As the current chair of the CAMEO board I have mixed news to share in this email. As is customary, bad news first: On August 1, 2017, Claudia Viek will step down as CEO to focus on outside projects utilizing her expertise in strategic development, such as championing women’s business ownership and to spend more time with family and on volunteer commitments. The good news is she also plans to continue supporting our field even as she moves on to the next stage in her life. Please join me in celebrating Claudia’s time with CAMEO.
The board is extremely grateful for Claudia’s 10 years of service, during which she made considerable contributions to the organization and our sector. Her tireless advocacy efforts supporting micro enterprise owners and entrepreneurs are at the top of the list. Her creative thinking brought new programs to members and created new roles for CAMEO. Her skill as a networker and convener forged new partnerships and opportunities for the organization and its members and served as a catalyst for innovation in our entire sector.
Perhaps the greatest impact of Claudia work came from convincing the major bank foundations to commit millions of dollars in investment to strengthen micro credit and business assistance programs throughout California, particularly in rural regions.
At the federal level, Claudia successfully advocated to expand funding opportunities for members, such as awards for CDFIs, more support for WBCs and SBDCs and saving and growing the PRIME program. Her efforts led to the restoration of funding for Rural Development and to the Department of Labor mandating workforce agencies embrace self-employment and entrepreneurship training. At the state level, CAMEO became a respected voice for small business and micro enterprise and regularly testifies at legislative hearings.
Under Claudia’s leadership, CAMEO became an innovation lab, creating novel approaches to start, scale and continuously improve business assistance and microlending programs. In addition to launching the Micro Lending Academy and annual Micro Lenders Forum, CAMEO implemented the MMS program, the only platform in country that aggregates small lenders to more efficiently manage and scale their loan volume. CAMEO also supported members’ pilot projects around access to markets/access to capital in under-served communities. The organization also awarded over $300,000 for capacity building to members during a period of funding decline for the micro sector.
Over the years, Claudia also connected members (and even non-members) to better leverage resources and foster broader collaborations in our field. One notable and recent success was the negotiation of a blanket CAMEO membership for all of California’s SBDCs. This is but one example of how Claudia facilitated strong partner relationships to ensure that members and those they serve have an effective and consistent voice in economic development.
Thanks to Claudia the public has greater awareness of the importance of micro-businesses and the DIY Economy – the coaching, capital, connections to markets, climate and culture that make up an ecosystem that allows all entrepreneurs to thrive. With forward thinking like the “Trailblazers Task Force” she led and positioned CAMEO and its members to address the challenges of serving the new era workforce which is rich with self-employed entrepreneurs. Over and over again, she and her team led the way for members to identify trends, find solutions, and share best practices.
In conclusion, Claudia’s leadership and vision made CAMEO a stronger and more impactful organization. Please join me in expressing my deep and sincere thanks to Claudia for all her contributions and accomplishments over the past ten years and wishing her luck on future endeavors.
Chair, CAMEO Board of Directors
Director, Contra Costa County SBDC
P.S. A search for Claudia’s successor is underway. Stay tuned for details.