- Marjorie Nemes-Galarza, Interim Executive Director & CEO
- Isis Salmeron, Chief of Finance
- Sonia Castro-Maya, Accounting Manager
- Eduwiges Arciniega, Senior Staff Accountant
- Emi Reyes, Chief of Operations, Risk, & Investments
- Yariana Rodriguez Torres, Development Manager
- Janmarie Peña, Grants and Evaluation Manager
- Monica Martinez, Communications Manager
- Rachel Eisenberg, Human Resources Manager
Direct Community Investments Program
- Laura Bentley, Direct Community Investments Program Manager
- Helen (Ellie) Owen, Direct Community Investments Senior Associate
- Manuel Cude-Pacheco, Direct Community Investments Clerk
- Arlyn Rosario, Direct Community Investments Clerk
- Carlos Camero, Direct Community Investments Clerk
- Sofia Ramirez, Direct Community Investment Clerk
Small Business Programs
- Omar Velasco, Chief of Small Business Services
- Susana Gómez Portugal Monroy, Loan Portfolio Manager
- Daniel Friedman, Loan Operations Manager
- Sergio Von Horoch, Senior Portfolio & Data Administrator
- Zara Cabrera, Risk Management Clerk
- Ana Guzman, Loan Portfolio Clerk & Customer Representative
- Carlos Brown, Loan Officer and Underwriter, DC
- Oscar Guillen, Loan Officer and Underwriter, DC
- Carlos Garcia Rada, Senior Loan Officer and Underwriter, MD
- Rene Llanes, Loan Officer and Underwriter, MD
- Antonio Tabora, Senior Loan Officer and SBA Specialist, Baltimore
- Alejandro Arizaga, Senior Loan Officer and Underwriter, Baltimore
- Juan Zabala, Small Business Coach and Loan Officer, Arlington
- Brian Rivera Santana, Senior Loan Officer, and Underwriter, PR
- Glorivette Crespo, Loan Officer and Underwriter, PR
- Small Business Development
- Alexandra Samaniego, Program Manager, Small Business Development
- Molly Terry, Small Business Intake Coordinator
- J.B. Behrens, Senior Small Business Coach & Liaison, DC
- Richard Kanegusuku, Small Business Coach, DC
- Maria Godoy, Senior Small Business Coach & Trainer, MD
- Carlos Velasquez, Small Business Coach, Baltimore
- Resilient Business Corridors
- Javier Rivas, Program Manager, MD
- Melissa Romero, Small Business Coach & Liaison, MD
- Maria Llanos, Small Business Coach & Liaison, MD (Purple Line)
- Empowered Women International (EWI)
- Alexandra Boycheck, Regional Program Manager
- Nicole Andonie, Regional Program Coordinator
- Walda Yon, Chief Housing Programs Officer
- Housing Counseling
- Katherine Canales, Housing Education & Financial Empowerment Manager
- Angelica Rufino, Housing Counseling Program Manager, DC
- Diana Garcia, Housing Intake and Support Specialist
- Maria Rosa Jimenez, Housing Counselor, DC
- David Guerra-Restrepo, Bilingual Housing Counselor, DC
- Fernando Martinez, Housing Counseling Coordinator, MD
- Karen Torrico, Bilingual Housing Counselor, MD
- Julian Talero, Tenant Education and Service Coordinator, MD
- Karen Serfis, Program Manager, Housing Counseling, VA
- Raquel Hill, Bilingual Housing Counselor, Arlington
- Affordable Housing Preservation
- Veronica Mosqueda, Senior Organizer and Program Oversight Lead, DC
- Victoria Gonçalves, Senior Organizer and Campaigns Lead, DC
- Lauren Taylor, Bilingual Tenant Organizer, DC
Ms. Nemes comes to LEDC with 20 years of experience in the community and economic development field. Prior to serving as the organization’s Interim Executive Director/CEO, she served as its Chief of Strategy and Development and informed its growth and programming. During her 10 years as head of the organization’s development the organization grew three-fold in size expanding its revenues, assets, staffing, geography, and programming. Prior to joining LEDC, Ms. Nemes served as a research and evaluation consultant to governments, foundations, and nonprofits around the country and assessed the needs of marginalized communities and the programs designed to minimize the social inequities these communities face. She is well versed in program development and organizational capacity building. Ms. Nemes was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, is bilingual, and has extensive experience conducting field work with diverse racial/ethnic communities. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Maryland College Park in Psychology and a Master of Science in Cross-Cultural Psychology from Brunel University in London, England.
