- Emi Reyes, Chief Executive Officer
- Isis Salmeron, Chief Financial Officer
- Sonia Castro-Maya, Accounting Manager
- Eduwiges Arciniega, Senior Staff Accountant
- Susana Gómez Portugal Monroy, Senior Portfolio Manager
- Daniela Garcia Corrales, Accounts Payable Administrator
- Hector Santiago, Director of Operations
- Nicole Durler-Montant, Director of Development
- Camilo Serna, Operations Associate
- Claudia Ramirez, Receptionist & Executive Assistant
- Sofia Darsin, Grants and Evaluation Associate
- Carlos Quiroz, Director of Puerto Rico Programs
- Rachel Eisenberg, Human Resources Manager
- Ness Perry, Advocacy Specialist
- Ricardo Cardoza-Bejarano, Marketing Content & Engagement Associate
- Jaime A. Segui-Asad, Communications Associate
- Gabriela (Gabby) Villegas, Data Analyst
Direct Community Investments Program
- Laura Bentley, Direct Community Investments Director
- Helen (Ellie) Owen, Direct Community Investments Senior Product Development Manager
- Gerardo Hernandez, Direct Community Investments Senior Product Developer
- Darline Adon, Direct Community Investments Senior Associate
- Manuel Cude-Pacheco, Direct Community Investments Program Manager
- Maria Godoy, Direct Community Investments Program Manager
- Nicolle Yaranga, Direct Community Investments Senior Product Developer
- Rosalia Turcios, Direct Community Investments Program Design Specialist
- Rene Llanes, Direct Community Investments Program Associate
- Carlos Brown, Direct Community Investments Program Associate
- Isabel Delgado, Direct Community Investments Program Associate
- Jessica Degaine, Direct Community Investments Program Associate
- Ana Guzman, Direct Community Investments Program Associate
- Zara Cabrera, Direct Community Investments Program Associate
- David San Lorenzo, Direct Community Investments Program Associate
- David Moreno, Direct Community Investments Program Associate
- Justin Rodriguez, Direct Community Investments Program Associate
- Dominic Rosenthal, Direct Community Investments Program Associate
- Elizabeth Abreu, Direct Community Investments Program Associate
- Dismailin Chalas, Direct Community Investments Program Associate
- Giovanny Gonzalez Hernandez, Direct Community Investments Program Associate
Small Business Programs
- Omar Velasco, Chief of Small Business Services & Lending
- Sergio Von Horoch, Loan Portfolio Administrator
- Yanina Edith Chumpitaz, Senior Loan Officer and Underwriter, VA
- Carlos Garcia Rada, Senior Small Business Loan Officer and Underwriter, MD
- Alejandro Arizaga, Senior Small Business Loan Officer, Baltimore
- Nicolas Arnaude, Senior Small Business Loan Officer, DC
- Ronal Castillo, Senior Small Business Loan Officer
- Adriana Nazario, Senior Loan Officer & Underwriter, VA
- Glorivette Crespo, Loan Officer and Underwriter, PR
- Giovanni Rojas, Loan Officer and Underwriter, PR
- Alessandro Coreas, Loan Servicing Specialist II, DC
- Small Business Development
- Alexandra Samaniego, Program Manager, DC
- J.B. Behrens, Senior Loan Officer and Underwriter, DC
- Javier Bisbal, Senior Small Business Coach & Liaison, PR
- Valeria Lopez, Small Business Coach
- Jose Vargas, Senior Small Business Coach, DC
- Francisco Javier Jimenez, Senior Small Business Coach, DC
- Vincent Renner, Small Business Coach
- Adrian Tabassi, Intake Coordinator
- Resilient Business Corridors
- Maria Llanos, Senior Small Business Coach & Liaison, MD (Purple Line)
- Patrick Gannon, Small Business Coach & Liaison, Prince George’s County
- Empowered Women International (EWI)
- Alexandra Boycheck, Senior Program Manager
- Nicole Andonie, Senior Program Coordinator
- Anette Kaminski, Women's Small Business Coach & Program Associate
- Maria O. Correa Sanchez, Program Coordinator
- Walda Yon, Chief Housing Programs Officer
- Housing Counseling
- Angelica Rufino, Bilingual Housing Counselor & Program Manager, DC
- Diana Garcia, Housing Support Specialist
- David Glickman-Restrepo, Bilingual Housing Counselor, DC
- Magaly Moreno, Bilingual Housing Counselor, DC
- Julian Talero, HUD Certified Housing Bilingual Counselor, DC
- Leo Elias, Housing Education & Financial Empowerment Manager, DC
- Karen Torrico, Housing Counseling Program Manager, MD
- Saul Vasquez, Bilingual Housing Counselor, MD
- Eric Lucero, Housing Education Coordinator
- Nahuel Godoy, Bilingual Housing Counselor, MD
- Karen Serfis, Certified Housing Counselor & Program Manager, VA
- Robin Chavez Urzagaste, Bilingual Housing Counselor, VA
- Tenant Services and Eviction Prevention
- Julia Sarmiento, Tenant Services & Eviction Prevention Program Manager
- Mary Jane Regalado, Bilingual Tenant Services Coordinator, DC
- Affordable Housing Preservation
- Lauren Taylor, Tenant Organizer & Program Manager
- Ricardo Gallardo, Senior Bilingual Tenant Organizer
- Awad Bilal, Tenant Organizer
- Gustavo Vargas, Bilingual Tenant Organizer
- Clara Lincoln, Senior Bilingual Tenant Organizer
- Gabriela Morris-Flores, Eviction Prevention Project Coordinator
Meet Emi—a nonprofit executive, financial strategist, and force for good. As LEDC’s CEO, Emi brings more than a decade of strategic leadership experience including five years at LEDC. With a passion for entrepreneurship and small business, Emi’s career has focused on transforming nonprofit and for-profit organizations by catalyzing change and fueling growth.
Born to Salvadoran immigrants who operated a family-owned restaurant, Emi’s foray into the world of small business and entrepreneurship started at a young age. While pursuing her degree in political science at Bennington College in Vermont, Emi co-founded the college’s first student farm, trained women entrepreneurs in South Korea in business communications and English, and organized hundreds of volunteers as a campaign fellow for Obama for America. Emi played a pivotal role in Chipotle Mexican Grill’s expansion strategy across New York, Maryland, and Washington, DC, spearheading operations across eight locations while directing up to 56 employees and multiple budgets of up to $12M.
Joining LEDC in 2017 as a Microfinance Lending Intern, Emi swiftly assumed positions of increasing responsibility, serving recently as Director of Operations & Risk Management and Chief of Operations, Risk & Investments. Strategizing with key leaders across the organization, Emi has steered funding and expansion initiatives while stewarding organizational assets and government funds with the utmost diligence.
A champion for small business, Emi chairs the Entrepreneurial & Food Jobs Working Group for the Mayor’s Food Policy Council to support the growth of minority food businesses in low-income areas. She resides in Washington, DC.
Isis Salmerón is LEDC’s Chief Financial Officer. Spearheading LEDC’s finance functions, Isis advises the CEO and Board of Directors on budgets, financial strategies, compliance matters, and efficiencies. She leads the development of the annual budget, collaborates with cross-functional finance, program, and operational teams, and directs the performance of finance staff.
Bringing over ten years of experience in finance and budgeting, Isis continually evolves LEDC’s financial framework, setting forth financial policies, procedures, controls, and reporting systems to maximize the return on financial assets. She holds full accountability for cost and general accounting, accounts receivable, collections, and regulatory compliance for federal, state, local, and privately funded loans and grants. During her time at LEDC, Isis has influenced the organization’s growth from 40 to 85 employees while stewarding multi-million-dollar loan and grant programs to empower small businesses.
