SBA Departures A Real Loss for AEO

By Connie Evans

February 10, 2013


Late last week, SBA Deputy Administrator Marie Johns called me to tell me she planned to leave the Small Business Administration (SBA) in May.  Ouch.  Marie has been microbusiness’ staunchest ally and one of AEO’s dearest friends.  That’s because she shares our passion for creating wealth in underserved communities through entrepreneurship.


This morning, Administrator Karen Mills announced her resignation.  Double ouch.  Both of these strong women, dedicated to empowering small businesses, are leaving around the same time.  Administrator Mills strengthened the loan programs and understood the critical role that businesses of any size play in the struggling economy.  Karen was the face of small business in so many of the Administration’s initiatives ranging from healthcare to business innovation.  She also is the first SBA Administrator to be a member of the Cabinet.


Under Karen’s tenure SBA sponsored AEO’s 2010 National Conference. She attended the conference even after being sent by President Obama to areas in Tennessee that were battered by record flooding. Her attendance immediately following that trip was a powerful testament to her support not only of AEO’s work, but of microbusiness owners across the country.


Both Karen and Marie traveled endlessly and appeared at as many small business forums as humanly possible.  Marie spoke at two of AEO’s national conferences and rearranged her travel schedule so that she could speak. That’s just the kind of person she is.


Microbusinesses all over the country, and organizations that assist in their success, have thrived under their leadership.  Our pledge to both Marie and Karen is that we will keep their legacy at SBA going.  We will work just as hard as they did to ensure that microbusinesses have the tools and resources necessary to succeed. 


Karen and Marie, we will miss you.