Isis Salmeron is LEDC’s Chief of Finance. She is responsible for maximizing the return on financial assets by establishing financial policies, procedures, controls and reporting systems. Isis oversees cost and general accounting, accounts receivable/collection and payroll and risk management and ensures legal and regulatory compliance for all accounting and financial reporting functions. Isis has held different positions throughout her tenure at LEDC, having served as LEDC’s Lending Operations Manager and Senior Loan Officer, respectively. Isis holds a BA in Finance and Business Administration from the University of New Orleans, and a Master of Science in Finance from Johns Hopkins University. Originally from El Salvador, Isis has more than nine years of experience working with small businesses and low-income populations in the DC Metropolitan area.
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’s 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.
A native of the Brightwood neighborhood in DC, Emi Reyes has years of involvement in the restaurant industry. Born into a family of Salvadoran immigrants who became restaurant owners, she has experienced firsthand the difficulties of owning and operating a small business. Prior to joining LEDC, she worked with restaurants in New England as well as the DC area. She has also worked throughout Central America with farmers and organizations looking to establish an eco-tourism co-op. Emi graduated from Bennington College in Vermont with a concentration in political science and foreign languages. After two years in the Small Business Lending Department, Emi joined the administrative team at LEDC as Chief of Operations, Risk, and Investments. Emi also serves as a member of the Mayor’s DC Food Policy Council.
As the Development Manager, Yariana is responsible for generating revenue to fund the effective implementation of LEDC’s programs. She manages the proposal production process, tracks donor and gift information, drafts content for donor stewardship, and ensures grant applications and proposals are submitted properly. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, she worked in the hospitality industry as a Hotel Manager. Most recently, she worked as the Resource Development Manager of a refugee resettlement agency in the DMV area. Yariana graduated from Norwich University with a degree in diplomacy and conflict management. She also has a degree in business administration from the University of Puerto Rico. Yariana is passionate about working with underserved populations and protecting the legacies of minority groups.
Janmarie is LEDC’s Grants and Evaluation Manager, where she supports efforts to strengthen funding for LEDC’s programs and evaluate their impact. Janmarie joins LEDC with a background developing and leading economic empowerment programs for underserved communities. Prior to joining LEDC, Janmarie led a financial coaching program in Arlington, VA for families impacted by homelessness and domestic violence. She also led an entrepreneurship program in New Haven and Bridgeport, CT, which focused on training, technical assistance, and microlending for family child care providers. Throughout her career, Janmarie has leveraged her knowledge of data analysis and evaluation to understand and strengthen direct service programs. Janmarie received her undergraduate and graduate degree in economics from the University of South Florida.
Monica is LEDC's Communications Manager. In that role, Monica manages the organization's communication and marketing efforts, including producing the organization's newsletter, assisting in the production of annual reports, writing press releases, managing the organization’s social media platforms, and overseeing department-wide marketing and advertisement efforts. She joined LEDC in 2018 as a Communications Associate. Prior, Monica worked as a Congressional Intern for the office of the late U.S. Congressman Elijah E. Cummings. Monica is a magna cum laude graduate of Bowie State University, where she received a Bachelor of Science in Communication. There, she worked with other students to launch a magazine that delivers social justice news and views to HBCU students. In May 2019, Monica received a Master of Arts in Communication from Johns Hopkins University.
Rachel comes to LEDC with nine years of human resources experience. She has her undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Hartford. Before joining LEDC, Rachel worked for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecology. She was an HR Generalist focusing on recruiting, development, leadership training, and implementing diversity and inclusion programs. In her current role as the HR Manager, Rachel serves the staff of LEDC by providing general employee support, recruitment and hiring, and implementation of employee benefit programs.
