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About Us

The AVANZA Empowerment Fund was created through mission-driven partnerships, leverging data to provide an innovative solution for grassroots economic development.

Through a "Capital Landscape Study" we identified that our community has significant barriers for small business growth and access to capital, especially for underrepresented entrepreneurs. 

We scoured the country for cutting-edge solutions and adapted them for our community, and AVANZA was born!

This program would not have been possible without the following partners and sponsors.

Downtown Tucson

Meet The Team

Kristin "Kris" King is an experienced underwriter with a strong track record in the financial industry, with a specialization in alternative capital. She had over a decade of experience at Dreamspring Lending, working with underrepresented small businesses.


At the Tucson IDA she serves as a supervisor and mentor to our lending team. She reviews our policies, oversees lending decisions, and trains our team on issue spotting and successful underwriting techniques. 

Dre Thompson is an expert in data-driven program design and implementation for mission-driven community impact initiatives.


In her current role as the CEO of the Industrial Development Authority she oversees over $6M  in small business loans, a housing affordability program that has generated over $1B in mortgage loans, as well as a real estate and private activity bond portfolio that supports the mission and vision of the organization.

Wendy McBroom delights in empowering individuals and businesses to understand their finances and make better money decisions to reach their goals. Leveraging her considerable data analysis skills she  develops cash flow analysis and projections to establish the basis of our underwriting. She is currently working on her master’s degree in Personal Financial Planning from Kansas State University. She has a BS in Financial Planning, with a minor in Non-Profit Entrepreneurship. 

Nicole Johnson is a powerful communicator and advocate for small businesses. Prior to joining the Tucson IDA, Nicole built a well respected marketing firm, specializing in providing small businesses with data-informed strategies for growth. As an entrepreneur and natural coach, she is adept at working with small businesses to help them tell their story and track their progress using concrete metrics.


Through her work as a Community Development Champion, Nicole serves as a mentor, educator, trainer, and strategic advisor to help companies reach their goals.

Rebecca Meyer is a recent graduate from the University of Arizona with a Master's degree in Marketing.  In her role, she supports small businesses by providing marketing support, training, and guidance for funded companies, in both Spanish and English. 


Stephanie Bermúdez is a specialist in bicultural, binational, bilingual entrepreneurial support programming.  In her role as Financial Inclusion Director, Stephanie assist in culturally relevant, inclusive program development, execution, and staff training on issues of diversity and belonging. 

Loan Committee

Our program includes two loan committees that each meet monthly to review small business loan pitches. We intentionally recruit loan committee members with a diversity of backgrounds including finance, legal, organizational development/hr, marketing, technology, small business coaches, and small business owners.  50% of our loan committee members are bilingual and 53% are BIPOC individuals. 60% are women. 60% are entrepreneurs themselves.


Loan Committee members review applications, make recommendations for advancement, evaluate the small businesses pitch, and then include suggestions for technical assistance and support for the business. Loan Committee Members are all trained in our underwriting criteria and are well aligned with the mission of the organization.

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