Staff Bios

Joyce Klein, Director

Joyce Klein is Director of FIELD, the Aspen Institute microenterprise Fund for Innovation, Effectiveness, Learning and Dissemination. Ms. Klein assumed the leadership of FIELD in 2012, after working as a senior consultant since the program’s inception in 1998. She is recognized as a leading expert on the FIELD, speaking at national and regional industry conferences and being quoted in a variety of news media including the New York Times and National Public Radio’s Marketplace. Joyce has more than 20 years of experience studying and supporting microenterprise and entrepreneurial development programs in the United States, and has authored or co-authored numerous publications, including funder brief and strategy guides, evaluation and research reports, case studies and policy briefs. She has also designed and managed grant programs aimed at supporting innovation in the practice of microenterprise development in the United States.

Under Ms. Klein’s leadership FIELD has launched the Microfinance Impact Collaborative, helped to create the Small Business Borrowers’ Bill of Rights and the Responsible Business Lending Coalition, and launched new research into the role of platforms and networks in expanding the scale and impact of the US microenterprise field. FIELD has also expanded its work in examining the potential role of business ownership and the microenterprise field in addressing the challenges of financial inclusion, the racial wealth gap, and career development for youth.

Ms. Klein also has worked as a consultant in the microenterprise field, providing assistance to clients including the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund of the US Department of the Treasury, and CFED (formerly the Corporation for Enterprise Development). Prior to her work with FIELD, Ms. Klein led CFED's work in microenterprise development. She holds a Master's Degree in Public Policy from the University of California at Berkeley and a B.A. in Economics from Boston College.

Elaine Edgcomb, Strategic Advisor

Elaine Edgcomb has served as Strategic Advisor since stepping down from the leadership of FIELD in 2012. Ms. Edgcomb’s work with FIELD began in 1998, when, as a co-founder, she took on the role of co-director. In her work at FIELD, Elaine led the development of the program’s major projects and programs. She has also authored or co-authored numerous other publications for FIELD, including Scaling up Microenterprise Services, The Informal Economy: Latino Enterprises at the Margins and The Informal Economy: Making It In Rural America, and Improving Microenterprise Training and Technical Assistance. Ms. Edgcomb is also the author and editor of works on evaluation practice, institutional development, financial analysis, and microenterprise strategies implemented both internationally and in the United States. With more than 25 years in international development, she has experience in monitoring and evaluating microenterprise programs, training management staff, and in developing practitioner-oriented materials to support program implementation.

Before joining FIELD, Ms. Edgcomb served as the founding Executive Director of the Small Enterprise Education and Promotion (SEEP) Network, an association of more than 50 US and Canadian nonprofit organizations that support small business and microenterprise development in the developing world. As a consultant to the Self-Employment Learning Project at the Aspen Institute, she had principal responsibility for guiding the project's case study research on organizational strategies and issues in US microenterprise. Ms. Edgcomb’s experience also includes work with Catholic Relief Services, where she directed the planning and evaluation of socioeconomic development and relief programs in 13 countries in Central America and the Caribbean. She has served on the Board of Directors of the SEEP Network, Pro Mujer International and the Association for Enterprise Opportunity. Ms. Edgcomb holds a Master's Degree in Latin American Studies from Georgetown University and a B.A. in History and Spanish from Seton Hall University.

Alan Okagaki, Senior Consultant

Mr. Okagaki has more than thirty years of professional experience in consulting, management and evaluation focused primarily in community development, economic revitalization, and organizational performance. He has led numerous strategic and business planning processes for a variety of organizations, and has participated in teams successfully launching community development banks, development finance institutions, and other major economic or neighborhood revitalization initiatives. Mr. Okagaki’s work has also included executive experience running small nonprofit organizations and project management experience leading consulting and research teams. He has conducted “on the ground” work in 28 states; with nonprofit, for-profit, philanthropic, and governmental entities; in urban and rural settings, and in Native communities. Most of this work has involved either the application of economic and business principles to economically distressed areas and minority communities, or analyzing “what works and why” among exemplary programs and initiatives.

Mr. Okagaki also serves as Senior Advisor for Growth & Impact Strategies at Craft3, a $200 million community development financial institution (CDFI) with triple bottom line mission and serving Oregon and Washington. Prior to his consulting work, Mr. Okagaki held positions with ShoreBank Corporation, CFED, the Alternative Energy Resources Organization and the state of California. Mr. Okagaki holds an M.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley and a B.A. in English from Pomona College.

Amy Blair, Research Director

Amy Blair is research director of the Aspen Institute’s Economic Opportunities Program. She has served as lead researcher/evaluator on a wide range of projects designed to promote learning about highly promising poverty alleviation, sectoral workforce development, and self-employment strategies implemented by community-based and public organizations nationwide. Her expertise includes learning-focused and highly participatory approaches to process and outcomes evaluation, primary research, strategic grant-making, and learning meeting design and facilitation. Amy’s work focuses on research that is designed to identify and explore innovative and emerging new practices and strategies and is geared toward program capacity-building and field-building. Amy is the author of numerous publications and has presented findings from the Economic Opportunities Program’s work for local, state and national workforce development audiences. She holds a B.A. in English and an M.S. in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Texas at Austin.

