Executive Team

Kerwin Tesdell, President

Kerwin Tesdell is president of the Community Development Venture Capital Alliance (CDVCA), which promotes the availability of startup and growth risk capital for businesses to create good jobs, productive wealth, and entrepreneurial capacity that advance the livelihoods of low-income people and the economies of distressed communities.  CDVCA manages $300 million, including the $45 million Puerto Rico Fund for Growth, the $46 million Innovate NY Fund, smaller funds focused on Arkansas, Kentucky, Florida, Illinois, Nebraska, Nevada, and Mississippi, as well as national pools of capital.  In addition to managing its own capital, CDVCA builds the capacity of the community development venture capital impact investment industry by providing education and networking opportunities, developing best practices, and supporting positive public policy. Kerwin has been an adjunct professor at New York University for more than 25 years, teaching Social Venture Capital at the Stern School of Business and Community Development Law at the School of Law.

Prior to joining CDVCA, Kerwin was a program officer at the Ford Foundation, where he had primary responsibility for the Foundation’s investments and grantmaking for small business finance and job creation. Before that, he was the Director of the Community Development Legal Assistance Center, an associate with the law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton, and a law clerk to federal judge Constance Baker Motley, Chief Judge of the Southern District of New York. Kerwin is a board member and the past board chair for seven years, of the Coalition of Community Development Financials Institutions (CDFIs). He serves on the boards or advisory boards of the Center for Community Development Investments of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco; Impact Reporting and Investment Standards (IRIS) of the GIIN; the Financial Innovations Roundtable at the Carsey Institute, as well as eleven impact investment funds around the nation.  Kerwin graduated from Harvard College with a degree in economics and holds JD and MBA degrees from New York University, as well as a certificate from the Venture Capital Institute.

Alan J. Bernstein, Managing Director

Alan Bernstein is Managing Director at the Community Development Venture Capital Alliance, responsible for the Puerto Rico Fund for Growth and other investment activities.

He was a partner at the Wall Street law firm of Carter Ledyard & Milburn LLP, and currently holds the title of Senior Counsel at the firm. His corporate practice concentrated on transactions involving venture capital investments, public offerings and private placements representing issuers and underwriters, mergers and acquisitions, secondary offerings, negotiated stock and asset purchases representing buyers and sellers, and licensing and strategic partnering.

Mr. Bernstein is the President of the New York Network of Investors Circle, the national angel impact investing group. Alan also serves on the Board of Directors of 118 Capital Inc., which designs programs to involve millennials in impact investing, of Lavan, which promotes impact investing for organizations and individuals in the Jewish Community, and of Kehilat Romemu, his synagogue.

He received his B.A. from Stanford University and his J.D. from Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California, Berkeley.

Julian Wood, Vice President

Julian has a distinguished 25-year investment and professional track record across five continents in 20 developed and emerging markets. Julian is committed to supporting entrepreneurs, small businesses and local economies grow via the provision of increasing access to risk capital, creating quality jobs and complimenting strategies with workforce development programs.

He has led in all aspects of capital raising, deal flow, due diligence, fund construction/management and strategy development and has advised and supported investments over $200m in startup and growth stage companies.

Julian has a unique and diverse background gained in investment banking, airline, financial services and hospitality industries. Established networks with leading Foundations, Family offices, Institutional Investors and DFI’s having supported and raised over $300m.
He has been a pioneer and a thought leader in Impact, ESG and SDG investing and innovative business and customer service models, catalyzing long-term economic growth, quality job creation, workforce development and entrepreneurship.

Julian supports the management of CDVCA’s $190M investment portfolio including New Market Tax Credit (NMTC) allocations, The Puerto Rico Fund for Growth and Central Fund. He leads the Job Quality and Workforce Development programs that compliment our primary investments.

Julian is also the lead for new business development and emerging funds in international markets, including Africa, Central America and Haiti.

Julian is also the City Leader for New York for Bunker Labs, a leading nationwide Veterans Entrepreneurship Non-Profit that supports the scale and growth of veteran owned businesses,  and he is active in programs and initiatives that increasing minority GP’s access to funds for deployment and investment in minority owned and operated businesses.

Julian has a Bachelors degree in Business Administration and studied International Banking and Finance in London, UK.

Alexandria Harris, Vice President

Alex Harris is an attorney and manages the assets of CDVCA’s $46M Innovate NY Fund, and $45M Puerto Rico Fund for Growth, as well as our NMTC allocations, focused on increasing access to capital for early-stage, job-creating companies. She supports deployment activities of the Puerto Rico Fund for Growth and New Markets Tax Credit program by leading outreach, performing initial screenings, overseeing pipeline and due diligence, and preparing investment memoranda for Board approval.

Prior to joining CDVCA, Alex provided legal counsel to early-stage ventures on company formationinternal corporate affairs, and advised emerging growth companies on business development strategies

Alex has a JD from George Washington University and a BS from Ithaca College.

Dr. Ernesto Villarini-Baquero, Vice President

Dr. Ernesto Villarini-Baquero is Vice President of the Community Venture Capital Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to economic development through access to private capital markets. He manages CDVCA’s Puerto Rico office and leads CDVCA’s activities there, including co-managing the $45 million Puerto Rico Fund for Growth and the Unlock Capital investment readiness program for growth-oriented entrepreneurs.

Dr. Villarini-Baquero has more than 20 years of experience as a manager, leading executive and board member. His previous professional engagements include financial and investment advisory services, community and economic development endeavors, and consulting in strategic planning, financing and the development of social enterprises and entrepreneurial nonprofit organizations.

