Executive Team

Brad McConnell
Chief Executive Officer
(312) 924-2180

Appointed CEO April, 2017, Brad McConnell brings more than two decades of financial and economic development experience to his new role. For five years he was Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer at the City of Chicago’s Department of Planning & Development. He managed five units, including Technology, Finance and Human Resources, that supported the City’s development priorities from initial conception to deal closure; led the urban planning unit, overseeing both long range citywide and targeted neighborhood land use; and implemented the Chicago Neighborhoods Now initiative. Prior to that, he was Economic Policy Advisor to Illinois Senator Dick Durbin in Washington. Previous assignments include working to improve customer service provided by bankers to small businesses in Illinois and Michigan when Vice President, Innovative Business Solutions at LaSalle Bank (now Bank of America) and various strategy, process and technology projects at Accenture.

McConnell holds a Bachelors in Business Administration from the University of Notre Dame and a Masters in Public Policy from Georgetown University. He served on Accion’s board of directors for four years, is Chairman of the Local School Council at Audubon Elementary School and Head youth basketball coach at YMCA Lakeview and Audubon Elementary. He lives in Chicago with his wife and three children.

Jonathan Brereton
President
(312) 924-2190

As CEO from 2004 through April of 2017, Jonathan Brereton guided the organization’s dynamic growth and impact throughout the area. In the last decade the staff has grown from 6 to 41 people, enabling Accion to move from 33 loans totaling $293,000 in 2004 to 387 loans totaling $5 million in 2016. Efforts in 2016 created or retained 1,621 jobs representing an estimated $27 million in local wages. He led the entire lending process, including managing a $7 million portfolio that averaged a successful repayment rate of 94%.

Brereton has also fostered the expansion of the local microlending industry. In 2011 he implemented the Chicago Microlending Institute, a first-of-its-kind initiative, which trained additional Chicago-focused microlenders to help meet the growing demand for small business loans not serviced by banks. This project was the model for training qualifying Women’s Business Centers nationally. He worked with industry leaders to develop tools to combat the negative impact new unregulated financial products are having on small business owners around the country. One outcome of that effort was the Borrower’s Bill of Rights (BBOR).

Now, as President, besides working with Brad McConnell, the new CEO, and the staff to ensure a smooth leadership transition, Jonathan is focused on updating the organization’s technology to enable lending to grow to scale and supporting The Hatchery Chicago, a food and beverage incubator being developed with two other leading local nonprofits, ICNC and IFF.

Brereton joined Accion through the AmeriCorps*VISTA program and then became Director of Operations. He represents Accion Chicago in the Accion U.S. Network, the only nationwide microfinance and small business lending network. In 2013 Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel invited him to serve on the City of Chicago’s Small Business Advisory Council, and in 2014 Brereton was awarded a fellowship for the Harvard Business School’s Strategic Perspective in Nonprofit Management program.  He has been named an SBA Financial Champion of the Year and a Chicago Ideas Week Fellow. Brereton graduated from Wheaton College with a degree in Business and Economics. He lives in Chicago with his wife and daughters.

Robin Lee Greiner
Chief Operating Officer
(312) 924-2155

Robin joined Accion in 2012, bringing 25 years of experience in growing a business, strategic planning, operations, marketing, customer service as well as a passion for economic justice.

As Chief Operating Officer, Robin oversees the back-end of the organization, ensuring that Accion has the financial resources, systems, and people it needs to effectively deliver current programs, develop new services, and measure the impact of our initiatives.

Prior to joining Accion, Robin was Vice President at Working Assets, Inc. in San Francisco, CA. In this role, she helped facilitate the company’s growth into a successful $150 million social enterprise. Robin has also provided business development expertise to start-ups and private investors through a small consulting firm, and she has served on three nonprofit boards.

Robin earned her MBA from Harvard Business School and her BA from Smith College. She lives in Wilmette, IL with her husband and two sons.

Mano Kamaleson
Senior Vice President, Accounting and Operations
(312) 924-2159

Mano joined Accion in January 2015 as Senior Vice President, Finance and Operations. In his current role at Accion as Chief Program Officer, Mano oversees three departments responsible for lending, portfolio management, and office operations including efficiencies and workflows.

