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.
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.
Director of Lending
As Director of Lending, Jemerell is responsible for statewide loan production and creation of responsive loan products that meet client need. Jemerell focuses on our mission to create access to capital to underserved Texas entrepreneurs, leveraging partnerships and community engagement to help small businesses thrive. Jemerell supervises PeopleFund’s lending and loan administration team throughout the state to advance economic opportunity in rural and urban communities. 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. Originally hired as a loan officer, Jemerell was promoted to a Senior Loan Officer and Director of Lending, a showcase of his commitment to PeopleFund and the underserved entrepreneurs we elevate.
Director of Advancement & Education
In her role as Director of Advancement & Education, Amber oversees PeopleFund’s comprehensive development strategy, including managing donor relations, community investment, fundraising, and grant writing. She also leads 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 manages educational programming and technical assistance, including the organization’s volunteer program, workshops, curriculums, and digital resources. Actively engaged in local, state, and national public policy, Amber serves as an advocate for priorities emphasizing economic development and community growth. Amber graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with degrees in Government and History with honors and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Public Relations and Corporate Communications from Georgetown University. Prior to joining PeopleFund, Amber led the Texas Stars Foundation, managed volunteer and youth services for the American Red Cross, and worked with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to advocate for equity and opportunity for all. Amber currently serves on the board of the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry, Statewide Leadership Council of the American Heart Association, and volunteers her time as a grantwriter for Heroes Night Out Veteran Resource Center. She is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and has received the Bank of America Neighborhood Builder Award, the OFN Opportunity Finance Fellowship, and the Association of Enterprise Opportunity Rising Star Award.
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.
Director of Operations
Shay joined the PeopleFund staff in April 2010 and has over 14 years of administrative and managerial experience. In her role, Shay oversees our facilities, strategic partnerships, and vendor management statewide. She also coordinates human resources, information technology, special projects, and administration. Originally from Chicago, 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. Prior to PeopleFund, Shay honed her operational skills in the healthcare industry, working at several area medical practices. Throughout her career she has volunteered with several non-profit organizations and therapy practices. Outside of the office, Shay enjoys spending time with her two young sons and shelter dog, Olive.
Women's Program Manager
Passionate about economic opportunity for women, Meghan oversees PeopleFund’s programs for female entrepreneurs statewide, including our Dallas Women’s Business Assistance Center, Bloom Lab Coworking Space in Austin, PeopleSpring networking program, and the Flourish and EmpowHER entrepreneur education series. Her work focuses on empowering women entrepreneurs to make a sustainable economic impact in their communities and is actively involved in local and state public policy. Meghan was promoted to manage women’s programs after a tenure supporting PeopleFund’s advancement team. She was recently selected by the U.S. Department of State and the German Marshall Fund of the United States as a Young Transatlantic Innovation Leader, and represented America at a convening in Berlin and Kyiv. Meghan served as the Chair of Marketing and Outreach Sub-Committee and the Creative Economy Committee with the Greater Austin Asian Chamber. She is a member of the Travis County Food Policy Healthy Food Access Working Group, Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, Opportunity Finance Network, Texas Association of Community Development Corporations, Austin Alliance for Economic Inclusion, and Young Nonprofit Professionals Network. Meghan graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from the University of St Andrews in Scotland, studying Modern History and International Relations.
Curriculums and Mentorship Manager
As manager of curriculums and mentorship, Katherine oversees creation and implementation of educational curriculums statewide and also leads PeopleFund’s mentor program, bringing together highly-skilled professionals and business owners in need. Katherine focuses on raising the expertise of entrepreneurs through comprehensive learning opportunities, including classroom-style instruction, integrated bootcamps, an online education portal, and tailored business advising. Katherine also administers PeopleFund’s business education contract with the City of Austin. Katherine joined the PeopleFund family in June of 2016 as the Education Specialist, focusing on expanding the organization’s mentor program and diversifying learning opportunities. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Family and Consumer Sciences from Texas State, and is now working on her Ph.D. through Texas Tech. Katherine is passionate about the sustainability of PeopleFund clients and Texas business owners through education, training, and outreach.
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.
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.
Project Manager, CDFI Veteran Collaborative
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.
Senior 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.
Senior Loan Officer - Rio Grande Valley and Chief Training Officer
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.
