Gerardo Espinoza, Executive Director
Gerardo has served as Executive Director of LEAF for the last eight years, spearheading the Fund’s move into retail food co-ops and healthy food financing. He joined LEAF after spending many years in the commercial banking and investment management field. His background includes ten years as a Vice President at First National Bank of Chicago, and 15 years in investment management in the positions of Portfolio Manager and Senior Vice President with Baring Asset Management and John Hancock funds. In 2015, Gerardo also joined the board of the Food Co-op Initiative, a non-profit organization whose mission is to increase the number of new food cooperatives delivering access to healthy food in diverse communities across this country. He has a master’s degree in Economics from Stanford University and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.
Nathan Hixson, Loan and Investment Manager
Nathan performs financial analysis for LEAF and identifies new sources of funding to support our work. Prior to joining LEAF, Nathan served as an AmeriCorps New Sector Fellow at Aspire Institute. He has also performed underwriting at RSF Social Finance, co-founded the BYU Social Innovation Leadership Council, and served a two-year mission in Albania. Nathan graduated with a B.S. in Finance and International Development from Brigham Young University. Nathan is a candidate in the CFA program and has passed the level 2 exam.
Amine Benali, CFA, Managing Director, Strategy & Development
Amine is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and brings with him a vast experience in investment analysis and management. He joined LEAF after 19 years as an investment analyst and portfolio manager focused on Emerging Markets and Global Natural Resources. He worked as an equity analyst at Baring Asset Management, as Senior Research Officer at John Hancock Advisors, and as Managing Director at Manulife Asset Management. He has co-managed equity portfolios with up to $1.8 billion in AUM. Amine has devoted himself academically and professionally to development economics. He is also an entrepreneurship Lecturer at Northeastern University and holds a bachelor’s degree in Finance from Northeastern University and a master’s degree in Economics from Boston University.
Ben Selden, Development & Marketing Manager
Ben joins the LEAF team on the development side after serving an 11-month fellowship as part of New Sector Alliance’s Residency in Social Enterprise. RISE is an AmeriCorps program that pairs fellows with nonprofits to work on capacity-building projects. Ben previously interned at the Harvard Art Museums and Dumbarton Oak’s Research Library. He graduated with a degree in Classics from Harvard University.
James Louney, Controller
James has significant experience in the accounting field, holding CFO-level positions in a variety of private and publicly traded companies, as well as working as a CPA for Deloitte.
David Tisel, Associate Intern
David is a graduate student at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning. He has experience in cooperative development and community outreach, specifically in the area of housing co-ops as a Program Associate for City First Homes. He graduated from Oberlin College with a double major in Politics & Economics.
Kasite Ugo-beke, Associate Intern
Kasite is an undergraduate student at MIT, where she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in chemical-biological engineering with a concentration in economics. At MIT, she is the vice president of the Global Poverty Initiative and does research for the Sloan School of Management. Kasite hails from Lagos, Nigeria.
Margaret Lund, Consultant
Margaret brings over 15 years of experience in healthy foods retail lending gained in her previous position as Executive Director of the Northcountry Cooperative Development Fund (NCDF), a 30 year-old CDFI which focuses on financing cooperative enterprises. More recently, Ms. Lund has served as a trainer and consultant for a number of CDFIs through the Opportunity Finance Network’s healthy food lending program. She holds a master’s degree in industrial and labor relations from Cornell University.
Jim Megson, Consultant
Jim is the former Executive Director of LEAF. Since his retirement, he continues assisting LEAF on a part time basis, with the credit analysis of loans and other special projects. Mr. Megson also spent twenty years as Executive Director of LEAF’s affiliate, The ICA Group, a consulting firm which focuses on community and worker-owned enterprises.