LiftFund, a locally based financial and business support service organization, announced two new executive-level hires on Monday. Richard Ruebe was appointed as the nonprofit's chief operating officer, and Martha Zurita as its new vice president for communications.
"LiftFund has reached an exciting and significant peak and we are glad to expand our leadership team to further our goal of becoming a self-sustainable organization," LiftFund President and CEO Janie Barrera stated. "Since 1994 we have expanded from our San Antonio headquarters to 13 states and provided more than $250 million in small business loans to entrepreneurs."
Ruebe has more than 25 years of experience in areas such as financial management and sales, according to a press release outlining the new hires. His tasks will include leading LiftFund's strategic growth, measuring its community impact, and improving organizational efficiency.
"Richard is a seasoned financial leader, and his experience will help LiftFund broaden our impact and steady growth," Barrera stated.
Prior to opening RHR Advisors, where he advised startups interested in expanding their company operations, Ruebe served several Chicago-based companies including in his role as president and CEO for GTL Resources Limited, a renewable biofuels company.
While at GTL, he implemented new personnel teams and state-of-the-art technologies. These additions resulted in better products and contributed some $10 million in annual net profits. He successfully sold the business in 2014, according to the statement.
“As a chief operating officer, I’m more on the technical side," Ruebe told the Rivard Report in a Monday phone interview.
"My goal really is to help Janie, our CEO, find new ways to become more efficient in how we process things so we can become more self-sufficient in using both the public support funds and the revenue we get from loans to grow the company," Ruebe said. "So it’s really a two-phased focus I’m going to have, and that is finding ways to make the company more efficient, as well as finding new sources of revenue, potentially, so we can expand our loan pool."
Zurita was selected for her new position as LiftFund's vice president for communications earlier this month. Her tasks will include strengthening the company's role and relationships with communities served and providing outreach support for events and other high-quality programming.
Previously Zurita served as vice president of small business for the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, directing small business programs and initiatives before being promoted to interim executive director of the Maestro Entrepreneur Center. She has also worked as LiftFund's director of the women's business center, a position that placed her in the role of business advisor.
"I think it's very inspirational when you’re able to work one-on-one with a business owner, and help them and coach them through that business ownership process from developing their business idea to receiving funding, and then beyond," Zurita said. "I really feel that working in that capacity helps me now convey our story better.
"I’m really excited to work with different agencies, nonprofit organizations, and business groups in the different communities we serve, to let them know about our current work and how our process, whether it’s new lending products or enhancing our process, is helping the business owners in their communities."
The additions will contribute to LiftFund's growing presence in San Antonio and beyond. Since rebranding from its original 1994 name Accion Texas, the organization has reported retaining some 106 employees who assist in distributing more than 18,000 micro loans to communities locally and in 13 other states.
“We have evolved over the years, constantly innovating on how to better serve small businesses and extend our reach," Barrera stated. "We are confident that our newest additions to the LiftFund team will help us continue that legacy."