Loan Officer - Greater Austin
Sheyenne first joined the PeopleFund team as a volunteer, and quickly joined the staff full time. As a passionate representative of the organization’s mission to create economic opportunity, Sheyenne works with startups, established businesses, and nonprofit clients – educating them about accessing capital and the process of financing. Sheyenne has two decades of banking and finance experience and strong ties to the Central Texas community, where she lives and raises her three children. A graduate from Texas State University with a degree in management and entrepreneurial studies, Sheyenne empowers clients so they can access the funds needed to create jobs, provide needed community services, and achieve the American Dream. An active member of her community, Sheyenne dedicates time outside of the office to volunteering, and has worked with Court Appointed Special Advocates, Boy Scouts of America, and neighborhood organizations.
Loan Officer - Greater Dallas
As the Dallas officer, Tass supports access to capital for entrepreneurs across North Texas. She works with strategic partners across the state to ensure that traditionally underserved small businesses have access to capital, education, and tools for success. Tass most recently managed the organization's women's business assistance center, connecting Dallas women to financial education opportunities. Previously, Tass led an expansion and training team for a Dallas-based technology company and served 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 entrepreneurs with the tools to succeed. With her support, PeopleFund clients create jobs, provide valuable community services, and gain 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 small businesses grow.
Loan Officer - San Antonio
As a loan officer for San Antonio, Oscar works directly with entrepreneurs to help them access capital and tools for small business success. Originally from Arlington, Oscar is passionate about creating economic opportunity in San Antonio. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington and recently obtained his Master’s in Business Administration with a concentration in management. Oscar comes to PeopleFund with a wealth of experience in the financial sector, having worked at Woodforest National Bank, GM Financial, and Nicholas Financial. He enjoys modern architecture and design and outside of the office spends time pursuing photography, basketball, and athletics.
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.
Loan Officer - Laredo
Victoria joined the PeopleFund team in November 2017 as a Loan Officer serving the Laredo market. A native to Laredo, Victoria has over 4 years of experience in the nonprofit lending industry as a Sr. Lending Assistant with LiftFund, Inc. She is currently pursuing her bachelors in History with a concentration in Colonial America and minoring in business administration at Texas A&M Intl University. Victoria comes from a line of entrepreneurs and is committed to help fellow Texans pursue the American Dream in the border town of Laredo. You can find her spending time with friends and family on weekends. Victoria enjoys attending local artists’ events where fellow Laredoans display handmade goods. With joy in her heart, Victoria looks forward to help small businesses thrive in her community.
Education Specialist, Workshops & Marketing
As an Education Specialist, Amanda helps clients with digital marketing, as well as focus on statewide events and workshops to provide knowledge and networking opportunities for entrepreneurs. She graduated in May 2018 from St. Edward’s University with a major in Digital Media Management. In her academic career, she worked as the president of New Literati, an on-campus publication that publishes student and alumni work. She also received first place in the iChallenge on the Hilltop Ideas for Innovation competition and third place in the iChallenge on the Hilltop Business Plan Competition for creating a non-profit organization that helps homeless women receive access to feminine hygiene products. Prior to joining PeopleFund, she worked as a Social Media Intern at Holocaust Museum Houston. She also worked as a horseback-riding counselor at Cheley Colorado Camps for two summers. Amanda is certified in AdWords Fundamentals and Mobile, HubSpot Inbound Marketing, and in the Hootsuite Platform.
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.
Education Specialist, Workshops & Financial Counseling
In December 2017, DeVante’ joined the PeopleFund team as an education specialist responsible for supporting clients with accounting, finance, and credit challenges. As a provider of business advising and individualized assistance, DeVante’ leverages his accounting and finance expertise with passion for helping underserved entrepreneurs expand their financial literacy and business acumen. As a financial counselor, he will be teaching clients about credit improvement, financial statements, and offer one on one business guidance. DeVante’ graduated from Texas State University with degree in Accounting and is an active member of the National Association of Black Accountants. He played two years of college football at Southwestern Oklahoma State University. Devante’ is passionate about supporting underserved entrepreneurs achieve their dreams and is eager to help business owners thrive.
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 as Staff Accountant, 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 graduated with an MBA in May 2017 from Texas A&M. She is currently working towards completing a CPA license. 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.
Originally from Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico, Fernando Aaron Fernandez Legarda graduated from UT Austin with a Bachelors of Arts in Economics and minors in Finance and Italian. He is a positive, high-achiever, and hard-working person who is eager to learn new things and passionate about helping others. Coming from a family of entrepreneurs and small business owners, he understands the complications and struggles small businesses face day to day. Fernando is passionate about helping entrepreneurs achieve financial stability for themselves and their families.