Lavanya Mohan, Research Associate
Lavanya Mohan serves as a Research Associate for the microenterprise Fund for Innovation, Effectiveness, Learning and Dissemination (FIELD), an initiative of the Economic Opportunities Program at the Aspen Institute. In this role, Ms. Mohan conducts research on microenterprise, entrepreneurship, and self-employment of underserved and minority groups in the United States. In general, she supports planning, management and implementation of a variety of FIELD and EOP research projects and convenings. Her previous experience includes serving as a Research Assistant at the Center for Law and Social Policy where she conducted research and data analysis; advocated for anti-poverty strategies and policy reform; and co-authored multiple policy briefs and reports in the areas of work supports, workforce development, and higher education. Additionally, she served as an AmeriCorps Volunteer and later, Program Associate at Henry Street Settlement's Workforce Development Center, providing job readiness training, safety-net benefits access, tax and financial counseling services to low-income families, including English Language Learner (ELL) and youth clients. She has also interned at ACCION USA, measuring the impact of the organization's services to its clients.

Lavanya holds a Bachelors of Business Administration from the University of Michigan and a Master’s in Education, Policy & Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Maureen Conway, Vice President, The Aspen Institute

Maureen Conway is a Vice President of the Aspen Institute and Executive Director of the Institute’s Economic Opportunities Program (EOP). Ms. Conway founded EOP’s Workforce Strategies Initiative (AspenWSI) and has headed up workforce research at the Aspen Institute since 1999. She leads a team of researchers and consultants in a variety of initiatives to identify and advance strategies that help low-income Americans gain ground in today’s labor market. A featured speaker at numerous national and regional conferences, she is a nationally recognized expert in sectoral, or industry-specific, workforce development and has been quoted in a variety of news media including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, National Journal and National Public Radio’s Market Place. Under her leadership, EOP’s Workforce Strategies Initiative has investigated the outcomes of sectoral workforce development, provided innovation seed grants to leading programs in order to illuminate promising practices and explored key operating features of programs in specific industry sectors. Maureen is the author of numerous publications including research reports, case studies and policy briefs, including co-editing, together with Robert P. Giloth, the book Connecting People to Work: Workforce Intermediaries and Sector Strategies, a collection that brings perspectives from philanthropy, policy, research, and practice, together to chart how sector-based workforce development has evolved and the implications for the future.

Recently, Maureen led the creation of the Working in America and Reinventing Low Wage Work speaker series at the Aspen Institute, bringing together voices from business, worker advocacy, media, academia and others to discuss the challenges experienced by many in today’s labor markets and new ideas for addressing these challenges. In addition, her current work includes multi-year evaluations of several promising innovations in workforce development and a new project exploring an emerging practice of work that strives to create economic stability as a platform for economic mobility by engaging in strategies that seek to improve job quality while also helping workers improve their job skills.

Ms. Conway’s previous experience includes consulting for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris and work for the U.S. Peace Corps, where she advised on the design, management, and evaluation of the organization’s economic development programs in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union. Maureen has an M.B.A. from Columbia University, a Masters in Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina, and a B.A. in economics and mathematics from Holy Cross College.

Claire Daviss, Communications Associate

Ms. Daviss joined the Aspen Institute’s Economic Opportunities Program as the Communications Associate in June 2015. Her work focuses on promoting the program’s initiatives and projects through strategic outreach and communications, wielding tools such as social media, email communications, media relations, web content, and more.

Before coming to the Aspen Institute, Claire grounded her passion for public service in both her professional and academic life. Most recently, she served as a Democracy Fellow at FairVote in Takoma Park, MD, where she researched voting and election reform in the United States. She also interned at Junta for Progressive Action, a community-based nonprofit in New Haven, CT, as part of the Yale President’s Public Service Fellowship; and she interned at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) in San Antonio, TX. As an undergraduate at Yale College, she earned a B.A. in Ethics, Politics, and Economics, concentrating her studies on urban poverty and inequality.

Ilgar Alisultanov, Consultant

Mr. Alisultanov is a consultant with the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program. He has worked both in the consulting and university environments and has many years of experience in data analysis, statistical research, evaluation and teaching. While at Aspen, he has provided primary data analysis and research assistance for a number of projects including: MicroTest; the CDP data collection initiative; the Welfare to Work Learning Evaluation; the Sectoral Employment Development Learning Project; CDFI; and the Courses to Employment demonstration. Dr. Alisultanov has a Master’s Degree in Economics from Vanderbilt University and a Ph.D. in Economics from American University.

Colleen Cunningham, Director of Grants Management and Publications

Ms. Cunningham is Director of Grants Management and Publications for the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program.  She is responsible for publications and presentation materials design, production and dissemination. She also oversees the Program’s financial system controls and standards and manages financial activity on a day-to-day basis.  Ms. Cunningham holds a B.A. in Art History from Syracuse University.

Sinin Young, Grants Management Associate

Ms. Young is the Grants Management Associate for the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program (EOP). She is responsible for accounts payable, timesheet data entry and data management, and assists with grant reporting. In addition, she provides support for project data analysis and creation of PowerPoint presentations. Ms. Young has a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Maryland.