Staff

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, Education & Training
As Director of Lending, Education & Training 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 ensure 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 Development & Communications
In her role as Director of Development and Communications, 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. 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. Prior to joining PeopleFund in 2012, Amber created and directed the Texas Stars Foundation, as well as managed volunteer and youth services for the American Red Cross.

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.

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.

Jess Rumph

Assistant Loan Administrator
Jess joined the PeopleFund team as an Operations intern in the summer of 2016 and was quickly promoted to Assistant Loan Administrator, where she interfaces with clients to ensure they understand the loan repayment process. Jess’s responsibilities include supporting the lending and finance teams, maintaining loan processing, and client engagement. Jess is an 8 year veteran of the Air Force and will graduate this fall with a Bachelor’s Degree from Ashford University in Human Resource Management. She is the proud wife to an Army Officer and embraces the military community.

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

Underwriter
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

Underwriter
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
Erika joined the PeopleFund team in October 2012 and serves as the Fort Worth Loan Officer. She is responsible for guiding new clients through the loan process and developing partnerships throughout the Fort Worth footprint. Originally from Oklahoma, Erika relocated to Texas for new career opportunities. Before her arrival at PeopleFund, she worked for Reconciliation Outreach, a non-profit organization in East Dallas. Her diverse background includes experience in lending administration, community outreach, and business assistance & education. She attended Southeastern Oklahoma State University and has a passion for helping the underserved realize their potential.

Jessica Hernandez

Loan Officer - Greater San Antonio
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 - South 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.

Marco Melendez

Loan Officer - North Austin/Waco
Marco joined the PeopleFund team in June 2014. As a loan officer for the north Austin and greater Waco areas, he is responsible for introducing clients to PeopleFund’s mission and working with them throughout the loan process. He brings over 7 years of experience in banking, business lending, mortgages, counseling, and customer service. Fully bilingual, Marco is ready to assist PeopleFund’s Spanish speaking clients as well. He is very involved in the community and has a commitment to helping small business owners find the capital they need to be successful.

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.

Jesse Sanchez

Loan Officer - Rio Grande Valley
Jesse joined the PeopleFund team September 2014 as the Loan Officer for the South Texas Region. His responsibilities include helping aspiring entrepreneurs get access to capital in addition to helping them grow through comprehensive technical support. In previous role, Jesse was the Business Advisor for the South Texas Region for Accion Texas. Before moving to Accion, Jesse worked on government contracting and also nurtured numerous successful entrepreneurial ventures. He is very excited to bring new energy to the fast developing South Texas market. Jesse currently serves as the Chair for the South Texas College Accounting Advisory Committee. He is a product of public schools in South Texas and received his BBA in Finance at The University of Texas at Austin.

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.

Julie Goodson

SBA Loan Specialist
Julie brings years of experience to her role as SBA Loan Specialist, as well as expertise in commercial lending operations, SBA products, and construction loans. Originally from the Dallas area, Julie now lives in Austin and understands the needs small business owners face across Texas. She holds a degree from the University of North Texas and prior to PeopleFund she worked with mainstream banks and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. Outside of the office, Julie is an active member of her community, volunteering with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, painting, and practicing yoga.

Jackie Ramos

Bloom Lab Manager
Jackie Ramos first joined the PeopleFund team in May 2015 to support lending and education programs in the greater San Antonio region. She was promoted to Bloom Lab Manager in Spring 2016 to oversee daily operations of the women’s coworking and education space, as well as provide financial guidance 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 works to advance 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.

Emily Neie

Development & Communications Specialist
Emily joined the PeopleFund team as a Development and Communications intern, and was promoted to Development Specialist in December 2014. She graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in English and Rhetoric and Writing, as well as a Business Foundations certificate. Prior to her experience at PeopleFund, Emily worked as an administrative intern at the Harry Ransom Center where she was delighted to be surrounded by archives of her favorite authors and artists. She believes PeopleFund’s mission is a vital part of creating stable, educated, diverse communities that create opportunity for all, not just a limited few.

Jadeline Cao

Communications & Operations Specialist
A passion for empowering underserved populations is what brings Jadeline to PeopleFund. A former Development and Communications Intern in 2013, she returns to the organization in February 2016 to serve as the Communications and Operations Specialist. 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 (re)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.

Katherine Sobel

Education & Training Specialist
Katherine joined the PeopleFund family in June of 2016 as the Education and Training Specialist. 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

Customer Service Representative - Houston
Jalkeetna Brady joined PeopleFund in March 2015 as a Customer Service Representative at our Houston office. 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.

Carlos Garcia

Customer Service Rep - SA
Carlos Garcia joined PeopleFund in February 2016 as a Customer Service Representative in our San Antonio office. He attended the Art Institute of Dallas and the University of Texas Pan American studying commercial art and design. He has an eclectic and broad professional background, at one point serving as a Deputy Sheriff, an academic admissions and career officer, and most recently working as a loan officer. He has been involved in several nonprofit organizations across Texas and Florida, and continues to direct, produce, and write music in the Miami music and film industry.

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.

Dan Yahiel

Lending Assistant
Dan joined the PeopleFund team in 2015 to help enter data into our loan portfolio management system. He comes to PeopleFund with many years of experience in developing software for various organizations.
Dan has experience building databases, applications and IT infrastructure. He holds a bachelor’s degree from UTSA and a master’s degree from George Mason University.

Julie Ahmadi

Office Assistant
Julie joined the PeopleFund team in December 2015 as an office assistant. In her role, Julie is the smiling face that greets PeopleFund clients, partners, and guests from the front desk. Julie also supports operations and communications initiatives, providing the administrative support that keeps our organization running. Outside of the office, Julie enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, taking walks with her cockapoo, crafts, reading and traveling. Julie is working for PeopleFund in partnership with AARP.

Charles McElrath

SDDC President
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.

Carlotta Wheeler

SDDC Portfolio Manager
Carlotta joined Southern Dallas Development Corporation 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

SDDC Executive Assistant
Vicki started with the Southern Dallas Development Corporation in 1998, and over the past two decades, has provided exceptional customer service, clerical support, and administrative assistance to SDDC's team. Vicki oversees management of the office, operations and logistics, special event support as well as supporting board governance and community outreach. Vicki displays her confident and professional disposition as she assists clients, guests, board members, and staff in support of SDDC's economic development mission.

Joselynn Hudson

SDDC Accountant
Joselynn M. Hudson joined Southern Dallas Development Corporation in July of 2005 as an Accountant. She is responsible all bank transactions and reconciliations, loan payments, processing payroll and maintaining accounting records. Prior to joining SDDC, she worked for Capital Revenue Management Corporation as an accountant providing accounting and payroll services for various smaller businesses in Dallas. She graduated from Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi, with a B.S. in Finance and an M.B.A. She is married and has three sons. Her career plans brought her to Texas 31 years ago where she has since worked in accounting and payroll. Golf is her passion. She does volunteer work for the LPGA USGA Girls Golf. She also loves to travel and read.