Hodges joined the Association of Women's Business Centers as CEO in January 2019 and is charged with bringing about enhanced sustainability and increased capacity to the association and its members. When AWBC and the national network of Women's Business Centers were confronted with effects of a global pandemic in early 2020, Hodges and the advocacy team sprung into action. While Women's Business Centers responded tirelessly to small business concerns in their communities, Hodges and the team championed their efforts to secure resources.
Thankfully, members of Congress foresaw the important role that Women's Business Centers would play in an economic disaster and appropriated record-level emergency funding (CARES Act) to be administered by the United States Small Business Administration (SBA). In addition to $150,000 awarded annually to each Women's Business Center, centers could access up to $420,000 of CARES Act funds giving them access to $570,000 in a single fiscal year. In addition to their own annual fundraising efforts, this unprecedented combination of funding is the highest level of funding than at any other point in history. Women's Business Centers leveraged this infusion of funds into tremendous impact.
Hodges and the full AWBC team will remain steadfast in their commitment to the growth and strength of the Women's Business Center network. Her immediate priority is the modernization and re-authorization of the Women's Business Center program while building capacity throughout the growing network of 140 Women's Business Centers.
She was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, attended high school there and studied abroad in Spain where she received a dual Spain-U.S. high school diploma. Having graduated with honors, Hodges earned her BA International Studies from the University of Evansville in Indiana. She attended graduate school in Washington, DC at The George Washington University and has never stopped learning. She enjoys live rides on her Peloton, long runs on the C&O Canal Tow Path and sunny afternoons on her stand-up paddle board.
Vice President of Programs
Jessie Yankee is the Vice President of Programs for the Association of Women's Business Centers, focused on program development, advocacy, and capacity building for Women's Business Centers nationwide. Previously she was the Director of the Missouri Women's Business Center, with a heavy emphasis on economic inclusion and access to capital for the historically underserved. Jessie holds a lifelong passion for equitable small business development and entrepreneurship for women, and previously owned and operated an award-winning commercial IT business. Jessie is also a mother of two, Benny (11), and Ella (9).
Executive Assistant to the CEO
Director of Education and Engagement
Karina serves The Association of Women’s Business Centers through her combined skills in Communications, Hospitality, and Program Management. She studied International Communications at The City College of New York, driven by her passion for cultivating resiliency in under-served communities through various cultural perspectives and data-driven solutions.
Growing up, Karina spent her time between the Dominican Republic and New York City. She is closely involved in her community through peer support, and program implementation; having achieved the development of a Mindfulness-based resilience strategy offered in New York and Southwest Florida.
During her leisure, Karina enjoys camping at national parks, yoga on the beach, and exploring local restaurants.