Over the past three decades, AEO has been a driving force for policy and innovations that directly impact Main Street businesses. Now let’s celebrate and envision the future!

July 20, 2022

National African American Smithsonian Museum

Washington, D.C.

This one-day symposium will pay tribute to the progress made by AEO and other ecosystem actors in equitable entrepreneurship, while supporting existing entrepreneurs and shaping the path forward.

Gala + Symposium Free to Members – Registrations Now Closed

AEO considers the safety of all those onsite at the 30th Anniversary Symposium & Gala as our top priority including our attendees, exhibitors, sponsors, and event staff. In an effort to host a safe and productive event, we pledge to follow all guidelines and requirements set by state and local authorities as well as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. Please note, these guidelines and requirements may change from time-to-time, so be sure to check back often.

Premium and Core AEO members will enjoy an exclusive experience, with the option to attend in person or via our VIP virtual platform.

In-person attendees will also receive a beautiful swag bag of sponsored items, opportunities to network with other AEO members, participate in interactive activities, and get to be up close to some of the top leaders in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Best of all, it’s 100% free to Premium and Core members. Space is limited so don’t wait, register today!

For non-members who would like to view the symposium, we will provide a live stream of the event in partnership with Roland Martin.

*Please note that all in-person attendees must be vaccinated and boosted for Covid-19. The events will be mask optional.


Impact 30 is a dynamic experience, and you’ll want to be where the action is.

Join AEO’s room block at the JW Marriott Hotel today for $289.

Accommodations fill up quickly, so be sure to secure your room while space is still available.


The Anniversary Symposium

We are building an exciting agenda to maximize your symposium experience with incredible speakers to ignite your mind and spirit. In the meantime take a peek at the distinct topics that will shape the entire symposium: 

The symposium will feature a robust content lineup of fireside chats, panels, innovation sessions, product launches, and more. Attendees in the VIP virtual platform will also have access to amenities such as networking features and  daily giveaways. Be sure to check back soon for more details. 


AEO Takes Over the National African American Smithsonian Museum

This exclusive celebration combines the charm of DC’s small business community with the grandeur of the Smithsonian.

We’ve prepared an dazzling night of:

  • Epicurean culinary experiences
  • Immersive activations
  • Niche small business vendors
  • Live band performances
  • Plus more

To top things off, we will host private tours for our VIP attendees. You don’t want to miss this night!

Conference Opening | 30th Anniversary + Gala Kickoff

Welcome: Connie E. Evans, President & CEO, AEO

Segment One | Aligning Racial Equity Impact: Corporate, Philanthropic, and Public.

Anniversary Chairman’s Greeting and Segment Opening Remarks:
Dan Schulman, CEO, PayPal

Fireside Chat: 

  • Dan Schulman, CEO, PayPal
  • Isabel Guzman, Administrator, United States Small Business Administration
  • Connie Evans, President and CEO, AEO

Panel Discussion: “Racial Equity through the Lens of Allies” 

  • Franz Paasche, Senior Vice President, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, PayPal
  • Joe Davis, Chair of BCG’s Center for Inclusion and Equity, North America Regional Chair Emeritus, Senior Partner and Managing Director, Vista Equity
  • Melissa Bradley, Founder & General Partner, 1863 Ventures

A TIMtalk: A Racial Equity Roadmap for Policymaker: Phillip Gaskin, Vice President of Entrepreneurship, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

Segment Two | The Importance of ESG Commitments and Its Impact on Underserved Entrepreneurs

Fireside Chat:

  • Jenny Flores, Head of Small Business Growth Philanthropy at Wells Fargo Moderator
  • Fran Seegull, President, U.S. Impact Investing Alliance and Executive Director, Tipping Point Fund on Impact Investing

A conversation on ESG:

  • Cora Spearman-Chang, Founder & CEO, Coradorables, LLC.
  • Scot Case, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability, National Retail Federation
  • Caroline Priebe, Founder, The Center for the Advancement of Garment Making
Segment Three | The Next Frontier: Emerging Technologies That Create Opportunity for All

Segment Opening Remarks: Jonathan Herman, CEO, Baller Mixed Reality

Keynote: Hill Harper, Actor and Author

A Panel Conversation:

  • Tanya Hughes, Partner, Guidehouse
  • Gary Stewart, CEO, Founder Tribes
  • Kelly Burton, Executive Director, Black Innovation Alliance

Fireside Chat: How Are Corporations Driving Impact on Main Street? 

