Staff

Equipping Latinos and other DC-area residents with the skills and financial tools to create a better future for their families and communities.

Staff



Though we draw from different places, passions, and experiences, we are united by our belief that the Washington region is stronger when all families have the opportunity to achieve financial independence and join with their neighbors to improve their quality of life.

So here's a little about us – email us if you have any questions.


Marla Bilonick, Interim Executive Director, mbilonick@lecmetro.org 
Marla Bilonick is LEDC’s Interim Executive Director and rejoined LEDC in 2012 after first working at the organization in 1999. Prior to becoming Interim Executive Director, as Director of Small Business Development, she worked with her team to provide high-quality bilingual training and technical assistance to entrepreneurs and small business owners. In graduate school at Johns Hopkins SAIS, she took an interest in microenterprise development and microfinance and was awarded a fellowship to study the effectiveness of national and local-level policies in Mexico aimed at supporting small businesses post-NAFTA. In New York, she worked with small businesses in Lower Manhattan that were impacted by the attacks of September 11th, helping to re-focus small businesses in the wake of tragedy. As previous director of the Upper Manhattan Business Solutions Center, Marla’s team was able to work closely with thousands of small businesses in Harlem to launch and expand their businesses, bridging gaps to critical resources including information and financing. Her work in the international arena in settings such as Costa Rica, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Panama provides her with cultural sensitivity and awareness that is useful for working with Latino participants. Marla believes that the communities that LEDC serves are vibrant and embody the entrepreneurial spirit that is required to take great ideas and bring them to life. In February 2013, Marla was appointed to serve on the DC Mayor's Business Regulatory Reform Task Force. Earlier this year, she was named an Emerging Leader in Microbusiness-Squared Fellow by FIELD at the Aspen Institute. In her free time, she spends time with family and friends, likes to travel, and arrange flowers.

Rod Ilagan, Chief Financial Officer, rilagan@ledcmetro.org
Rod joined LEDC in December 2013 after four years working as Chief Financial Officer at the Capital Area Food Bank. Under his financial stewardship, Rod helped to double the food bank's operations to 45 million pounds of food per year and grew its operating budget by one-third to $50 million. Rod feels especially close to the Latino community. For many years now, he has been working pro bono as a principal at Sherpa Financial to help his Latino neighbors in Annapolis to integrate into the community and achieve the goals of homeownership and financial independence. From 1997 to 2006, Rod started his own business of franchise restaurants, building up sales to $1 million and employing 35 individuals. In his free time, Rod spends time with his family, including three wonderful grandchildren, reading, and taking walks in the community daily.

Rossana Espinoza, DC Small Business Coach & Trainer, respinoza@ledcmetro.org
Rossana Espinoza is the DC Small Business Coach for the Small Business Development Team at LEDC. As coach, Rossana works to help entrepreneurs start and expand their businesses in DC by providing bilingual technical assistance in the areas of business planning, incorporation and licensing as well as holding trainings on topics pertinent to small business owners. Rossana has been at LEDC for two years since first joining as Outreach Coordinator for the Housing Department in 2011.
 
A graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park with a Bachelors degree in Government and Politics, Rossana has worked for student-led organizations on campus advocating for the inclusion and retention of Latino students. As a student, Rossana was an intern to Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL) as well as Montgomery County Council member, Valerie Erwin. Her undergraduate experience culminated by completing a study on factors that most affected students’ college enrollment as a research fellow at the Urban Institute. Rossana has worked on community development in a professional setting and volunteer basis and currently utilizes the skills gained to help minority and low-income small business owners.


Leda Hernández, Controller, lhernandez@ledcmetro.org
As Controller at LEDC, Leda Hernández is responsible for all bookkeeping and procurement activities as well as managing and reconciling all bank accounts. Leda has been working at LEDC in this capacity for the past ten years. Prior to joining LEDC in June 1998 she worked for the City Tavern Association where she served as an accountant. She received a B.S. in Accounting with a minor in Business Management from Strayer University in 1997. Leda says “my observation and experience of the under-representation in the government and the poor quality of life that is prevalent in so many communities has inspired me to consider the role I can play in making changes in these situations.” Leda serves the community with passion. She enjoys partaking in DC’s various cultural activities.


