TEAM BIOS

 

OUR STAFF

Meet our incredible team #TeamSuazo

Silvia Castro

President and CEO

Silvia Castro is the President and CEO of the Suazo Business Center. A Utah non-profit focused on economic mobility for the minority community. She has more than 20 years’ experience working with non-profit, government and for-profit organizations. Her past experience includes working with executives and business owners from Fortune 500 companies, the State of Utah, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County and forward-looking non-profits such as the Utah Microenterprise Loan Fund, the Austin Project, in Austin, TX, and the Goldman Sachs 10K Small Business Program. Her love for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship began in 1999 when she worked as the Assistant Director at the Women’s Business Center of Utah.

Silvia received an International Fellowship through which she completed her MBA with an emphasis in International Business from the University of Utah. She received her bachelor’s degree in International Business from Westminster College, where she graduated with honors. She is certified in Cultural Intelligence through the CII and certified as a Six Sigma Black Belt. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Salt Lake Community College, Executive Committee of Envision Utah, Senior Advisor to the Kem C Gardner Institute, Wasatch Front Regional Council’s Economic Development District, Western Governor’s University Utah Board, MOFI Small Business Advisory Board, KeyBank Utah Advisory Council and the Federal Reserve 12th District Community Advisory Council. She served as Co-Chair of the Salt Lake City Mayor Mendenhall’s Economic Development Transition Committee, the Utah Governor’s COVID Economic Taskforce and the Governor’s COVID Multicultural Taskforce. Silvia is also the recipient of the 2020 Pathfinder Award from the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce and Utah Business’s 2022 Women of the Year. 

 

Claudia Ponce

Chief of Staff

Claudia enjoys reaching out and serving in the community. During her time as a President of Soroptimist Latinas of Salt Lake Chapter, she led fundraising initiatives to award single Hispanic mothers with means to continue their post-secondary education. She was the chair of the “Dream it Be it” program and taught goal setting and career planning to at risk youth in alternative high schools. As a volunteer for the American Heart Association, Claudia served as a member of the multicultural committee and trained Spanish speaking families on hands-only CPR technique. As a business Advisor at Suazo Business Center, Claudia gained great satisfaction from seeing clients become self-sufficient businesses owners. She currently serves as the Suazo Business Center Chief of Staff, making sure all programs are running smoothly. In addition, Claudia manages rental properties, and together with her husband run a Mental Health and Addiction Medicine Clinic. Claudia is a native of Uruguay and later grew up in Argentina. She moved to the US as an international student and graduated from BYU with a Bachelor’s in Human Development and Family Science.  She enjoys spending time with her family, working in her garden, refurbishing furniture, going on walks, and watching good movies.

Tim Savage

Director of Programming

Tim holds a Bachelor Degree in Anthropology from Weber State University, and a Master’s degree in Community Economic Development (CED) from Southern New Hampshire University. Tim has conducted extensive research on CED among Hispanic populations and published his Master’s thesis (Microenterprise development: A targeted focus on helping Hispanics achieve higher earning potential through business development) in support for his findings. Tim has worked professionally in non-profits for the past twenty years with a variety of programs and focuses but has always been involved with the Hispanic community, including teaching ESL classes, providing bilingual case management, teaching business classes, and offering business mentoring. Parallel to his other endeavors, Tim is a General Contractor, and owns/runs a construction company. He currently serves as the Suazo Business Center Director of Programming, overseeing partnerships, programs and educational curriculum. 

