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.
President and CEO, MBA
In 1999 Fricks founded Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs, Inc. (ACE), a Georgia nonprofit organization that helps underserved business owners to start or expand their businesses through capital, coaching and connections. ACE has provided more than $56 million in loans, assisting more than 850 small businesses, and helped create or retain 7,300 jobs for Georgians. Last year Fricks was honored as a Vision of Excellence Award winner by the Atlanta Business League and was also presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by Startup Atlanta. In 2016, Fricks was recognized as one of Bizwomen’s 100 Women to Watch and a Women Who Mean Business Honoree by Atlanta Business Chronicle. She was named as one of the 100 Most Influential Georgians by Georgia Trend Magazine and the SBA Georgia District Financial Services Champion of the Year in 2014. Fricks currently serves on the Advisory Board for the City of Atlanta’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative (WEI), the Board of Directors of Appalachian Community Capital, and Invest Atlanta’s New Market Tax Credit Board. She is a past member of the board of directors of the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO). 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.
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President of Business Development
Pennie is the President of Business Development for ACE and serves as the leader of lending activity and program services. He heads up the lending team with an emphasis on growing the portfolio while enhancing a strong entrepreneurial education and support culture. 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.
Chief Financial Officer
As CFO for ACE, Brackett oversees the finance, accounting, compliance and loan operations departments for the $28 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.
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.
Headley brings more than 20 years of banking experience to her role as Vice President of ACE. She is responsible for Communication & Marketing along with fostering funder relationships. 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 $56 million to more than 850 small businesses, creating or saving more than 7,300 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.
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.
Commercial Loan Officer
Director of Community Outreach and Business Lending
Ruth Ann Whatley
Executive Assistant to the President
Commercial Loan Officer – Hispanic Market
Credit Risk Portfolio Manager
Loan Operations Manager
Loan Operations Specialist
Business Advisory Manager
Small Business Loan Officer
Director, Women’s Business Center