Tuesday, May 26 | Resilient: Small Businesses Strengthening Local Economies

11 AM – 2 PM EST


Conference Opening Welcome (10 min) 

Connie Evans, AEO

Jenny Flores, Wells Fargo


Panel 1 | City Leaders (45 min) 

Soledad O’Brien, Award-winning Journalist

Dr. JaNay Queen Nazaire, Living Cities

Dr. Lomax Campbell, Mayor’s Office of Community Wealth Building in the City of Rochester  

Nia Richardson, City of Kansas City, Missouri


Panel 2 | Microbusiness Industry Leaders (45 min) 

Soledad O’Brien, Award-winning Journalist

Luz Urrutia, Accion Opportunity Fund

Donna Gambrell, Appalachian Community Capital

Alex Forrester, Rising Tide Capital  


Panel 3 | Small Business Owners (45 min)

Soledad O’Brien, Award-winning Journalist 


Resilient: Small Businesses Strengthening Local Economies: Whether businesses are selling goods or services, Main Street small businesses are essential to our local communities. In fact, they are the lifeblood of this country. Over the last few months, these businesses have faced unprecedented challenges resulting from the COVID-19 crisis. Business owners are reinventing themselves on the fly to stay alive and local governments, mission-based community lenders, and business service providers are mobilizing in new ways to support businesses—ranging from “solopreneurs” to companies of over 100. As we open the virtual conference, business owners, municipal leaders, and members of the microfinance community will explore how today’s crisis requires us to re-examine our strategies for helping small businesses survive. Join us in a wide-ranging conversation about bringing relief to businesses in the short term, supporting them to rebound in the near term, and building resilience for the long term. This is the perfect forum for you to gain insights through real-world case studies of entrepreneurial resilience.

Wednesday, May 27 | Women, Wealth, and Entrepreneurship

9 AM – 12 PM EST 


Keynote | The Gendered Impact of COVID-19 (15 min) 

Dr. C. Nicole Mason, Institute for Women’s Policy Research

Panel 1 | The Female Paradox (60 min) 

Valerie Mosley, Valmo Ventures

Lisa Price, Carol’s Daughter 

Margaret Anadu, Goldman Sachs

Nely Galán, Media Executive and Entrepreneur


Panel 2 | Capital Access: What’s in Store for Women in a COVID 19-infused Recession (60 min)  

Heather McCulloch, Closing the Women’s Wealth Gap 

Dell Gines, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City – Omaha Branch

Elaine Rasmussen, Social Impact Now 


Women, Wealth, and Entrepreneurship: Women play a special role in our society. They are caregivers. They run households. They start businesses at a rate that has been on the rise in the United States for the last two decades. From 1997 to 2017, the number of women-owned businesses grew by 114%. Even though the number of women-owned businesses is on the rise, women business owners still face an uphill battle. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Economic Forum projected that at the current rate of women’s progress, it would take 208 years to reach gender equality in the U.S. Now that the pandemic is here, how has it affected women? How do we collectively accelerate the momentum that women have started by opening their own businesses in order to change gender inequality? Join us as we begin to answer these questions in three segments that explore women, wealth, and entrepreneurship. Hear from researchers on The Gendered Impact of COVID-19 and learn the varied perspectives on women’s economic equality from a panel of leading women entrepreneurs as they discuss The Female Paradox. Of course, we could not have a discussion about women and entrepreneurship without talking about money–the constant uphill battle for women. In closing this segment on women, we will examine Capital Access: What’s in Store for Women in a COVID 19-infused Recession.  

Tuesday, June 2 | Equitable Entrepreneurship

1 PM – 4 PM EST 


Keynote (15 min)

Stephen DeBerry, Bronze Investments  

Panel 1 | Designing a New System: Equitable Entrepreneurship (45 min)

Gary Cunningham, Prosperity Now

Abigail Golden-Vazquez, Aspen Institute 

Andre Perry, The Brookings Institution

Philip Gaskin, The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

Panel 2 | Vision and Voices for Returning Citizens Town Hall (75 min) 

Roland S. Martin, Roland Martin Unfiltered  

Tulaine Montgomery, New Profit

Robert Boyle, Justine PETERSEN

Chad A. Sanders, The First 72+

Keishia Perique-Wade, She Nailed It!

