Equity Alliance for Business: Meet Your Bankers

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Abby Nguyen-Burke

Senior Vice President, Team Leader

Abby has over 19 years of business and community development experience in the Boston Metro area. She is currently leading a new lending initiative focused on serving the needs of women entrepreneurs and small business owners who are people of color.

Abby is first generation Vietnamese-American. Growing up as a refugee, she prioritizes the importance of family and community, and she strives to make a meaningful and lasting impact in the community where she lives and works. Recently, she was named as one of the 2022 40 Under 40 by the Boston Business Journal as well as one of the 2022 Emerging Leaders by the American Bankers Association.

As of 2023, Abby serves as Vice-Chair for the Policy Committee for the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA). In this role, she helps to lead members from 45 chapters across the country as they gather in Washington, D.C. for the 2023 Diversity and Fair Housing Summit to lobby and advocate for AAPI homeownership rights. Abby served as Chairperson for the AREAA Boston Chapter in 2021 and 2022. At Eastern, Abby has served as Co-Chair of the Asian American Professional Collective since 2012. She was formerly Board Chairperson and President of Quincy Asian Resources, Inc. for over 12 years, a volunteer teacher at Citizen Schools, Advisory Board member of Women of Means, and a volunteer for VIETAID and Dorchester House. Abby has been certified by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce with a Transformational DEI Certificate and is an alumna of The Boston Partnership. In 2014, she was named as one of the 40 under 40 by South Shore Stars, and in 2018 was named GK25 Boston’s 25 Most Influential Millennials of Color by Get Konnected!

Get to Know Abby

What was your first experience with a small business?
Helping my father with his small business. As an immigrant, my father had the opportunity to work in a printing shop and learned all the skills to eventually open his own shop. For over 20 years, he was the go-to printing company for the Vietnamese community in the Greater Boston area, printing menus, business cards, wedding invitations and more. Growing up I was tasked to help him with translating materials, responding to customers, helping with invoices and more. Through this experience, I saw my dad waking up early, coming home late, and working on the weekends. He was the end-all of every issue and decision for the company.

What does Equity Alliance for Business mean to you?
Growing up as a first generation Vietnamese American, I have always been passionate to help the underserved and underrepresented. Equity Alliance for Business gives more fuel to my fire to advocate for change and assist in elevating businesses owned by women and people of color.

What excites you about Equity Alliance for Business?
Collaboration. Seeing individuals and teams step out of their comfort level to become allies for this community. Collaboration is a big aspect of Equity Alliance for Business, from the planning to the launch and future delivery. Internal and external collaborations are essential. I’m excited to be a part of an ecosystem that prioritizes seeing everyone prosper and succeed.

What’s a favorite story involving a small business?
I have many favorites, but a standout story is about a small business I helped open its first free business checking account when it launched and I was working in a branch in retail banking. As the business has grown, I’ve been able to continue helping them with their lending needs as a business banker.

“Small business” means to me…
Grit, passion, entrepreneur.

Jason Solomon

Vice President, Relationship Manager

Jason has over seven years of banking experience and has held management roles at various financial institutions including Cambridge Trust Company and CliftonLarsonAllen LLP. With a consultative background around outsourced CFO and finance support, Jason enjoys working with clients looking for a strong banking relationship, with a particular affinity for supporting women business enterprises (WBE) and minority business enterprises (MBE). Jason joined Eastern in 2021 as part of the Equity Alliance for Business.

Currently, Jason serves as a Board Member for the University of Maine Alumni Association and is actively involved with several business networks and community organizations, providing insights and support.

Get to Know Jason

What was your first experience with a small business?
Growing up in Dorchester, MA, I remember seeing small businesses from block to block, and many were owned by people of color. Even today, Dorchester is filled with small businesses, which is great to see as it mirrors many areas in our New England region.

What does Equity Alliance for Business mean to you?
Being a part of Equity Alliance for Business speaks to lessening systemic inequities for women and people of color business owners. In prior roles, I’ve had great experiences working directly with small business owners, and listening to their stories about how they started and got to where they are. To now have a direct impact in terms of where these business owners want to go is something that I truly relish.

What excites you about Equity Alliance for Business?
To be able to focus on women and people of color businesses owners that need support, whether with banking, lending, or beyond, is most special to me. As someone that grew up in a minority community without specialized resources and support available for businesses, I am looking to provide just that as an Equity Alliance for Business banker.

What’s a favorite story involving a small business?
My favorite recent story was hearing from a minority association group that they had tried to reach out to financial institutions. To hear from the community that our Eastern team responded, followed up and met with them served as a reminder of the great work in which Equity Alliance for Business is embarking.