Edward Bennett

Director of Business Development

Edward Castro Bennett has nearly 30 years of leadership experience in a variety of diverse industries. He is an advocate for business development and human resources and perpetually finds new and innovative ways to develop people and promote diversity of thought. Edward is the Director of Business Development at the Suazo Business Center and through this position he works with Utah’s civic, business, and government leaders promoting the needs of his local underserved communities. Eddie, as his friends and family know him founded his own consulting company, Noa Murphy Enterprises, in 2011, to coach, mentor, and train individuals and organizations to best manage their own resources to be as successful as they can in their personal and professional endeavors. He recognized his penchant for helping others in the beginning of his career as prior to starting his own company, he worked in academia for 15 years, leading and developing our community’s future leaders. Since he joined the Center, he has been instrumental in helping transform the Center into the premier technical assistance, training, and advocacy organization for Utah’s underserved communities. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics with minors in Political Science and Psychology from Westminster College of Salt Lake City and is pursuing an MBA from Western Governor’s University. He has also attained professional certifications in several fields, including two in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion through which he has been able to become a leader in the DEI field. In addition to his professional roles, Eddie is actively engaged in the civic responsibilities of local government and politics, representing his community at several levels, as well as serving on numerous professional, civic, and community Boards, all while being an active member of his faith community. Eddie has a son, a daughter, a step-daughter, and a wife who are the ultimate reasons why he dedicates his life to serving others, to be an example to all those around him. In what free time he makes, he spends it traveling the world with his family (Portugal is a favorite), hiking, camping, living, laughing, and loving. 

 

Andrea Benitez

Special Projects Coordinator

Andrea Benitez was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She moved to the US in 2001. She graduated from Orem High School, then attended LDS Business College. She recently graduated from WGU Academy in March 2022. Andrea specializes in administrative duties and is responsible for the bookkeeping at Suazo. She has expanded her knowledge and skills in many aspects. Driven by helping people, her service personality allows her to grow empathy for people to better help them. She is inspired by Suazo’s mission in helping and developing minority businesses thrive. Her role at Suazo as the Special Projects Coordinator is to support projects delegated by the Executive team by assisting in the creation of processes and procedures for the successful  planning and implementation of special projects.

Michelle Saucedo

Marketing Manager

Michelle Saucedo was born in Salt Lake City and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico. She is a first-generation college graduate from the University of Utah where she completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Communications with a minor in Spanish. Michelle’s professional background covers experience in digital marketing, journalism, social media management and advising. She has interned for Alpha Media USA for their radio stations in 2020 assisting on-air talent with Latino 106.3FM and LaGranD 102.3FM where she created and organized social media content. In 2021 she was involved in reviewing UVU’s Digital Marketing Curriculum. She is currently working as the Marketing Manager at Suazo Business Center where she is focusing on empowering and advocating for small business creators within her community. Personally, Michelle loves spending time with her significant other and family and enjoys reading and drawing.

 

Flor Lopez

Ogden Office Coordinator

Flor Lopez earned a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Kino in Hermosillo Sonora, Mexico. Flor works well under pressure and consistently meets deadlines and targets while delivering high quality work. She has Media and Public relations specialist background leveraging in-depth knowledge of market trends to execute high impact marketing campaigns. Flor has been actively involved in the Ogden Hispanic community for six years, serving nonprofit organizations as a Marketing and Administrative Director, Event Planner, Board Member, volunteer, and consultant. Part of the organizations she’s involved are Casa Castillo Foundation, OgdenCan, and Latinos United Promoting Education and Civic Engagement (LUPEC) and has 7 years of experience in tax preparation. She speaks English and Spanish and loves to help her community. At Suazo, she has joined the team as the Office Coordinator of the Ogden Center. 

Andrea Shockley

Business Specialist

Andrea Shockley was born in Barquisimeto, Venezuela and raised in Venezuela and Mexico in her teenage years. In 2016 she emigrated to the United States with her family in search for better opportunities and pursuing the American Dream. She graduated from Bonneville High School in Ogden, UT. In 2019 she worked in Casa Castillo and Casa Castillo Foundation as their Marketing Specialist. With the experience from her role and being surrounded by business owners, she committed herself on developing, learning and understanding the skills necessary to manage a business. With the dream of opening her own business and helping her immediate family, she successfully registered two businesses and currently manages Prisma Creative LLC which focuses on photography and graphic design, and Ultimate LLC, a shared company with her husband that provides heating and cooling services. Andrea considers herself a self-motivated and determined person. She likes to understand people’s needs and find the best way or solution to assist them. At Suazo, she has joined the team as a Business Specialist where she will apply her passion and business skills in helping our small business community with advising responsibilities, and assist with the Front Desk team management.