Prior to joining the Accion team, Mano served as Principal Partner at Arcus Development (Arcus) where he worked with the Government of Guyana and Inter-American Development Bank in the design and implementation of a guarantee fund, interest subsidy program, and BDS to stimulate growth in low carbon sectors.

Prior to Arcus, Mano held the CEO post with Opportunity International in Kenya, leading the acquisition and integrations of two Kenyan microfinance institutions as well as business expansion in Ghana, Mozambique, Rwanda and other countries. He also played a lead executive role in developing and managing what is now Romania’s largest financial institution servicing small and micro entrepreneurs.

Mano earned a MBA with an Emphasis in International Finance from the Claremont Graduate University (Peter F Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management).

Mary Fran Riley
Senior Vice President, External Affairs
(312) 924-2150

Mary Fran joined Accion Chicago in 2006 as Vice President of Resource Development and provided support in many capacities to the then growing organization. In her current role of Senior Vice President for External Affairs, Mary Fran is responsible for government initiatives and relationships, and she represents Accion locally and nationwide fostering and developing critical partnerships to advance issues and challenges facing small businesses.

Mary Fran has spent her entire career in the community development field including 24 years of service at Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago. She currently serves on the board of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless and Archi-treasures, and has volunteered at Family Farmed, Public Narrative (formerly Community Media Workshop), Oak Park Regional Housing Center, and Oak Park Arts Council.  She has provided training in fundraising, communications and special events for the Association of Fundraising Professionals, NeighborWorks America, and other nonprofits.

Mary Fran is a graduate of St. Mary of the Woods College, where she received a B.A. in Liberal Arts.  She attended graduate school in education at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Jill Aldridge
Vice President, Credit
(312) 924-2170

Jill joined the Accion team in 2009 as the Vice President of Lending and Marketing, and transitioned into her current role as Vice President of Credit in 2015. In her role, Jill is responsible for risk oversight, portfolio management. and credit policy. Jill has been with the Accion Network since 2003, starting at Accion New York as a loan officer in Upper Manhattan and the Bronx. Before moving to Chicago in 2009, she oversaw lending, intake, and customer service branches in New York and New Jersey.

Prior to her work at Accion, Jill served as a Peace Corps volunteer at a rural microfinance loan fund in the Dominican Republic. Jill holds a BSBA in Marketing, International Business, and Economics from Washington University in St. Louis and is fluent in Spanish.

Jill lives in Wyoming with her husband and young son, Henry.

Betsy Neely Sikma
Vice President, Strategic Development & Marketing
(312) 924-2151

Betsy joined the Development & Communications team at Accion in October 2012, bringing more than eight years of experience in nonprofit work, public relations, and marketing. Prior to Accion, she was Director of Communications & Development at Protestants for the Common Good in Chicago. In Nashville, Betsy was Director of Development at the United Methodist Higher Education Foundation where she created and implemented the organization’s communications and development plans, raised $1 million annually in fundraising, and managed all communications and publications. Betsy is an accomplished and published writer and photographer.

As Vice President, Strategic Development & Marketing, Betsy leads a team of four staff in raising the organization’s $3 million fundraising goal. She oversees all of Accion’s development and communications work, chairs the Accion Innovation Team, and is responsible for strategic marketing initiatives. In 2014, Betsy was a Citi Leadership Program Fellow through the Opportunity Finance Network.

She graduated from Furman University with a Bachelor of Arts in Religion and holds a Master of Theological Studies from Vanderbilt Divinity School.

Staff

Nic Baria
Senior Analyst
(312) 924-2181

Nic joined Accion in 2010 and currently works with Accion clients to refinance out of Merchant Cash Advances and assists with developing Rescue and Financial Triage Program (RAFT). Nic also serves as a trainer for new loan officers.

Nic received his MA in economics from Roosevelt University, where he concentrated in macroeconomic policy and community development. While there, he was also a research associate in the Department of Economics where he assisted in the studies of issues in the Latino labor market in Chicago.

Outside of Accion, Nic is a part-time consultant with Collective Impact Consulting and helps his spouse manage her own art design business.

