Gary Lindner

President and CEO
In 2010, Gary Lindner became President & CEO. Since then, PeopleFund, a non-profit 501 (c) (3) has grown from a 5 county central Texas service area to a statewide lender (254 counties) with enormous social and economic impact. He hired a high energy staff, and successfully opened seven PeopleFund offices across the state, and tripled outstanding loans. From 2004-2015, Mr. Lindner has been responsible for 6,000 Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) loans to Texas small businesses. Previously, he was Chief Operating Officer at ACCION Texas from 2004-2010 where he quadrupled the outstanding loan portfolio to over $30 million. Mr. Lindner also was SVP of a private insurance company and set profitability records. During his distinguished 29 year military career, he flew intensive air combat missions in Southeast Asia, followed by a series of increasingly challenging flying, staff, and three CEO assignments. He achieved the rank of Colonel and Command Pilot status. An Air Force Academy graduate, Mr. Lindner earned a master’s degree from Auburn University. He has served on numerous local, regional, state and national non-profit boards.

Rocio Vallejo

Director of Lending
As Director of Lending, Rocio is passionate about entrepreneurship; for the last 10 years she has devoted her time to assisting small business owners with access to capital and business development. She also held management roles in national banks with Texas locations. Before joining PeopleFund, Rocio was responsible for central Texas loan production and portfolio management for Accion Texas, Inc. Rocio holds an MBA in Business Management from Texas A&M–Commerce. In 2011, Rocio, her husband, and her two small children moved from their hometown, El Paso, to the Austin area and have enjoyed every minute of what the Greater Austin community has to offer their family. Rocio is responsible for statewide loan production and ensures we have loan products responsive to the need of our clients.

Julia Dunn

Chief Financial Officer
As Chief Financial Officer, Julia is responsible for monitoring all internal financial and accounting controls, provides financial modeling and analysis experience to the Executive Team and program staff. Julia has twenty years of non-profit accounting and finance experience. She began her career at KPMG in Dallas and worked as an Audit Manager for non-profit engagements. Additionally, she has served as Director of Finance for several non-profit agencies. Julia received her Bachelor's Degree in Accounting and an MBA (Accounting Emphasis) from Texas Tech University.

Amber Cooney

Director of Advancement & Education
In her role as Director of Advancement & Education, Amber is responsible for PeopleFund’s comprehensive development strategy, including managing donor relations, community investment, fundraising, and grant writing. She also oversees the organization’s external messaging, special events, community programs, public relations, and online presence. To ensure quality educational support for prospective entrepreneurs and PeopleFund clients, Amber leads educational programming and technical assistance, including the organization’s volunteer program, workshops, curriculums, and online resources. Amber also advocates for policy action and legislation that supports economic development and community growth. Originally from Pennsylvania, Amber relocated to Austin to complete her degrees in History and Government from the University of Texas and she is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Corporate Communications and Public Relations from Georgetown University. Prior to joining PeopleFund in 2012, Amber served as the founding Director of the Texas Stars Foundation, as well as managed volunteer and youth services for the American Red Cross. Early in her public sector career, Amber worked with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to advocate for equity and opportunity for all.

Laura Shock

Director of Underwriting & Risk Management
In her role as Director of Underwriting and Risk Management, Laura is responsible for analyzing each loan request for associated risk and compliance with internal credit policy and alignment to PeopleFund’s mission to create economic opportunity and financial stability for underserved populations. She believes that small businesses are the key to local economic development and sustainability. Prior to joining PeopleFund, Laura worked as a Credit Products Officer in the Austin Business Banking group at Bank of America. She has held commercial underwriting positions with KeyBank in Seattle and GE Capital in Chicago. Laura received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is a registered yoga teacher and active mentor through Africa Yoga Project in addition to volunteering with several local non-profit organizations.

Shay Erickson

Director of Operations
Shay joined the PeopleFund staff in April 2010 and has over 14 years of administrative and managerial experience. Shay earned a Bachelor’s degree from University of Wisconsin at Madison and a Master’s Degree in Counseling from St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas. Throughout her career she has volunteered with several non-profit organizations, and currently divides her time between her budding psychotherapy practice and providing support to PeopleFund’s growing programs and services.

