Meet The Executive Board
William A. Holland currently serves as chair of the board of the Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation. He has been a member of the board for over 25 years. A long-time resident of Los Angeles, Holland holds three degrees from the University of Southern California. He played football for the Trojans and went on to join the Atlanta Falcons. After retiring from the NFL, Holland became a corporate executive leading the human resources departments for major corporations, including Hilton Hotels Corporation, Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO), and Hughes Aircraft Company, where he focused on equal opportunity affairs and diversity. Currently, Holland is the Senior Director of Special Programs in the University Advancement department at USC. Holland works with alumni, parents, friends, and corporations to raise scholarship and fellowship endowment funds for all of USC’s academic units and alumni affinity groups.
Earl Cooper, II, known as “Skip to friends and colleagues, is the resident/CEO of the Black Business Association (BBA), headquartered in Los Angeles, California one of the oldest, active, ethnic business organization on the west coast. In addition ‘Skip’ is a Vietnam veteran who served in the U. S. Army
currently with a 100% service-connected disability. He has been a leader of the BBA since 1974 occupying positions as Member of the Board, Executive Director, President, General Manager, and President/Chief Executive Officer. Under his leadership, the BBA has become recognized as one of the most viable minority business organizations in the nation. “Skip” is also Publisher/Editor-In-Chief of the Black Business News Group which publishes the award-winning Black Business News, Black Business News International and Black Business News Travel Africa.
Yolanda Gorman is the Senior Advisor to the Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives at the University of California, Los Angeles. Previously, Dr. Gorman was president and CEO of Phillips Graduate University, a graduate school of professional psychology and management. She is a two-time Regent Emerita for the University of California, Board of Regents, and the first African American woman to chair the board of the UCLA Alumni Association. Dr. Gorman is a three-time graduate from UCLA with a B.A. in psychology, an M.B.A. and a Ph.D. in educational psychology.
Kyla Lee is the Chief Executive Officer of Strategic Consulting Partners Ms. Lee has more than 16 years of high-level, diversified financial experience and expertise with nonprofit organizations. She recently served as Chief Financial Officer for My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, where she partnered with the CEO to build the vision, strategy, and operational systems. In addition, she developed and implemented fiscal policies and procedures for the organization. Prior to My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, Ms. Lee served as Chief Financial Officer for St. Anne’s Maternity Home where she oversaw the management and coordination of all reporting activities, including monthly financial statements, investment analysis and fiscal performance reports required by funding agencies. Ms. Lee holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix.
Ralph Lippman is executive director of California Community Economic Development Association (CCEDA). Prior to joining CCEDA, Mr. Lippman worked for the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles; American Indian Consultants, Inc.; Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation; and LISC. He has lectured at Pepperdine University and the University of Southern California, where he also served as director of program development for the USC School of Continuing Education. Mr. Lippman’s areas of expertise include economic strategy, workforce development, securing financial capital and identifying wealth retention strategies, internal and external regional market creation, business coaching and support for entrepreneurs, job creation, and wealth and asset development strategies for households and individuals. He earned his Doctorate in Public Administration from USC and completed Harvard University’s program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government.
Director, Foundation and Community Officer, Corporate Social Responsibility
Sylvia S. Castillo serves as director and foundation and community officer for MUFG Union Bank’s Corporate Social Responsibility group. She is responsible for building relationships with civic and business leaders, community-based advocacy organizations, and multicultural leaders throughout the communities that the bank serves. Additionally, Ms. Castillo directs initiatives that involve the bank’s Foundation, public policy, and community development efforts. She is based in Los Angeles.
Ms. Castillo has more than 35 years of experience in the banking industry. Prior to joining Union Bank in 2012, she served as a senior vice president and consumer market executive at Bank of America, where she was responsible for driving growth of consumer markets. Ms. Castillo also held several other management and executive positions at Bank of America. Ms. Castillo is a graduate of the UCLA Business Management School and the University of Virginia’s School of Retail Bank Management.
Ray Mendoza is a vice president with City National Bank’s Community Reinvestment team. Based in Los Angeles, Mr. Mendoza works with the bank’s team of experts to review, analyze and underwrite Community Development Loans and Community Reinvestment Act (CRA)-eligible investments, including Small Business Investment Companies (SBICs) and low-income tax credits. He also provides management support for City National’s CRA investment portfolio.
