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Council on Underserved Communities (CUC)

The Council on Underserved Communities (CUC) provides SBA with input, advice and recommendations on strategies to help strengthen competiveness and sustainability for small businesses in underserved communities. These strategies are aimed at increasing entrepreneurship and technical assistance, creating outreach and training strategies, and educating underserved communities about SBA programs and services.

The CUC focuses on communities and populations that traditionally have faced barriers in accessing credit, capital and the other tools they need to start and grow businesses. These communities include inner cities and rural areas and may include populations such as women, minorities, veterans, tribal groups and others.

The CUC is part of the SBA’s ongoing efforts to expand its reach into underserved communities. While the nation’s economic recovery is moving forward, that recovery has been uneven, particularly for socially, economically and geographically disadvantaged small business owners. To help SBA better address the challenges facing small business owners in underserved communities, the CUC will meet regularly and advise SBA on ways to increase access to capital and promote sustainability, growth, and job creation.

Contact us with suggestions or for information about CUC events at

See also: SBA Announces Appointments to Advisory Council on Underserved Communities (Press Release, May 12, 2011)

The CUC is chaired by Catherine Hughes, founder and CEO of Radio One and TV One, and will have 19 additional members who represent a diverse range of backgrounds and geographic areas. The full CUC will meet at least two times per year. These meetings are open to the public and advertised in the Federal Register.

Cathy Hughes, Chair, Council on Underserved Communities

A Nebraska native, Hughes began a career in radio in 1969 at KOWH, a small black-owned radio station in Omaha. She came to Washington, D.C., as a lecturer at Howard University’s School of Communications, and worked at several local radio stations before she and then her husband purchased a small D.C. station and turned it into Radio One. Later, Hughes bought out her husband and became sole owner, at one point moving into the station to make ends meet. Today, Radio One owns 52 radio stations in major markets across the country, making the company the largest black-owned radio chain in the nation. In January of 2004, Hughes launched TV One, a cable television channel targeted at the African American community.

CUC Member Bios:

Hassell McClellan, Associate Professor - Operations & Strategic Management Department, Carroll School of Management

Dr. Hassell McClellan is an Associate Professor and former Associate Dean of Boston College's Carroll School of Management. He has previously worked in corporate banking with Harris Trust in Chicago and as a faculty member at the Harvard Business School. McClellan’s specialties include strategic management and global competitiveness. He is the author of several case studies, as well as a book on the banking industry, Managing One-bank Holding Companies.

Dasil “Das” Elius Velez, Senior Executive with the New York State Empire State Development Corporation

Das Velez is currently serving in New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration with the Empire State Development Corporation as the Executive Director of Minority and Women Business Development. Prior to Velez’s appointment, he served as a Senior Advisor to Governor David A. Paterson. He has also held a number of executive positions in public service sector and was a founding partner of Carro, Velez, Carro and Mitchell LLP, which became New York City's largest Latino Law firm.

B. Doyle Mitchell, Jr., President and CEO, Industrial Bank

B. Doyle Mitchell, Jr., serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of IBW Financial Corp in Washington, DC. Mr. Mitchell is Chairman of the National Bankers Association and the D.C. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. He serves as a Board member for the Greater Prince George’s Business Roundtable, the Council for Court Excellence, the Minbanc Foundation and the Sewell Music Conservatory.

Eric Collins, COO, Mobile Posse

Eric Collins, COO of Mobile Posse in Mclean, Virginia, is a veteran of the mobile software industry. Prior to his work at Mobile Posse, Collins led the Tegic business unit for Nuance Communications. Eric also headed marketing for Nuance’s Mobile Division. Following law school, Eric worked as a strategy consultant for technology and entertainment companies before launching a career in mobile at AOL.

Derek Hyra, Associate Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning, Virginia Tech

Derek S. Hyra is an associate professor of Urban Affairs and Planning at Virginia Tech. His research focuses on inner city economic development, with an emphasis on national housing policy, urban politics, affordable housing and small business finance, poverty, and race. Hyra previously worked at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, assessing affordable housing and small business lending programs, and at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, examining the community-level impact of national urban legislation. He currently serves as the vice chairman of board of commissioners for the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority.

Ron Busby, President, U.S. Black Chamber, Inc.

Ron Busby, Sr. is the leader of the United States Black Chamber of Commerce, Inc. Prior to coming to Washington, DC, he was the President of the Greater Phoenix Black Chamber of Commerce, and served as the president of the 100 Black Men of the Bay Area (Oakland, CA). Recognized as one of the country’s best CEOs, Busby grew his first business, USA Super Clean, from $150,000 annual revenue to over $15 million per year. He has served as co-chair of the XL II Super Bowl Host Committee and on the Board of Directors of the Arizona Governor’s African American Leadership Council.

