- Emi Reyes, Chief Executive Officer
- Isis Salmeron, Chief of Finance
- Sonia Castro-Maya, Accounting Manager
- Eduwiges Arciniega, Senior Staff Accountant
- Gerardo Hernandez, Operations Associate
- Janmarie Peña, Development and Evaluation Manager
- Sofia Darsin, Grants and Evaluation Associate
- Sofia Iszard, Communications Associate
- Rachel Eisenberg, Human Resources Manager
Direct Community Investments Program
- Laura Bentley, Direct Community Investments Program Manager
- Helen (Ellie) Owen, Direct Community Investments Senior Associate
- Rene Llanes, Direct Community Investments Associate
- Manuel Cude-Pacheco, Direct Community Investments Associate
- Arlyn Rosario, Direct Community Investments Associate
- Nicolle Yaranga, Direct Community Investment Associate
- Carlos Brown, Direct Community Investments Associate
Small Business Programs
- Omar Velasco, Chief of Small Business Services
- David Ricardo Arriola, Senior Loan Operations Manager
- Susana Gómez Portugal Monroy, Loan Portfolio Manager
- Sergio Von Horoch, Senior Portfolio & Data Administrator
- Zara Cabrera, Risk Management Clerk
- Ana Guzman, Loan Portfolio Clerk & Customer Representative
- Yanina Edith Chumpitaz, Loan Officer and Underwriter, DC
- Carlos Garcia Rada, Senior 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
- Michael T. Parrott, Small Business Intake Coordinator
- J.B. Behrens, Senior Small Business Coach & Liaison, DC
- Francisco Javier Jimenez, Senior Small Business Coach, DC
- Molly Terry, Small Business Coach, DC
- Maria Godoy, Senior Small Business Coach & Trainer, MD
- Carlos Velasquez, Small Business Coach, Baltimore
- Charlyn Nater-Severino, Small Business Coach, Baltimore
- Resilient Business Corridors
- Javier Rivas, Program Manager, MD
- Maria Llanos, Small Business Coach & Liaison, MD (Purple Line)
- Patrick Gannon, Small Business Coach & Liaison, Prince George’s County
- Empowered Women International (EWI)
- Alexandra Boycheck, Regional Program Manager
- Nicole Andonie, Regional Program Coordinator
- Walda Yon, Chief Housing Programs Officer
- Housing Counseling
- 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 Education & Financial Empowerment Manager, MD
- Karen Torrico, Bilingual Housing Counselor, MD
- Karen Serfis, Program Manager, Housing Counseling, VA
- Tenant Services and Eviction Prevention
- Julia Sarmiento, Tenant Services & Eviction Prevention Program Manager
- Julian Talero, Tenant Education and Service Coordinator, Montgomery County
- Leo Elias, Tenant Outreach and Education Specialist, Montgomery County
- Affordable Housing Preservation
- Lauren Taylor, Senior Organizer & Tenant Organizing Lead, DC
- Clara Lincoln, Bilingual Tenant Organizer, DC
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 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 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.
As the Operations Associate, Gerardo supports the organization's daily operations by performing administrative and clerical tasks, including coordinating and supporting IT projects, data entry, and documentation. Gerardo has over 10 years of experience working in IT, technical support, development, webmaster, and administrative tasks. He began his career in 2010 at the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare in El Salvador. There, he helped create a system to orient people who didn't know how to find jobs. Gerardo received a computer science degree from the University of Gerardo Barrios in El Salvador in 2012. He moved to the United States in 2018, and joined LEDC in 2020.
Janmarie is LEDC’s Development 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 degrees in economics from the University of South Florida.
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.
