Paul Stewart, Director of Training at the Community Loan Fund announced that he is retiring in January 2022, after 23 years with the organization. During his time with the organization, he has helped hundreds of entrepreneurs get their start.

“Paul Stewart is a community servant, with a long career in advancing racial equity and community development,” says Linda MacFarlane, Executive Director of the Community Loan Fund. “We were lucky enough to have him at the Community Loan Fund for 23 years, shaping our training program and sharing his skills and expertise with generations of small business owners.”

Prior to joining the Community Loan Fund team, Stewart served as the Deputy Director of Albany Community Action Partnership for 9 years (1986-1995), and Executive Director there for three years (1995-1998). He was also the Director of Parish and Community Services for the Catholic Family Services for 3 years (1983-1986).

Stewart started at the Community Loan Fund in 1998 as a Lending Officer, helping finance small businesses owned by women, minorities, and people of low-income and nonprofits that serve those populations. After six years, he moved to his current position as Director of Training, where he has been ever since.

Stewart developed the training arm of the Community Loan Fund. He felt strongly that undercapitalized communities needed additional supports, and without training and guidance, loans would be incomplete. To address this, he helped develop and lead the Loan Fund’s 8-Week Business Planning Course, the first small business training course offered in the region specifically directed at smaller entrepreneurs.

He also expanded the Community Loan Fund’s training program to include various small business workshops throughout the year on topics ranging from accounting and bookkeeping to marketing and social media strategy. He brings in subject matter experts from the community to donate their time and expertise to training emerging entrepreneurs. He also works one-on-one with clients, helping them write business plans, create marketing plans, and apply for funding.

In 2003, Stewart and his wife MaryLiz Stewart co-founded the Underground Railroad Education Center at the Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence, where he will continue to work after his retirement. He is also looking forward to spending more time with his new grandson, Quinn.