Direct Community Investments Program
As Manager of the Direct Community Investments Program, Laura coordinates various privately and publicly funded grant programs, facilitating the processing and disbursement of grant awards. Prior to the creation of the Program, Laura supported business owners as a Coach with LEDC's Small Business Development department.
Passionate about entrepreneurship as a catalyst for social change, she was previously 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 support the LEDC community through financial assistance initiatives with the Direct Community Investments Program. A Boston native, Laura holds a B.A. from Connecticut College in Economics and Hispanic Studies.
Ellie is the Direct Community Investments Senior Associate at LEDC. In this role, she collects and processes documentation to facilitate the disbursement of grants to small businesses. Passionate about resource access as a tool for empowerment, Ellie has previously worked as an intern with Ayuda’s Language Access Program as well as with the Scholars’ Latino Initiative in Richmond, VA. She has prior experience serving small businesses with Think Local First DC. 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.
Manuel is a Direct Community Investments Clerk at LEDC. In his role, he collects and processes data to facilitate the disbursement of grants. He is passionate about extending formative aid that crosses socioeconomic and cultural boundaries to reach communities in need. Manuel graduated from Georgia State University with a Bachelor of Art in Art History and a minor in Spanish Language and Literature. Prior to joining LEDC, he lived in Atlanta where he worked in non-profit art education that served bilingual audiences. More recently, in DC, he supported programs related to the DC Housing Authority to ensure minority and at-risk tenants receive fair living conditions. When he is not behind the keyboard, he enjoys watching soccer, learning about behavioral economics, and finding different ways to brew coffee.
Arlyn Rosario joined LEDC in 2021 as a Direct Community Investments Clerk. Her responsibilities include document collection, applicant vetting, and reporting. Arlyn brings nearly four years of experience in the nonprofit sector. Prior to joining the team, she was an operations associate for a nonprofit organization. Arlyn obtained a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2017 from Lehman College. She is currently pursuing a master’s in business and expects to graduate in June 2021.
As a Direct Community Investments Clerk, Carlos is responsible for processing and analyzing data to facilitate grant disbursement. He started at LEDC as a volunteer in the Housing Program. Carlos holds a bachelor's degree in economics from La Salle University and two masters, one in Finance and the other in Capital Markets, both from Del Rosario University. He has been working for more than 15 years as a financial and social housing specialist in the public sector, for private urban developers, nonprofit organizations, and public-private partnerships in his native country of Colombia.
As a member of the DCI team, Sofia is responsible for collecting and processing all required documentation and information required for grant distribution and reporting. Before joining LEDC, she worked as a paralegal at an immigration law firm, where she gained a deeper understanding of Latinos' hardships and challenges in the country. This position developed her skills using multiple document-filing software, detailed document reviewing, and effective customer service. Sofia has also worked abroad in the nonprofit sector as an intern with Kingdom DNA in South Africa. There, she developed organizational skills and productive team efforts while working on several projects focused on sports ministry. In 2020, she received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a certification in International Relations and Comparative Politics and a minor in Global Studies, which inspired her to work with the immigrant population in the United States.
Small Business Programs
As LEDC’s Chief of Small Business Services, Omar brings over a decade of experience in business development and entrepreneurship, and over three years of experience in consumer and small business loans, to the organization. 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 digital marketing. Throughout his career at LEDC, he has helped small businesses in all stages of growth, including providing small business advice, pre-loan technical assistance, underwriting, and credit analysis. Omar is an Industrial Engineer with a master’s in process optimization from the Industrial University of Santander.
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.
Daniel was born in Takoma Park, MD, and graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a BA in Spanish Language, Literatures, and Cultures. At LEDC, Daniel has worked in both the Small Business Development and Small Business Lending Programs. In his current role as Loan Operations Manager, his responsibilities include supervising loan officers, implementing underwriting policies, developing new loan products, and more. On the weekend, you can find Daniel working for Twin Springs Fruit Farm at local farm markets, a part-time job he has held since high school.
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.
Ms. Cabrera is currently the Risk Management Clerk 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.
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.