Marjorie Nemes, Development Manager, mnemes@ledcmetro.org
Marjorie Nemes brings ten years of experience conducting research and evaluation in the social justice field to LEDC’s Development Department. Marjorie helps LEDC raise funds and understand who we serve and assesses our impact in order to strengthen our program models and the effectiveness of our comprehensive approach to community-based economic development. She especially enjoys LEDC’s work to strengthen opportunities for financial security, independence, and civic engagement. She identifies her mixed racial, ethnic, and religious background, her father’s experience as a Holocaust survivor, and her own experience as an ethnic minority in the United States as a lens and perspective that has been critical to her work. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Maryland College Park, MD in Psychology and a Master of Science in Cross-Cultural Psychology from Brunel University in London, UK.


Cesar Lopez, Director of LEDC's Community Asset Fund for Entrepreneurs, clopez@ledcmetro.org

As Director of LEDC’s Community Asset Fund for Entrepreneurs, Cesar has worked in more than 25 countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia as well as with private, government and international organizations in the field of microfinance. Before joining LEDC, Cesar worked for 15 years with ACCION International, a private, nonprofit organization, serving multiple posts including vice-president of operations for Latin America, vice-president and head of the Department of Financial Services, and vice president and program manager of Global Programs. Cesar's belief in LEDC's mission is grounded in his appreciation and respect for new immigrants who are working to reach the American Dream as many other generations before them. Cesar believes immigrants infuse new energy in our communities and bring diversity and new skills that enrich our lives. As chief executive officer for CAFE, Cesar helps current and future micro and small entrepreneurs to reach their potential by helping them to create jobs and increase their quality of life. Cesar likes to travel and learn about different cultures, enjoys swimming and spending time with family, and also enjoys teaching underprivileged high school kids to prepare for college.


Carlos Garcia Rada, Small Business Lending Officer, cgarcia@ledcmetro.org

Carlos Garcia is a Small Business Lending Officer with LEDC. He has developed a solid reputation for excellent client service and customized financing solutions. He works out of LEDC’s Montgomery County hub in Wheaton, Maryland. Prior to working at LEDC, Carlos cultivated a career in financial service provision in the private sector, working for entities including SunTrust Bank where he served as a Business Relationship Manager. He also worked for banks in his native Peru, including Banco Santander and Banco Solventa in the areas of marketing and sales. There he developed, launched, and grew critical brands and products for those respective banks. Carlos holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Lima in Lima, Peru.


Carlos Arango, Senior Small Business Lending Officer, carango@ledcmetro.org
As Senior Small Business Lending Officer, Carlos works closely with small businesses owners in the DC metropolitan area. An industrial engineer with a M.A in Economics from John Hopkins University, Carlos joined LEDC in Fall 2009; he enjoys working with people from diverse backgrounds. Carlos understands the challenges of being an entrepreneur/small business owner and feels proud to work in a place that open doors of opportunity for all immigrant and underserved communities. In his free time, Carlos enjoys vegetarian cooking, ultimate frisbee, hiking, and taking long walks in the city. Carlos' favorite reading subject is history.


Angela Buitrago Neira, Senior Small Business Manager, aneira@ledcmetro.org

Angela moved to the United States in January 2008 from her native Colombia. Since arriving, she has worked in many banks and appreciates the complexities of navigating the financial system that immigrants face. Before moving to the United States, she worked for Microsoft as a Contact Center manager where she enjoyed assisting clients. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a Master’s degree in International Marketing, and she is currently completing an Associate’s Degree in International Business. As Senior Maryland Small Business Coach and Trainer, Angela is responsible for working closely with aspiring and established small business owners in Wheaton and other parts of Maryland. She enjoys being with her husband, sharing good food with family and friends, walking, jogging, traveling, dancing and listening to music.


Christina Stockamore, Senior Small Business Lending Officer, cstockamore@ledcmetro.org
Christina Stockamore joined the LEDC team at the start of 2010 as the Business Outreach Manager for the Wheaton, Maryland office. Now, as Senior Small Business Lending Officer, she works to help small businesses in DC access credit through LEDC’s Community Asset Fund for Entrepreneurs. A graduate of Georgetown University with a Masters degree in Latin American Studies, Christina is eager to combine her passion for economic development and entrepreneurship to improve the wealth-building capacity of others. After completing her graduate work, Christina spent a year working for National Geographic’s Center for Sustainable Destinations. She hopes to bring her experience running a summer camp for at-risk youth in Costa Rica to her position and in the process strengthen the community in which she lives. In her spare time, Christina can often be found riding her road bike, practicing yoga, cooking, or planning her next travel adventure.


