Mariela is the product of her Venezuelan birthplace, El Salvadoran roots, and Bay Area upbringing. For the past 15 years she has cultivated local economies and resilient food systems, and catalyzed new models of investment and economic opportunity that center and uplift BIPOC entrepreneurs, farmers, and community-based organizations. She co-founded Manzanita Capital Collective, a collective working to advance racial and economic justice in food and agriculture by shifting power and capital. Prior to Manzanita, Mariela was the Interim Executive Director of Mandela Partners – an Oakland based non-profit organization that works to increase access to healthy food, good jobs, and ownership opportunities. In a decade at Mandela Partners, Mariela seeded and grew economic development projects, wealth building initiatives, entrepreneurship programming, and non-extractive capital resources. Mariela has a wide breadth of experience in community rooted economic development, small business advising, alternative capital, financial planning, non-profit management, and much more.
Mariela is the chair of the Equitable Food Oriented Development Collaborative’s Community Investment Committee, on the Olamina Fund Community Advisory Committee, on Nonprofit Finance Fund’s Care Fund Advisory Committee, on California Farmlink’s Board of Directors, and part of the Firebrand Stewardship Trust.