Before joining LEDC's Communication efforts, Sofia worked at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts' Office of Government Relations & Protocol as the Interim Assistant Manager. She handled all Congressional and Diplomatic Relations for the Kennedy Center and ensured high-level government officials' participation at key events, including the Kennedy Center Honors. Prior to this endeavor, Sofia worked at the Embassy of Panama, performing several roles for nine years to ultimately become the Special Assistant to the Ambassador, directing the Office of the Ambassador and the Ambassador's schedule. While at the Embassy, Sofia also handled the Embassy's and Consulate's social media accounts, restructured the Embassy's website, and handled the Office of the Ambassador's internal and external communications, as well as collaborated with other departments within the Embassy to advance Panamanian interests in the United States. Sofia holds a Master of Arts in International Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations, Television, Media Management & Sales from Lindenwood 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 BA from Connecticut College in Economics and Hispanic Studies.
As Senior Associate with the Direct Community Investments team, Ellie currently serves as the chief builder of DCI's grant portals, relational databases, and automation, creating 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 learned 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
David Arriola is a small business advocate with over 20 years of experience in finance, banking, local government, the federal government, economic development, and business development with significant contributions to small business lending. During his career, David has led efforts in redesigning clients' internal and external financial reporting, budgeting, and forecasting processes to improve efficiency. In addition to consulting with small businesses, he has implemented, written, and developed partnership agreements with over 30 financial lenders to provide access to capital. These new partnership agreements resulted in $4 million in new loans. David is passionate about assisting entrepreneurs and guiding them with a clear road map of success for their new business. When David is not consulting small businesses, he spends his time dining out, traveling, and spending time with his two kids.
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.
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.
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.
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 BS 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 US 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 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.
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 as the Small Business Intake Coordinator, Michael’s responsibilities include providing support to the small business program manager, leading the Small Business Marketing Committee, and assisting with outreach initiatives and content generation. Michael is Colombian-American and was born in Lima, Ohio, and raised in Michigan. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 2021 with a dual degree in international studies and Spanish. Passionate about the nonprofit sector and engaging with Latin-American communities, his previous professional experience includes working in various international programs promoting both intellectual and community development. Michael enjoys writing, meeting new people, and going on spontaneous adventures in his free time. He is most excited to engage directly with passionate Latino entrepreneurs looking to start new businesses and achieve their dreams.
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.
Joining LEDC in 2021, Molly is a Small Business Coach serving clients in the DC area. In this role, Molly works alongside a team of highly motivated business coaches to help entrepreneurs start or grow their businesses in DC. Passionate about empowering small and minority-owned businesses to achieve their goals, Molly previously worked in roles where she assisted small businesses in navigating programs and relationships between the private and public sectors. 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. In her free time, Molly enjoys hiking, grilling, and playing guitar.
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 markets 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 nonprofit 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.
Charlyn Nater-Severino is a Small Business Coach for the Baltimore County and Baltimore City markets at LEDC. Charlyn was born in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, and grew up in New York City for most of her life. In 2011, she moved to Maryland with her family and has since made it her home. Charlyn has a 24-year background in training and facilitation for communities in need of resources and development. She holds a bachelor's in business administration with a concentration in law. Her knowledge and passion for helping others have allowed her to create three successful businesses of her own in the fields of merchandise, real estate, and social media branding. She also launched a 501(c)(3) nonprofit for women in need. When Charlyn is not inspiring and encouraging others, she spends her time with her three beautiful children, working out, and creating memories with her loved ones.
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 Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Virginia.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Leo Elias is LEDC’s Tenant Outreach and Education Specialist. In that role, he assists in educating and organizing tenants, providing general case management and referral services for all tenants in need of assistance, and advocating for affordable housing policies that benefit low-income renters. 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.
Affordable Housing Preservation
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.
Clara Lincoln was born and raised in Washington, DC, and 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 since 2014, beginning with Thrive DC and the Washington Peace Center. She recently 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. She also participates in coalition spaces to preserve affordable housing on a city-wide scale. For the past three years, she managed the Academic Support Programs at the Latino Student Fund. Clara is skilled in outreach, leadership development, curriculum development, campaign support, 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.