Connie E. Evans to Depart the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) as President & CEO, Former Guidehouse Partner Tanya Hughes Named Interim CEO

Washington, DC (July 6, 2023) – After 32 years at AEO, 15 years as President and CEO of the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) – the national trade association representing over 2,600 microbusiness development practitioners – AEO announces the departure of Connie E. Evans as President & CEO.

Evans was instrumental in AEO’s expansion, growing membership to over 2,600. She has dedicated her career to supporting underserved entrepreneurs and led the organization through many milestones including the groundbreaking report, The Tapestry of Black Business Owners in America.

Under Evans’ leadership, the organization grew its staff, budget, and balance sheet significantly to meet the needs of black-owned business owners, which catapulted the growth of the organization in size and revenue. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, Evans positioned AEO as a resource. AEO dispersed and advised the dissemination of over $300 million in grants from corporate partners, with Evans testifying before the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship about the pandemic’s impact on small businesses.

She was responsible for the implementation of the Innovation Hub Model, which allowed for the introduction of new methods, products, services, and ideas into the small business ecosystem to scale faster and partner smarter. Evans has helped countless businesses secure funding, create jobs, and provide opportunities for their communities during her tenure.

“Connie has been an invaluable member of the microbusiness industry, and we are grateful for her countless contributions over the past 15 years as President & CEO,” said Ines Polonius, AEO Board Chair. “We wish her every success in her future endeavors.”

On the heels of celebrating its 30th anniversary last year, AEO welcomes Interim Chief Executive Officer Tanya Hughes, who currently serves on the organization’s Board of Directors. Hughes has been named by the Board to serve during this time and will start on Monday, July 10, 2023. Hughes comes to AEO from the global consulting services provider, Guidehouse, where she served as Partner within the Banking, Insurance & Capital Markets practice. At Guidehouse, Hughes led the AEO partner relationship and worked with AEO staff to deliver critical resources to AEO grant recipients during COVID-19.

With over 25 years of financial services experience in the commercial and public sectors, Hughes is a dynamic and innovative leader who is passionate about helping organizations transform and unlock their potential to drive growth and a world class culture.

Prior to joining Guidehouse, Hughes was a Managing Director at FIS, where she spent over 10 years advising clients on strategic initiatives to modernize and consolidate their legacy systems across core, eBanking, payments, and infrastructure environments as they looked to enhance and simplify their customer experiences.

After Hughes assumes her role as Interim CEO, a nationwide executive search will immediately take place to secure a permanent CEO in the position.

About the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO)

The Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) is the leading voice of innovation for microfinance and microbusiness. Our mission is to create economic opportunity for underserved entrepreneurs throughout the United States. We engineer transformational change through research, convening, incubation, and advocacy to foster a robust and inclusive marketplace. For more information, please visit

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