Mr. Mendoza has more than 30 years of financial services experience. Prior to joining City National, he served as a managing director with Cambia Capital Partners in Los Angeles. He’s also held roles with OFS Management, LLC; Orchard First Source Capital, Inc.; CIBC World Markets and the California Economic Development Lending Initiative, where he was president and chief executive officer.
Mr. Mendoza earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California and his master’s degree in business administration from the University of Houston.
Kecia M. Washington is the Director of Innovation and Strategic Partnerships for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). In this role, Kecia has a leadership role in various relationships and initiatives involving diversity, innovation, and a sustainability workforce. Her responsibilities run the gamut from Co-chairing the Economic Activities work group for the South Los Angeles Transit Empowerment Zone to serving as the LADWP lead on the Los Angeles Clean Tech Incubator’s Diversity Committee to creating partnerships with nonprofits to funnel foster youth into careers in the energy and water sectors. Kecia has also partnered with the Mayor’s Office of Innovation in securing and implementing a Living Cities Grant on Procurement reform.
Prior to this Kecia was the Director of Economic Development for the LADWP. In that role she was tasked with managing legacy economic development programs as well as developing and implementing initiatives that focus on the retention, expansion and attraction of business customers. Under her leadership, Economic Development partnered with the Water System and others to enact the Capital Projects Business Retention Program, the first of its kind in the nation that offered assistance to small businesses impacted by utility infrastructure work. Kecia also has significant management experience developing and implementing legislative, regulatory and policy objectives in the energy, transportation and education arenas. Past employers include Southern California Gas Company, Sempra Energy, San Diego Gas and Electric Company, the Orange County Transportation Authority, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and the Los Angeles Community College District.
Kecia is a voluntarily inactive member of the California Bar. She obtained a Juris Doctorate from the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law. She obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of California at Berkeley.
Mr. Champion is the former Multifamily Housing Director at the Los Angeles Field Office of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). In this capacity, Mr. Champion managed a staff of 81 professionals that delivered multifamily development, credit enhancement and asset management products and services to the Southern California area, which contains a population of nearly 25 million people. In addition, Mr. Champion provides program and technical advice to nonprofit organizations and private foundations as well as assist federal, state and government agencies to create and implement private-public partnerships.
He solely developed an innovative program-equity reinvestment cross-program scheme for complex structured-financing transactions involving affordable and workforce housing developments in connection with the coordination of development of nonprofit housing trust fund activities with total private equity of nearly $150 million. Prior to joining HUD, as Department Head for Civil and Criminal Investigations & Litigation Support at the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC) of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Mr. Champion managed multi-project operations with budgeting and P&L responsibilities covering the activities of 11 in-house professional staff and approximately 100 outside fee contractors.
Mr. Champion’s general business history spans more than 25 years in all aspects of finance, insurance, and real estate.
He also serves as an adjunct faculty of Los Angeles Trade-Technological College, and formerly part of the adjunct faculty at Keller Graduate School of Management, National University and UCLA Extension Program.
Born in Los Angeles, California, Jerome is former student body president of Cathedral High School. After being nominated First Alternate Candidate for the U.S. Naval Academy by Congressman Augustus F. Hawkins, he received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California, Berkeley and his Masters of Business Administration from the University of California, Los Angeles. Jerome is most proud of his past athletic achievements, especially being a former star and member of Cal Berkeley’s football team – “Go Bears.
Meet Our Team
Joseph T. Rouzan III
Joseph “Joe” T. Rouzan III leads VSEDC in navigating through the evolving and expanding needs for economic and small business development solutions in South Los Angeles. Prior to joining VSEDC, Mr. Rouzan held the position of Director for the City of Los Angeles Business Source program overseeing nine Business Source Centers throughout Los Angeles and operating a 4.5 million dollar annual budget. Joe's 29 years of City Service includes 13 with the Economic and Workforce Development Department and 16 with the Los Angeles Police Department. Prior to his most recent city service, Joe served as the Vice President and Chief of Staff for the Brotherhood Crusade, General Manager of both the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza and Hawthorne Malls and owned and operated JTA Security Management and Investigations. Joe holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Administration, conferred by California State University, Dominguez Hills.