Charles McElrath

Director, City of Dallas Loan Program
Charles has an outstanding background in commercial lending, finance, and non-profit management leadership. In 2004 he joined the staff at the non-profit Southern Dallas Development Corporation (SDDC) as a Vice President in commercial lending department and within eight months he became the President and CEO. He helped revitalize SDDC. Under his leadership SDDC and the two affiliates (Southern Dallas Development Fund and Dallas Business Finance Corporation) helped numerous businesses obtain over $50 million in much need capital. In 2010, he was instrumental in helping SDDC create a fourth loan program (Southern Dallas Small Business Loan Program) to increase the amount of capital available to small businesses in the City of Dallas. He has a passion for helping businesses located in low to moderate income census tract areas. Prior to joining SDDC, he had a stellar career in lending and financing with several major financial institutions including Comerica Bank, Merrill Lynch, and Bank of America. Charles McElrath graduated from Carleton College with a degree in Economics and he earned a M.B.A. from Baldwin Wallace College. After the 2015 merger of SDDC and PeopleFund, Charles oversees the City of Dallas Loan Program.

Tassjania Lozano

Women's Business Assistance Center Manager
As the manager of the Women’s Business Assistance Center, Tass provides individualized business advising and group instruction to aspiring women entrepreneurs and spearheads women-focused programming throughout North Texas. She oversees a budding business facility to advance women in entrepreneurship and creates innovative programming to spur economic opportunity for women as they compete in a changing economy. Tass recently returned to PeopleFund after leading an expansion and training team for a Dallas-based technology company and serving as PeopleFund’s education and training specialist, where she oversaw curriculums and mentorship programs. With a passion for social and economic justice and experience in program development, Tass equips women with the tools to succeed. Under her leadership, PeopleFund’s women clients have created jobs, provided valuable community services, and gained national attention – including invitations to speak at the White House. In her spare time, she volunteers with homeless shelters, loves to take spontaneous road trips, and visit local art exhibits and museums. Tass enjoys getting her hands dirty, equipping people to be successful, and seeing women grow.

Ardina Washington

Loan Administration Manager
As Loan Administration Manager, Ardina supports the lending team in assessing best practices and products for PeopleFund's clients. Previously, Ardina held the title of the Economic Development Manager for the City of Fort Worth’s Housing and Economic Development Department where she oversaw the City’s incentive programs, including tax abatement, economic development program grants, enterprise zones, public improvement districts, and tax increment financing. She was with the City of Fort Worth for more than twelve years and contributed to the creation of eight of the City’s 11 active tax increment financing districts and negotiated several tax abatement and economic development program agreements. Ardina graduated with honors, earning a Bachelor's degree and an MBA from Tarleton State University, a part of the Texas A&M University System. She is a Certified Economic Development Finance Professional (EDFP) through the National Development Council. She has served in many non-profit organizations as a member or Board member.

Patricia Colomo Baray

Senior Underwriter & Portfolio Manager
Patricia joined Peoplefund as a Development and Finance intern and was quickly promoted because of her experience and work ethic. She graduated in December 2012 from the University of Texas with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and a minor in Business Administration. Prior to joining Peoplefund, she assisted a UT professor with her research about the socioeconomic returns in education in developing countries and volunteered in other organizations, such as Latinitas, Candlelighters, and the American Cancer Society.

Ava Villegas

In her role as Underwriter, Ava structures and underwrites loans that have a community impact in Texas communities, and analyzes each loan request for associated risks and compliance with internal credit policy. Prior to joining PeopleFund, Ava worked as a Business Finance Analyst. She assisted with financial systems and management of her client’s financials and growth. She consulted with clients one-to-one in building their financials to help them better understand the use of financial tools for their strategic use in accessing capital. Ava earned her Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Texas at Austin, with an Honors Business Foundations Certificate, and is currently pursuing her Actuarial Certification (CERA). Ava is passionate about leadership and promotes small business development, entrepreneurship, and finance among woman, minorities, and low-income communities. She founded JetsetHer, a magazine for woman entrepreneurs; working for PeopleFund has empowered Ava to share and assists other aspiring entrepreneurs to find capital and education to build successful businesses. She is an avid reader, enjoys building, coding websites and algorithms, and shares healthy fitness goals with her family.

