Natalie Madeira CofieldCofield, former SBA Assistant Administrator, corporate advisor and entrepreneur, was selected following an extensive national search.  Cofield will oversee all operations for the leading national association serving as the leading voice of microbusiness, servicing underserved entrepreneurs in the US.

For media inquiries, please contact:
John Torres, Director of Marketing and Communication, AEO
[email protected]

Date: March 11, 2024

Washington, DC –– The Board of Directors for the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) is thrilled to announce the appointment of Natalie Madeira Cofield as Chief Executive Officer, effective March 18, 2024. With a legacy spanning over 30 years, AEO, along with its 2,700 member/partner organizations, has been a beacon of support for millions of entrepreneurs, catalyzing economic growth across the nation.

“Natalie Madeira Cofield’s appointment marks an exciting chapter for AEO as we continue our mission to empower entrepreneurs and foster economic growth,” said Ines Polonius, Chair of the AEO Board of Directors. “Her proven track record, coupled with her visionary leadership, will undoubtedly drive AEO towards new heights of impact and influence. We are thrilled to welcome her to the team and look forward to her leadership towards a bright future.”

Natalie Madeira Cofield brings a wealth of experience and a steadfast commitment to championing small and micro businesses. As the incoming president and CEO, she will spearhead national programming, oversee regional expansion efforts, enhance AEO’s industry-leading research, bolster the impact of its Innovation Hub center, and passionately advocate for entrepreneurs, small businesses, and the CDFI industry.

Reflecting on her appointment, Cofield remarked, “AEO has served as a national champion for the advancement of small businesses and the financial institutions that support them. Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to both work with and be impacted by the work of AEO in our shared commitment to championing small and micro businesses. I look forward to stewarding the organization into its next era of impact and scale by drawing on our dedication to economic prosperity and financial access for all.”

Cofield’s illustrious career includes a presidential appointment as Assistant Administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), where she played a pivotal role in advising on the deployment of $1.2 trillion in funding. Notably, she co-architected the SBA’s Community Navigator Pilot Program, allocating $200 million to national ecosystems. Her leadership as the head of the Office of Women’s Business Ownership at SBA resulted in significant milestones, including managing a grant-making budget of $70 million and expanding the Women’s Business Center network to 146 Centers across every state in the US.

Post her tenure with the SBA, Cofield has advised various organizations, serving as an Executive-in-Residence with Mastercard. Her accolades as an award-winning entrepreneur, philanthropist, and economic development executive underscore her deep commitment to small business empowerment. In 2019, Entrepreneur Magazine recognized her as one of the most powerful women in business.

As AEO embarks on this transformative journey under Cofield’s leadership, we look forward to deepening our impact and invite all stakeholders, partners, and advocates to join us in shaping a future where entrepreneurship thrives, and opportunities abound for all.

Join AEO in its bright future. Cofield’s appoint has drawn massive endorsement from industry professionals:

 Usman Ahmed, PayPal – “Cofield’s appointment heralds a new era for AEO, one where our commitment to empowering entrepreneurs is invigorated with fresh vision and determination. With her extensive experience and unwavering dedication, we anticipate reaching new heights of impact and influence in fostering economic growth small and microbusinesses nationwide.”

Chris Wheat, JPMorgan Chase “As AEO’s new CEO, Natalie Madeira Cofield brings a dynamic blend of strategic insight and advocacy for small businesses. With her expertise and passion for small business empowerment, we’re poised to forge even stronger partnerships that drive economic growth and foster meaningful impact in communities nationwide.”

About AEO:

The Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) is the voice of innovation in microbusiness and microfinance in the United States. For over 30 years, AEO and its members have helped millions of entrepreneurs contribute to economic growth while supporting themselves, their families, and their communities. AEO’s membership includes a diverse range of organizations providing capital and services to assist underserved entrepreneurs in starting, stabilizing, and expanding their businesses.