Lori Beyer, Community Connections 

Teresa Hodge, R3 Score


Equitable Entrepreneurship: At a time of widening inequality and an accelerating climate crisis, we need new standards, new tools, new norms, and much more to achieve a better future for all. Currently, there are major gaps that economically disenfranchise returning citizens and people of color who are pursuing entrepreneurship. A more inclusive economy with more broadly shared prosperity will demand a brand new system. In the wake of COVID-19, leaders across philanthropy, social justice, and entrepreneurship are being challenged to rethink strategies for designing a bold new system that works for all entrepreneurs. Join us for several conversations that explore what a system of equitable entrepreneurship looks like. We’ll start with Designing a New System: Equitable Entrepreneurship, which will open a bold and provocative conversation on how we create an ecosystem to ensure increased equity in access to entrepreneurial support. We’ll round out the segment with Vision and Voices for Returning Citizens, a virtual town hall moderated by renowned journalist Roland Martin that explores how entrepreneurship can help people reentering society from prison or jail proactively engage with their families and communities. 

Wednesday, June 3 | Preparing Entrepreneurs, Equipping Practitioners

9 AM – 12 PM EST


Panel 1 | Strengthening Entrepreneurial Capacity through Trusted Capability (50 min)

Hyacinth Vassell, AEO

Stacy Cline, GoDaddy

Carissa Reiniger, Silver Lining, Ltd.

Anita Ramachandran, MicroMentor

Katie Wilson, TapOnIt

The AEO Team has talked to hundreds of business service providers in the last three months who say they are seriously challenged in finding ways to help business owners during the crisis. Staffs are dispersed and working from home with very limited resources to offer their clients who need everything at this moment to keep their business alive. Join us to explore how a collaboration of trusted partnerships with science and technology are making it possible for business owners to access everything they need from the people they trust to strengthen their capability to stay in business.


Panel 2 | Trending: Bringing Wall Street Tech to Main Street Businesses (30 min) 

Mitch Jacobs, Fanbank

Lexi Reese, Gusto

Scott Edison, Bench

Gloria Ware, JumpStart 

More often than not, small business owners hold the title of “Chief Everything Officer.” In addition to providing a product or service in the midst of COVID-19, these entrepreneurs still have to deal with all the other facets of running a business. That’s where fintech comes into play. By adapting trends in the corporate space to fit the microbusiness ecosystem, fintech companies and business service providers are helping these business owners to endure current market conditions, while positioning them to thrive in the future. Join us for a thought-provoking conversation on how current technological trends in the wider market are expanding opportunities for microbusinesses to succeed as we explore how fintech companies can reveal deeper insight into their health and their needs.

Panel 3 | Leading Advocacy in a COVID-19 Environment (50 min)  

Jesse Van Tol, National Community Reinvestment Coalition

John Stanford, AEO/Prism Group

Anne Price, Insight Center for Community Economic Development

Karama Neal, Southern Bancorp Community Partners

The pandemic and subsequent relief efforts are worsening inequality. Black people are dying of Covid-19 at higher rates than White people because of systemic racism. People of color, rural communities, women, veterans, and a longer list of people in need are not getting the resources they deserve. This is a time for swift, deliberate, and wide reaching policy action. Everyone in our industry has been called upon to join in the struggle for a more equitable response to COVID-19. It has been said that we should never let a crisis go to waste. Is this a time to get long-waged reforms into policy? Should we stick to a focus on what is needed right now for relief or push for more? Join us to explore the new Page30 Coalition and other advocacy calls to action. 

Wednesday, June 17 | Philanthropy: Show Me the Money

9 AM – 12 PM EST

Keynote | What Now Philanthropy? (15 min)

Susan Taylor Batten, Association of Black Foundation Executives

Panel 1 | The Color of Philanthropy: Grantmaking (50 min)

Mekaelia Davis, Surdna Foundation

Otis Rolley, The Rockefeller Foundation

Jamie Sears, UBS Americas

Tyler Nickerson, Amalgamated Bank

Panel 2 | The Color of Philanthropy: Impact Investing (50 min)

Demetric Duckett, Living Cities

Christal Jackson, Mosaic Genius

Aron Betru, Milken Institute

Stephanie Gripne, Impact Finance Center

Timothy Freundlich, ImpactAssets

Fireside Chat | Creating Systems Change Through Innovation and Investment in Entrepreneurship (35 min)

Soledad O’Brien, Award-winning Journalist

Kathryn Finney, Author and 3x Startup Founder 


Philanthropy: Show Me The Money: Looking for new approaches that will have funders showing you the money? You will want to join this segment. For many nonprofits, the COVID-19 crisis is exacerbating weaknesses, leaving them with no choice but to reexamine their business model. Most nonprofits rely on philanthropy and philanthropy doesn’t usually move fast. If you ever heard of the color theory, you know that color is more than what meets the eye. The same can be said about philanthropy. This robust segment will explore how the philanthropy and social investment (impact investing) sectors are responding to the pandemic, and share how nonprofit leaders can be strategic and innovative to garner the financial resources they need to actualize their various missions. Join us as we launch this segment with a talk called, What Now Philanthropy? Stay tuned for the entire segment that features a panel of grant makers who will discuss The Color of Philanthropy: Grantmaking, followed by a panel of investors titled, The Color of Philanthropy: Impact Investing. The segment will conclude with a powerful fire side chat with Kathryn Finney and Soledad O’Brien on Creating Systems Change through Innovation and Investment in Entrepreneurship.