Assuming ever-increasing responsibility, Isis has also served LEDC as the Director of Finance, Lending Operations Manager, Senior Lending Officer & Underwriter, and Small Business Lending Officer. Prior to joining LEDC, she oversaw microlending for the International AMC Corporation. With over nine years of experience transforming small businesses and low-income populations by administering grants and loans, she plays a pivotal role in shaping the future of the DC metropolitan area. Originally hailing from El Salvador, Isis leverages a rich background to connect easily with diverse audiences.
Isis holds a Bachelor of Arts in Finance and Business Administration from the University of New Orleans and a Master of Science in Finance from Johns Hopkins University.
Sonia Castro is LEDC’s Accounting Manager with over 28 years of experience in accounting and finance, including 16 years of experience in her native Colombia where she was Director of Finance for Contactar, a leading economic development and microfinance organization. Sonia comes to LEDC with a strong background in finance and accounting. Working closely with the Director of Finance, Sonia is responsible for all areas relating to financial reporting and accounting. Prior to joining LEDC, Sonia worked for nine years as Accounting Manager at Centronia and DC Bilingual Public Charter School. Sonia received a Bachelor of Arts in Public Accounting from Marian University in Colombia and holds a certificate in Management and Administration.
Eduwiges Arciniega is LEDC’s Senior Staff Accountant. As part of the finance team, she is responsible for managing all financial and accounting transactions for the organization, including reporting, assisting in annual budget preparations, and managing grant resources. She brings over nine years of experience working with non-profit organizations in the areas of accounting and finance. Eduwiges holds a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM) and a Master of Science in Accounting. Eduwiges enjoys listening to all types of music, traveling, doing outdoor activities, and meeting people from around the world.
Susana is LEDC’s Loan Portfolio Manager. She oversees the liquidity of LEDC’s loan funds, supervises the lending program financial operations, and manages relationships with banks and clients. Before becoming the Loan Portfolio Manager, Susana worked as a Loan Officer and Underwriter for LEDC. Susana is a professional with international experience and exposure in Forbes 500 Companies (Mattel and Johnson & Johnson) who has transitioned to the nonprofit sector. She loves to work in diverse cultures contributing to empowering communities to create sustainable, positive feedback loops. Prior to joining LEDC, she worked at Conexion, a small non-profit organization based in Boston focused on empowering Latino professionals in corporate positions, while also working as a Microfinance and Fintech collaborator at Accion East. Susana holds a BA in Accounting with a Specialization in Taxes. She also holds an MBA and a master's in International Marketing from Hult International Business School, as well as a Nonprofit Management Executive Certificate from Georgetown University. Susana speaks Spanish, English, and French. She enjoys learning, traveling and meeting people from different cultures.
Daniela joined LEDC in 2021 as a Tenant Services Coordinator, she helped the community by assisting tenants in filing applications for rental assistance programs in the District of Columbia, as well as outreach programs such as LIHEAP/ECOS and SNAP by supporting tenants virtually and in person and providing referral services for all tenants in need of assistance linking them to appropriate resources. Prior to joining the team, Daniela worked at LEDC as a STAY DC connector. Some of her responsibilities included conducting outreach events, covering clinics, helping tenants fill out applications for the STAY DC program, uploading documents, and contacting landlords.
In October 2022, her position was upgraded to Finance Assistance, where her responsibilities consisted of assisting the finance department in the day-to-day operations of the Finance Department, including financial data entry, filing, and expense reporting.
Currently, in her new position as Accounts Payable Administrator, Daniela is responsible for assisting the finance department with all aspects of accounts payable, filing, and expense reporting. As well as helping the staff with SAGE, Intact, and Emburse.
She is currently studying Business Administration with HR Management at Trinity Washington University. Her hobbies include watching movies, listening to music , playing the saxophone, traveling, and enjoying time with friends and her cat, Latino.
Hector was born in Puerto Rico, where he lived and worked in Sales, Marketing, Human Resources, and Operations. He brings over 20 years of Leadership experience managing various private businesses on the island. Hector has a Bachelor’s Degree in Management from the University of Puerto Rico and a Master’s Degree in Materials Management from Ana G. Mendez University of PR. He is also OSHA Certified and Lean Six Sigma Certified. After relocating with his family to the DMV area in 2021, he worked as Operations Director for a private Immigration Law Firm based out of Washington, DC, helping hundreds of immigrants living in the US get work permits, legal documents, and US Citizenship. In his current role as Operations Director at LEDC, Hector provides Administrative and Operational support to all the offices within our organization. Hector likes to spend time with his family, listen to Latin music, and watch basketball and volleyball games in his free time.
Nicole Durler-Montant is a former Diplomat and a non-profit professional with a B.A. in International Affairs and Diplomacy and a M.S. in Social Interventions in Knowledge Societies. She is a Certified Diversity Professional (NDCCDP) with 6+ years of professional devotion to creating positive social impact through peace dialogue and cross-cultural projects.
Nicole was born in El Salvador and migrated to the United States at 8 years old with her family. After completing high school, she moved to Taiwan through a scholarship program to learn Mandarin Chinese. She pursued her bachelor’s degree at Ming Chuan University- the first U.S. Accredited University in Asia. While in studying, Nicole parallelly taught English to children and adults. With her earnings, she was able to travel to 40+ countries. This led her to discover her passion for appreciating the richness of different cultures and develop a deeper understanding on the importance of global diversity, all with the purpose of contributing to social equity and unity. Shortly after, she joined the Diplomatic Foreign Service of El Salvador and was appointed to UNESCO in Paris, where she worked for over four years advocating for equal access to quality education, safeguarding cultural heritage and protecting biodiversity.
After being abroad for 10+ years, she returned to the U.S. to join the National Diversity Council where she led partnership establishment efforts and supported organizations by providing spaces for dialogue, best practice exchanges, tools, and resources to contribute to their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion journeys.
At LEDC, Nicole serves as Director of Development, where she works alongside an inspiring team to retain and develop new valuable partnerships that support the continuous growth and impact of LEDC. Nicole is fluent in English, Spanish, French and Mandarin Chinese, which demonstrates her drive to better understand people’s stories and brings a multicultural vision to the organization.
Julian Camilo is a Colombian national born and raised in Medellin, Colombia. Camilo holds two professional degrees, one as a Social Communicator and a second one as an International Chef. Prior to joining the LEDC in June 2022 as an Operations Associate, and thanks to his diverse education, he worked in different fields such as banking, communications, hospitality, etc. between Colombia, Honduras, El Salvador, and The United States for over eleven years.
Camilo has lived in different countries in the past eight years which has helped him to get exposed to different cultures and to make good friends and colleagues. Camilo is currently the person who deals with purchase requisitions, liaison with service providers, assistance with the onboarding of new staff, among other operational activities within the LEDC.
Claudia was born in New York City and raised in Guatemala. With 19 years of total work experience, Claudia first became a Graphic Designer Assistant leading her to obtain her degree in Communications and Graphic Design at Galileo University in Guatemala City, Guatemala. After moving back to the United States in 2007 and during the last five years before joining LEDC, Claudia worked with a Property Management Company (The Barac Co.) as a Customer Service Representative and Supervisor in Washington DC. She has also held other jobs as the Senior Administrative Assistant for the San Diego Housing Commission in San Diego, California, and as a Real-Time Analyst in Xerox Guatemala, now Conduent for the UPS account. In her current role as Receptionist and Executive Assistant to the CEO/ED, Claudia provides administrative support to the organization and oversees the CEO’s schedule. In her free time, Claudia likes technology and learning about new cultures and languages. She also possesses two additional certifications from Google IT Support and Digital Marketing.