Grant Bennett

Grant joined the PeopleFund team as intern in August of 2014. Grant was hired full time as the Lending Support Officer in October 2014 after showing tremendous aptitude and a desire to further PeopleFund’s mission. He was hired as an Underwriter in March 2016 and is looking forward to the new challenges and opportunities of working with the underwriting and risk management team. Grant grew up in Jackson, Ohio and joined the Army out of high school. He served two combat deployments in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Grant currently serves in the Texas National Guard as a Non-Commissioned Officer of the Airborne Infantry. He is pursuing a BBA in Management at St. Edward’s University.

Marisol Montoya

Senior Loan Officer - Dallas
Mari joined the PeopleFund in April 2012. As Loan Officer, she is responsible for introducing new clients to PeopleFund and working with them throughout the loan process. Mari’s addition to the PeopleFund team is helping grow new client relationships in the newly acquired Dallas-Ft. Worth office. Mari has over 10 years of nonprofit experience in areas such as management, grantmaking, microlending, education & prevention initiatives, and consulting.

Nini Diana Gutierrez

Senior Loan Officer - Houston
Nini joined the PeopleFund team as a loan officer in November 2014. Nini brings over 8 years of experience in banking and customer service. She holds a Bachelor's degree from the University of Houston-Downtown in Communication Studies and is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Non-profit Management. Nini uses her passion for small businesses and economic growth in Houston to guide new clients through the loan process and stands by them as they head towards success.

Erika Hersh

Loan Officer - Fort Worth
Originally from Oklahoma, where she attended Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Erika relocated to Texas for new career opportunities. Her diverse background includes experience in lending, grant writing, community outreach, and business assistance & education.. She joined the PeopleFund team in 2012 and serves as the Fort Worth Area Loan Officer. She is responsible for guiding new clients through the loan process and developing partnerships throughout the Fort Worth footprint. Erika is an officer in the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce Cowtown Leads Exchange. She is also a member of the Burleson Chamber of Commerce Power of Heels committee and she currently serves as the Head Judge for the Fort Worth Business Assistance Center Business Plan Competition. Erika has a passion for helping new entrepreneurs realize their potential. Her vitality, skills and compassion translates to her desire to see small businesses succeed.

Jessica Hernandez

Lending Support Officer
Jessica joined the PeopleFund team in the summer of 2016, and comes to San Antonio by way of Southern California and El Paso, Texas. A finance graduate from the UTEP, Jessica has extensive experience in sales, administration, education, and the public sector. Empowered with a passion for helping others achieve their personal and professional goals, Jessica helps underserved entrepreneurs across South Central Texas reach the American Dream. Outside of the office, Jessica enjoys traveling and spending time with her family and friends.

Jemerell Rogers

Loan Officer - Austin/San Marcos
As a loan officer with PeopleFund, Jemerell’s core objective is to identify the financial needs of entrepreneurs in our community and provide access to capital and support to grow healthy small businesses. As a member of Austin’s financial industry for over 11 years and operating his own business for 4 years, Jemerell is in tune with the obstacles faced by many PeopleFund clients. With a keen understanding of the traditional financial mainstream, Jemerell looks forward to creating opportunities to help small businesses thrive.

Esther Lopez

Loan Officer - El Paso
Esther joined the PeopleFund team in early 2016 as a loan officer serving greater El Paso/West Texas. A native of El Paso, Esther has over 29 years of experience in banking, where she worked in several departments to grow her skills in finance, lending, and small business banking. Bilingual in English and Spanish, Esther has a strong commitment to our mission and professionalism to drive success. Active in the community. Esther volunteers her time for CASA of El Paso. She has been married for over 30 years, and has two children and one grandchild.

Bill Anderson

Loan Officer - Rio Grande Valley
Bill joined the PeopleFund team in November 2016. As a loan officer for the Rio Grande Valley, he is responsible for identifying and supporting the financial needs of local businesses and working with them throughout the loan process. Bill has over 33 years of banking experience, which includes business lending, retail lending, mortgages and customer service. Bill is fully bilingual and is ready to assist Spanish-speaking clients.