As an Underwriter, Krysta structures, underwrites and approves small business loans as well as monitor the financial health of PeopleFund clients. Krysta is a proud Texas native, born and raised in Houston. She graduated from the University of Texas-Austin in May 2010 with a BBA in Finance and minor in Psychology and was a member of the Women in Business Association. She has over three years of experience underwriting small business loans in the online lending field while living in New York City. Krysta comes from a family of entrepreneurs and is deeply committed to helping fellow Texans pursue the American Dream. When she is not in office, Krysta loves to be outdoors- hiking, kayaking, camping and loves a good puzzle.
Loan Closing Officer
Dalia joined the PeopleFund team in January 2018 as Loan Closing Officer. In her role, she supports the lending team to ensure effective client assistance and comprehensive mission delivery. Dalia prepares loan closing documents, loan modification agreements, and verifies accurate records are maintained in customer files. She has over five years of bilingual business development and customer service experience. Dalia is passionate about entrepreneurship in Texas and is excited to further the PeopleFund mission of economic opportunity.
Lending Support Officer
As a lending support officer, Carla leverages her banking experience to support PeopleFund’s loan process from approval through funding. Working with lending partners, loan documentation, and the federal government, Carla ensures the post-closing loan process is efficient and streamlined. In addition to managing PeopleFund’s closing pipeline, Carla reviews SBA documentation for compliance. Prior to PeopleFund, Carla grew her career in the financial mainstream, focusing on loan administration and commercial banking at BBVA Compass, American Bank of Commerce, Bank of America, and most recently R Bank. In addition to working on her degree, Carla holds a Texas Real Estate license. Raised in Pflugerville since the age of 3, Carla is a passionate Texan who takes pride in helping her community. She resides in her hometown of Pflugerville with her husband and two sons.
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.
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.
Assistant Loan Adminstrator
Tierney joined the PeopleFund team as a Finance intern in January 2017 while finishing a Business Administration degree at Austin Community College. She was hired full time as Assistant Loan Administrator and assists with loan fundings and payments working directly with clients. A native Austinite, Tierney grew up in a family of small-business owners and the resilience and passion of the entrepreneurs around her inspired to help others in her community.
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.
SBA Loan Specialist
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.
SBA Loan Specialist
In her role as SBA Lending Specialist, Narda assists the lending team and PeopleFund clients throughout the loan process. Narda has over 20 years of experience in customer service and 8 years lending experience. She began her lending career at Accion Texas (now LiftFund) as a Loan Processor before being promoted as a Contract Manger. Narda is a passionate supporter of small business and works tirelessly to positively impact the community through access to capital. She is currently enrolled at Concordia University and is set to graduate in December 2017 with a BBA in Management.
Customer Service Representative- Rio Grande Valley
Linda joined the PeopleFund team as a customer service representative supporting entrepreneurs and small business owners in the Rio Grande Valley. With nearly 32 years of experience in the financial and banking industry, she strives to make a difference by being a positive influence. She has an extensive education background in commercial lending, mortgage, and financials. Linda has is proud to be an integral part of a group of individuals who are dedicated to helping others with their financial needs.
Customer Service Representative - HOU
Originally from Virginia, Devenie relocated to Houston to pursue her degree in Mass Communications from Texas Southern University. In her role as customer service representative, Devenie supports our Houston office with administration, customer service, and loan processing. With extensive experience in customer service, innovation, and operations, Devenie is committed to supporting small businesses and economic development through capital and education. When she isn’t at work or school, Devenie enjoys the Texas weather, yoga classes, reading, and traveling.
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.
SBA 504 Specialist
Gabrielle Arboleda, better known as Gaby, recently joined PeopleFund as a SBA 504 Specialist to promote and package loans under the SBA 504 program. Gaby's lending career started in banking where she was always involved with the different SBA programs. However, 10 years ago her focus changed to the SBA 504 program when she became a BDO and packager for a large CDC. Besides her lending career Gaby enjoys songwriting, playing guitar and ukulele. She has 6 years of musical studies including voice. She is a devoted teacher and coach of Spanish and English as a second language to students of all ages. Gaby is also involved in giving presentations to small business owners and lenders something she enjoys very much and plans to continue doing.
Operations & Advancement Assistant
Allie joined the PeopleFund team in the Fall of 2017 as the Operations and Advancement Assistant, lending support through development, administration, digital marketing, and event planning. Allie graduated from the University of Texas in May 2016 with a degree in Corporate Communications and brings a background in quality customer service, social content, and editorial writing. She has a heart for the underserved communities of Austin and is excited to be connecting small businesses with PeopleFund. When she’s not at her desk, you can find Allie solving crossword puzzles, reading a new book, or brewing the perfect cup of coffee.