Emerging Leaders in Microbusiness (ELM²)
Multiplying and strengthening tomorrow’s leaders


2014 ELM² Fellows

Marla Bilonick
Director of Small Business Development-Latino Economic Development Center, Washington, D.C.

Marla Bilonick is LEDC’s Director of Small Business Development and rejoined LEDC in 2012 after first working at the organization in 1999. As director, she works with her team to provide high-quality bilingual training and technical assistance to entrepreneurs and small business owners in the DC metropolitan area. Previously, she worked with entrepreneurs in Lower Manhattan New York that were impacted by the attacks of September 11th, helping to re-focus their businesses so that they could be retained and could grow despite the effects of the tragedy. As previous director of the Upper Manhattan Business Solutions Center, Marla’s team was able to work closely with several hundred small businesses in Harlem to launch and expand their businesses, bridging gaps to critical resources including information and financing. Her work in microenterprise development and microfinance in the international arena in settings such as Bolivia, El Salvador, Mexico, and her native Panama provides her with cultural sensitivity and awareness that is useful for working with LEDC's core constituents. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin at Madison and received her Master of Arts degree in International Economics and Latin American Studies from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies-SAIS.

 

Vanessa Carter
Executive Director, Lend for America, San Francisco, CA

Vanessa is Lend for America’s executive director and in this role she leads implementation of LFA’s programs. She develops curriculum, resources, and teaching materials for students to learn the fundamentals of U.S. microfinance. She also acts as a Loan Analyst for the Intersect Fund where she has evaluated over 1,100 microloan applications since 2011. Previously, she was the relationship manager for Credit Builders Alliance, where she managed services to help 300 nonprofit loan funds in the U.S. to offer credit reporting as a tool to build credit for consumers. Prior, Vanessa helped to build Think Impact, a social enterprise that connects students with rural villages in Kenya and South Africa to build social businesses. Vanessa is a recipient of the Projects for Peace fellowship and as a fellow she established a community center in Makrepeni, South Africa to improve access to entrepreneurial opportunities for women. With these experiences, Vanessa acts as a consultant to students leading Campus MFIs and offers guidance and technical assistance to strengthen MFI programming. Vanessa received her B.A. from Claremont McKenna College.

 

Anthony Chang
Executive Director, Kitchen Table Advisors, Mountain View, CA
Anthony Chang is Founder & Director of Kitchen Table Advisors. He is the primary business advisor to farm clients and provides leadership for organizational capacity building and fundraising. Anthony has almost 15 years of experience as a small business advisor, microlender, finance manager and non-profit leader. He most recently helped launch California FarmLink’s direct farm microloan program, and previously spent 12 years helping build Opportunity Fund into one of the leading non-profit microfinance organizations in the US.

 

Alex Dang
Business Development Officer, Opportunity Fund, San Jose, CA
In his role as Business Development Officer at Opportunity Fund, Alex Dang strives to deliver capital to underserved microenterprises through impactful loan products and strategic partnerships. He is responsible for managing Opportunity Fund’s EasyPay loan product, and the organization’s bank lending partnerships throughout California. Prior to joining Opportunity Fund, Alex conducted market research and developed partnerships as an Americorps VISTA for ACCION USA in Los Angeles, where he was born and raised.

Alex serves on the board of Global Brigades, where he played an active role in growing the nonprofit to become one of the world’s largest student-led international development organizations. And when he is not working at OF or thinking about GB, Alex is probably fishing or eating at a taco truck.

 

Luis de la Hoz
Vice President, Lending Team, Intersect Fund, New Brunswick, NJ
Luis O. de La Hoz is the Senior Vice President of the Lending Team at the Intersect Fund, a non-profit micro-lender and certified CDFI based in New Brunswick, NJ that provides training, coaching and capital to low-income, minority and women-owned businesses throughout the state of New Jersey. He was recently promoted due to his outstanding performance from Senior Loan Officer, a position he held since 2011, and Spanish Program Coordinator since 2010. His responsibility is to develop a portfolio of Latino entrepreneurs, small business owners and startups seeking capital, and help them develop a business plan and follow up on their operation through training and consultation to ensure successful outcomes.

Prior to his position at the Intersect Fund, De La Hoz moved to New Jersey to launch a tax preparation and financial services firm. He is a founding partner of MarMar Enterprises II and administrator of its New Brunswick branch. His office handled over 1,500 returns last year, more than any other un-franchised firm in the area. Before migrating to the United States from his native Colombia in the early 2000s, De la Hoz was involved in the hospitality industry. He was the National Marketing Manager of Paco Majo, in both locations Bogota and Medellín, and the Manager, Points of Sale, for Lebon Coffee Magazine. He started his career as the Sectional Director of the Health Cooperative in Manizales, Colombia.

 

Jesse Golland
Regional Senior Loan Officer for Colorado, Accion New Mexico • Arizona • Colorado, Denver, CO
Jesse Golland is the Regional Senior Loan Officer for Accion’s Colorado office and he has been with the organization for three years. He received his master’s degree from the University of Denver with a focus on development finance. In 2011, Jesse was awarded the SBA’s Financial Services Champion Award for the state of Colorado.

