L.A. stories of inspiration and success

L.A. stories of inspiration and success

2024 Women's History Month: EWDD Employee Spotlight (carnation pink gradient with a stage spotlight graphic shining on the text)
In honor of Women's History Month, EWDD highlights and celebrates the achievements of Rosa Penaloza and Yovana Perez, two women who are part of EWDD’s Economic Development Division. Both of these women continue to make a significant and positive impact in the Los Angeles business community.

Rosa Penaloza

Rosa Penaloza, Assistant Grants Administrator for EWDD's Economic Development Division
Rosa Penaloza, Assistant Grants Administrator, started her career with EWDD in March 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic. Due to the economic impact that the pandemic caused local businesses, Penaloza quickly stepped into the role and duties of assisting small businesses with resources, loans, grants, and any potential relief during this unprecedented time.

When asked to describe a typical day in her role, she chuckles, “there's always something happening, it's never a dull moment.” In a nutshell, Penaloza’s duties include oversight of the 10 BusinessSource Centers, Jobs & Economic Development Incentives (JEDI) Program, L.A. Optimized, Office of Workplace Equity & Diversity, and the L.A. City Small Business Commission. Through this work, she mentions it takes a team and an ability to work hand-in-hand with the Mayor's Office, Council offices, community organizations, and subrecipients to ensure the delivery of services to the small business community on behalf of the City of Los Angeles in hopes of contributing to their growth and creating a greater economic impact.

Rosa’s passion is fueled by the team she works with on a daily basis and constantly feels inspired by them. As a leader, she believes that leaders work for others and therefore finds it rewarding when all parties work together to accomplish similar goals.

Lastly, in her 20 years of leadership experience, she encourages women to be bold, secure, and always stay true to their values. Her experiences have also led her to be open-minded and welcoming to change because projects can often change at the speed of light. A good leader needs to be able to adjust, inspire others, and ultimately take it all in a positive way.

Yovana Perez

Yovana Perez, Senior Management Analyst for EWDD's Economic Development Division
Another impactful leader who has contributed to providing LA’s local businesses with the tools and resources needed to succeed is Yovana Perez, Senior Management Analyst.

In her five years of working with EWDD, Yovana has played an integral role in ensuring the BusinessSource Center (BSC) system is running smoothly. This includes working closely with her team of monitors to review budgets, monitor reports, and draft transmittals and contracts for the various business programs that EWDD offers.

In these duties, Perez mentions that the BSC system runs effectively because she implements a hands-on approach with her staff and the system providers. She accomplishes this by preparing guides, recording meetings, drafting checklists, and overall taking the steps needed to make sure her team is building the capacity of the BSCs so that they can successfully implement programs and services to the business community.

When asked about her proudest accomplishments, Perez mentions two that stand out. The first is the BSC’s efforts during COVID-19 to fill in technology gaps that helped small businesses with scanning and submitting applications in order to receive federal funds that kept their doors open and employees working during the pandemic. The second accomplishment is the BSC's grassroots efforts in meeting with street vendors where they are vending to help them navigate technical issues around obtaining permits in their preferred language.

These accomplishments are some examples of what fuels her passion for helping businesses in lower-income communities. Through her leadership, she is able to provide resources to the BusinessSource Centers or other programs and those results trickle down to businesses and families, resulting in businesses accessing capital, creating and retaining jobs.

Yovana’s advice to other women interested in this line of work? “Explore and find work that is really meaningful to you. Also, if you are diligent and take the initiative to learn, specifically when it comes to technology, you will be promoted.” Perez states, “I also recommend being resourceful, not only to your colleagues but also to your grantees.” Perez closes her interview with a thanks to the department. “I am very thankful to work for a phenomenal team and for a department that has a great mission and has really outstanding programs.”

EWDD offers a variety of services, programs and benefits to the entire Los Angeles City community. BusinessSource Centers offer resources to microenterprises, small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs that help revitalize our economy and strengthen our local communities. WorkSource Centers support both job seekers and local business by offering free job training, resume and placement services, and employment and HR support for businesses. YouthSource Centers provide our teens and young adults assistance with completing high school and getting into college, finding a career path and skills training, and mentoring with all around support. Whatever you need, EWDD is here to help you achieve your goals.

This story is part of the EWDD UPDATES from March 2024. Read this issue and more.