President and CEO
Connie E. Evans is the President and Chief Executive Officer of AEO.
Connie is a visionary leader, astute strategist, activist and social entrepreneur who has founded three organizations. In 1986 she was the founding president of the award-winning Women’s Self-Employment Project, the first and largest urban microbusiness development organization in the U.S., and the first adaptation of the Grameen Bank model to a U.S. urban setting. She also pioneered one of the first matched-savings program—Individual Development Accounts—in the country. In 2000 she founded WSEP Ventures, a social enterprise-hybrid organization developed to serve as a catalyst for social change, economic development and community empowerment. In 2007 she founded CSolutions Consulting, an advisory boutique specializing in solutions that address social change.
An international development consultant with more than 25 years of experience, she has been recognized and utilized by such groups as the World Bank, the Clinton Administration, and a host of local government, private and independent-sector organizations. With international experience spanning 43 countries, she draws on her expertise in developing and implementing strategies to further economic development, health and social change in communities.
Connie started her career in community mental health as a master-level psychologist. Her commitment to improving the health and life options for disadvantaged women and their families moved her to “harness the marketplace” for solutions. As the Assistant Director of a Hull House Association affiliate in Chicago, she became the Project Director for the first resident-managed public housing site in the city. She helped low-income women organize, develop leadership skills and learn business acumen in order to take control over a multi-million dollar enterprise.
Connie has given lectures at universities throughout the U.S., and is a frequent panelist and keynote speaker at conferences around the globe. She has many distinguished awards, including: being named the Inaugural Twink Frey Social Activist in 2006; the 1996 Chicagoan of the Year by Chicago Magazine; the first Teknion Humanitarian Award in 1999; Gloria Steinem Woman of Vision Award; 1998 Community Leader of the Year presented by the African American MBA Association at the University of Chicago; and the Chicago Community Service Fellowship Award by the Chicago Community Trust.
Connie's broad experience across the worlds of business and finance compliments her skills in development finance. She served two elected terms on the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago—the first African American woman to hold such a position—and was appointed by President Clinton to the CDFI Advisory Board, a fund in the Department of the Treasury. She was appointed by President Obama to be a member of the U.S. Delegation to the United Nations 54th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women. She was also appointed by President Clinton as a member of the U. S. Delegation to Preparatory Meetings for the Summit of the Americas, the U. S. Delegation to Preparatory Meetings for the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, and again for Beijing Plus Five.
A strong advocate of good governance in nonprofits, she has nearly 20 years of service on philanthropic foundation boards, and serves on a number of national and international boards.
Vice President of Innovation Engineering
Hyacinth Vassell is the Vice President of Innovation Engineering. In her role, she oversees and develops strategies across programmatic, research, and advocacy initiatives organization-wide. A critical component of Vassell’s role is leading teams in multiple complex problems that create and develop standards, models, and tools for technical assistance solutions. In the post, Vassell is also responsible for shaping new initiatives, as well as building and managing philanthropic and partner relationships.
Prior to AEO, Vassell was the Director of the Inner City Capital Connections program at Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC). She was responsible for the development of the program’s scope, strategy, and content. During her tenure, Vassell created and oversaw the CEO Series, which provides online cutting-edge content for CEOs across the U.S. She also successfully developed and scaled the Inner City Capital Connections program to 10 cities and connected a nationwide network of capital providers, which made almost $1.5 billion of debt and equity capital available to program participants. While at ICIC, Vassell helped participants develop business strategies that enabled them to create almost 16,000 jobs in underserved communities.
Vassell also has broad experience as a senior business consultant. She worked with firms such as Arthur Andersen and Accenture, leading diverse project portfolios in re-engineering, process improvement, and change management. Vassell has worked in the telecom, industrial and consumer products, information technology, health care, entertainment, hospitality, and the banking industry. Former clients include AT&T, Fidelity, Fleet Bank, Caterpillar, Starwood Hotels, and MGM Grand.
In addition to championing small business, Vassell is also an entrepreneur. She is the CEO and Owner of French Studios and the Royal Solutions, and served as the past co-Chair of Roxbury Prep and advisor to the Girl Scouts strategic initiative. Vassell is a proud graduate of the University of Massachusetts—Amherst, where she earned a B.S. in Psychology.
Vice President, Strategic Engagement and Communications
Corey Briscoe, Vice President of Strategic Engagement and Communications, has been a part of the AEO team since December 2015.
Corey is a thought leader who transcends industries. He is the Managing Partner for Operations at ABCD & Company, where he oversees daily operations and human capital strategy. Known as “the company culture guy,” Corey specializes in molding leaders and uniting people around common goals. His ability to drive strategic agendas has privileged him to work with leaders across various sectors. A masterful orator and strategist, Corey has served as an advisor to legislators, university presidents and corporate executives.
Corey’s expertise in meeting planning and building strategic communication campaigns has served many associations, nonprofits and institutions of higher education with a significant multicultural presence and target audience. His work in this field includes engagements with organizations such as The Apollo Theater, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, University of the District of Columbia and Hampton University. He has been featured in numerous media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, NPR and ABC. He has also been named a “BE Modern Man” by Black Enterprise. The BE Modern Man award celebrates 100 influential men of color “who have done or are doing exceptional work within their communities, within their respective industries and/or globally.”
Corey is an alumnus of Howard University, where he served on the Board of Trustees. Additionally, Corey holds a B.A. in Political Science, a B.A. in English and a M.S. in Management. A native of Charleston, South Carolina, Corey now resides in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. In his free time, he enjoys spending time on his boat.
Vice President, Operations
Nou Vang joined AEO in November 2015 as Vice President, Operations. With more than 10 years of nonprofit management experience, Nou oversees AEO's membership, IT, accounting and human resources.
Prior to joining AEO, Nou managed the daily operations of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), a membership organization of 130,000 members, where she oversaw a $1 million administration budget and managed a variety of projects including the Association’s $1.8 million office consolidation, conferences and meetings and software upgrades. She has worked for national and community-based non-profit organizations including Hmong National Development and Illinois Center for Violence Prevention. Her professional skills include project management, nonprofit audits, contract management and negotiation and equipment procurement.
Nou is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and holds a B.A. in Political Science and Masters of Public Administration degree.
TILT Forward Initiative Project Manager
Lily came to AEO in 2015 through the ProInspire Fellowship, a program which allows young professionals to bring their talents from the private sector into the social sector. She now serves as the TILT Forward Project Manager and is involved in the launch and growth of the next phase of the initiative which includes the TILT Forward Network, DreamFund and Project CUE.
Prior to AEO, Lily was a Product Development Manager at Villency Design Group, a boutique firm specializing in end-to-end product design and production, and has worked with a clients including Soul Cycle, eBay and Bloomingdale’s.
Lily is a proud Tar Heel with a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
February 12, 2019
With the Shutdown Looming Again, Lawmakers Should Remember Microbusinesses are Resilient, not Unbreakable
A recent CNBC article detailed how many small businesses that were adversely affected by the shutdown are struggling to move on.