Economic Equity. Capital Creation.
Cuong Q. Huynh
Eric K. Foster
Co-founder, Chair and
Founders/Executive Managers, Staff Leaders and Board
The founders are former W.K. Kellogg Foundation Fellows. During their time at a fellowship session in Mississippi, they learned about their mutual passion for economic equity and family economic security for all people. As Cuong learned more about Eric’s fellowship project work, activities and focus in CDFI management to support entrepreneurs and eliminate the racial wealth gap, they both formalized their partnership to create RPC.
Eric K. Foster: He is the RPC Chair and Managing Director. Foster is responsible for the management of RPC and relationship cultivation with investor supporters and customers. He also ensures that the RPC portfolio is managed with financial due diligence as well as authentic, open and cultural competent relationships with customers. Foster is principal of Progress Strategies+, LLC, a Project Management company for corporate, business and organization clients that also specializes in Diversity & Inclusion, Corporate Social Responsibility and Public Policy & Advocacy. He is a graduate of Hope College, and is certified in project management from the Northwestern University School of Professional Studies and Advanced Intercultural Management from the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame. Foster received his Certificate in Community Development Finance from the University of New Hampshire Carsey School of Public Policy/Opportunity Finance Network in CDFI Management, Capitalization, Portfolio Management & Lending Policies.
Cuong Q. Huynh, JD, MPP: Huynh is a Wall Street trained finance professional. He is the RPC General Manager and is responsible for the middle-management functions in the three areas of internal operations, budgeting/financial operations and research/reporting. His background in investments and financial advising also helps RPC. He is a non-profit leader who also is experienced in finance, law and public policy. Huynh is the founder of Enlightened Initiative, a non-profit that supports immigrant youth to be community leaders. He is a graduate of UCLA, and holds a juris doctor from the University of California Hastings College of Law and a graduate degree from the University of Chicago. Huynh is a graduate of the Venture Capital Institute and therefore will soon bring his skills to other RPC services such as leading efforts and programs to prepare Excluded Entrepreneurs in learning about the details and necessary information in venture capital.
Associate Partner for Lending Opportunity and Administration
Elisa Starnes is the RPC Associate Partner for Lending Opportunity and Administration and is responsible for managing RPC's full small business lending processes and procedures. As the RPC loan officer lead, Ms. Starnes leads RPC's work in small business loan origination, underwriting, recommending RPC business loan applicants, conducting loan application management, analysis, direct loan servicing with customers and some new loan customer cultivation.
In addition, based on her experience in facilitating quality control processes and systems for credit union customers and staff, Ms. Starnes manages RPC lending processes and assists the RPC Managing Director with quality control of loan---and some organizational---administrative systems.
Ms. Starnes brings eight years of experience in the areas of commercial lending, business loan development, member services, loan account management, customer service, new client development and loan product outreach from her time with the United Federal Credit Union in St. Joseph, MI, Comerica Bank and 1st Source Bank. In addition to her technical work at the credit union on developing loans, Ms. Starnes also has been a leader in the people-focused and customer relations aspects of loan matters through her positions as a Member Services Advisor and Customer Service Representative.
Business Development Director for Opportunity
John Hendershot is the RPC Business Development Director for Opportunity, and is responsible for developing Excluded Entrepreneurs for business technical assistance/pre-loan readiness services and cultivating them as potential customers for RPC loans and investments. He brings to RPC a passion and background in business development and banking to help entrepreneurs prosper in their businesses.
John’s RPC responsibilities are guided by his past experience that includes Chief Executive Officer at DIG-IT where he also managed business development projects and coaching of employees. He also served as Vice President of Finance at Partners Relief & Development, managed his own Leadership Development Consultancy to assist start-up owners and worked as Managing Partner of a company where he managed the design, development and marketing of a variety of products.
John is a frequent writer and author of books, blogs and social media features on socially responsible business practices and leadership. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University and holds a Master of Science in Management and Master of Business Administration from Cornerstone University.
Pending Staff Position
Associate Partner for Portfolio and Finance
The RPC Associate Partner for Portfolio and Finance position will manage the RPC loan portfolio with financial due diligence and optimal performance through reviewing final loan applications for quality review and adherence to loan policy; analyzing approved loans; monitoring RPC loans throughout the terms of the loan; conducting reporting on the financial health and impact measurement outcomes of the loan portfolio; engaging directly in risk mitigation matters [dealing with and resolving customer payment delinquencies, past dues, work-out plans, etc]; and provide assistance to the General Manager in financial and budget matters. NOTE: More details of this position will be provided on July 4, 2022 in this staff listing and the Employment section of the RPC website at https://www.rendeprogresscapital.com/general-5
Rende Progress Capital Board
[Excluding Chair Eric Foster [Chair] and Cuong Huynh [Treasurer]
RPC Board Secretary & Board Member [West Michigan]
Robin brings rich experience in business, real estate and banking. She helps lead the RPC Loan Committee (which must be 50% or more women given that women statistically lead in the creation of businesses). She is an alumna of Spelman College; and earned her MSBA and Masters in Project Management from Strayer University. Robin has worked in the real estate, commercial and mortgage banking arenas. She provides RPC expertise and insight in investments and finance through her current work as an Accountant with the State of Michigan Treasury Department - Bureau of Investments. As a past business owner, Robin also shares her business acumen with students as an adjunct business professor at the Grand Rapids Community College.
