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



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, Executive Director, 
Marla Bilonick is LEDC’s Executive Director and rejoined LEDC in 2012 after first working at the organization in 1999. Prior to becoming 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,
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, Program Manager, Small Business Development Department,
Rossana Espinoza is the Program Manager of the Small Business Development Team at LEDC. As Program Manager, 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,
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, Director of Development,
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.

Victoria Sampugnaro, Development and Communications Associate,
As Development and Communications Associate, Victoria supports aspects of LEDC's Development and Communications work. Victoria has experience in various roles across the non-profit field including: operating website platforms, grant writing, community organizing and outreach, event planning, cultivating relationships with donors, designing and implementing research studies, providing informational technology assistance to non-profit organizations, connecting individuals with social and community referrals, and providing counseling support to community members. Victoria obtained her Master in Social Work (M.S.W.) focused in Community Organizing, Planning and Development from the Silberman School of Social Work at CUNY – Hunter College where she enhanced her skills supporting community and economic development strategies across various geographic and affinity communities while working in New York City. Prior to obtaining her M.S.W., Victoria obtained her B.A. at Temple University while she worked as a counselor linking low-income adults with social and community supports in North Philadelphia.

Carlos Garcia Rada, Small Business Lending Officer,
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,
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.

Diana Avellaneda, Program Manager, Lending Department,
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 Program Manager of the Lending Department, 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.

Rodrigo Cordon, Small Business Lending Officer,
Rodrigo Cordon is from Guatemala and  graduated from Loyola University Maryland with a degree in Business Administration with a concentration in International Business. Before joining LEDC, Rodrigo worked for Under Armour, at the E-commerce department as a CSR in the returns team. Rodrigo has a passion for international development and has field experience in Peru and Zambia, where he performed his internships with Chemonics International. Rodrigo is very excited to be part of LEDC and help small businesses grow in Baltimore and its surrounding area.

Zara Cabrera, Portfolio and Data Administrator,
Zara was born and raised in the Petworth neighborhood in Washington, DC and her parents are Panamanian. Zara's previous work experience includes working as an administrative assistant at H&R Block and Rosemount Center. She graduated from Bell Multicultural High School in the Columbia Heights neighborhood and attended Montgomery College Silver Spring/Takoma Park campus. Zara enjoys being a part of an organization that helps small business owners that have difficulty obtaining credit from mainstream financial institutions achieve their dream of starting-up, improving, or expanding their businesses. In her spare time, Zara enjoys exploring new places and trying new things with her family, traveling and she has a passion for the arts.

Walda Yon, Homeownership Manager,
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,
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,
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,
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,
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,
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,
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 Housing Counseling Coordinator,
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,
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,
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.

Gonzalo Valdes, Housing Counselor,
Gonzalo comes to LEDC with a variety of experiences in progressive causes. Before coming to DC, Gonzalo’s interest in political causes blossomed into activist work around human rights and poverty. During his time with Organizing for America, he saw the tremendous need for community development in his local communities. This emboldened interest in equitable housing and community development led him to LEDC where he will be helping individuals with their housing needs. When he is not fretting over the state of the economy, Gonzalo can be found cheering on his hometown Buccaneers and dreaming of Florida sunshine.

Isis Salmeron, Small Business Lending Officer,
Originally from El Salvador, Isis Salmeron brings four years of experience working with small businesses and low income population in the DC Metropolitan area, especially in Montgomery County. She received her bachelor degree in Finance and Business Administration from the University of New Orleans, and her Master of Science in Finance from Johns Hopkins University. Isis is very excited to be part of LEDC and provide financial opportunities to small business’ owners and entrepreneurs. She loves spending her free time with her family and friends, reading, visiting new places, and volunteering her time to organizations.

Jorge Ortiz, Small Business Services Specialist,
Jorge Ortiz originally from Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico comes to LEDC with 4 years of experience working in NGO’s between Mexico and Peru supporting young entrepreneurs and creating life experiences through internships and exchanges around the world by AIESEC. He received his Bachelor's Degree in Business Management and Touristic Development from the University Technological of Leon, and he has attended many conferences and congressional hearings in Mexico as a speaker in Youth to Business Forum, National AIESEC Conferences and International Young Leaders Forum. Jorge is very excited to be part of LEDC and provide support to entrepreneurs with ideas and small business. Jorge started a business incubator in Mexico in 2014 and now he is applying his expertise with LEDC to support clients from other perspective. He loves work in team and he really believes nothing is impossible. He likes spending his free time with his family, friends and traveling discovering new places. Jorge lives to be a global citizen.