Jennifer DuBose

SBA Loan Specialist
As SBA Loan Specialist, Jennifer assists the lending team and clients throughout the loan process. Her primary responsibilities include supporting the Director of Lending, loan administration and portfolio risk management. Jennifer has over 28 years of experience in banking and loan operations and holds a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration-Finance from Texas A&I University which is now known as Texas A&M at Kingsville.

Jackie Ramos

Accounting Assistant
Jackie Ramos first joined the PeopleFund team in May 2015 to support lending and education programs in the greater San Antonio region. After a short time overseeing the opening of the Bloom Lab coworking and resource center for women, Jackie was promoted to accounting assistant in the winter of 2016. In her role, Jackie advances the finance department’s recording and reporting of information while also providing financial guidance and accounting assistance to PeopleFund clients. Jackie graduated from Texas State University with a degree in accounting and is currently pursuing her MBA from Texas A&M. Armed with a passion for advancing women in entrepreneurship and accounting/finance/audit experience, Jackie is committed to PeopleFund’s mission of creating economic opportunity for all. Outside of the office, Jackie is a member of the National Association for Black Accountants and enjoys fitness, music, and football.

Jadeline Cao

Education Specialist-Events & Workshops
A passion for empowering underserved populations is what brings Jadeline to PeopleFund. A former Development and Communications Intern in 2013, she returned to the organization in February 2016 to serve as an Education Specialist, developing quality workshops and business education programs for underserved entrepreneurs across Texas. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Urban Studies from the University of Texas, where she cultivated her passion for social services and non-profit work. Prior to joining the PeopleFund team, Jadeline explored Austin’s social service landscape as Projects Coordinator at a boutique non-profit consulting firm, and honed her development and communications skills at a start-up international development nonprofit.

Angela Amaya

Education Specialist-Program & Impact Measurement
Angela joined the PeopleFund team in January of 2017. In her role as an Education Specialist she ensures loan readiness by providing support to the programs and curriculums for the Education department. As someone passionate about impact she also manages the tracking and evaluation functions for the education department. Angela brings over 5 years of experience to PeopleFund, previously providing operational and program support at a best practices nonprofit. She is a proud member of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie class of 2008 and also holds a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Bush School of Government and Public Service. When she’s not empowering small business owners, you can find Angela exploring the many coffee shops in her hometown of Austin, playing Ultimate Frisbee, or enjoying a good book in her Kammok.

Katherine Sobel

Education Specialist-Curriculums & Mentorship
Katherine joined the PeopleFund family in June of 2016 as the Education Specialist, focusing on expanding the organization’s mentor program and extended curriculums. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Family and Consumer Sciences from Texas State, and is now working on her Master’s degree in Community Improvement through Texas Tech. In her role, Katherine focuses on the sustainability of PeopleFund clients through education, training, and outreach. Some of her responsibilities include matching clients with volunteers that may help them with an aspect of their business, administering and tracking pre- and post-loan education, and coordinating educational events such as PeopleVET and Emprende. Katherine is passionate about economic opportunity for all and committed to serving underserved populations. She believes that through education, anything is possible. In her spare time, Katherine can be found reading, cooking, or taking a class.

Lisa Terrazas

SBA Client Liaison
Lisa joined PeopleFund in 2014 as a contractor responsible for nurturing relationships with People Fund’s 50+ SBA Microloan clients, performing site visits, and connecting them with resources to ensure their success. Her diverse experience includes over ten years of various roles in finance, accounting, project management and professional development. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Southern Methodist University and a Master’s degree in Professional Counseling from Texas State University. In addition to helping our small business clients, Lisa also provides counseling for personal growth to individuals and couples in her psychotherapy practice.

Jalkeetna Brady

Junior Loan Officer
Jalkeetna Brady joined PeopleFund in March 2015 as a Customer Service Representative at our Houston office and grew into a loan officer role after showcasing her commitment to economic development in the greater Houston community. She graduated from Jackson State University with a BA in Business Management, and has worked in customer service for 16 years across several states before joining the PeopleFund team. Jalkeetna assists the Houston loan officer with preparing loan packages and maintaining a high standard of client communications and relationship-building.