Dr. Villarini-Baquero holds a bachelor’s degree in science from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus, a master’s in business administration from Regis University in Denver, Colorado, and a doctorate in business administration from the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico, Metropolitan Campus. He holds Series 65 investment advisor licensing and has completed professional education in community development finance and entrepreneurship.

Dr. Villarini-Baquero is a Trustee and Treasurer of the Puerto Rico Model Forest Trust, Vice-President of the Board of the Association for Financial Professionals – Puerto Rico Chapter, and a Treasurer of the ChangeMaker Foundation. He is an Entrepreneurship Education Fellow of Babson College and a member of the editorial board of PRAXIS: The University of Puerto Rico’s Business Administration Journal.  Dr. Villarini-Baquero has presented both professional and academic work at various international conferences in San Juan, Stockholm, Santo Domingo, New York, Miami, Boston, and Washington, D.C.

Salvatore Virgadaula, CFO

Salvatore (Sal) has been working with CDVCA since October 2003 as a part-time CFO. In this capacity, he monitors and tracks accounts and funds movement of all of CDVCA and all its subsidiary entities and SPVs. He prepares monthly, quarterly and annual financial reports for the Board of Directors. He works with auditors on annual numbers for the audited statements. Sal also ensures financial compliance with covenants of existing debt.

Sal joined Kiwi Partners in 1998, and has contributed significantly to the growth and success of the firm over the past 16 years.

Prior to joining Kiwi Partners, Sal worked at Ernst & Young for three years as an auditor in the financial services industry, with a concentration on banks and mutual funds. He is a graduate of Manhattan College.

Elizabeth Ross, Communications & Marketing Strategy

Elizabeth Ross manages communications and marketing for CDVCA. Elizabeth is a strategy executive who has led business development, strategic partnerships, PR and communication initiatives for a host of corporations and non-profit organizations including CERTIFY Global, the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME), Ogilvy, Chicago Cares, Net Impact, Speakeasy and The Atlanta Women’s Foundation.

Elizabeth is a graduate of the Erwin Zaben Leadership Development program, served on the Board of Directors for the League of Women Voters and Piedmont Park’s North Woods Advisory Committee. Elizabeth founded and launched Springdale Park, a LEED-certified elementary school in Atlanta, GA.

Elizabeth received her Master of Business Administration in Marketing from University of Michigan Ross School of Business and a Bachelor of Science in Communications from Boston University. Elizabeth is based in New York City.

Emmanuel Loubriel Carreras, Program Manager 

Emmanuel is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Attorney (Esq.) and Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA®). In 2014, he began working in San Juan-based accounting firms gaining experience with businesses and government organizations in general accounting, tax preparation and auditing. In 2017, Emmanuel began his legal career working with Ferraiuoli LLC, one of Puerto Rico’s top law firms, as a tax and corporate attorney. During his time as an attorney, 

Emmanuel provided an array of services to his clients including corporate structuring, contract negotiations, business operations and counsel on tax controversy, regulatory and investment matters. At Ferraiuoli, Emmanuel also aided start-ups to help establish their businesses, analyze tax implications, and seek tax exemption benefits.  

Emmanuel also launched an investment advisory start-up as the operations manager and financial analyst. He assisted with the implementation of business operations in Puerto Rico, including tax planning and filing, tax exemption matters, strategic and operational analysis, organization of a hedge fund structure, preparation of offering documents and fundamental and technical analysis.  

Emmanuel received his Bachelor of Arts and Juris Doctor from the University of Puerto Rico and has also earned the Series 65. 

Alejandra Jiménez, Program Manager

Alejandra joined the Community Development Venture Capital Alliance (CDVCA) in 2022 as a Program Manager to launch Unlock Capital Puerto Rico. Unlock Capital, a CDVCA investment readiness program for founders and c-level executives, is designed to increase access to private and alternative growth capital for businesses in underinvested and economically distressed areas. 

Alejandra is an attorney and business consultant passionate about small business growth and entrepreneurship. Alejandra promotes Puerto Rico’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and cultural exchange initiatives as an active member of the Universidad de Puerto Rico Entrepreneurship Network. She sent 41 volunteer students to different Latin American countries through AIESEC and led the effort to create the Business Team in Idea Platform, the first student-based start-up accelerator in Puerto Rico. 

Alejandra was an exchange student at the Complutense University of Madrid, an international volunteer at the Panamanian Women Center in Panama City, and the executive coordinator of trade missions at the Office of the Government of Puerto Rico in Colombia. 

Prior to CDVCA, Alejandra worked at the Center for Entrepreneurs in Puerto Rico, where she served as the lead organizer of Startup Weekend global events, hosting more than 25 events around the Island, and the lead business consultant in the Núcleo pre-accelerator. 

After Hurricanes Irma and María hit Puerto Rico, Alejandra visited small businesses around the island to assess damage and provide financial aid to businesses struggling to stay open. She also supported local small businesses in disaster recovery, providing technical assistance after the earthquakes affected Puerto Rico’s southern region and during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Alejandra graduated from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (Magna Cum Laude) where she earned a Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting and Entrepreneurship. Alejandra obtained her Juris Doctor (Cum Laude) from the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico School of Law, where she founded and presided the Business and Commerce Law Association (ADEC). Alejandra is admitted to practice law in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and has earned certifications in Entrepreneurial Mentoring and Resilience Curriculum for Entrepreneurs Support Practitioners. 

Alejandra has visited more than 45 countries and lived in 6 of them.