MCALLEN, Texas – A McAllen-based senior loan officer Marlene Rodriguez has been promoted to market director for micro-lender LiftFund. 

As part of her new job role, Rodriguez will now be able to offer larger loans of up to $500,000 in the Rio Grande Valley.

LiftFund President and CEO Janie Barrera said the impact of Rodriguez’s  promotion will be felt throughout the entire South Texas region because she will strengthen her relationships with key leaders and expand LiftFund’s support for small businesses. 

“This promotion allows Marlene to further her dedication and commitment to her clients, community, and our mission,” Barrera said. 

Janie Barrera

Over the course of the pandemic, Barrera said Rodriguez helped local small businesses stay afloat. She said she then helped them to stabilize and then, finally, to flourish through her hard work and commitment to her community.

“No one knows our work and clients like Marlene; she has developed key relationships with small businesses and the small business community. She is a proven champion and the leader we know our clients and communities deserve.” 

LiftFund is a nonprofit small business lender that aims to transform lives by opening doors and leveling the financial playing field in entrepreneurship. 

Established in 1994, in San Antonio, LiftFund seeks to provide responsible capital and business education to small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. 

LiftFund has supported South Texas small business owners with over 25,000 $40.2 million in small business loans. Since its inception, LiftFund has made over loans totaling more than $415 million across its 15-state footprint, which includes: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, New York and Texas. 

Marlene Barrera

Rodriguez has served small businesses of the South Texas region for more than 21 years as a senior loan officer for LiftFund, providing more than $21 million in funding to small businesses in the community, an average of $1 million per year since she joined LiftFund. As part of her new job role, Rodriguez will now be able to offer larger loans of up to $500,000 in the Rio Grande Valley.

Rodriguez said her work is centered on helping clients scale their small businesses by helping them secure the funding they need. She said she will continue serving McAllen and South Texas business owners, fostering relationships, and developing responsive funding programs and support for small businesses in the region.

“I am grateful to take our work and mission to the next level.” Rodriguez said. 

“In addition to growing the support for our small business community, I will continue to do what I enjoy the most, guiding and championing small business owners in their journey to success.”

Editor’s Note: Marlene Rodriguez appeared on a Zoom with the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service last year to discuss micro-lending opportunities with LiftFund. We expect to do more Zooms with her in the future.

Other promotions


Meanwhile, Barrera, LiftFund’s CEO, says the nonprofit is working hard to build a more inclusive economy. She said she is very proud of the group’s impact over the years and looking forward to the future.  

“Our mission to level the financial playing field remains stronger than ever, serving as the guiding star for our enhanced business model and growing portfolio of products and services. This evolution is also reflected in our executive leadership suite,” Barrera said.

Barrera said she is proud to welcome Amy Hereford and Ronita Pinckney to the LiftFund family as well as celebrate the promotions and contributions of Adrian Gonzalez, Nelly Rojas-Moreno, and Celina Peña. These are longstanding executives with LiftFund. To learn more about their roles, visit LiftFund’s blog.

“We are also grateful for Rich Ruebe’s time at LiftFund as COO/CFO and wish him a happy retirement,” Barrera said.

“With a heavy heart we mourn the loss of Tom Clausen who served on our executive leadership team for over a decade. He will be deeply missed and we will remember him for his big heart. I hope you will continue journeying with us as we lift small businesses to economic prosperity.”


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