Dr. Gregory Burks
Gregory D. Burks Sr., Ph.D. brings more than twenty-five years of diversified executive experience, specializing in Nonprofit, Community and Governmental operations. He previously held the position of Director of Workforce Development – Adult Operations for the City of Los Angeles. He was responsible for the City’s workforce development system adult operations that consist of seventeen (17) centers with the enrollment of 15,000 individuals and 200 full-time staff with an annual operating budget of $45M. He’ll apply his experience in the development and implementation of new programs and processes to continue the growth of VSEDC’s program operation.
Ms. Bizzell serves as Program Manager for VSEDC's Entrepreneurial Training Program and housing rehabilitation for the Los Angeles Neighborhood Housing Program. A long-time staff member of Vermont Slauson, Ms. Bizzell has been instrumental in various community development projects throughout her tenure including managing the Affordable Housing Development and the City of Los Angeles Rehabilitation Housing Loan programs. She has also managed special projects including beautification initiatives along the Vermont Slauson corridor. Ms. Bizzell received a Bachelor's Degree from Fisk University and Master's in Urban Planning from the University of Washington.
Fed Castillo brings more than 20 years of experience in developing and implementing financial systems, strategies, processes and controls to improve the financial sustainability and operation of diverse organizations. As an expert in establishing accounting functions, systems and best practices, his strategic approach results in cost-reduction and the maintenance of strong business relationships to ensure fiscal performance targets are met. Having formally served as the Chief Financial Officer for Toberman Neighborhood Center, he takes pride in his proven history of determining financial forecasts and cash flow projections to ensure liquidity and sustainable operation. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Commerce and a Certificate in Labor Law.
Branding Consultant Farrah Parker serves as Director of Public Relations & Marketing for VSEDC. The Los Angeles native currently consults for international brands including Grammy Award winner Anthony Hamilton, the Jackie Robinson Foundation, the Dodgers Foundation, and retired NBA Champion Matt Barnes to name a few. With an incredible passion for narrating powerful stories that inspire, Parker started her career with the Los Angeles Lakers public relations team during the Shaquille O’Neal/Kobe Bryant era. Alongside a dynamic team, she helped coordinate international media efforts and diverse community relations efforts that solidified the brand’s dominance across the globe.
After experiencing multiple championship seasons with LA’s home team, Parker ventured to City Government where she worked under the leadership of Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa and Mayor Eric Garcetti to facilitate workforce and economic development efforts to improve the quality of life for marginalized populations. A graduate of the University of Southern California, Parker holds a Master of Arts degree in Communication Management and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Relations, both from the distinguished Annenberg School for Communication.
In addition to her wealth of public relations expertise, Parker has also been quoted as a communication expert in publications including but not limited to USA Today, The Hill, The Wall Street Journal, Fox Business News, CNN.com, The Independent, Shape Magazine, and CNBC.
An advocate in the fight to bridge the healthcare gap, Parker narrated the audio book Chicken Soup for the Breast Cancer Survivor’s Soul. As part of her belief that higher education helps close the wage gap that plagues communities of color, Parker has also taught Interpersonal Communication at California State University, Dominguez Hills and Communication Theory at Compton College. With expertise spanning across multiple industries, she consistently positions clients as industry leaders through the construction of powerful messages that build loyal audiences.
Cassie Betts, a leading advocate for women- and minority-owned businesses, was homeless at the age of 19. Through several resources and local organizations, she was able to go from sleeping on bus stop benches and cardboard boxes to acting and modeling in Coca-Cola® commercials as well as TV & film. She graduated from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and maintained a lucrative career in the fashion industry. Cassie founded a fashion-tech company called District2.co in 2013 out of the South LA Incubator, Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation (VSEDC) as well as Silicon Beach's Stubbs Alderton & Markiles Preccelerator. District2 helps to connect fashion designers with local apparel manufacturers. She is also a founding member of Black Women in Tech, co-produces Urban Tech Connect - an annual tech conference headed by Plugin South LA, and is the Manager of Technology & Innovation at Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation (VSEDC). Forbes dubbed her “The Woman Turning South LA into Startup Land”. She is the catalyst and visionary behind South Central’s first tech center and leading the charge for the South LA Best Buy Teen Tech Center opening Summer/Fall 2020 with VSEDC in partnership with Annenberg Tech, and PledgeLA. Cassie is dedicated to increasing diversity in tech and utilizing high-level technical training to combat the ill effects of gentrification.