Sofia is LEDC’s Grants and Evaluation Associate. In this role, she manages active grants and coordinates organizational compliance requirements. She also supports LEDC’s Development Team with evaluation and proposal writing. Sofia has a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the University of Florida and a Master of Science in Development Management from the London School of Economics. She completed a dissertation researching international education policy and the effects of international scholarships on the human capital development of the global south. Sofia has three years of experience in the economic development and nonprofit field. She has consultancy experience providing research for Save the Children UK on public-private partnerships in terms of social and economic impact. Before coming to LEDC, Sofia worked for a nonprofit, providing resources to individuals experiencing homelessness in Baltimore City. Sofia is passionate about providing resources to underprivileged communities. In her free time, you can find her at the gym, at the dog park with her dog Karma, or binging the newest Spanish Netflix series.
Carlos Quiroz is an experienced professional with more than 20 years of experience developing strong relationships with governmental and non-governmental organizations. He holds a B.Sc. in Agricultural Engineering from the ITESM Campus Querétaro in Mexico and a Master's Degree in International Business Management from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. In 2014, he moved from Mexico with his family to Puerto Rico to support his wife’s professional growth with a biotechnology seed company. Since then, Carlos has been working on various economic development projects for other non-profit organizations in the implementation of such programs and writing and submitting grant applications.
With a deep understanding of the region's (Latin America and the Caribbean) business practices, Carlos has developed a trustworthy network of entrepreneurs, executives, and policymakers to help him achieve his professional goals. Now at LEDC, Carlos serves as Director of Puerto Rico Programs to lead the expansion of our presence and impact in Puerto Rico in close collaboration with other leadership team members to ensure programmatic and administrative goals are met in our Puerto Rico office.
Rachel Eisenberg currently serves as LEDC’s Human Resources Manager. Her duties and expertise include onboarding, payroll, employee relations, and managing the employee life cycle. During her time at LEDC, Rachel has successfully onboarded more than double in employee headcount since 2021. With over 12 years of experience in her field, she believes the mission of a Human Resources professional requires to you give help to employees in need.
Rachel grew up in Columbia, MD and received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Hartford in West, Hartford, CT. While attending UHart, Rachel was the undergrad Research Assistant for Dr. Jessica Nicklin focusing on Industrial Organizational psychology which started her path into Human Resources. In her down time, Rachel enjoys bird watching and traveling to historical landmarks.
As LEDC's Advocacy Specialist for the Small Business team, Ness is in charge of developing policy plans and goals that support business owners along the Purple Line Corridor in Prince George’s and Montgomery County as well as the greater advocacy goals of LEDC. Ness brings 6 years of experience working in the policy field, beginning at the state level in her hometown: Orange County, California. At the age of 15, Ness wrote their first bill for the California State Legislature; this launched her interest in the world of politics. Most prevalent to this discovery was Ness’ affinity for how policy shapes everyday life.
Ness moved to Washington D.C. in 2017 with the goal of obtaining an undergraduate degree and working in the policy field. She spent her first summer in D.C. working for the Project on Government Oversight where she contributed to research that exposed the Department of Homeland Security for its treatment of migrants in I.C.E. detention facilities. This research contributed to the drafting and introduction of a bill by Senator Durbin from Illinois and Senator Cory Booker. Following this, Ness worked at NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice as a Communications Associate, supporting their lobbyists and policy goals through social media, the press, and grassroots organizing. Ness enjoyed creating policy strategies that supported access to food, tax breaks for families, and the common good.
Ness has a bachelor’s in History from Trinity Washington University and is currently obtaining a Masters of Legal Studies at Pepperdine University. In their free time, Ness likes to attend concerts, try new vegan recipes, and hang out on the back deck with her roommates.
As Marketing Content and Engagement Associate, Ricardo manages LEDC's social media strategy and promotion, website design and optimization, film and graphic creation and editing. Raised in Tijuana, Mexico, Ricardo obtained his Bachelors of Arts in Business Administration and Marketing at the University of San Diego and is currently pursuing his Masters of Science in International Business at George Washington University. Ricardo professional background includes a mix of marketing consulting and marketing strategy, having previously worked as a Marketing Associate at his alma mater's Small Business Development Center. In his spare time, Ricardo enjoys reading, running, boxing, and traveling.
Jaime A. Segui-Asad
As the Communications Associate, Jaime oversees a range of strategic communication tasks such as marketing, social media management, content strategy, website design, and client outreach. Originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico, Jaime relocated to Arlington, VA in 2013. With a master's degree in strategic communication from George Mason University and a Magna cum laude bachelor's degree in journalism, along with a Minor in Spanish, Jaime brings a strong academic and culturally aware background to his role. Beyond his professional expertise, Jaime has experience in customer service, journalism, and youth baseball coaching. During his free time, he enjoys watching sports, staying active through exercise, and spending quality time with friends and family.
As LEDC’s Data Analyst, Gabby works with each department to ensure data integrity and conducts analyses for reports, studies, and evaluations. Prior to joining the team, she worked as an analyst supporting projects under the Military Health System. There, she was responsible for data, policy, and risk analysis; client engagement; and database management. She grew up in Arlington, VA and attended the College of William & Mary, earning a bachelor’s degree in economics with a minor in theatre. In her free time, Gabby performs with her indie improv team around DC and collects novelty earrings.
Direct Community Investments Program
As Director of the Direct Community Investments (DCI) department, Laura oversees the administration of various privately and publicly funded grant programs, facilitating the processing and disbursement of grant awards. She served as DCI Program Manager for the first two years following the department's launch in 2020; prior at LEDC, Laura supported business owners as a Coach with Small Business Development department.
Laura's professional background blends business insights, data analytics, and digital systems development. Before joining LEDC, she worked as a Tax Technology Consultant with PwC Argentina, where she developed automated databases for international transfer pricing clients. Passionate about entrepreneurship as a catalyst for social change, she has also been involved with organizations such as the Barcelona-based AFAEMME and the Boston-based Center for Women & Enterprise, which assist women in business to grow their companies and realize their full potential. She is excited to now support the LEDC community through financial assistance initiatives with DCI. A Boston native, Laura holds a BA from Connecticut College in Economics and Hispanic Studies.
As Direct Community Investments Sr. Product Development Manager, Ellie leads the Product Development team in designing custom application experiences to maximize efficiency and meet program needs. Joining LEDC at the beginning of the pandemic, Ellie was involved in processing LEDC's first Covid relief project on behalf of the DC government. Over the lifetime of the DCI Department, she has taken lessons from each other's programs to innovate ever more streamlined solutions. Passionate about resource access as a tool for empowerment, Ellie previously worked with Ayuda's Language Access Program and the Scholars' Latino Initiative in Richmond, VA. Born in Atlanta, GA, Ellie graduated summa cum laude from the University of Richmond with a Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies and a concentration in Development. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, journaling, and painting.
Born and raised in El Salvador. Gerardo graduated as a Systems Engineer in El Salvador. In 2010, Gerardo started his career as a tech analyst and project coordinator. He also worked as a developer, webmaster, server administrator, IT support/help desk, Marketing/E-commerce analyst, and logistics. Gerardo moved to the United States in 2018, and joined LEDC in November 2020 as Operations Associate, coordinating different IT projects, providing technical support to the staff, and other administrative tasks. In 2022 he joined the DCI team, as a member of the development team, where the leading role is to create custom applications or portals for grants. His skills and areas of expertise include technical support, website administrator, databases, CRM software, customer service, teamwork and positive attitude. Gerardo was raised in a little town in the east of El Salvador, Pasaquina, La Union, and his alma mater is Gerardo Barrios University (El Salvador). His goals include to increase the knowledge of web technologies and improve and create friendly web-based portals for different types of users (internal and external from LEDC). Gerardo’s hobbies include spending time with my kids, listening to music, and hiking.