Victoria Brazen
Loan Officer
(312) 924-2186

Victoria joined Accion as a Loan Officer in September 2015 and became a member of the Micro-Lending team in early 2016. Victoria’s lending efforts are primary focused in Northwest Indiana.

Victoria graduated from DePaul University in May of 2015 with a BA in Economics and she is fluent in Spanish. In her free time, she loves to travel and play her banjo.

Amy Clinton Collins
Senior Analyst
(312) 924-2173

Amy joined Accion as the Marketing and Community Outreach Coordinator through the AmeriCorps VISTA program in 2011 and became a Loan Officer at the end of her AmeriCorps tenure. Amy became a Senior Loan Officer in 2014, and in 2015 began leading Accion’s credit training program in addition to lending. In 2016 she transitioned into her current role of Senior Analyst. In this role, Amy analyzes loan files to move them through underwriting and approval, evaluating business viability and recommending innovative underwriting and risk assessment solutions.

Before coming to Accion, Amy was a young fellow for Sé Más Microfinanzas in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico where she focused on new product development and social impact monitoring. Amy has been published in Cost Management, is fluent in Spanish, and is a Yoga Alliance certified yoga instructor.

Amy received her Master of Science in Business Analytics from the University of Notre Dame in 2016 and received her Bachelor of Arts from Hope College in 2010.

Frank Davis
Staff Accountant
(312) 924-2178

Frank joined Accion as a Staff Accountant in September 2016. Before working for Accion, he was an auditor working in Indianapolis, IN.

Frank received his Bachelors of Science in Accounting and Certificate of Advanced Accountancy from PURDUE UNIVERSITY in 2012. When not working or commuting he is trying to live the examined life and practice virtue. Frank is known for his laconic speaking style.

Yessenia Diaz De Leon
Loan Officer
(312) 924-2163

Jackie Etchingham
Development Officer
(312) 924-2156

Jackie joined the Accion team as a Development Officer in October of 2015. In her role, she is responsible for maintaining and cultivating the organization’s partnerships with financial institutions, while working to increase Accion’s CRA opportunities.  Jackie also works to grow corporate giving partners for the organization.

Jackie graduated from St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin, and holds a Master’s Degree in Community Development from Loyola University Chicago. Jackie’s passion for microfinance developed during her time at Loyola, while writing her Master’s thesis on the importance of small business in local communities. She was previously an intern for the Development Team at Accion and before returning, she worked in Community Outreach for the Greater Chicago Food Depository and Community Investments at BlueCross BlueShield of IL.

Jackie loves summertime in Chicago and spending time on Lake Michigan.

Marilyn Huebel
Executive Administrator
(312) 924-2153

Marilyn joined Accion in 2011 as an Individual Giving Officer before moving into her current administrative role as Executive Administrator in 2014. As Executive Assistant, Marilyn supports the CEO and COO, serves as liaison to the board of directors, and manages the office.

Before joining Accion, she spent more than 10 years at ShoreBank where she was a Project Manager in Community Affairs. She managed outreach focused on education initiatives, including an award-winning scholarship program that provided $1 million in funding to students from inner-city schools and a program that matched employees with elementary school children for a weekly tutoring session. As an independent consultant she worked with Fortune 100 companies, training new and mid-level managers on team development and leadership skills.

Marilyn attended Wheaton College and has a BA in theology from Elmhurst College. She has served on the board of WITS (Working in the Schools) Chicago and ALOA (Adult Lutherans Organized for Action).  Marilyn loves to travel and has been to all 50 states.

Jonathan Jackson
Program Compliance Associate (VISTA)
(312) 924-2171

Jonathan joined Accion in August 2015 through the AmeriCorps VISTA program. As a Program Compliance Associate, Jonathan is responsible for reviewing existing policy for compliance and proposing new policy or processes based upon his review.

Jonathan graduated from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology with a degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology. Before joining Accion, he worked in healthcare compliance and policy and personnel certification/licensure for various organizations.