Yeto Corniel

Front Desk Specialist

Yeto Corniel was born in Dominican Republic. He studied Social Sciences at the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo and was also a volunteer for local non-profits in his country that worked in favor of most neglected communities such as Plan International, The Peace Corps, the Mariposa DR Foundation and others. In the summer of 2018, before emigrating to the United States, he participated in a project to research and develop narratives told by Dominicans of Haitian descent, called, “Cuéntame Tu Historia.” He has received training on domestic violence, children’s rights and child abuse. He is very passionate in helping underserved communities which lead him to work at Suazo. His responsibilities include day-to-day duties with Suazo clients, and staff. 

Gabrielle Pereira

Front Desk Specialist

Gabrielle Pereira was born in Salt Lake City and raised in Ecuador. She is currently part of the Front Desk team at Suazo Business Center assisting the team with performing day-to-day duties assisting clients and staff. She graduated from the Centro Educativo Naciones Unidas High School in 2020 and has started pursuing Computer Engineering at ESPOL University in Ecuador, hoping to complete her Bachelor’s Degree. She has experience in HTML and Phyton language. And has interned for the Oceanographic Institute of Ecuador where she developed and created their website. In her free time, Gabrielle enjoys reading, drawing and outdoor activities. 

Rose Siete

Front Desk Specialist

Rose Siete was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. Her family is originally from Mexico and loves her culture. She is the youngest of two siblings and served an LDS mission in Los Angeles, California Spanish Speaking. Rose is currently striving to complete her Associates Degree in Health Sciences at Salt Lake Community College as a first generation student. She hopes to become a Medical Imaging specialist and help the Hispanic community in health care. Rose has joined Suazo Business Center as a Front Desk Specialist assisting the team with performing day-to-day duties assisting clients and staff. In her spare time she enjoys playing tennis, dancing, serving others, being outdoors and spending time with family. 

OUR ADVISORS

Meet our incredible team of advisors.

Antonella Packard

Senior Business Advisor

Antonella Packard has served in Senior Management capacities for various international companies, among them Fortune 500 corporations. Her professional background covers a number of industries, from Banking, Construction, Manufacturing, Medical Devices, and Healthcare. She presently owns a medical device and building materials company. Ms. Packard has a B.S. in Business and holds a Masters of Business Administration. In 2008, Ms. Packard was named as one of Utah’s 20 Most Influential Hispanics by Business Connect Magazine. She served as the Executive Director for the Utah County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. In this capacity, Ms. Packard promoted workforce diversity initiatives with mainstream business and supplier diversity certifications among Latinx, multicultural, and women-owned businesses, in addition to promoting other initiatives geared toward strengthening these businesses in the region. Ms. Packard hails from the Caribbean coast of Honduras. She lives in the picturesque city of Saratoga Springs, which lies on the shores of Utah Lake.

Lucy Filizola

Business Advisor

Lucy Filizola is a dynamic Serial Entrepreneur and Senior Executive Professional with a track record of nearly two decades of success. Her expertise covers a cross section of roles and industries having served in prominent positions such as Chief Financial Officer and Director of Marketing. She has owned several businesses from Construction to a Digital Marketing Consultancy. Her achievements include pivoting businesses to thrive during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Under her direction and leadership, 7 small businesses pivoted their operations during the first quarter of the pandemic. As a result, they achieved sales of 3 times their regular yearly revenue in that short amount of time. Lucy has a passion for Real Estate, Business Development, Education, and Entrepreneurship. She is a detail oriented, creative problem solver that thrives on challenges. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and is a licensed Realtor. Originally from Brazil, Lucy calls Utah home having lived in the state for most of her life. She is a Brazilian Portuguese native speaker, fluent in Spanish and English. Lucy is the devoted mother of 6 children. She enjoys running, hiking, traveling, and many cultural activities. She brings to her role as Business Advisor for Suazo Business Center a wealth of knowledge, experience, and a strong desire to serve the community she loves so much.