Darline joined LEDC in May 2020 to help the Portfolio team with one of its first Covid DC Microgrants. She is now a Senior Program Associate with the DCI department's Program Implementation team. She assists the team with providing customer service via multiple communication platforms to all our grant applicants. Her other responsibilities include collecting, reviewing, and approving specific documents to facilitate grant payments to eligible applicants. Using her work experience managing different programs and her love for the DMV community, she strives to use her time in LEDC to help those that need it most. She enjoys spending her free time with her family, working out, growing her plants, watching shows, and going on target runs!
Manuel was born in Lima, Perú and is currently a Direct Community Investments Program Manager. He joined the Direct Community Investments department at LEDC in 2021 and has served as a Direct Community Investments Clerk and Senior Program Associate. While at DCI, Manuel has worked on a wide range of projects encompassing housing assistance initiatives for residents in Baltimore County, MD, to pandemic-relief grants for local businesses across DC, MD, and VA.
Maria Godoy is the Direct Community Investments Program Manager. In this role, she brings over eight years of experience in project management and economic development. During her tenure with LEDC, Maria has held multiple leadership roles and has managed different programs within LEDC. Maria is passionate about serving the community and helping individuals and families build wealth. She educates and shares her extensive knowledge and experience in personal and business financial management, credit building, and home purchase to help individuals and families build assets that will become general wealth for their families. The skills and operational knowledge she has gained through the years serving the community have built her professional experience to be able to successfully lead individuals and families towards the right path to success. She holds a BAC in Business Administration from UMUC and is a graduate fellow of the NALCAB Leadership program and the Leadership Montgomery Emerging Leaders Program. Maria is passionate about helping the community thrive.
Peru native Nicolle Yaranga brings over four years of experience working in the private consumer goods industry, where she learned the complex interdepartmental systems put in place to leverage business growth. As a previous operations manager, she worked on supply chain management, inventory forecasting projects, and domestic and international sales analysis. This experience and her dedication to spending much of her free time volunteering have tapped into her curiosity for operations management in the public, nonprofit sector. Nicolle has learned team management skills, organizational skills, SOP document creation, and financial/accounting reporting that adequately transfer and aid LEDC.
Ultimately, she wants to share her strengths acquired in the private sector with the public sector. Nicolle received a Bachelor of Science in Financial Mathematics and Statistics from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Public Finance from American University. Nicolle enjoys running, hiking, reading, and antiquing in her free time.
Rosalia joined LEDC in June 2022 as a Program Associate for the Direct Community Investment team. In this role, she assists grant applicants and reviews and approves documents to facilitate grant payments. Before joining LEDC, Rosalia was part of the Global Operations team at a hospitality company where she supported properties across LatAM and Europe with implementing new software solutions, creating relevant SOPs and working with third-party SaaS vendors. She also volunteered and worked for non-profits including Mary's Center, Cradles to Crayons, and Martha's Table. Rosalia graduated from Babson College with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a concentration in Economics. Her hobbies include reading, trying out new restaurants, and crafting.
Rene Llanes is currently a Direct Community Investments Associate at LEDC. Before joining the DCI team, Rene was with the LEDC Small Business Program as a loan officer and underwriter. He was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and raised in Miami, Florida, where he worked in retail for over 15 years. In 2017, Rene relocated to the DMV, where he worked as a banker for a large financial institution in Washington, DC. He is a graduate of Grand Canyon University, with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management. Rene is currently enrolled with the Leadership Montgomery: Emerging Leaders Program class of 2022. His interests include sports, music, cooking, working out, and family time.
Carlos is a Direct Community Investments Clerk at LEDC. In this role, he collects and processes documentation to facilitate the disbursement of grants to small businesses. Prior to joining the team, Carlos was with the LEDC Small Business Program as a loan officer and underwriter. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in International Studies with a focus in business. Carlos was born in Mexico but moved to Florida at a young age.
Before joining the DCI team as an Associate, Isabel was a part of LEDC's Baltimore Tenant Services Team, helping clients in need of rental assistance in Baltimore. During her time in Baltimore City, Isabel was in charge of submitting rental assistance applications, reviewing all tenant documentation seeking aid, and reaching out to landlords. Isabel's knowledge gained while working in Housing Programs at LEDC has equipped her to understand the community's needs better. Isabel's passion for helping the community extends to her education, as she is currently studying Radiology at Fortis Institute. Isabel also enjoys cooking, traveling, and attending concerts during her free time.
Jessica is the Program Associate with Direct Community Investments (DCI). She was born in Peru where she graduated with a BS Degree in Law. In the US, she graduated from Capella University with a Master of Science, with emphasis on Business Analysis. Jessica is very passionate about helping people and she believes that we can be kind whenever possible. Jessica loves to travel and experience new cultures.
Ana was born and raised in DC. Her parents are from El Salvador. Before joining LEDC as the Loan Portfolio Clerk & Customer Representative for the lending team, Ana worked for a telecommunications company where she provided tech support to small businesses and individuals. She graduated from Bell Multicultural High School in the Columbia Heights neighborhood and attended the University of the District of Columbia.
Ms. Cabrera is currently DCI Program Associate for LEDC. In that role, Zara performs functions of sending invoices, collecting and processing payments, perfecting collateral, calling clients, organizing and maintaining client files, and tracking and reporting key performance indicators. Zara manages LEDC’s loan tracking software and provides regular reports to the manager of our lending program on the performance of the portfolio. Zara started with LEDC as an Administrative Assistant. Zara's previous work experience includes working as an administrative assistant at H&R Block and Rosemount Center.
David Joined LEDC in 2022 as an Eviction prevention canvasser, providing assistance to tenants who were at risk of eviction by equipping them with legal aid and resources like ERAP. In November of 2022, his position was upgraded to Direct Community Investment Associate with the HAF program, As part of his role, he reviews HAF applications to ensure that the documentation and information provided are accurate. David is currently pursuing a social work degree as a student at UDC. He has participated in various programs in DC as an IYF YO ambassador, was selected as a student ambassador, and is currently a member of the New Futures program. Born in El Salvador and moved to Washington DC in 2021.
Elizabeth Abreu is a Dominican-American born and raised in the Bronx, New York. She moved to Washington, D.C., to pursue her dream of becoming an Economist. Before joining LEDC as a Direct Community Investment Program Associate in November 2022, Elizabeth completed her Master's in Economics at Howard University. In her current role, she collaborates with team members working on government-based grants created to assist individuals affected by COVID-19. She helps her team by reviewing documentation provided by applicants, requesting edits when necessary, and supporting applicants throughout the application process. What drives her is acquiring the tools required to help individuals like herself, who grew up in low-income communities, emerge from poverty. In her free time, Elizabeth enjoys biking, cooking, and painting.
Giovanny is a Direct Community Investments Program Associate working mostly with the HAF program. His role is to collect, process, and analyze all required documentation and information required for grant distribution and reporting. Before joining LEDC, Giovanny worked 14 years for Marriot Int. as a Guest service representative and general accountant. He has an Associate degree in business management and earned his Property and Casualty license in Maryland. In his free time, he enjoys watching sports, playing soccer, and going to the movies. He has a passion for Astronomy and enjoys learning about how the universe works.
Small Business Programs
Omar is a nonprofit executive with over 12 years of experience in business development and entrepreneurship. As LEDC’s Chief of Small Business Services & Lending, Omar oversees a team of 30+ professionals providing small business development services to over 1300 clients annually across five offices servicing 42 counties in the DMV area and Puerto Rico. As a business advisor, he has provided business consultancy and technical assistance to more than 200 entrepreneurs and business owners. His main areas of expertise are financial analysis, business modeling, and process optimization. Throughout his career at LEDC, he has designed and managed several small business development initiatives, including women-focused programs, storefront improvement projects, industry-focused incubators, business accelerators, credit-building programs, and small business lending programs. Omar is an Industrial Engineer with a master’s in process optimization and a certified auditor (ISO 9001, ISO 14001, OSHAS 18001).