David Johnson
Loan Officer
(312) 924-2178

David joined Accion as a Loan Officer in July, 2016.  In his role, David is responsible for generating loans, maintaining portfolio quality, being active in the community, and connecting clients to resources that support their success.  In his spare time, David enjoys traveling, exploring the outdoors, and periodically pinching himself as a reminder that the Cubs really did win the World Series

Kyle Johnson
Director of Microlending
(312) 924-2179

Kyle joined Accion as a Loan Officer in February 2012 and transitioned into his current position in October 2015. In this role, Kyle leads the Lending team’s strategy for community development and facilitates change management to grow mission impact with Accion’s modernization project.

Before joining Accion, Kyle worked at Suburban Bank & Trust and Apple.

Kyle grew up in northern Minnesota and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor’s Degree in Studio Art, Communications and Hindi plus an emphasis in nonprofit finance. While in college he interned and worked at several arts and education organizations, including In the Heart of the Beast, Minnesota Film Art’s international film festival, and the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs.

Jill Kozeluh
Senior Development Officer
(312) 924-2152

Jill joined Accion’s Development and Communication’s department in October 2012. In her role as Senior Development Officer, she is responsible for helping to achieve the development team’s fundraising goal of $3 million in general operating funds with an emphasis on foundation and corporation giving, while more recently taking on government fundraising as well.

Prior to working at Accion, Jill provided consulting on development and fundraising plans, as well as program measurement activities to local nonprofits in the Chicago region. Jill has a BA from DePaul University, MA in Film Studies from Ohio University, and a MBA from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She previously was an adjunct instructor and taught film history at community colleges in the area. Jill now enjoys her free time with her daughter.

Suneet Lad
Director, Incubator Development
(312) 924-2192

Teresa Liu
Data Analyst
(312) 924-2168

Teresa joined the Finance and Operations department at Accion in October 2015. As a Data Analyst, she supports data needs across all departments of the organization and is responsible for reporting on the impact that Accion continues to make in the region.

Teresa graduated with a BS in Finance and BA in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While an undergrad, she led a microfinance student organization under Global Brigades and volunteered at a community micro lender based in Honduras. Before joining Accion, Teresa spent three years working in data analytics and consumer insights at Nielsen, a global marketing research company.

Teresa speaks conversational Mandarin Chinese and is quite the world traveler with visits to twelve countries and counting.

Haley Marceau Taylor

Director, Development & Communications
(312) 924-2154

Haley joined Accion in June 2013 and is now the Director, Development & Communications. She leads the department as they work to fundraise more than $3 million for general operating costs to support the organization and its mission. She manages the Seed Chicago program, a coaching program for crowdfunders in Chicago, and oversees the coordination and execution of all events, partnerships, and programming.

Haley is an MBA candidate at the Kellogg School of Management, and lives in Chicago with her husband and their cat, Willie.

Jennie Motto Mesterharm
Small Business Lending Manager
(312) 924-2176

Jennie joined Accion as a Loan Officer in February 2013, became a Senior Loan Officer is June 2014, and moved to her current role of Small Business Lending Manager in April 2016. Jennie specializes in small business and SBA Community Advantage loans, and manages the Small Business Lending team.

Before coming to Accion, Jennie worked as an auditor of not-for-profits for a large national public accounting and consulting firm. During her time as an accountant, she earned her CPA designation and volunteered as a Spanish speaking tax preparer in Pilsen.

Jennie graduated from the University of Notre Dame, where she majored in Business Administration with a concentration in Accountancy and minored in Theology. After completing her undergraduate studies, she spent two and a half years in Honduras, working for a not-for-profit in both Trujillo and La Ceiba. Jennie is from Columbia, South Carolina and is fluent in Spanish.

Marion Moore
Controller
(312) 924-2161

Marion joined Accion as Controller in November 2015 with 20 years of accounting experience. In her role, Marion oversees the accounting department and processes all accounting transactions. She also oversees grant
compliance, financial statements, annual audit, and accounts payable and receivables.

Marion is an alumni of Western Illinois University and a Certified Public Accountant. Throughout her 20+ years in the accounting field she worked for two different Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) as Controller, Assistant Controller, Vice President and Loan Operations Manager.

Marion enjoys biking and walking along the lakefront, as well as attending many of the art, food, and music festivals with friends and family in Chicago.