 

Laura Kozien
Director of Marketing and Communications, Accion US Network, New York, NY

Laura Kozien is the Director of Marketing and Communications for the Accion U.S. Network, the only nationwide microfinance and small-business lending network in the United States. In her role, Laura is responsible for building organizational awareness and increasing microfinance customer acquisition through digital, branding, communications, partnership and publicity efforts.

Passionate about Accion’s work and the impact that it has on small business owners from coast-to-coast, Laura has spent her career at Accion in various marketing and communications roles. She joined Accion in New York as an Americorps VISTA volunteer in 2004 and served as communications director at Accion East Coast and Online before joining the U.S. Network team in 2011.

Originally from Utica, NY, Laura holds a BA in Internationals Studies from Bentley University in Waltham, MA. She resides in Brooklyn, NY.

 

Barbara Krause
Accounting Manager, Northern Initiatives, Marquette, MI

Barbara Krause became the Accounting Manager at Northern Initiatives in June 2010. As accounting manager, she has developed new reports to help management analyze programs aimed at serving microbusiness in Northern Rural Michigan. She is focusing on ways to continue profitable activities as well as subsidizing key activities deemed necessary to assist in the creation and retention of jobs in Upper Michigan.

She also serves as treasurer at the Marquette Food Cooperative and Secretary for the Finance Committee at St Michael’s Parish.

She obtained her license as a Certified Public Accountant in the State of Michigan in 2007. Prior to joining Northern Initiatives, she had five years of related experience in positions in both internal and external audit for both large and small businesses throughout Michigan and internationally. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and French from Northern Michigan University.

 

Aaron Lackman
Manager of the Refugee Program, Business Center for New Americans,
New York, NY

Aaron has been assisting small business owners in New York City for over ten years. He is currently the Manager of the Refugee Program and a Loan Officer at the Business Center for New Americans in New York City. In his eight years with the Business Center he has underwritten 500+ loan applications and developed a ‘How to Establish Good Credit’ course which he teaches to small business owners. He holds an MBA in Small Business Management from Baruch College in New York City and a BA in Anthropology from the State University of New York at Albany.

 

Leticia Landa
Deputy Director, La Cocina, San Francisco, CA

Leticia learned about La Cocina in her last week of college from an article in The New York Times. After moving to San Francisco to work at a foundation she visited La Cocina’s Ferry Plaza Farmers Market booth and after meeting with the Executive Director she began as a staff member in February of 2008. Leticia studied Anthropology at Harvard and has a background international nonprofit work. She has lived in rural Northern India and rural Southwestern China working and studying agricultural poverty and its effects on women. She also completed the first year of culinary training at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and worked on the line at a restaurant Austin, Texas where she grew up. She is fluent in Spanish and French and (increasingly less) conversant in Mandarin Chinese. Since joining La Cocina, Leticia has been named one of San Francisco’s Tastemakers by 7×7 Magazine and was named a Yoshiyama Young Entrepreneur by the Hitachi Foundation for her work on the program curriculum and social entrepreneurship. As Deputy Director, Leticia oversees the business incubator and La Cocina's growing staff. She is also involved in setting the organization's strategic direction and plans for expansion as well as with fundraising. Leticia brings a passion for the kitchen to La Cocina and a true belief in the power of entrepreneurship in transforming people’s lives.

 

Brandon Napoli
Director of Microlending, Valley Economic Development Center, Los Angeles, CA

As a holder of a MBA with seven years of Economic Development experience, Brandon Napoli has developed a seasoned passion for microfinance through business and market based strategies. Brandon’s passion for microfinance started in 2005 where he co-founded a microfinance club at Point Loma Nazarene University and taught financial literacy at the International Rescue Center in San Diego to refugees. In 2006 he worked in Maseno, Kenya where he furthered his international microfinance experience through spearheading several economic development initiatives for the Anglican Church. Then, in 2007 while pursuing an MBA in Strategic Management, he worked fulltime as a Community Loan Officer at CDC Small Business Finance, where he gained invaluable skills in the due-diligence and lending processes of the Microfinance sector. Additionally, Brandon participated in The National Development Councils’ Economic Development Finance Professional Program. He also raised support for HOPE International (an International Microfinance Organization) by riding his bicycle 2,000 miles from Canada to Mexico and subsequently joined the Peace Corps.

 

Gustavo Perez Eugui
Manager of Lending, New England & Internet, Accion East, Boston, MA

Gustavo Perez Eugui is the Manager of Lending for New England and Internet at Accion East. In his current role Gustavo is tasked with the growth and management of the New England and National Lending Programs. Gustavo joined Accion in 2010 and worked his way to being the organizations Senior Loan Consultant in Florida. Since 2010 he has helped hundreds of small business owners by providing them with the Financial Education and Access to Capital they need to succeed. His expertise ranges from credit to business strategy. His experience includes work at multiple National and International NGO’s. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Emmanuel College in Boston and a Master of Arts degree from the School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London) in the United Kingdom.

Before joining Accion, Gustavo was the Grants Coordinator for Community Compact in Florida. There his work focused on identifying funding opportunities for the organization and designing Service Learning programs that enhance nonprofit capacity.