Who We Are

ACE’s talented, mission-driven management team is its most valuable asset. With experience including banking, economic development, social work, and consulting, the team integrates the wisdom of experience with the enthusiasm and technical savvy of next-generation entrepreneurs. Actively engaged on all fronts, the ACE team has never wavered in a commitment to provide assistance to the people in our communities and create jobs in Georgia. In a reflection of the communities we serve, our staff is ethnically diverse and live in rural, suburban, and urban communities throughout North Georgia.

Our Staff


Grace Fricks

President and CEO, MBA

Fricks founded award-winning Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs, Inc. (ACE), a Georgia nonprofit organization that helps underserved business owners grow their businesses through capital, coaching and connections. In 2018, Bank of America and SunTrust Foundation honored ACE for outstanding impact of providing more than $60 million in loans, assisting more than 900 small businesses, and helping create or retain 7,700 jobs for Georgians. Fricks is one of Bizwomen’s 100 Women to Watch, a Women Who Mean Business Honoree by Atlanta Business Chronicle and one of the 100 Most Influential Georgians by Georgia Trend Magazine. She was honored with a Vision of Excellence Award by the Atlanta Business League and presented with the Inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award by Startup Atlanta.  SBA Georgia named Fricks as Financial Services Champion of the Year. When asked what her greatest strength is, she will tell you that it is her ability to empower others to fulfill their dreams. That’s what she’s good at, and that is what excites her. Fricks currently serves on the Advisory Board for Atlanta’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative (WEI), the Board of Directors of Appalachian Community Capital, the Fifth Third Advisory Board and Invest Atlanta’s New Market Tax Credit Board. She is a past member of the National Board of Directors of the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) and Board of Trustees of North Georgia Technical College. Fricks, a small business owner for more than 15 years, is also a former Board Member of the National Association of Women Business Owners, Atlanta chapter. Her undergraduate is in social work from University of Tennessee at Martin and her MBA is from the University of Memphis.

Contact Information:
678-335-5600 ext 101


Ray Pennie

President of Business Development

Pennie is the President of Business Development for ACE and serves as the leader of ACE’s program services and entrepreneur educational activities. Prior to joining ACE, Pennie was Vice President of Business Development for Clearpoint, and was responsible for managing a national business development team that expanded Clearpoint’s mission of financial capability, education and counseling outreach to underserved economic groups. The agency had a special interest in serving low- to moderate- income populations, Hispanics, veterans, and older Americans. His team was instrumental in developing new and diverse revenue streams by forming strategic alliances with national corporations and non-profits to further expand the agency’s footprint and reach. Prior to joining Clearpoint, Pennie was Director of Sales at Dividend America Commercial Lending, where he led the business development team. Pennie has more than 28 years of experience in the banking sector working in commercial, residential lending and asset management. Pennie currently serves on the Board for Better Business Bureau of Metro Atlanta, Athens & North Georgia and previously served as Vice President for the PTSA of Chamblee Charter High School.  He is a past member of the board of Quest 35 Advocacy, a program for ending veteran homelessness. Before beginning his career, Pennie proudly served for six years in the U.S. Navy as a Cryptologic Technical Operator.  Pennie attended Capella University where he studied Business Management.

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Tim K. Griffis, CFA

Chief Operating Officer

As Chief Operating Officer, Griffis supports ACE’s CEO on the implementation of strategic initiatives and oversees the credit and lending divisions. Griffis brings more than 25 years of financial services experience to the position and has held various executive roles in commercial, consumer and business banking as well as wealth management. Prior to joining ACE, Griffis most recently served as senior vice president of commercial banking for Synovus Bank in the Atlanta region. Previously, he worked as a branch business director for the Georgia-South Carolina area of Regions Bank, where he developed a strategy for the bank to work successfully with small business owners. Before joining ACE’s leadership team, Griffis served on its Board of Directors, and he has participated in various civic and volunteer roles in organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Rotary, United Way, Boys and Girls Club, and multiple Chamber of Commerce organizations. Griffis earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in finance from Georgia Southern University. He is a native Georgian and has worked in various communities across Georgia, including Macon, Savannah, Valdosta, and Atlanta.  Griffis holds a Chartered Financial Analyst designation and is a member of the Atlanta Society of Finance and Investment Professionals.

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Joshua Brackett

Chief Financial Officer

As Chief Financial Officer for ACE, Brackett oversees the finance, accounting, and compliance departments for the $40 million non-profit.  Under his direction, ACE became nationally accredited and successfully secured debt capital from Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, PNC Bank, FHLBA and Hamilton State Bank after undergoing rigorous due diligence processes by each institution. Joshua is currently a Board member for Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO). He is a Babson College 10,000 Small Businesses Alumni and served on the Aeris Rating Advisory Board and the OFN “Performance Counts” CFO Working Group.  A graduate of Berry College with a BS in Business Administration and the Community Bankers Association consumer lending school, Brackett served in banking with experience as a loan collector/auditor, financial analyst, and Finance Manager with community banks.