“Small business” means to me…
Small business equals impact! Healthily supported and strong small businesses can have a major impact and contribute to the overall strength of a community.

 

Annis Gill-Miller

Vice President, Relationship Manager

A North Carolina native, Annis started her career in financial and banking services with a concentration in retail management that spread across the Greater Boston area, in management roles at various financial institutions including Bank of America, Citizens Bank, Northern Bank and Trust, and Salem Five Bank. In her current role, she leverages her retail expertise to help the business community served by Equity Alliance for Business maintain and grow their businesses.

Annis actively supports community involvement through civic engagement, leadership development, networking, and social change. She has served on the Small Business of the Year Committee for the Boston Chamber of Commerce, and currently serves as a volunteer and member of the Fundraising Committee at the YWCA Boston, a member of the Alumni Board at UMASS Boston Emerging Leaders Program, and a Board Member and former Board Chair of “e” inc.

Get to Know Annis

What was your first experience with a small business?
My first experience was on a personal level as I observed firsthand a family-owned business in North Carolina. It operated assisted living and nursing home facilities and served the needs of displaced and/or disabled individuals. This business was managed with care, compassion, and a disciplined approach to provide people with the care they deserved. Entrepreneurship and serving others are in my ancestral bloodline!

What does Equity Alliance for Business mean to you?
I champion Equity Alliance for Business as it is an amazing opportunity to be unapologetic about equity and inclusion to this business community by giving a hand up, not a handout. This hand up and alliance to resources, products, services, and education allows them to enhance and grow their businesses to the next level and beyond!

What’s a favorite story involving a small business?
Helping a local non-profit organization secure a multi-million-dollar lending opportunity that was used to purchase additional housing units coupled with medical and social services for disabled individuals.

“Small business” means to me…
Community commitment/economic engagement.

 

Jose Abreu

Assistant Vice President, Relationship Manager

Jose is a business management professional with over 15 years of experience in business development, relationship, and project management across different industries in Chile, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, and the United States. Jose joined Eastern Bank in 2017 as part of the consumer banking/retail team and later transitioned to the business banking team to support the small business ecosystem in Eastern’s footprint.

Jose is an active member of several Eastern employee resource groups that support communities including LGBTQIA+, young professionals, Latinos, and persons with disabilities. He serves as a mentor/coach for small business entrepreneurs and member of the Board of Advisors at Entrepreneurship for All - Merrimack Valley and Lynn, a Board Member for Daydreaming Organization, and Director of Memberships at the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA) Boston. Jose is also an active member of Business Networking International in South Boston and serves as a member of the Alumni Board for AIESEC International.

Get to Know Jose

What was your first experience with a small business?
My first experience with a small business was in my late teens, when one of my sisters started her nail salon in the Dominican Republic. I watched her work against the odds by managing a business without having a bachelor’s degree. She was driven by passion and an artistry she knew better than anyone: how to make others feel pretty, confident, and empowered. Witnessing firsthand all the changes and preparation she had to undertake to begin and become profitable made me realize I wanted to support the small business ecosystem and elevate others so they can thrive and provide for their loved ones, just like my sister did.

What does Equity Alliance for Business mean to you?
Equity Alliance for Business represents a chance for me to bring in help tailored specifically to meet our women and minority business owners’ needs as well as to deliver upon their expectations for a quality banking experience.

What excites you about Equity Alliance for Business?
The game changing opportunity it will bring to our communities. We are not just doing a good thing, but the right and smart thing by helping our small businesses prosper.

What’s a favorite story involving a small business?
It involves one of my most valued customers, who owns an asset management firm in Boston. In 2018, after I was promoted to Assistant Branch Manager, he approached me for financial assistance to grow the business he started the year prior. He heard about Eastern Bank but had no relationship with us. When I heard his business plan, I immediately believed in his vision. We started to explore alternative financing options, and as a result he moved all his personal and business banking relationships to Eastern. The alternative approach ended up working, and I’m happy to say he has since been able to grow his business, despite the global pandemic, and solidify his firm. He later emailed me with these words: “Ever since I met you many years ago, you have impressed me. I follow your career on LinkedIn and continue to see you move forward. I am proud of everything you have accomplished.” I credit his trust and appreciation as the reason we were able to connect. That experience has taught me relationships matter and we need to think outside the box to become true connectors and change agents if we want our small businesses to thrive in this fast-changing economy.

“Small business” means to me...
Community development!