership of the Accion lending team in Arizona and work to increase the organization’s capacity and impact in the state.

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 Capital One executives, 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 pilot and the participating organizations is available on FIELD’s Web site:  

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

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  

Capital One Financial Corporation, headquartered in McLean, Virginia, is a Fortune 500 company with more than 900 branch locations primarily in New York, New Jersey, Texas, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Its subsidiaries, Capital One, N.A. and Capital One Bank (USA), N. A. offer a broad spectrum of financial products and services to consumers, small businesses and commercial clients. We apply the same principles of innovation, collaboration and empowerment in our commitment to our communities across the country that we do in our business. We recognize that helping to build strong and healthy communities - good places to work, good places to do business and good places to raise families - benefits us all and we are proud to support this and other community initiatives.