As a member of the portfolio team, Sergio is responsible for the processing of loan payments, for the quality assurance of transactions, and for generating closing reports. Originally from Paraguay, Sergio is a graduate from the University of Maryland with a master’s in Applied Economics with a specialization in developmental economics. Before joining LEDC, Sergio worked as an intern at the Institute of International Finance (IIF) and as a Global Meeting Services Analyst at the Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS). Having moved to the DMV area at a young age, Sergio is passionate about helping the underserved communities in the region. As a member of LEDC, he is eager to keep working towards a better future for our community.
Yanina’s role at LEDC is to help guide clients and small businesses through the loan application process. She assists clients with underwriting small business loan transactions, including business plan reviewing, financial and credit analysis, and recommending memos for review and approval. Prior to LEDC, she worked as a universal banker at BB&T. Yanina brings leadership and marketing experience to the role through her work at the Archbishop Borders School and Univision. Yanina has a wealth of professional skills from her time working in Peru, where she served as a director of communications, journalist, and key account manager. She is highly motivated and results-oriented in sales, marketing, and public relations roles. She strives to maintain the best customer service practices through her strong background in analyzing client issues, successfully negotiating solutions, and building exceptional internal and external relationships that consistently achieve LEDC´s objectives. Her hobbies include running, biking, boxing, traveling, cooking, and reading with a nice glass of wine.
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 providers 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.
Alejandro Arizaga is a lending officer at the LEDC. Originally from Ecuador, Alejandro obtained a bachelor’s degree from the University of Baltimore in 2019 with a major in criminal justice, and a minor in business administration. Before joining LEDC, Alejandro worked for City First Enterprises (CFE) as a Loan Officer and Underwriter. His current role at LEDC is to underwrite small business loans, refer clients to business advice, and continue to develop professional relationships with other local organizations. Alejandro has a passion for community work and believes that such passion can be turned into thriving businesses in Baltimore and the surrounding metropolitan areas.
Alessandro joined LEDC in March 2023 and is currently a Loan Servicing Specialist. Born and raised in Northern Virginia, he is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s in Foreign Affairs and Sociology. In his role as a Loan Servicing Specialist, Alessandro assists clients in the loan closing process, reaches out to clients about their loans, sends invoices, and monitors the loan portfolio. Alessandro enjoys traveling, playing sports, and learning new languages
Nicolas Arnaude is currently a Senior Small Business Loan Officer and Underwriter for the DC area. In his role, he designs and performs outreach strategies and activities, assist entrepreneurs and small business in growth strategy and access to capital and underwrites loan transactions. He is an accomplished bilingual Spanish-English sales and business development professional with + 10 years of experience in digital transformation, B2B sales, partnerships, financial inclusion, strategic marketing and consulting for financial services, and technology firms. He has worked for startups, SME and large multinational companies like Equifax in Argentina and LATAM and he has strong abilities to forge solid business networks and build consensus across multidisciplinary and cross-functional teams. He is an Industrial Engineer from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina and has a master’s in Marketing from the Catholic University Argentina. Ha also holds an Innovation and Entrepreneurship Professional Certificate from the University of Maryland and a Fintech Specialization from the University of Michigan. Nicolas enjoys playing sports, watching movies, and traveling.
Glorivette is a Small Business Loan Officer and Underwriter in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. She has 15 years of experience working with successful television advertising campaigns; coordinating events and workshops for small and medium size businesses; and producing and moderating a radio program aimed at entrepreneurs and small businesses in western Puerto Rico. Glorivette has had experience as an Enrollment Coordinator for the Short Careers Institute of the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico. In this work, she connected with people and supported disadvantaged communities in developing their professional technical careers. She received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Puerto Rico and a Master of Business Administration with a specialty in Marketing, from the InterAmerican University of Puerto Rico.
Giovanni Rojas graduated from the Interamerican University of San German, Puerto Rico, with a BBA in Accounting. He has been working as an Accountant in Professional Accounting Services in Sabana Grande, Puerto Rico, for the last three and a half years, specializing in Business Accounting and helping clients maintain a healthy and prosperous business. Part of his job duties in that role included data entry, making financial statements, State and Federal tax returns, and assisting clients with the permissions and licenses of their business and their customer services. Now, as a Loan Office & Underwriter for Puerto Rico, he will be helping potential clients through their loan process to expand their small businesses and services. Giovani likes his current role at LEDC because he can encourage the dreams entrepreneurs who want to own a business while improving the lives of existing small business owners who want their businesses to thrive.
One of LEDC's Lending Officers, Ronal Castillo, has more than 20 years of experience in different aspects surrounding financial institutions. During his career, he has functioned in several capacities, including management of placement processes, administration of loan recovery, overseeing administrative and accounting aspects, and overall management and evaluation of risks for financial institutions. His experience also includes developing work in private companies and government institutions dedicated to auditing, supervision, and risk rating processes for financial institutions. Originally from El Salvador, Ronal gained a bachelor's degree from the University of El Salvador in 2000 in Public Accounting and Finance.
Ms. Nazario is a Senior Small Business Loan Officer & Underwriter for LEDC’s in Fairfax, Virginia. Helping the organization generate a constant inflow of new lending clints, underwrite small business loans transactions, including business plan reviewing, financial analysis, verify feasibility and structure of proposed loan and the character, capacity, collateral, and cash flow of the borrowers, assist portfolio management team in working with clients whose loans are past due and/or their business is showing signs of trouble and provide pre-loan technical assistance to help business owners navigate and complete the loan application process.
Adriana is originally from Colombia, and has lived in the Virginia area since 1996, she also has lived in New York, and Kentucky. Experienced consultant with a demonstrated history of working in the international trade and development industry. She has nine years of professional experience at The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB/BID), collaborated with teams in various stages of project identification, development, quality control, compliance, and effectiveness. Trusted team member collaborating with internal and external stakeholders in a fast-paced environment. Direct process improvement to deliver efficient day-to-day business operations, including managing data and workflow processes to achieve annual targets. She also worked as a Loan Officer processing loans paperwork, providing guidance and customer service to identify the best options for financing, guiding clients through process, market loan products and services. Communicating complex loan regulations in English and Spanish. Professional Development topics including Leadership, Problem Analysis and Decision Making, Assertive Communication, Intercultural communication, and Digital Marketing.
Adriana holds a Bachelor of Science in Management, and she also holds a master’s in business administration, MBA from Texas A&M University – Commerce. She has volunteer experience as an ambassador for Share the Magic Campaign initiated fundraiser at IDB Bank, raising donations given by employees, and donated funds for children of the Latin American and Caribbean communities of Washington, DC and for children from low-income families in the region. She currently resides with her two boys, and her golden retriever. She likes cooking and spending time with her family. She loves exercise, reading, and enjoys watching movies, and series. She is passionate about helping others and she is dedicated to meeting her clients’ every need. With the combination of her business experience and strong Ethics, she has all the tools to helps clients to achieve their personal goals and financial goals
Small Business Development
Alexandra Samaniego is a bilingual professional with several years of experience in business and economic development from her work in her home country of Ecuador, where she founded and managed a handicrafts store helping indigenous communities sell their work. Alexandra has also worked with the Bank of Ecuador, helping small businesses improve their finances and access low-interest loans. As Program Manager for the Small Business Development program, she leads a team of coaches in planning and implementing program activities in DC, Arlington, VA, and Baltimore, MD. This includes supporting small businesses in all stages of growth, registration, licensing, obtaining qualifying certifications, marketing, and sales strategies, operations improvements, and facilitating access to capital. Alexandra holds a Project Management Certificate from UMUC and a BA in international business from Ecuador. She lives in the DC metro area with her husband and two energetic boys.