Carlos is a Loan Officer and Underwriter for the DC market. His role is to help generate leads and build relationships with new and existing clients, as well as to help small businesses with the loan application process. He also supports the lending team with outreach initiatives in the DMV area. Carlos has worked in the interpreter, casino, recruiting, and aerospace industries. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in International Studies. Carlos was born in Mexico but moved to Florida at a young age.
Oscar Guillen is a Loan Officer and Underwriter with LEDC in Washington, DC. He is originally from Nicaragua and has lived in the Silver Spring area for most of his life. He has experience in banking, hospitality, retail, and telecommunications. Before joining LEDC, he worked at AT&T for over 12 years as a Senior Sales/Business Consultant managing client accounts. Oscar graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. His interests include sports, music, art, technology, and spending time with his family.
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.
Rene Llanes is a Small Business Loan Officer and Underwriter with LEDC in Wheaton, Maryland. He was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and raised in Miami, Florida, where he worked in retail at Florsheim for over 15 years. He also has experience in the hospitality industry, specifically in food service where he was a restaurant manager. In 2017, Rene relocated to Maryland where he worked as a banker for Bank of America in Washington, DC. He is a graduate of Grand Canyon University, with a B.S. in Business Management. His interests include sports, music, cooking, working out, and family time.
Antonio Tabora is a Senior Loan Officer and SBA Specialist with LEDC in the Baltimore area. Born and raised in Honduras, he graduated from the University of San Pedro Sula with a B.S. in Industrial Engineering and recently completed an MBA in Finance at Loyola University Maryland. Antonio has accrued seven years of management experience across several industries including air transportation, corporate banking, and most recently electronics retailing. As a lending officer for FICOHSA Honduras, he sourced, developed, and materialized leads to sell financial products and online banking services for prospective clients in the middle market and corporate business communities. As a country manager for Samsung Electronics LATAM, he was responsible for increasing country revenue by developing sales and marketing/retail strategies, which included business development, retailer and vendor relationship management, and team leadership. Antonio has always had a passion for helping and empowering underserved communities outside of work. As a teenager, he was an active church youth leader and supported several charities and volunteering initiatives. Most recently, he was involved in volunteering through Notre Dame of Maryland University by supporting charities like My Sister’s Place Women’s Center, Earl’s Place Transitional Housing, and Habitat for Humanity Restore. His interests include technology, securities and investment research, family and fitness.
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.
Juan is the Small Business Coach and Loan Officer in the Arlington, Virginia market. In his role, he works with small business owners to advise them on growth strategies and assist them in accessing capital. Juan was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Reading, Pennsylvania. Having grown up in his family's bodega, he is familiar with small businesses. He credits his passion for giving back to the Latinx community to a Latina woman who assisted with his father's first business plan, which got him funding to open his first business. He hopes to do for others what was done for his family. He attended Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics. After college, he opened up a family restaurant and worked as a real estate agent and entrepreneur. He served on multiple boards and authorities in his hometown. He was the Vice- Chairman of the Reading Redevelopment Authority, Treasurer of the Berks County Latino Chamber of Commerce, and a board member of Neighborhood Housing Services. He is currently pursuing his master's in real estate from Georgetown University.
As a Senior Small Business Loan Officer and Underwriter in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, Brian generates a constant inflow of new lending clients and underwrites small business loan transactions. Before joining the team, Brian worked as an Attorney Advisor for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), authorizing deeds for disaster survivor secured loans. Brian holds a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree with a concentration in Finance from the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico and a Juris Doctor from the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico School of Law. In his free time, Brian enjoys watching movies, going mountain biking, exploring new local restaurants, and spending time with family and friends.
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 sized 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 an MBA, with a specialty in Marketing, from the InterAmerican University of PR.
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.