Diana Meneses

Customer Service Representative - DFW
Diana joined the PeopleFund team in September 2015 as a customer service representative supporting the greater Dallas/Fort Worth region. Fully bilingual in English and Spanish, Diana brings years of experience in customer service. In addition to her work supporting our North Texas lending team, Diana is pursuing her degree in business management. Prior to PeopleFund, Diana worked as a loan processor for a national consumer lender. In her role, Diana will support our lending team in loan processing, customer service, and office administration, bringing her positive attitude and commitment to small business success.

Preston Anderson

Loan Closing Officer
Preston joined the PeopleFund team in August 2016 as a Finance intern and was quickly promoted to Lending Support Officer for his exceptional talent and passion for community development. In his current role, he supports the lending team to ensure effective client assistance and comprehensive mission delivery. Preston graduated in May 2016 from Baylor University with a double major in Finance and Social Entrepreneurship and is eager to use his education to serve those who are most in need. Preston developed his passion for economic inclusion during his travels to Peru, Zambia, and the Dominican Republic, where he worked closely with low income communities and enhanced microfinance and micro-credit opportunities.

Carlotta Wheeler

Loan Administrator, City of Dallas Loan Program
Carlotta joined Southern Dallas Development Corporation, now PeopleFund, as a Loan Administrator in January 1991. Ms. Wheeler’s responsibilities include maintenance of the loan ledger system, loan status reporting, loan document administration and review. Ms. Wheeler has helped to manage over 500 business relationships and loan programs totaling in excess of $200 million. Prior to joining SDDC, Ms. Wheeler was an Administrative Assistant at First National Bank of Chicago, Dallas Regional Office to five Vice Presidents and later promoted to Client Services Representative in the Cash Management Department serving national accounts for the Fortune 1000 clients located in Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico and Louisiana. Ms. Wheeler has a B.S. in Education from Langston University, Langston, Oklahoma. She has served on several non-profit organizations as a member and board member.

Vicki Evans

Lending Support Specialist
Vicki started with the Southern Dallas Development Corporation in 1998, and over the past two decades, has provided exceptional customer service, clerical support, and loan administration assistance to the PeopleFund lending team. Vicki supports the administration of the City of Dallas Loan Program, leveraging her experience in office administration, client support, and customer service. Vicki displays her confident and professional disposition as she assists clients, guests, board members, and staff in support of PeopleFund’s mission of economic opportunity.

Meghan Rauker

Advancement Specialist
In her role of Advancement Specialist, Meghan supports the Director of Advancement & Education focusing on statewide marketing and fundraising for PeopleFund. She assists with digital marketing campaigns developing promotional materials for outreach initiatives as well as on-site event assistance. Meghan earned her Bachelor's degree in International Relations and Modern History from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. While pursuing her degree, she volunteered with several non-profit organizations and discovered her passion for helping people achieve their dreams. Outside the office, Meghan can be found cooking, writing, or participating in trivia nights.

Shane Cormier

SBA Loan Servicing Specialist
Shane joined PeopleFund in late 2016 with a mission to heal the world one business at a time. As an SBA Loan Servicing Specialist, Shane is helping to nurture the SBA Community Advantage clients by coaching via site visits, and aligning them with the proper resources to assist in their advancement and success. Shane has 15+ years’ experience with businesses of varying size and mission, focusing on the customer’s goals and missions. Specifically, his experience entails Account Management, Customer Success Management, Tech and Small Business Consulting, Coaching, Leadership and Marketing. He received his Bachelor’s Business Admin from Lamar University and is certified in Coaching, Gallup Strengths Training and is a Certified Scrum Master. Outside of Shane’s professional experience, he volunteers as a Mentor for Everwise, a Reading Buddy for Andrews Elementary 4th graders and, as of recently, volunteered as a Community Ambassador with Urban Co-Lab. Shane’s mission in life is to assist other with their inherent abilities and guide them to their next step.