TEAM BIOS

 

Staff

Silvia Castro

Executive Director

Silvia Castro is the Executive Director 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 and the MOFI Small Business Advisory Board.  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.

 

Edward Bennett

Director of Business Development

As a seasoned manager, teacher, personal coach and advisor, Edward has spent over two decades in education, leadership, management and the development of systems and human resources. His professional experience is broad-based and has been designed to continually allow for his own personal growth and development, as well as that of Suazo’s staff and clients. He graduated from Westminster College of Salt Lake City with a major in Economics and a minor in Psychology. Since then, he has continued his studies focusing on Education, Political Science, and History. He has spent the majority of his career managing within therapeutic programs, academic institutions, and business and real estate companies. Outside his professional career, he has volunteered for dozens of organizations and currently sits (or has formerly sat) on the Board of Directors or Managers for several non-profit and educational organizations.

 

Antonella Packard

Director of Client Initiatives

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.

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.

Andrea Benitez

Special Projects Coordinator

Born in Buenos Aires Argentina, Andrea moved to the US in 2001. She graduated from a Utah High School, then attended LDS Business College. Being a self-started, being motivated, and being so outgoing, she learned graphic design on her own. Andrea’s passion stem from helping people. Her service personality allows her to grow empathy for people to better help them. As the Special Projects Coordinator, she supports projects delegated by the Executive team. By assisting with procedures, planning and implementation. Andrea also supports the marketing and front desk teams. Helping and developing minority businesses is what keeps Andrea inspired by the Suazo center and our mission.

 

Jennifer Vasquez

Program Manager

Jennifer was raised in Utah but is originally from Colombia. She is a first-generation college graduate, and attended Utah Valley University where she graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and a minor in Marketing. She has been working in the education field for the past 6 years, helping underrepresented communities have access to college and career opportunities. Jennifer is also very passionate about using her knowledge and skills in marketing and has worked as a freelancer helping small businesses build their presence on social media and create marketing strategies. Working as the Program Manager at the Suazo Center has given her the opportunity to continue with her passion to build empowerment to the community she serves, as she gets the best of both worlds helping small business owners reach their business goals by applying her marketing and business knowledge.

Michelle Saucedo

Marketing Specialist

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. She interned for Alpha Media USA for their radio stations Latino 106.3FM and LaGranD 102.3FM where she created and organized social media content. Michelle has experience in Digital Marketing, Journalism, and Social Media managing and advising. She is currently working as the Marketing Specialist at Suazo Business Center where she is focusing to empower and advocate for small creators within her community. Personally, Michelle loves spending time with her significant other, her family and enjoys painting and drawing.

Tim Savage

Instructor & Mentor

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 fifteen years with a variety programs and focuses but has always been involved with the Hispanic community, including teaching ESL classes, providing bilingual case management, teaching business classes, offering business mentoring, and social justice advocacy. Tim presently works as the Program Director for Peace House in Park City, and oversees the clinical and residential program operations for survivors of abuse. Parallel to his other endeavors, Tim owns a rental property and a construction company. Guiding Maxim: Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. – Victor Frankl.

Maria Cruz

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.  

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.

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.  
Olga de la Cruz

Business Advisor

Olga de la Cruz earned a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Utah. Olga has worked in sales, marketing and/or project management roles with international multi-level marketing aimed at Latin America, small business and nonprofit organizations.  In 2019, Olga joined her family business with her husband at Painter1 of Greater Salt Lake. She is part owner of the company and oversees sales and marketing functions. In this role, Olga has helped more than double their annual revenues and recently achieved the highest sales in the franchise history. Olga enjoys traveling, spending time with family, reading and drinking good coffee. At Suazo Business Center she joins the team of business advisors helping the community with her experience and knowledge. 

Angel Sanchez

Business Advisor

Angel is a first-generation college student that is from Utah, but his roots come from El Salvador. He is currently a senior at the University of Utah, majoring in Operations and Supply Chain and minoring in Entrepreneurship. Personally, Angel enjoys working out and playing basketball. He recently picked up snowboarding and feels that he is “terrible” at it. One of the many goals Angel has is to support his parents financially so they can quit their blue-collar jobs. He also wants to pursue game operations to potentially work for Los Lakers team. He is very passionate in helping the Latino/Hispanic community and is grateful to intern at the Suazo Business Center where he can help empower this community. His responsibilities at Suazo include helping the community of business owners apply to COVID relief grants and loans. Additionally, he is developing front-desk procedures along with other company processes at Suazo Business Center.

Ale Gonzalez

Front Desk Coordinator

 

Martin Alejandro Gonzalez was born and raised in Ciudad Autonoma de Buenos Aires, Argentina and emigrated to the United States in 2018. He studied Journalism at the University of Palermo in Argentina. Worked for the Universidad de Palemo, MercadoLibre Argentina and was a multifunction radio producer at LOS40 ARGENTINA FM105.5 His responsibilities at Suazo include overseeing the completion of projects, coordinating the front desk team and perform day-today duties assisting clients and staff. In his free time, he loves spending time with his pets, listen and play music and enjoy a good movie or a show.

 

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. 

 

Valeria Quinto

Front Desk Receptionist

Valeria Quinto was born in Lima, Peru. She is a first-generation college student, attending Salt Lake Community College, completing her Associate’s Degree in Business. She will be transferring to UVU university to pursue her Bachelor’s Degree in International Studies. During her time at SLCC, she has worked for the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs as a Specialist, and at the Orientation Student Success Office as a Senior Peer Mentor Leader. Valeria loves to help others, which lead her to work at Suazo Business Center. At Suazo, she is currently working as a Front Desk Receptionist, where she performs day-to-day duties assisting clients and staff. In her free time, she loves spending time with her husband, watching movies and eating popcorn.  

Mauricio Araujo

Front Desk Receptionist

Mauricio Araujo was born in Mexico City, and raised in Toluca, Mexico and Utah. In 2008, along with his family, he emigrated to the United States. He is a college student at OWATC studying, Business Technology, with the purpose of helping his family with managing their coffee business. Since a very young age, Mauricio was exposed to his family’s coffee company, where he learned about the industry and business law in Utah. However, once he completes his certification with the OWATC, he plans on continuing with his Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science at Weber State University. With 10 years of experience in the customer service field, Mauricio loves to dedicate his time helping people and underserved communities. At the Suazo Business Center, he currently works as a Front Desk Assistant, where he performs day-to-day duties with the Suazo clients. In his free time, he likes to spend time in the outdoors, play soccer, hike and draw. Mauricio is also really involved in the Ogden art community and culture.  

Yeto Corniel

Front Desk Receptionist

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. 

Interns

Eddy Hsu was born and raised in Taiwan. He went to BYU and graduated with a master’s degree in information systems. Eddy is passionate in finding technical solutions of real-life problems and routine tasks. Also, he grew found of Hispanic culture when living in LA and started learning Spanish. Before coming to Suazo, Eddy worked at Brigham Young University (BYU) as a cyber security analyst and web developer. He is excited to contribute his technical skills for assisting entrepreneurs that Suazo serves. During his free time, Eddy enjoys going to the gym, swimming, and playing video games. 

Eddy Hsu

Software Development

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