Joining LEDC in 2021, Molly is the organization’s Small Business Intake Coordinator. In this role, Molly works alongside a team of highly motivated business coaches to support the small business team and ensure quality service to LEDC’s clients. Bringing several years of experience in business development and designing marketing campaigns, Molly is excited about supporting and promoting the impactful work that LEDC does for the community. Prior to joining LEDC, Molly worked as a Federal Affairs Associate, where she assisted small businesses in navigating relationships between the private and public sectors. Passionate about empowering small and minority-owned businesses to achieve their goals, Molly also interned with the Mississippi Development Authority’s International Trade Team. In that role, she helped identify and assist small businesses that might qualify for and benefit from state business grants and programs. Previously, Molly was also involved in organizations such as Women in Business, whose mission is to equip and empower women pursuing professional careers in business. Born in Jackson, Mississippi, Molly graduated summa cum laude from Mississippi State University with bachelor’s degrees in Marketing and Spanish, and specializations in International Business and Supply Chain Management.
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.
Peru native, Richard Kanegusuku, is a small business coach at LEDC. Richard comes from a family of entrepreneurs that dates back to his Japanese grandparents. After moving on from the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC)—his previous employer—he decided to help his family expand their restaurant business. As a previous small business owner, Richard can understand the challenges that business owners face with their daily operations. For this reason, he is honored to help all the entrepreneurs who walk through LEDC’s doors achieve their visions for their businesses. He hopes that through his role at LEDC he can have a positive impact on the communities that rely on these small businesses. Richard recently graduated from the MBA program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. When not working, you can find him catching up with family and friends, cooking, playing soccer, or participating in spontaneous karaoke sessions.
Maria Godoy joined the team in November 2010. As a small business coach, Maria helps entrepreneurs start or expand their businesses in the Washington metropolitan area by providing them with the tools and resources to address their business needs. Maria served in other capacities focused on economic development within the organization prior to transitioning to the small business team. The skills and operational knowledge she has gained throughout the years in economic development have built her professional experience. Now more than ever, she is able to help minority-owned small businesses and women-owned businesses reach their overall operational goals.
Carlos is a Small Business Coach for the Baltimore County and Baltimore City market at LEDC. As a business coach, he assists business owners and individuals that want to start a business, with financial planning, business development, licensing and registration, or other areas of improvement and opportunity. Prior to joining LEDC, he worked in operations for La Clinica Del Pueblo, a non-profit in DC. With a degree in Business Management and Administration, he has worked as a controller and financial analyst in the private sector. He joined LEDC so he could follow his passion for serving the Latinx community across the area. In his free time, he enjoys biking, camping, running and spending time outdoors with his wife, baby Matias, and his dog Sullivan. An interesting hobby of Carlos' is he also brews his own kombucha.
Resilient Business Corridors
Javier Rivas joined LEDC in February 2019. Having owned and operated two businesses in Washington, DC, he comes to the Business Resilience Program with a wealth of entrepreneurship experience, ready to bring support to business owners facing challenges resulting from the rapid development and growth in the greater DMV area. As a self-taught owner of two coffee shops, he enjoyed the process of learning a craft, tackling problems, and constantly finding more efficient ways of achieving his goals. More than anything, he is proud of having been able to serve his community, making long-lasting connections, and helping his employees gain confidence, vocational training, and personal growth. He spent his childhood in El Salvador and has been a resident of the DMV area since 1989. Javier holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Virginia.
Melissa joined the LEDC team and took on the role of Small Business Coach & Liaison in 2019 with the mission to make a greater positive impact in her community. Melissa grew up in the small historic town of Takoma Park, MD. She is a business graduate from the University of Maryland where she earned her degree in Supply Chain Management. Since graduating, Melissa has taken on roles in various areas of business including marketing and sales, business development, and accounting. She is passionate about helping her community and chose LEDC because it allowed her to fulfill her self-imposed civic duty while also allowing her to continue building on her business knowledge and experience. When she is not tending to her professional and civic duties, she likes to play sports, dance bachata, and hike.
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.
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 degree in Marketing and later her Master of Arts degree 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.
Nicole Andonie is a bilingual professional with more than 10 years of experience in U.S. & Latin American Markets. Having lived and worked abroad in Honduras for 6 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.
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 U.S. 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 8 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 NCLR 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.
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.
Angelica Rufino comes to LEDC with almost 7 years of nonprofit experience, having spent the last 5 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.