Diana Avellaneda, Portfolio Manager, davellaneda@ledcmetro.org

Diana Avellaneda brings 15 years of experience to LEDC working in the field of finance in areas such as cash management, accounting, and investing with institutions including Citibank and Santander Bank. As Portfolio Manager, Diana is responsible for the management, administration and accounting of LEDC’s portfolio which has reached $1.5 million and more than 150 clients. She supports and develops all back office operations for LEDC's Community Asset Fund for Entrepreneurs to ensure LEDC business loans are repaid and adequately processed. She loves working at LEDC because of its work to help people not just tackle the challenging world of business but achieve success. Diana loves spending time with her family, skiing, and eating Italian food.

Paulina Valdez, Small Business Lending Officer, pvaldez@ledcmetro.org
Paulina is from El Salvador and recently graduated from American University with a degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Entrepreneurship. She has a passion for international development and microfinance and has field experience in both Peru and Haiti. Paulina previously interned with LEDC in 2010 as well as with FINCA International and Caja Rural los Andes.

Walda Yon, Homeownership Manager, wyon@ledcmetro.org
Walda Yon brings six years of experience working with the Latino community in Washington, DC. Prior to working with LEDC, Walda worked in administrative and outreach capacities with Health Services for Children with Special Needs, Carlos Rosario International Career Center & Public Charter School, International Migrants Development Fund, and Alfa Omega Tax Service. Originally from Guatemala, Walda came to the US in 2000 with solid work experience in customer service and procurement at one of the leading sugar refineries in the country.  Walda attended the Business Administration School at the Mariano Galvez University in Guatemala. In her position as Senior Housing Counselor Walda educates clients on the credit system, financial literacy and the home buying process.  Also, Walda works with homeowners at risk of losing their homes to avoid foreclosure. She can also be seen in the community leading workshops at off-site venues. Walda is motivated by the fact that she is helping to improve the financial health of the community. She knows that by providing the tools for wealth-building to each client, she is helping their families and the community as a whole. Walda in her spare time enjoys keeping up to date on information related to her work. She also likes to take walks and enjoy the scenery of Rock Creek Park.

Raquel Colon, DC Housing Counseling Support Staff, rcolon@ledcmetro.org
Originally from Honduras, Raquel grew up in Washington, DC. Having worked in different fields, Raquel has acquired multiple skills such as management, customer service and accounting. She previously worked as a Leasing Manager for a property management company where she was responsible for renewing leasing and making sure the company was in accordance with HUD regulations. Raquel is finishing up her Bachelor's degree in Global Business with a minor in International Management from Regent University. Raquel is passionate about community building and spreading the word about LEDC’s various programs. “It's nice to see people get excited about being able to be homeowners.” Raquel's favorite pastime is to be with her family exploring all the DC area has to offer. She also enjoys reading and swimming.


Patricia Belbusti, Senior Bilingual Foreclosure Housing Counselor, pbelbusti@ledcmetro.org
Originally from Argentina, Patricia is a bilingual housing counselor in the LEDC’s Wheaton, MD office. Patricia formerly worked in real estate and holds a real estate license in both MD and DC. She has also acted and played the guitar as part of LEDC’s teatro callejero, bilingual, musical plays performed in the streets at outdoor festivals, telling the story of a family trying to improve their housing situation.


Maria Godoy, Bilingual Housing Counselor, mgodoy@ledcmetro.org
Born in Los Angeles California but raised most of her childhood in El Salvador.  Maria joined LEDC November 2010 as a Bilingual Foreclosure Housing Counselor.  Prior to LEDC, Maria worked for two years as a Loan officer for Bank of America and for three years as a Title Closer for RGS Title.  Maria has had an active license as a title insurance producer for five years.  Maria successfully completed Neighborworks Foreclosure Intervention and Default Counseling Certification in February of 2011.


Farah Fosse, Director of Housing Department, ffosse@ledcmetro.org
As Director of the Housing Department, Farah coordinates the work of the affordable housing preservation and homeownership programs to educate renters and homeowners on their housing rights, assist residents in preserving their housing as affordable, and advocate for affordable housing policies in DC. Farah Fossé joined LEDC in October of 2005 in this role. Farah has served as a representative on Mayor Fenty’s Tenant Advisory Council and Mayor Grey’s Comprehensive Housing Strategy Task Force Coalition. Farah is a graduate of Smith College in Northampton, MA with a BA in Latin American Studies and Economics. During college she studied in Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico and has traveled extensively in Latin America. Farah is originally from Connecticut but her diverse family hails from the Midwestern United States and Puerto Rico. Farah has lived in Northwest DC since 2000 and is passionate about preserving DC’s diversity and preventing the displacement of low and moderate-income residents, particularly Latinos, from the area.