Thursday, June 18 | Black Business: Restart, Recovery, and Renewal

1 PM – 4 PM EST

Panel 1 | What’s Happening to Black Business NOW! (40 min)

Dedrick Asante-Muhammad, National Community Reinvestment Coalition

Regina Heyward, Wells Fargo

Rodney Foxworth, Common Future

Duwain Pinder, McKinsey & Company

Panel 2 | Bold Actions to Rescue Black Business Owners (45 min)

Tracey Jarmon, CapEQ

Stefanie A. Thomas, Impact America Fund

Travis Holoway, SoLo Funds

Kelly Burton, Founders of Color

Akunna Cook, Drake Road Strategies and Third Way

Panel 3 | Business Voices from the Tapestry Action Lab (60 min)

Janelle Williams, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Jeanne Wardford, W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Hyacinth Vassell, AEO

Brian Burnett, Glenwood South Tailor + Alterations

Sam Ndely, Former MEDA Consultant

Eric Childs, Archived Expressions and Mind’s Eyes Comics

Black Business: Restart, Recovery, and Renewal: COVID-19 disproportionately impacts Black communities and will impose an additional burden on Black-owned businesses, which already deal with a vicious cycle of structural barriers and disadvantages. AEO’s report, The Tapestry of Black Business Ownership in America, shows that the interlinkage of the racial wealth gap, the credit gap, and the trust gap act like kryptonite in keeping Black-owned businesses from reaching their potential. Join us in this session as we explore What’s Happening to Black Businesses NOW! A diverse cross-section of leaders from across the country will discuss Bold Actions to Rescue Black Business Owners and a panel will share what we are learning from six cities across the country that are focused on serving Black businesses in a wide ranging discussion among Business Voices from the Tapestry Action Lab.

Thursday, June 18 | MainStreet Mixer: Virtual Happy Hour

4 PM – 6 PM EST

Wednesday, June 24 | Getting Into the Weeds of Lending

9 AM – 12 PM EST


Panel 1 | Underwriting Loans in COVID-19 Infused Recession (50 min)

Connie Evans, AEO

Beth McKeon, Fluent

Bryce Butler, Access Ventures

Leslie Smith, Epicenter

Kim Folsom, Founders First Capital Partners

Panel 2 | Building Better Capital Pipes to Get Entrepreneurs the Money they Need (50 min)

Astrid Scholz, Zebras Unite and Sphaera

Stephen Green

Vanessa Roanhorse, Roanhorse Consulting

Sam Taussig, Kabbage

Panel 3 | Stronger Together: Can Banks, CDFIs, and Fintech Lenders Combine Capabilities to Improve Customer Referrals for Small Business Lending? (50 min) 

Craig Glee, myWay to Credit

Mikal Quarles, JP Morgan Chase

Everett Sands, Lendistry

David Snitkof, Ocrolus

Getting Into the Weeds of Lending: In the microfinance space, it’s a jungle out there as businesses fight for their livelihoods and survival. These businesses struggled to secure the capital they needed before the pandemic, and that struggle is now even more pronounced. Far too many capital providers, whether they are CDFIs or traditional financial institutions, consider microbusinesses and growth businesses owned by entrepreneurs of color as too risky. Join this incredibly robust session, Underwriting Loans in a COVID-19 infused Recession to explore how community lenders are de-risking loans and getting capital to support businesses in their community.  If we are to change the way capital flows to underserved entrepreneurs, we must address the infrastructure for lending. A broad set of lenders from CDFIs, traditional banks and fintech will take on this issue in the session, Building Better Capital Pipelines to Get Entrepreneurs the Money they Need and another entitled, Stronger Together: Can Banks, CDFIs and Fintech Lenders Combine Capabilities to Improve Customer Referrals for Small Business Lending?

Thursday, June 25 | Lunch and Learn - Equity in a New Food Economy

1 PM – 3 PM EST

Bring your lunch

Lunch and Learn – Equity in a New Food Economy (90 min)

Elaine Rasmussen, Social Impact Now

Jen Faigel, CommonWealth Kitchen

Devita Davison, FoodLab Detroit

Ertharin Cousin, Food Systems for the Future

Brenda Williams, Communities Unlimited, INC.

Grab your favorite dish and join us for a provocative and enlightening lunch conversation on strategies around creating equitable food systems that can empower underserved farmers, restauranteurs, and the organizations that serve them.