  • Tanya Hughes, Partner, Guidehouse
  • Rose Stuckey Kirk, Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer, Verizon
TimTalk: Anne Haines, President and CEO, DreamSpring
Segment Four | How Will Corporate Philanthropy Meet the Needs of Tomorrow’s Entrepreneurs
Segment Opening Remarks: Stefanie Steward-Young, Senior Vice President | Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer at Fifth Third Bank

Virtual Fireside Chat:

  • Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), U.S. House of Representatives
  • Connie Evans, President and CEO, AEO

IT’S LIVE: The Audience Weighs In

  • Moderator: Connie Evans, President and CEO, AEO
  • Chris Wheat,Co-President for the JPMorgan Chase Institute
Segment Five | Entrepreneurship: Keeping the Main Thing, The Main Thing

Session Opening Remarks: Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), United States House of Representative

Keynote: Kim Folsom, Founder, Chairperson and CEO Founders First

Panel: Black Women Entrepreneurship–Scaling and Growing

  • The Honorable Natalie Cofield, Assistant Administrator, Office of Women’s Business Ownership, United States Small Business Administration (Moderator)
  • Kris Christian, CEO, Chicago French Press
  • Eunique Jones Gibson, Founder and publisher of Because of Them We Can, CEO of Culture Brands
  • Nicole Cober, Founder, The BOW Collective

Closing Remarks: Connie E. Evans, President and CEO, AEO

Evening Celebration Gala: A Taste and Experience of Main Street (7:00PM)

Gala Welcome: Courtney Robinson, Global Head of Financial Inclusion & Policy Development, Block

Chairman’s Welcome: Gary Cunningham, President and CEO, Prosperity Now & Chair, AEO Board of Directors

Honorees Presentation:

  • Usman Ahmed, Head of Global Public Policy and Research, PayPal
  • Janie Barrera, Founder & EVP, LiftFund
  • Kelly Burton, Chief Executive Officer, Black Innovation Alliance
  • Lisa Mensah, President and CEO, Opportunity Finance Network
  • Natalie Madeira Cofield, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Women’s Business Ownership, Small Business Administration
  • Sean Salas, CEO and Co-Founder, Camino Financial
  • Wendy K. Baumann, President/CVO, Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation
  • William Bynum, Chief Executive Officer, Hope Credit Union




Livestream Views

Every organization that is doing the work of championing equitable financing and microbusiness growth should be connected to AEO and aligned with AEO’s voice as we continue to expand the microbusiness ecosystem and drive innovation within it. Why? We are doing the work and embodying the ideals we champion, from the diversity of our staff to the broad perspectives of our symposium speakers.

This is an incredible opportunity to showcase your company’s commitment to a fair and inclusive landscape for our country’s smallest yet mightiest businesses. Thousands of lenders, nonprofit and for-profit service providers, advocates, policymakers, funders, investors, and fintech influencers are convening to network and collaborate on ways to create a sustainable future for Main Streets across the country. 


Please request our sponsorship prospectus.

2020 Conference Highlights

Want to find out if AEO’s symposium is right for you? Take a look at some of the rich conversations and diverse voices from our 2020 event.

Thank you Connie Evans and AEO Team for a wonderful event.

Luz Urrutia

CEO, Accion Opportunity Fund

Phenomenal work on the conference! I am immensely proud to be part of this industry and to have AEO represent small businesses.

Theresa Bedeau

Director, Community Impact & Investment Small Business, Capital One

Great job AEO team! I was inspired by all of the panelists.

Jenny Flores

Head of Small Business Growth Philanthropy, Wells Fargo