J.B. joined LEDC in 2020 after 14+ years of managing operations for a furniture manufacturer based in Fairfax, VA. J.B. is excited to be part of the LEDC team to help entrepreneurs in DC reach their goals. Prior to his years in furniture, J.B. worked in restaurants and law firms in DC and software marketing in Scotland. J.B.’s undergraduate studies were done at the University of Pittsburgh and the Universidad Laica Vincente Roca Fuerte (Guayaquil, Ecuador). J.B. next studied international business at the University of Stirling in Scotland. J.B. enjoys organic gardening, cooking, and traveling.
A native of Puerto Rico, Francisco Javier Jimenez recently joined LEDC after more than 25 years in the federal market sector. After a 10-year military career, Francisco Javier entered the private sector achieving great success in areas of technology implementation, project and program management, business development, and for the past 11 years, as the owner and principal of his own business consulting firm. In this most recent role, Francisco Javier has been instrumental in coaching, mentoring, and guiding businesses to achieve their objectives and reach their personal and professional goals in the very competitive federal contracting arena. Having achieved great success in the private sector, he joins LEDC in a new capacity to focus his efforts on directly helping and developing small businesses of diverse, and sometimes underrepresented, socio-economic categories. In this role, he assists entrepreneurs and businesspersons by leveraging all his years of experience and using every tool available to him to have budding small businesses realize their goals. Francisco Javier has conducted undergraduate studies at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez and the University of Maryland Global Campus. He is a member of various national and international business and professional organizations. He and his wife Sharon are sponsors and benefactors to several nonprofit health organizations.
Vincent Renner is a Small Business Coach who specializes in assisting local entrepreneurs in the DC area to start and expand their businesses. He is bi-lingual and provides guidance, tools, and resources to entrepreneurs at all stages of their business growth, from business planning and product development to marketing and sales strategies, operations, and accessing capital. He also offers support with registration, licensing, and certification processes.
Vincent has diverse experience in the private sector, having started, managed, and expanded several businesses in telecommunications, wellness, health, food, and consumer packaged goods. He holds an MBA from the University of Colorado and an undergraduate degree in business and economics from the European Business School in Germany. Vincent is a certified leadership and performance coach and currently oversees the Food Venture Initiative and Kitchen Matching program at LEDC. He is passionate about empowering entrepreneurs to achieve their goals and fulfill their dreams.
Javier Bisbal joined LEDC with years of experience helping several communities and individuals in Puerto Rico. For two years, Javier Bisbal worked as a Team Leader and Center Manager working with the Puerto Rico Housing Department's R3 Program. During his time in this program, Javier helped all districts of Puerto Rico enhance resilient, safe housing for families and secure businesses to avoid future natural disaster emergencies. Javier also has experience working with the Puerto Rico Planning Board; for about a year in this role, Javier was able to help individuals with the regulation of construction codes and permits for businesses and housing. Furthermore, Javier was an Employee Assistance Program Coach that aided local private companies with the training and development of their employees. As a Senior Small Business Coach for LEDC in Puerto Rico, Javier has the responsibility to help local business owners grow and further develop their ideas and businesses. Javier holds a Bachelor's Degree in Music with a Minor in Education and a Master's Degree in Industrial-Organizational Psychology. Moreover, Javier is currently working on his dissertation titled "Music as a Moderating Variable Between the Big Five Personality Traits and Self-Assessment Performance" to obtain his Ph.D. in Industrial Organization Psychology. Javier loves to spend time with his family during his free time, practice skateboarding, go to the gym, and travel worldwide.
As LEDC's Small Business Coach, Valeria provides professional consulting services in different industries such as beauty, services, and retail. Her passion is to help entrepreneurs develop and model their ideas and grow their established businesses through innovation. Since 2017 she has served clients from Latin America, the United States, and beyond. From strategic planning to innovative solutions, her focus is always on building an efficient and results-driven relationship. Valeria has a Bachelor's Degree in Management and a Master's in Digital Transformation and Business Development from Universitat de Barcelona.
José Enrique Vargas’ work has been dedicated to improving the quality of life of working people through economic development, workforce development, and small business development. He was also a business developer in the residential solar industry, which offset fossil fuel use, saved consumers money, built homeowner equity, and created green jobs. His work in the independent and private sectors in the workforce development and small business development space has improved economic outcomes for many working families. Through his endeavors, he has increased employment, career development, and small business development, creating economic stability for working families and building intergenerational wealth. Jose Vargas has a Bachelor of Science in Entrepreneurship from UMD College Park, R.H. Smith School of Business. He is also a proud Boricua born in New York City and is married to his wife, a beloved arts educator, and administrator in the DC Public Schools. They have three children born in DC who also love the arts, and in his free time, Jose enjoys hiking, martial arts, listening to music, and experiencing different cultures.
Resilient Business Corridors
Maria Llanos joined LEDC in 2021 as a Small Business Coach & Liaison. In that role, Maria works to support the businesses impacted by the Purple Line construction in Wheaton, Maryland. Her responsibilities include monitoring the impacted businesses' possible needs, advising and connecting them with LEDC's consultants (legal, marketing, designers, financial, etc.), and process design to improve the relationship between LEDC and these clients. Maria is an industrial engineer and has a master's degree in management from UNEXPO University in Venezuela. She is proud and enthusiastic to share her knowledge and experience with small business owners and be a point of support and positive impact to help them achieve their goals. In her free time, Maria enjoys taking photos, painting with oil, and spending time with loved ones.
Patrick is a Small Business Coach & Liaison in the Prince George's County area, where he provides business consultancy and technical assistance to entrepreneurs and business owners. Raised in Silver Spring, MD, Patrick has more than 15 years of experience in business development, strategic consulting, and banking. Early in his career, he worked for a boutique consulting firm that provided strategic counsel to a diverse group of high-profile clients, including corporations, trade associations, federal agencies, think tanks, and nonprofit organizations. Prior to joining LEDC, Patrick worked as a business development and mortgage finance consultant for various credit unions and banks throughout the DC area. He holds a bachelor's degree from Mount St. Mary's University and a master's degree from Universidad de Navarra.
Empowered Women International (EWI)
Originally from Romania, Alexandra came to the United States in 2012 to pursue her dream since childhood, to live and study in the big apple, New York. She studied at the Spanish American Institute in New York City and moved to Alexandria, Virginia. Alexandra has been an integral part of Empowered Women International’s growth and development over the past five years. From volunteer to intern to student to Program Manager to her latest role as Regional Program Manager of Women's Empowerment Programs with the Latino Economic Development Center. Her experience in these various positions gives her a deep understanding of the nuances of EWI programs and allows her to respond to the needs of our clients with agility and grace. As a manager, Alexandra cares deeply about her staff and works hard to provide a good balance of direction and freedom to innovate.
Alexandra is a graduate of Babes- Bolyai University in Cluj- Napoca, Romania, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Marketing and later her Master of Arts in Advertising. Her passion for being engaged in the work of a non-profit organization started when she was in college. She managed the strategic planning department of her student marketing organization, ASM (Association of Marketing Students), which included training and team building. Her experience with the organization left a strong impression on her and developed her leadership skills.