Angel Sanchez

Business Advisor

Angel Sanchez was born in Utah but his roots are from El Salvador. He is a first-generation college graduate from the University of Utah where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Operations and Supply Chain. Angel’s background covers a number of industries from sales, project management, public speaking, consulting and IT. At Suazo Business Center, he is a business advisor mentoring small business owners and assisting with special projects of the educational curriculum. Aside from being a business advisor, he is currently working for PepsiCo as a Sales Management Associate. He is really passionate in helping the Latino/Hispanic community and is grateful to work at the Suazo Business Center where he can help empower this community. Personally, Angel enjoys playing basketball, snowboarding, and spending time with family.

 

 

 

Maria Lopez

Business Advisor

Maria Lopez is the Branch Manager at Ascent Credit Union in Roy, UT, and a part-time student at Weber State University in Ogden, UT. She is working on completing a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Communication with a minor in Spanish. Maria’s financial services background spans over 14 years in a variety of roles, with early beginnings at America First Credit Union. A member of the Ogden-Weber Chamber of Commerce, Maria is an active participant in the “Women in Business” luncheons and yearly conference. Maria is also part of the 2021 class of the Chamber’s Leadership Northern Utah Academy that aims to develop local community leaders with networking resources, community involvement opportunities, and service projects, etc. Maria’s family moved to Michoacan, Mexico, from Southern California when she was five years and lived there for a few years. After returning to the United States, the family settled in Ogden, UT. She currently resides in Davis County with her husband and two sons. Now, Maria has joined Suazo Business Center as a Business Advisor in their Ogden center, empowering the Latino community.  

Enrique Garcia

Business Advisor

Enrique Garcia was born in Puebla, México. He studied Hotel Administration in México and emigrated to Utah in 2008 to continue with his studies. In 2008 he went to Davis Technical College in Kaysville Utah to complete ESL and later completed an Associate Degree in Culinary Arts which he graduated in 2011. Enrique has been working as a Director of Hotel Industries Management and Resorts for over 10 years, in Resorts of Cancun, México, and Hyatts and Hampton Hotels. In 2010, he worked with refugees assisting them with relocating and adapting into the community. He also has experience in venue purchasing, has created his own business in unique cocktails for event planning. In 2018, he enrolled in the Suazo courses, and has dedicated his time helping the Latino community grow their businesses. Enrique is the CEO of E&A Cleaning Services, Wake Up (Fresh Juicery and Cocktails), Bar-Xology (Bartender Services), Inver-Tlali (Real State Investments Properties). Currently, he is part of the Ogden Business Advisors at Suazo Business Center, helping the Latino community to be successful in their companies.  
Angel Aguilar

Business Advisor

Angel Aguilar originally from Mexico, migrated to Utah at the age of 9, throughout his life he discovered multiple talents such as event planning, connecting people, and public speaking. He studied Communication Sciences at Salt Lake Community College and at the same time he worked at KSL as a field reporter to later start as an announcer on Mi Preferida in 2011 as well as on his own Morning-show, El Cotorreo con Angel Aguilar. He has achieved various levels of Community connections through his work including connecting with clients who throughout his career would be considered invaluable friends. In turn, he managed to help great entrepreneurs shape their path to achieving personal growth and growth within their community. At the same time, MVA Multimedia was born, a digital marketing company directed by Angel Aguilar. He joins Suazo as a Business Advisor, with the intention of helping our Latino community build a solid foundation for business growth.

OUR DONORS

Thanks to our donors for making this possible.