Tamira Ramirez, Tenant Organizing Manager, tramirez@ledcmetro.org
Tamira works to preserve affordable housing and prevent the displacement of DC’s residents by identifying buildings where tenants are most at risk of displacement and by working along with tenant associations, government agencies, city officials, legal representatives, and non-profit developers. Tamira’s determination to advocate and assist DC’s tenant community has contributed to the District’s preservation of affordable housing since 2011.

Tamira is certified by Quadel Consulting in the area of Low Income Housing Tax Credit Compliance-TaCCs. She serves as LEDC’s representative for the DC Language Access Coalition to ensure that DC’s limited English proficient community members have access to vital DC services. Tamira also represents LEDC in the DC Coalition for Immigrants’ Rights that championed legislation to provide access to a driver’s license for undocumented DC residents.

Prior to LEDC, Tamira worked at the School of the Americas Watch where with lobbying, research and organizing communities across the western hemisphere pushed for the closure of the School of the Americas. Her organizing experience started in 2009 when she co-founded PRESENTE in order to plug Beloit College students into local organizing and advocating for Wisconsin immigrants’ rights. Her passion to help the Latino community and other immigrant communities comes from her own experience growing up in El Salvador during the 12-year-long civil war. She moved to the United States in 2002 and ever since then she has dedicated her academic and professional career to serve Latino and other immigrant communities in the US.


Philip Kennedy, Tenant Organizing and Outreach Associate, pkennedy@ledcmetro.org
Phil (or Felipe) Kennedy is a Bilingual Tenant Organizer in the Housing Department. Originally from Hershey, PA, he started working at LEDC in 2013. He enjoys working with the immigrant community in DC, and especially loves being able to support DC tenants who are looking to change their city and the world. Prior to working at LEDC, Phil worked on the US/Mexico border at the Migrant Resource Center in Agua Prieta, Sonora. He has undergraduate degrees in Spanish and Peace and Conflict Studies from Guilford College, a Quaker school in Greensboro, NC. In his spare time, Phil reads science fiction books and fixes his bicycle (which is somehow always broken!)

Yesenia Rivera, Bilingual Tenant Organizer, yrivera@ledcmetro.org
Yesenia joined LEDC in 2013. She grew up between New York and Puerto Rico but has been calling DC home for almost 15 years. Yesenia has a Bachelor in Science from the University of Puerto Rico and a Law degree from the University of the District of Columbia- David A. Clarke School of Law.  She joins LEDC after having worked as a Student Attorney at the Community Development Legal Clinic at the law school. It was during her time at the clinic that she witnessed the effects of the affordable housing crisis in DC, particularly in the Latino community. The clinical experience fueled her passion for community development and she is thrilled to have joined the Affordable Housing Preservation team where she can help further empower the Latino community in DC.

Talia Brock, Tenant Organizer, tbrock@ledcmetro.org
Talia joined LEDC in August of 2014. She grew up and lived in Silver Spring, MD for most of her life. As a DC metro area native, Talia has been cognizant of the many issues afflicting the DC area and its residents. She is an avid reader and writer, and enjoys almost any pastime that keeps her physically active, especially playing basketball and biking. Talia graduated from Denison University in 2013 with a B.A. in English Literature and Spanish, and took courses in Poverty and Development while studying abroad at Pontificia Universidad Católica de la Madre y Maestra in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic. It was through her studies and volunteer work during her semester abroad that she solidified her interest in non-profit work. In the fall of 2013 Talia began a year of service as a Corps Member with City Year in Washington, DC, where she was placed as a tutor and mentor in an under-performing elementary school. At the conclusion of her corps year, Talia worked for a short time as an Assistant Teacher in the S.T.U.D.I.O. Rocks program at CentroNía, a bilingual school in the District. Talia is incredibly excited about working with LEDC because she has been given the opportunity to continue working alongside members of the community while exploring a new avenue of the non-profit world.

Katherine Canales, Housing Counselor, kcanales@ledcmetro.org
Katherine joined LEDC in September 2014. She is of Ecuadorian and Salvadorian descent. A recent graduate of Trinity Washington University, Katherine majored in International Affairs, concentrating on global migration, and minoring in Spanish and Latin American Studies. Having demonstrated academic excellence by graduating with several honors she was inducted into three honor society chapters: Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Alpha Theta, and Sigma Iota Rho. Katherine believes that her customer service work experience and education has helped her develop outstanding interpersonal communication skills and cultural sensitivity, which aids her in helping create financial independence for LEDC's clients. During her spare time, Katherine enjoys spending quality time with her family and dog Piglet, as well creating makeup looks and tutorials.