Adam Dominguez serves as Facilities Manger where he is responsible for building operations and maintenance of all VSEDC facilities. These efforts include construction maintenance, grounds maintenance, equipment troubleshooting i.e. computers, security and fire alarm systems. He also spearheads safety and risk management, yearly facilities budget, and manages leases with all VSEDC tenants. He holds an Accounting degree from Los Angeles City College.
Marva Smith battle-Bey
Ms. Battle-Bey, Founder of VSEDC, passed away on April 7, 2016. Ms. Battle-Bey spearheaded the organization to accomplish over $60 million in economic development projects within the Vermont Slauson community. As a nationally recognized authority on economic development, Ms. Battle-Bey had attained academic recognition from the University of Southern California, where she was a Ph.D. candidate and served on the Advisory Council for the School of Policy, Planning and Development.
Active in a variety of organizations, Ms. Battle-Bey was a member and/or serves on the Board of the National Congress for Community Economic Development, Association of Women Business Entrepreneurs, the Southern California Business Development Center, a multi-bank CDC representing 30 lenders and a loan fund of $35 million; the California Economic Development Lending Initiative (CEDLI), and the California Organized Investment Network (COIN), which was co-founded by VSEDC. Ms. Battle-Bey possessed a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Urban Planning and Regional Planning, and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration.
Our Success Stories
Click the images to the right to read their stories.
Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation
Receives Distinguished Designation as a
Community Development Financial Institution
The Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation (VSEDC) has proudly received the distinction as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) making it one of the only non-profits in South Los Angeles authorized to assess and distribute funding. Designed to serve low-Income people and/or those who work in economically-distressed communities, CDFIs provide a unique and wide range of development services, financial products, and financial services that help customers build wealth and achieve the goal of participating in the “ownership” society.
“We are thrilled to provide financial resources that allow Angelinos to achieve self-sufficiency and excel in business and beyond,” said VSEDC’s Executive Director Joseph Rouzan. “Our team looks forward to providing loans, business assistance, financial planning, and more with the ultimate goal of improving communities that need economic resources the most.”
With products similar to those provided by mainstream banking institutions, VSEDC will offer mortgage financing for low-Income and first-time homebuyers, small business lending, and lending for community facilities. Considering urban communities often endure more stringent requirements when attempting to qualify for financial products, VSEDC bridges the access gap allowing residents to economically engage and thrive.
“Communities that are traditionally left out of economic advancement deserve to engage in entrepreneurship and home ownership to create generational wealth,” said Dr. Gregory Burks, VSEDC’s Chief Operating Officer. “Our CDFI distinction allows us to build on our Founder’s legacy of connecting residents to economic resources, thereby strengthening families and communities.
VSEDC facilitates community development of the South Los Angeles area by providing programs structured to revitalize the physical, economic, and social life of the community. Founded by the late Marva Smith Battle-Bay, VSEDC has developed and implemented a comprehensive approach to community economic development that includes business development, technical assistance and training, residential housing, commercial, and industrial development.
The primary mission of VSEDC is to facilitate community development of the South Los Angeles area by providing programs structured to revitalize the physical, economic and social life of the community.
In order to realize this objective, VSEDC has developed and implemented a comprehensive approach to community economic development that includes business development, technical assistance and training, residential housing, commercial and industrial development.
VSEDC operates in the dynamic community of South Los Angeles. Home to historical landmarks such as the West Adams District; the oldest learning institution on the West Coast, University of Southern California; large faith communities including Crenshaw Christian Center; and arts and culture centers like Leimert Park, South Los Angeles is a vibrant area rich with diversity and a history of community activism.
Though known for nurturing jazz greats such as Kid Ory, hosting the Olympics in 1984 and the famed Staples Center, local residents contend with high unemployment, strained social services and related issues. Despite these challenges, South Los Angeles remains an area ripe for entrepreneurial and commercial development and has seen revitalization with initiatives such as the Figueroa Corridor Project, commercial developments in the Crenshaw District (Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza) and declining crime rates. VSEDC maintains a long history of impact in the community and is heartened by the potential for further improvement through our diverse programs.
Our Signature Events
Hispanic Business Summit
VSEDC MOBILE RETAIL AND FOOD TRUCK EXPO
Black History Awards Ceremony
The Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation (VSEDC) proudly hosted HerStory on Thursday, May 16, 2019 at the Foundation Center of Los Angeles. Sponsored by Union Bank, this signature event spotlighted women in business and included a reception and panel discussion.