Channa Navarro
Operations and Impact Associate
(312) 924-2169

Channa joined Accion in July 2015 and is responsible for facilitating changes to make the organization more efficient by documenting operations and organizing efforts in order to adjust to the changing lending environment.

Before joining Accion, Channa worked as a Financial Coach at the Women’s Employment Network in Kansas City. Prior to that, she served as an Employment Coach in St. Paul and Minneapolis, MN. Her passion for microfinance developed while providing credit coaching to small business owners in Kansas City.

Channa holds a B.A. in International Studies and Spanish from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. She lives happily with her husband in Chicago.

Kate Novotny Angeles
Community Development Lending Manager
(312) 924-2177

Kate joined Accion in July 2013 as a Loan Officer and transitioned into her current role of Community Development Lending Manager in April 2016. In this role, Kate manages the Community Development Outreach team, focusing on building community partnerships and outreach to clients by increasing Accion’s loan program to low-to-moderate income areas.

Kate is a graduate of Marquette University where she earned a B.A in Latin American Studies and Spanish as well as a masters-level Certificate in Entrepreneurship. She is fluent in Spanish and has a passion for working with small business owners.

Kate brings her own entrepreneurial experience to Accion, having founded and managed Buena Vida Coffee, a Marquette student-run social venture. Kate has led several trips to Central America where she worked on various consulting projects with mirco-enterprises and also lived in Mexico and Chile.

Jael Olivares
Executive Assistant
(312) 924-2182

Jael joined Accion in September 2016 as the Executive Assistant to the VPs.

Jael was born and raised on the South West side of Chicago. She graduated from DePaul University in March of 2015 with a BA in English Literature.  While at DePaul, Jael used her love of writing and social justice in her internship at Incarcerated Voices. In her spare time, Jael enjoys reading a good book, listening to podcasts, attending concerts, and spending time with her three dogs.

Lena Paseva
Underwriter
(312) 924-2183

Lena joined Accion in 2012 as an Accounting & Operations Associate and transitioned to a Loan Officer position in 2013. In her current role of Senior Loan Officer, Lena is responsible for working with clients to provide loans and technical assistance.

Lena has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management The University of Economics in Varna, Bulgaria, and is a 2016 Level II candidate in a CFA Program. During her studies, she was a part of AIESEC, the world’s largest youth-run organization focused on providing a platform for youth leadership development, where she gained experience working in a nonprofit organization.

Lena is fluent in Bulgarian and loves to travel and be close to the beach.

Carlos Peña
Senior Loan Officer
(312) 924-2185

Carlos is a Senior Loan Officer at Accion Chicago, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing credit and technical assistance to entrepreneurs who do not have access to traditional sources of financing. As part of his job, Carlos coaches small business owners, conducts financial literacy workshops, and helps entrepreneurs better run their businesses. Prior to Accion, he worked as an analyst in Deloitte’s Financial Advisory Services group in Chicago, where he conducted research and performed valuations of public and private businesses for financial reporting, mergers and acquisitions, and strategic planning purposes.

In addition, Carlos is actively involved in the startup ecosystem in Chicago as a mentor and coach to entrepreneurs. One of his main endeavors consists of organizing Startup Weekend, a 54-hour event were startup enthusiasts work on their ideas/concepts and pitch to a panel of industry experts. He is also an associate board member at Goodcity, an entity that identifies and supports high potential community-based entrepreneurs. Originally from Ecuador, Carlos came to the US to attend the University of Notre Dame, where he graduated with a double major in Finance and Economics. He is a graduate of Frontier Market Scouts, an award-winning training program that prepares fellows for careers with social enterprises and impact investment organizations in the US and abroad.

June Reed
Application Processor
(312) 924-2189

Olivia Riedel
Development & Communications Associate
(312) 924-2157

Olivia joined Accion as a Development and Communications Associate in September 2016. In her role, Olivia helps with marketing and development communications, coordinates events, and helps coach small business owners with crowdfunding through the Seed Chicago program.

Olivia graduated with a BS in Sociology, Communication and Global Health from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As an undergrad, she was involved with global health and community development programs and worked closely with the Global Health Institute at UW-Madison.

