Ari Velóz promoted to Chief Community Programs Officer
We are pleased to announce the promotion of Ari Velóz to Chief Community Programs Officer. Ms. Velóz joined MGCC in December 2020 as Community Program Manager and has excelled in providing support for small businesses across the state.
“Ari has been a tremendous asset to MGCC,” said MGCC President and CEO Lawrence Andrews. “She has impressive leadership skills, and her ability to connect with our community partners, who are so vital to our mission, is so valuable. We look forward to her continuing to enhance our relationships with those partners and small businesses across the Commonweath.”
In her new role, Ms. Velóz will oversee MGCC’s innovative small business grant programs, including Biz-M-Power and Empower Digital, as well as managing MGCC’s partnerships and programs with Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Small Business Technical Assistance (SBTA) Providers and other community-based organizations.
Joining MGCC during the COVID-19 pandemic gave Ms. Velóz an opportunity to see how the agency’s various programs can best support its clients and partners.
“Coming in at that time allowed me to think strategically about the real impact of the programs,” Ms. Velóz said. “I will bring that perspective to my new role overseeing all initiatives under Community Programs, including Biz-M-Power and Empower Digital. In essence, it comes down to the same thing: The continual alignment of resources in order to better support business owners and the service providers assisting them.”
Prior to joining MGCC, Ms. Velóz was Chief Operating Officer at Mill Cities Community Investments (MCCI) in Lawrence. MCCI, one of MGCC’s community-based partners, is a regional CDFI focused on mission-based small business loans and technical assistance and home improvement loans.
During her tenure with MCCI, MGCC presented Ms. Velóz with its Business Community Builder Award in recognition of her exemplary efforts in assisting small businesses affected by the 2018 gas incidents in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover and for her leadership in building strong business communities.
Ms. Velóz was also a Loan Consultant for ACCION New York and interned for ACCION International. She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from UMass Amherst and a master's degree in intercultural relations from Lesley University.
Ms. Velóz’s background also provides her with tremendous insight into the needs of small business owners. She grew up in the United States and the Dominican Republic and backpacked through Southeast Asia and South America, volunteering along the way in micro-credit programs and working with local entrepreneurs.
“I learned that entrepreneurship was the only option for some people to generate an income and that limited access to information, training and capital made it harder for them to grow their businesses,” Ms. Velóz said. “It’s allowed me to better understand the challenges many business owners face.”