Senior Program Coordinator
Nicole Andonie is a bilingual professional with more than 10 years of experience in US & Latin American Markets. Having lived and worked abroad in Honduras for six years, Nicole is excited to leverage that experience and help Latina/o/x small business owners in the DC Metro Area. She holds an MBA from Universidad Francisco de Vitoria in Spain and a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Johnson & Wales University. Nicole considers herself a lifetime learner and is passionate about personal growth, Latinx, and women’s issues.
Originally from Brazil, Anette has over ten years of experience in the nonprofit sector, mainly supporting entrepreneurs in developing/launching small businesses and accessing early-stage funding. Before joining LEDC in January 2022, as the Women's Small Business Coach & Program Associate for the Empowered Women International (EWI) Program, Anette has been a part of significant projects in the United States and Latin America interconnected with a gender and race perspective. Some of Anette's previous roles include Project Coordinator for British Council Brazil (Developing Inclusive and Creative Economies Program), Project Coordinator for the Brazilian Small Business Support Agency, and Coordinator for Social Enterprise World Forum / SEWF2012.
Fluent in several languages, Anette holds a Journalism degree from Brazil and an International Relations and International Economics Master's degree from Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). In her free time, Anette is interested in amateur astronomy and cosmology.
Walda Yon has 13 years of experience working at the Latino Economic Development Center. Prior to working with LEDC, Walda worked with various nonprofit organizations in the DC area such as Carlos Rosario International Career Center & Public Charter School. Originally from Guatemala, Walda came to the US in 2000 with solid work experience in procurement at one of the leading sugar refineries in the country. Walda started her career at LEDC as a housing counselor focusing on foreclosure, pre-purchase, and financial education. After eight years of working in this position, she was promoted to Housing Counseling Manager overseeing all of these programs. She holds multiple certifications from NeighborWorks and UnidosUS in topics related to housing counseling, foreclosure prevention, and financial capability. Walda attended the Business Administration School at the Mariano Galvez University in Guatemala. Her most recent accomplishment at LEDC was her promotion to Chief Housing Programs Officer in 2018.
Angelica Rufino comes to LEDC with over seven years of nonprofit experience, having spent the last five years working in the housing counseling industry in Washington, DC. She is a native Washingtonian of Dominican heritage. She is a certified housing counselor with experience in homebuyer education, foreclosure prevention, and credit counseling. Before becoming a housing counselor, she was an intake specialist helping the public know about the various programs available for the community in DC. She was also a former member of the LEDC family as a receptionist, where she was introduced to the housing counseling field and all the housing programs in DC.
As the Housing Intake and Support Specialist, Diana provides administrative and customer service support to the housing department and its counselors. In addition, she assists the housing staff with group workshops, presentations, and special events. She also provides information to clients about the services and programs that LEDC offers. Diana joined LEDC in 2020. Prior, she worked with Finish Line in a supervisor role, where she learned valuable professional growth skills such as customer loyalty, working independently, and time management. Diana is currently working to become a HUD-approved housing counselor.
David has more than eight years of combined experience working in the nonprofit sector in Colombia, Washington DC, and New York City. Prior to joining LEDC, David worked at Mil Mujeres Legal Services. He has also worked with Councilmember Brianne Nadeau conducting and resolving constituent needs in Ward 1. With a bachelor’s in law from his native Colombia, David has supported immigration attorneys working on asylum cases at the office of Catholic Charities in DC. In addition, David was a legal intern at the General Colombian Consulate in New York in 2011. Before he received his law degree, he was awarded the best legal intern that year at the Consulate. Under his role as a Bilingual Housing Counselor at LEDC, he encourages first-time homebuyers to apply to all the affordable housing programs, teaches clients to understand the purchasing process, and guides them through foreclosure prevention programs in Washington, DC. David is a housing counselor certified by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). His favorite hobbies are learning about new cultures and making new friends.
Magaly has over six years of background working in the Washington, DC area. Magaly's previous experience includes working at the local government office to determine the eligibility of County residents for various programs that assist individuals, families, children, seniors, and people with disabilities needing financial assistance, medical assistance, and other support services. Her work in non-profits includes assisting individuals in the Permanent Supportive Housing and Rapid Rehousing Program in DC. Magaly graduated from Trinity Washington University with a B.A degree. Magaly is grateful to be a part of the LEDC team to continue educating others about various programs available for the community in DC.
Julian is a HUD Certified Housing Bilingual Housing Counselor in DC. In his current role he provides counseling in the fields of mortgage default and delinquency, foreclosure prevention, predatory lending, home purchasing, credit, and budgeting. Previously he worked as LEDC’s Maryland Tenant Education and Service Coordinator. Over the course of two years working in the nonprofit sector, he has gained a vast array of experience, knowledge and tools that help him better advocate for the housing needs of underserved communities. Originally from Colombia, from a young age he has always had a passion for community building, grassroots social movements, and empowering disenfranchised communities. Julian holds a Bachelors in Sociology from the University of Maryland. In his free time, you can find him playing music, riding his bike, doing yoga, or learning about nondualist spiritual traditions.
Leo Elias is LEDC’s Housing Education & Financial Empowerment Manager. Leo has been volunteering and working for nonprofit organizations since 2015, beginning with the Latino Student Fund. For the past two years, he coordinated the College Prep Program at the Latino Student Fund in where he supported 11th and 12th-grade students on a pathway to college and a potential career. Prior to the Latino Student Fund, he was the Activities Manager at Education First (EF) International Language Campuses in Washington, DC. Leo holds an associate degree from Montgomery College in International Studies. He enjoys spending time caring for his plants, traveling abroad, and practicing different languages in his free time.
A first-generation native of the District, Karen has spent the last six years providing housing and financial counseling to low to moderate income individuals in the metro area. She joined LEDC in March 2019 to contribute to the housing team and continue working to empower people and communities. Karen brings over 15 years of nonprofit and government contract experience, where her roles allowed her to wear many hats in credit-building loan development, graphics and web design, communications, marketing, and outreach. She also established her own events production businesses and produced festivals that promoted culture, music, sports, and community. Her dedication to the community runs in the family, and she finds inspiration from her parents who immigrated to the US from Bolivia and were able to establish successful careers while teaching a dedication to help others along the way. Her housing counseling certifications include pre-purchase, post-purchase, and financial capability counseling from NCHEC - NeighborWorks America. An origami enthusiast, seeker of nature, travel, and adventures, she also converses in three languages and hopes to add to the list.
Saul Vasquez is a HUD Approved Bilingual Housing Counselor, who has been working at LEDC since May 2022. In this role, he supports the housing team and community by providing comprehensive pre-purchase, post-purchase, and foreclosure prevention counseling. Additionally, he creates a welcoming and safe environment where individuals can express themselves and feel heard, validated, and empowered. Saul grew up in San Pedro Nonualco, El Salvador, he emigrated to the United States in August 2016, having previously attained a college degree in Agroindustrial Engineering
from the University of El Salvador. His professional journey began with volunteering at a local nonprofit in 2016, where he quickly transitioned to a full-time role in 2017. Through this experience, he was able to make a meaningful and positive impact on his clients. As an engineer by profession, Saul then transitioned to the winery and distillery industry in 2018. He worked in various capacities such as Assistant Winemaker, Festival Director, Social Media Coordinator, and Master Distiller Assistant. As a Festival Director, he established a sales record in 2019, through his exceptional people-oriented leadership style and ability to inspire over 200 volunteers and eight colleagues to achieve a shared goal. In 2022, Saul made the decision to pursue a new career path where he can continue developing his people-oriented leadership skills after realizing that his previous successes came from a single mantra: “it’s all about people”. In his current role as a Housing Counselor, he has discovered the importance of building a healthy relationship with money and that money encompasses more than just math and numbers, it also encompasses the behaviors and emotions associated with it. His long-term aspiration is to become a Financial Therapist, through which he can assist individuals in gaining a deeper understanding of their own personal money stories and money imprints, leading to the development of a positive mindset towards their personal finances and their financial legacy. In his free time, Saul enjoys reading about personal finances, personal growth, and psychology. He also shares his insights and perspective on these topics through his Instagram account, @SemillaPositiva. His personal philosophy is "New roots, New fruits". The essence of this phrase is that to manifest change externally, one must first attend to the internal.