RPC Board Member [Southeast Michigan]
Meredith has extensive knowledge in CDFIs, impact investing, entrepreneurship, business and philanthropy. She is the Senior Program Officer with the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation. Meredith is the principal and founder of MJK Community Partners, a consulting firm specializing in social impact organizations. She has also worked with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Citibank Global Community Relations and as program director for the Fair Food Network. Meredith is a W.K. Kellogg Foundation Fellow, an NYU Wagner School of Public Service IGNITE Fellow, and earned an Executive Scholars Certificate at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. She received a B.A. from Michigan State University, and an M.S. in Management and Urban Policy from the New School University in New York. Meredith also served as adjunct faculty teaching graduate level courses in Nonprofit Management at Seton Hall University and the New School.
RPC Board Member [Investor/Community Representative & At-Large Member]
As First Vice President and Community Relations Act Director for Corporate Affairs and Community Reinvestment at Flagstar Bank, Beverly Meek brings a long and experienced tenure in bank and financial services including 22 years at JP Morgan & Chase including Vice President for Corporate Responsibility.
Ms. Meek resides in Southeast Michigan and is very involved in the community and inclusion. In addition to her work overseeing the bank’s financial and employee engagement efforts for Flagstar Bank within the State of Michigan, she has spearheaded initiatives such as the Pontiac, MI “Big Idea Grant Program” to support a resident-led fund for $3.5 million dollars to be allocated in the form of grants and $250,000 in the form of business loans.
RPC Board Member [Investor/Community Representative & At-Large Member]
Timothy L. Williams is Vice President, Diversity & Inclusion, for Meijer, Inc. located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he serves as the executive sponsor and thought leader for all diversity and inclusion-related strategies. Meijer, Inc. is a regional, big-box retailer headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
He previously served as Vice President, Assistant General Counsel, and managed the Litigation and Labor and Employment Law Groups and supported the Supply Chain and Food Safety teams. Prior to joining Meijer, Inc. in 2015, Mr. Williams worked in various roles with Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc., a then publicly-traded, 500+ store regional food, pharmacy, general merchandise and liquor retailer headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, before serving as the Senior Vice-President, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary. Mr. Williams also served as a law clerk for the Honorable William M. Acker, Jr. in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama and is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School as well as MBA from Michigan’s Ross School of Business.
RPC Board Member [West Michigan, Lakeshore Region and At-Large]
Tasha Blackmon is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Cherry Health Services leading the management and operations of health care services of Michigan’s largest Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). Cherry Health provides integrated health care services to over 60,000 patients in Barry, Kent, Montcalm, Muskegon, Ottawa and Wayne counties.
Ms. Blackmon has worked at Cherry Health Services for over 20 years, and led the expansion of the Cherry Health Services geographic footprint and service area---which in the past was centered in the core city Grand Rapids for many decades. She has held six different positions aside from her current CEO position, and throughout this time has been a key leader in starting Cherry Health Services’ expansion and development projects to new markets in the Mid-Michigan, Lakeshore and Southeast regions.
She is a graduate [B.S.] of Michigan State University and received her MBA from Cornerstone University. Ms. Blackmon is also an Executive Fellow at the University of Kansas Medical Center.
Dr. Lisa Cook
RPC Board Member Emeritus
Dr. Lisa Cook is a recognized world expert in economics, economic development and international markets. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics and in International Relations (James Madison College) at Michigan State University. Dr. Cook’s research work on economic growth, development and financial institutions provides RPC with deep knowledge and expert advice to help in the loan fund’s financial due diligence, accounting and economic impact reporting/research.
Her passion for economic equity combines with her proficiency in examining the performance of economic policy, markets and economies to support entrepreneurship and innovation. In this regard, Dr. Cook is currently a Senior Scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis’ Opportunity & Inclusive Growth Institute. She has held positions or conducted postdoctoral research at the National Bureau of Economic Research, the Federal Reserve Banks of New York and Philadelphia, the World Bank, the Brookings Institution, the Hoover Institution (Stanford University), Salomon Brothers (now Citigroup), and C&S Bank (now Bank of America). She also served in the U.S. Treasury Department (Senior Adviser on Finance and Development) and at the White House (Council of Economic Advisers).
Dr. Cook is the first Marshall Scholar from Spelman College, and received a second B.A. from Oxford University in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. She earned a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Berkeley.
RPC Board Member Emeritus
Bing is a pre-eminent businessman who is an innovative supporter of entrepreneurship, inclusion and equity. He is the Chief Executive Officer of Eastern Floral Company, a company with over $5 million in annual revenue. Bing is also the CEO of the International Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence. He also served Governor Rick Snyder and the state of Michigan as the Director for the Office of New Americans. Appointed by Governor Snyder, Bing is his chief immigration advisor and directs state departments on the formulation and implementation of immigration policies to encourage the legal immigration that benefits the state socially and economically.
Respected by peers and citizens throughout West Michigan for his business acumen, Bing was the former chairman of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. He launched one of the state's most recognized business/event centers and small business incubator when he created the Goei Center in the South West side of Grand Rapids. In recognition of his business leadership, he has received awards such as Junior Achievement West Michigan Business Hall of Fame, Michigan Floral Association Retailer of the Year, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for West Michigan – Retail Division, Minority Business Person and Small Business of the Year.