Alex Ruiz
Loan Officer
(312) 924-2175

Alex joined the lending team in April 2016 as a Loan Officer. He came to Accion with ten years of banking experience, with his most recent role being a Branch Manager for Metropolitan Bank & Trust.

Outside of work, Alex serves as a Board Member for the Greater Pilsen Economic Development Association, and is also a Real Estate Broker in Pilsen, specializing in first time home buyers at International Real Estate. Additionally, Alex lives out his hoop dreams by playing at the YMCA.

Monica Sanchez
Loan Officer, Latino Outreach Program Coordinator
(312) 924-2187

Monica joined Accion as a Loan Officer in September 2015, and transitioned into her current role of Community Development Officer in April 2016. Monica is responsible for providing entrepreneurship assistance to her clients through loans and technical assistance.

Before joining Accion, Monica worked for Mujeres Latinas en Accion, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering Latinas in Chicago. Monica was responsible for providing educational classes in Leadership Development, Financial Literacy, and Entrepreneurship specifically for Latinas who were interested in starting or expanding their small business.

Monica graduated from St. Augustine College with a Bachelor Degree in Social Work and is fluent in Spanish. Moni loves to spend her free time dancing, cooking, and traveling.

Jes Schneider
HR Generalist
(312) 924-2160

Jes joined Accion in September 2016 as the first Human Resources Generalist for the organization. She has a background in compliance, HR law, and benefits administration, having worked in HR-capacity at a defense contractor and regional accounting firm in Maryland. Jes graduated summa cum laude from Governors State University with a degree in Law and Legal Research. She also attended Kendall College for culinary arts education and is an experienced sushi chef.

Jes grew up on the East Coast and loves traveling when she can. She lives in Evanston with her husband Kevin and their two dogs, Jack and Dexter.

Jason Swan
Loan Officer

Jason joined Accion as a Loan Officer in January 2017. He came to Accion with 15 years of banking, consulting, and community development experience.

Outside of work, Jason serves on several neighborhood economic development boards and committees, and facilitates business and professional development workshops in and around the Chicagoland area.

Katie Westlund
Loan Officer
(312) 924-2158

Katie became a Loan Officer at Accion Chicago in March 2017. Prior to joining the lending team, she worked as an intellectual property analyst at a global consulting firm.

Katie graduated from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University with bachelor’s degrees in Economic Consulting and International Business. At IU, she was heavily involved in the Trockman Microfinance Initiative, which is what first piqued her interest in Accion several years ago.

Some of her interests outside of loaning it up at her dream job include aviation, travel, and doing Scandinavian things with her Vasa Order of America lodge, Nordikfolk.

Tomas White
Director, Operations
(312) 924-2167

Tomas joined Accion in August 2013 through the Americorp VISTA program as a Business Process Analyst. Since his Americorp service, Tomas has held the positions of Manger of Programs and Impact and is currently the Director of Operations.

Tomas came to Accion with more than 10 years’ experience as a business analyst in the financial sector. He has helped companies experiencing fast growth to create and document internal processes in order to improve the quality of their data and make them efficient, auditable, and accountable. He has successfully drafted the business requirements for large multi-million dollar enterprise software projects, managed teams of internal staff, outsourced developers and multiple vendors through the complete software lifecycle process, including reporting and data analysis.

Tomas’s past work experience includes being Director of IT for a New York based start-up trying to help companies and municipalities in emerging markets issue debt in their own local currency, rather than be subject to the whims of currency fluctuations.

Tomas grew up in Latin America and East Asia and is fluent in Spanish and can chit-chat in basic Mandarin. He lives in Chicago with his wife and their young son.

Celia Wills
Application Processor
(312) 924-2163

Celia joined Accion’s Intake team in April 2016, and as an Application Processor she is responsible for ensuring applications are entered in a timely fashion, credit and searches are completed and  clients are assigned to Loan Officers.

Celia received her CDA from Harold Washington College and was a licensed Home Daycare Provider with DCFS and was also in partnership with Action for Children. She has also done volunteer work at the Greater Southwest Development Corporation, answering phones, filing, assisting with clients that had questions about their World Vision Program.


 

Interested in joining our team? View open positions here.