Maria has 15 years of experience working in the nonprofit area in Washington, DC. Her experience includes outreach, housing, and tenant organizing. She holds a Bachelor's in Communications and Photography from the Ibero University in Puebla, Mexico. Maria is very excited to be part of LEDC and to support immigrant families to live in decent and safe housing.
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. His favorite hobbies are learning about new cultures and making new friends.
Fernando Martínez was born and raised in Colombia and is now a resident of DC. He graduated from Javeriana University in Colombia and received an MBA from Strayer University in DC. He has three years of experience in property management and 11 years in the banking sector working as a personal banker at Citibank. During these years he has been very involved with the Hispanic community and other minorities by helping them with their basic personal financial planning, covering aspects such as starting credit history in the US, budgeting, and savings, guiding them to avoid bad debt and use good debt to create wealth for them and their families. He is enthusiastic about helping the community with educational initiatives that will end up improving their quality of life.
A first-generation native of the District, Karen has spent the last 6 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 U.S. 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 3 languages and hopes to add to the list.
Julian is LEDC's Maryland Tenant Education and Service Coordinator. Originally from Colombia, he emigrated to the DMV area as a child. From a young age, he has always had a passion for community building, grassroots social movements, and empowering disenfranchised communities. While completing his bachelor's in sociology at the University of Maryland, he worked as a part-time Spanish interpreter in school systems and hospitals throughout the DMV area. Julian was also a part-time bartender in DC for over 7 years. After the pandemic shut down most service industry jobs, the logical step was to move into a role where he could better serve and empower local communities. LEDC was the perfect match. In his free time, you can find him playing bass, riding his bike, doing yoga, or learning about nondualist teachings from Buddhist and Vedanta spiritual traditions.
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 BBA 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.
Ms. Hill is a HUD-certified housing counselor who joined LEDC in October of 2020. She previously worked at Darden Corporation as a payroll specialist and has also worked in the retail industry for over 10 years. She is currently working on obtaining her HUD-certification. Raquel graduated from the University of South Florida in 2008 with a major in finance and marketing. In her free time, she enjoys drinking coffee with friends, biking, and hiking.
Affordable Housing Preservation
Veronica joined LEDC as a Bilingual Tenant Organizer in 2018. She has five years of related professional experience and a lifelong passion for justice and public service. Her experience ranges from advocating for and working with children, at-risk youth in the foster care system, immigrant and bilingual communities, and teen parents. She has served as case manager for young adults in homeless and housing services, educated and advocated for suicide prevention organizations, developed support groups in high schools in Austin Independent School District, fought for immigrant rights and against anti-sanctuary practices in Austin, TX, and collaborated in implementing a drop-in center for survivors of human trafficking.
Veronica is originally from Chihuahua, Mexico and grew up in Texas. She is a graduate of the University of North Texas where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, English Literature, and Spanish.
As an immigrant and someone with lived experience navigating the challenges the community faces, she is aware of the power of representation in building trust and rapport, and most importantly, in understanding the specific needs of a population. She is proud to be part of a team that advocates for city-wide policies that reflect the needs of the community and empowers tenant associations to exercise their rights to preserve and improve their affordable housing.
Victoria Gonçalves was born in Caracas, Venezuela and raised in Miami, Florida where she became engaged in local politics from an early age. She has lived in DC for the last 6 years where she graduated from George Washington University as a political science major in 2017. In her undergraduate career, she was heavily involved in the Latinx and queer communities which she helped organize around political and campus issues. She is passionate about organizing for justice, most recently organizing in solidarity with farmworkers through the Student/Farmworker Alliance. Victoria Joined the Affordable Housing Preservation team in March of 2018 and is excited to continue to help tenants exercise their rights, take collective action and advocate for affordable housing.
Lauren Taylor (LT) joined the affordable housing team in May 2020 as a bilingual tenant organizer. Originally from Indianapolis, LT has over 10 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, including harm reduction, reentry support and advocacy, and gender violence prevention. Outside of paid work, they are active in movements to end mass incarceration, detention and deportation. LT studied history and political science at Indiana University, Bloomington. When they’re not in a meeting, they enjoy listening to podcasts, cooking, walking their dogs, or catching up with friends.