For over twenty years, Karen Serfis has worked to increase homeownership opportunities for low and moderate income households who wish to purchase their first home in Arlington and our surrounding communities. She teaches Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) homebuyer education classes and provides pre-purchase, post-purchase, and foreclosure prevention counseling.
Karen is a member of VHDA’s Homeownership Advisory Board and a co-chair of Arlington County’s Homeownership Working Group. In 2007 and 2008 she served on Governor Kaine’s Virginia Foreclosure Prevention Task Force. In May 2004 she received an Award of Excellence from the Virginia Association of Housing Counselors. Karen is a graduate of James Madison University where she received a Bachelor of Business Administration in International Business. Karen is a certified housing counselor and has earned NeighborWorks NCHEC certifications in homeownership education and counseling, pre-purchase homeownership education, post-purchase homeownership education, foreclosure intervention and default counseling, financial capability, and homeownership counseling for program managers and executive directors. Prior to working with first time home buyers, Karen worked in the banking industry for eight years.
With over 12 years of experience in sales and service roles in multiple industries, Robin Chavez provides direct housing counseling and group education to LEDC’s client around the home purchase process, post-purchase, foreclosure prevention, and first-time homebuyer programs in Northern Virginia. Some of Robin daily task includes meeting, analyzing clients’ financial current situation, and creating plans to support clients in meeting their housing goals, budgeting, money management and establishing or improving credit. Robin provides technical assistance related to housing counseling such as submitting and tracking paperwork for first-time homebuyer programs, and foreclosure. Robin documents and tracks data related to LEDC’s counseling services and assists completing of reports for assigned programs.
Tenant Services and Eviction Prevention
Julia returned to LEDC in January of 2021 as a Tenant Services & Eviction Prevention Program Manager. In that role, she leads a team of motivated professionals charged with helping Baltimore and Montgomery County tenants access eviction prevention resources and other services to help them achieve stable housing. Julia previously worked at LEDC from 2015 to 2019 as a Housing Counselor in DC and as a Housing Counseling Manager in Maryland. She is a HUD-Certified Housing Counselor and brings over a decade of experience to the organization. Julia started working as a housing counselor back in 2008 during the foreclosure crisis. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in political science. In her free time, she enjoys spending time outside, going to the mountains and rivers during the spring and summer, and spending time in nature.
Mary Jane Regalado joined the Latino Economic Development Center in 2020 as a STAY DC Connector. They supported tenants applying for emergency rental and utility assistance to avoid displacement. Before working with LEDC, Mary was a full-time musician and a co-founder of the Union of Musicians & Allied Workers. With UMAW, they organized musicians and advocated to create a fairer and more just music industry. Mary is a first-generation Mexican-American, born and raised in Los Angeles, California. They volunteered at Neighborhood Legal Services in LA, assisting low-income residents with filing criminal record expungements and wage claims for the workers' rights clinics.
They graduated from California State University, Northridge, with a Bachelors in Gender & Women's Studies with a concentration in Law & Public Policy. As tenant services coordinator, Mary helps DC tenants overcome technological, literacy, and language barriers, so the resources available to DC residents are more accessible to all, regardless of race, class, age, immigration status, and education. Mary wants to ensure that DC residents have the resources and support to thrive. She assists DC residents with SNAP, Medicaid, rental, and utility assistance applications and connects folks to resources such as food support, legal aid, mental health services, and mutual aid groups. Mary loves to garden and play chess. As a musician, she has toured internationally, from New Zealand to Mexico, and has volunteered as a band coach for Girls Rock DC youth summer camp.
Affordable Housing Preservation Program
Lauren Taylor (LT) joined LEDC in May 2020 as a bilingual tenant organizer and currently works as the Affordable Housing Preservation Program Manager in DC. In this role, they support an incredible team in organizing DC tenants to defend their rights, improve conditions and decide what happens to their building when it is for sale. LEDC’s tenant organizers use grassroots organizing, popular education, and advocacy to preserve affordable housing, prevent displacement, and fight for safe, affordable, and dignified housing for all. Originally from Indianapolis, LT studied history and political science at Indiana University, Bloomington. They bring over ten years of experience in the nonprofit sector, including harm reduction, reentry support and advocacy, gender violence prevention, and survivor support. Prior to joining LEDC, most of their organizing experience has been part of movements working to dismantle mass incarceration and immigrant detention and deportation.
Ricardo Gallardo is a Senior Bilingual tenant Organizer working with LEDC at Affordable Housing Preservation Program since December 2021. Ricardo has more than 20 years of experience combined as an Organizer with Labor Unions, holding positions as Senior Organizer and Organizational Development Specialist. His job in those positions was primarily to assist and advise the Organizing Director and Local Governance to launch campaigns to increase membership and market share for Local Unions, Regional offices, and National Campaigns. Ricardo immigrated from Peru back in 1989. I studied economics at the San Martin Porras University of Peru and hold a certification of Microsoft System Engineer at Howard University with a specialty in Networking. He is a father happily excited to become a grandfather near soon. Currently, he is preparing for a glorious day in which his son will become a father to seal his family’s continuation. Also, one of his favorite hobbies is music; he dedicates his spare time to playing guitar and occasionally performing in cultural and social events exposing his roots in art and culture through songs and poems from his country and region.
Awad Bilal is a third-generation Washingtonian who joined LEDC as a Tenant Organizer in 2021. He supports tenants in exercising their TOPA rights and preserving affordable housing in the city through advocacy and outreach. Before working with LEDC, Awad spent ten years in the service industry, working from New York City to Albuquerque and returning to Washington, DC, in 2018. Outside of LEDC, Awad is a musician in the bands Clear Channel and Too Free and radio DJ on WOWD-LP 94.3FM, a community radio station in Takoma Park, MD, where he hosts “The Flex.” He is also a member of the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW), which advocates for fair pay and better conditions for musicians. In addition, Awad has been championing the opposition to the displacement of low-income and working-class families. Including gentrification for over ten years and the rights and protections of service industry employees in DC for more than four years.
Gustavo Vargas is a Bilingual Tenant Organizer at LEDC. He joined the team in April 2021 and has been working with tenants across the city, supporting them in exercising their rights, improving their living conditions, and fighting for dignified, affordable housing. Gustavo is a 20-year resident of the DC area and has also been involved in organizing, mobilizing, and doing activism working with anti-imperialist organizations and anti-fascist Bolivian diaspora in the DMV. Gustavo is also a musician, educator, and cultural advocate with DC’s Son Jarocho collective Son Cosita Seria and Wayta Andean duo.
Clara Lincoln (she/they) is a second-generation Washingtonian who graduated from Oberlin College with a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative American Studies in 2017. She has been interning, volunteering, and working for nonprofit organizations in Washington DC since 2014. In 2021 they joined the LEDC team as a Bilingual Tenant Organizer. In that role, she organizes affordable housing buildings to assist tenants with exercising their rights under the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act and their rights to safe, affordable, dignified housing. They also participate in coalition spaces to preserve affordable housing across the city. Before LEDC, she managed the Academic Support Programs at the Latino Student Fund for three years and served as a human rights accompanier with NISGUA in Guatemala for one year. Clara is skilled in outreach, leadership development, campaign strategy, and intercultural relationship-building. In addition to her BA from Oberlin College, she is a graduate of the Rising Leaders Program of 2020 from Leadership of Greater Washington.