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Bonnie Bowling

Chief Credit Officer

Bowling is the Credit Risk Manager and is responsible for the overall risk of the portfolio. She has more than 25 years of banking experience working as Chief Operating Officer at Habersham Bank, Vice President of Credit Administration at a Synovus affiliate, Branch Manager, Compliance Officer and Loan Officer. A north Georgia native, Bowling attended both Piedmont College and North Georgia College. She is a graduate of ABA Banking School, ABA Compliance School and ABA Graduate Banking School. Ms. Bowling has served as President of the Dahlonega Lions Club Board of Directors, Treasurer of Enotah CASA, and volunteers for No One Alone (NOA) and the Community Helping Place.

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Martina Edwards

Chief of Strategic Partnerships

Martina Edwards has more than 18 years of experience as a business professional and nonprofit leader, including work in corporate fundraising, partnership development and relationship management, where she has delivered strong results in operations, strategy and finance objectives. Prior to joining Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs, Ms. Edwards was Vice President of Corporate Partnerships at Points of Light in Atlanta and Senior Director of Alternative Investments and Alumni programs for Sponsors for Educational Opportunity in New York City. She also worked as Interim Executive Director and Director of Finance at a Kaplan Higher Education college in Maryland, as a Private Client Manager at US Trust and a New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) Broker for Merrill Lynch. In 2004, she became the first African‐American female trading broker for Merrill Lynch on the floor of the NYSE and, subsequently, the only African‐American woman stock trader among the 1,366 members of the NYSE at that time. Edwards’ civic leadership includes Leadership Council member for Junior Achievement of Georgia, the Advisory Board for Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership and the board for Atlanta Beltline 67. She is also a 2017 Fellow of New Leaders Council Atlanta and member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. She is also the recipient of the 2018 Atlanta’s Women of Distinction Non-Profit Sector Award and the Atlanta Tuskegee Alumni Chapter 2019 Pioneer Award. Edwards earned a B.S. in Finance from Tuskegee University and an MBA from University of North Carolina, Kenan‐Flagler Business School, where she completed an exchange at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa and global immersions in India and Mexico.

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Sandy Headley

Vice President

Headley brings more than 20 years of banking experience to her role as Vice President of ACE. Headley directed the ACE lending team as Chief Lending Officer from 2007 to 2016. Her natural sales ability and passion for ACE’s mission has led the organization to deploy over $60 million to more than 950 small businesses, creating or saving more than 8,200 jobs. She was instrumental in developing multiple ACE financial products/programs and expanding the organization’s service area into Atlanta. Prior to joining ACE, Headley held various roles in banking over her career; she sits on the Green Chamber of the South Foundation Board and Capital Partners Certified Development Company Board. Sandy has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Central Florida.

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Luis Izaguirre

Chief Program Officer

As Chief Program Officer of ACE, Luis Izaguirre oversees all business advisory services, place-based work and SBA Women’s Business Center projects. Izaguirre previously founded the Hispanic American Center for Economic Development (HACED) and spent 10 years promoting and encouraging Hispanic entrepreneurship helping more than 75,000 entrepreneurs who established 3,000 new businesses. He was the Hispanic Center for Financial Excellence Director at ClearPoint Financial Solutions where he helped develop financial advisory services for the Hispanic market in Georgia and expanded to a second location in Florida. Izaguirre has an impeccable reputation in the business community both locally and internationally. His awards include Outstanding Contributions and Commitment to Business and Community Outreach Award” by the Georgia Department of Economic Development; and “Top Fifteen Best Graduates” by the Golden Key National Honor Society. Izaguirre earned his B.A. and MBA from Georgia State University.

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Zab Mendez
Commercial Loan Officer

Sandra Font
Director, Women’s Business Center

Jeff Moody
Grant Writer

Ruth Ann Whatley
Executive Assistant to the President

Cameron Cohran
Financial Analyst

Bonita Doster
Small Business Loan Officer

Courtney Lynn
Credit Risk Portfolio Manager

Lynn Sizemore
Loan Operations Manager

Robin Forrester
Loan Operations Specialist

Candi Fuller
Administrative Assistant

Vonda Echols
Director of Community Development

Rachael Hancock
Accounting Manager

Alejandra Diaz
Program Coordinator

Karen Malaga
Business Advisory Manager

Brigette Meeler
Accounting Specialist II

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