Staff

Gustavo Lasala

President & CEO
Gustavo is a seasoned microfinance practitioner passionate about advancing opportunities for underserved communities through capital. Prior to becoming President and CEO of PeopleFund he held leadership positions with top-tier community lenders where he was instrumental in their growth at a national level. Highlights of his career include: the development of LiftFund’s MMS - an early “lending as a service” platform tailored to microlending in the US; the financial engineering of a $30M asset purchase agreement between LiftFund and Citibank - a first in US microlending; the expansion of Oportun (from 35 to 85 stores) where he was directly responsible for the production of 20,000 loans per month; he redefined the CFO role for Opportunity Fund and put together credit facilities that helped the organization become the largest non-profit microlender in US. Most recently he co-founded and managed Listo, an organization providing financial products and services to thousands in California. Gustavo has served on the boards of Opportunity Finance Network, Foundation for Women and School of Excellence - San Antonio and holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Texas at Austin.

Anthony Hedger

CFO
Anthony Hedger is a seasoned financial executive. Mr. Hedger worked for Rolls Royce maritime, Petronas, CFS Bank and Vodafone playing key roles within each organization. He most recently served as CFO of Houston SPCA, an iconic Houston non-profit focused on protecting animals from suffering, abuse, and exploitation. He holds a BA in Accounting and Finance and an MBA from Lancaster University.

Mr. Hedger comes to PeopleFund with 20+ years of national and international experience in deeply complex financial operations. He has advised chief executives, senior leaders and boards in matters of mergers and acquisitions, integration, business commercials, operations, finance, capital markets, and strategy.

Jenny Palecek

Vice President of Philanthropic Partnerships & Investor Relations
As Vice President of Philanthropic Partnerships and Investor Relations, Jenny is responsible for leading and managing PeopleFund’s partnership development and fundraising/fund development strategies. As a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) she is passionate about bringing resources to nonprofits and underserved populations. Prior to her role at PeopleFund, she was responsible for managing programs raising millions in grants and donations for several Central Texas nonprofits. She has extensive experience in business operations and fundraising and has spent 20 +years leading and managing a small for-profit business. She understands the challenges faced by entrepreneurs and small business owners. Jenny holds a Master of Arts Degree in Psychology from Stephen F. Austin State University. Outside of work, Jenny enjoys spending time with her husband and three daughters. She enjoys traveling, camping, and volunteering.
Grant Bennett

Grant Bennett

Director of Veteran Programs
Grant orginally joined the PeopleFund team as an intern and was then hired full time as the Lending Support Officer after showing tremendous aptitude and a desire to further PeopleFund’s mission. Grant then served as a Senior Underwriter and now manages the national CDFI collaborative Veteran LLC. Veteran LLC works to increase access to capital, business education, and training for military veteran small business owners and their families. Grant grew up in Jackson, Ohio and joined the Army after high school. He served two combat deployments in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Grant then served in the Texas National Guard as a Non-Commissioned Officer in an Airborne Infantry unit. He has a BBA in Management from St. Edward’s University and a MS in Technology Commercialization from the University of Texas at Austin.
Patricia Colomo Baray

Patricia Colomo Baray

Director, Portfolio Risk
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.
Bill Anderson

Bill Anderson

Regional Lending Manager, South Texas
As the regional lending manager for the Rio Grande Valley, Bill 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.

Elvira Valles

Regional Lending Manager
Elvira is passionate about empowering entrepreneurs through access to capital. With more than 17 years in the finance industry, Elvira has been a dedicated advocate for small businesses in the community and has been named as Financial Services Champion and Minority Advocate by the U.S. Small Business Administration El Paso Office. She works closely with business owners to help them understand their capital options, increase their business knowledge, and connect them with additional resources in the community.

Chris Smith

Regional Lending Manager - North Texas
Born and raised in Arlington, Chris has always believed that a strong and diverse culture of entrepreneurial spirit is at the heart of every healthy community, and that our country is better when every community is fully involved and thriving. In 15+ years of small business community lending, he has worked to help fulfill this exact belief. His experience spans the spectrum from global banks, to Texas-based lenders, to family-owned community lenders. In his role as a Regional Lending Manager, he brings his passion for helping create thriving small business communities to the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. Chris holds a Bachelor’s degree in business from Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth, and a Master’s Degree in Business from The University of Texas at Arlington. Outside of the office, Chris enjoys coaching youth sports, playing soccer, finding new outdoor adventures, and volunteering within the community.