Randy Blass, Director, Florida State Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities Program

Dr. Randy Blass is a faculty member of The Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship, and the program director for the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) Program all within the College of Business at Florida State University. Before joining the faculty at Florida State, he served as a Lt Col in the United States Air Force. Blass specializes in power and influence in organizations, organizational socialization, and human resource management, and has more than 25 years of practical experience in designing and implementing training and development programs.

Ned Fawaz, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Energy International Corporation

As the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Energy International Corporation (EIC), Ned Fawaz, is responsible for the expansion in worldwide business including tactical and strategic sales. Beginning his career over 32 years ago, Dr. Fawaz has an extensive background in international business and in the mechanical and electrical engineering and equipment industry. He studied Mechanical Engineering at York Institute in York, Pennsylvania and worked for 10 years for York International. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree (LLD) from Davenport University of Michigan, served in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Germany for 2 years.

Eddie Reyes, Historically Underutilized Business Coordinator, University of North Texas

Eddie Reyes has serves as the Historically Underutilized Business Coordinator for the University of North Texas. Mr. Reyes was selected by the SBA as the 2010 National Minority Services Champion and the 2010 SBA Minority Small Business Champion of the Year for D/FW District Office and Region VI. Mr. Reyes also serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Greater Grand Prairie Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

LeeAnn Marker, Business Advisor, Hutchinson Credit Union

LeeAnn Marker is a Business Advisor for Hutchinson Credit Union and a small business owner. As a commercial lender in a Kansas community with a population of approximately 45,000, Hutchinson has experienced first-hand the challenges facing America’s small businesses in today’s uncertain economic environment.

Roni Wisdom, Chief Financial Officer, San Luis Valley Development Group

Roni K. Wisdom is Chief Financial Officer for the San Luis Valley Development Resources Group, a non-profit regional economic development organization that provides funding and counseling to small businesses, non-profits and local governments. Wisdom previously worked as a manager and owner of small businesses, a business banker, and a small business counselor. She spent much of her past 30 years in the banking field with most of those years in “nontraditional” financing in the rural counties of Colorado.

Hilda Kennedy, Founder/Executive Director, AmPac Tri State CDC

Hilda Kennedy is Founder and President of AmPac Tri State Certified Development Company in Grand Terrace, California, a certified lender for the SBA's 504 loan program and the first faith-based CDC in the country. Kennedy previously worked in local government in the City of Inglewood for more than 12 years as Chief of Staff to the Mayor and City Administrator, Public Information Officer, and Economic Development Director.

Rod Hsiao, Director of Strategic Operations, Build

Rod Hsiao is the Director of Strategic Operations for BUILD, a nationally recognized nonprofit that uses entrepreneurship to excite and propel disengaged, low-income students through high school to college success. He worked in economic development research at Harvard and Yale, then served as a senior legislative advisor in the U.S. Congress on international development and domestic policies. He led two state-wide studies for Maine and Massachusetts to assess the needs of their manufacturers and recommended ways to spur innovation and economic competitiveness. Subsequently he worked in management consulting for SRI Consulting and A.T. Kearney before returning to the non-profit sector as a Chief Operating Officer to help lead non-profits involved in teaching business and management skills.

Hugh Short, President and CEO, Alaska Growth Capital

Hugh Short serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of Alaska Growth Capital. He is also the current Chairman of the Alaska Industrial Development Authority (AIDEA), a one billion dollar state owned economic development agency based in Anchorage, Alaska. Additionally Hugh serves as the current Treasurer of the Alaska Humanities Forum and Pacific Northern Academy. Past leadership positions include roles as Mayor and Member of the City Council for the City of Bethel; Vice President of Support Services for Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation; and Managing Partner of the Subway of Bethel. Active in many community service roles, Short is a founding member of the Alaskan Native Leadership Network and has served as director of Yuut Elinaurviat (People’s Learning Center), Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Kuskokwim Campus.

Marilyn Strickland, Mayor, Tacoma, Washington

Marilyn Strickland was sworn-in as Mayor of Tacoma on January 5, 2010, and previously served as a city council member for two years. Born in Seoul, Korea, Strickland grew up in South Tacoma and has been a downtown resident for over a decade. She is a graduate of the University of Washington and holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Clark-Atlanta University.

Strickland has professional experience in both the private and public sectors. She served as Development Officer for the Tacoma Public Library and has held management positions with American Cancer Society, Starbucks Coffee Company and JayRay Communications where she worked with Tacoma Public Utilities to help launch Click!Network.

She now serves as chair of the Government Performance and Finance Committee, and the Public Safety, Human Services and Education Committee. She is a member of the Tacoma Pierce County Health Board, a commissioner for Pierce Transit, and an executive committee member for the Economic Development Board. Strickland has been appointed to the US Conference of Mayors Public Education Task Force. Active in the local community, she is a member of the Black Collective and previously served on the boards of KBTC Public TV Association, the Grand Cinema and Safe Streets.