Executive Team

Alan J. Bernstein, Managing Director

Alan Bernstein is Managing Director at the Community Development Venture Capital Alliance (CDVCA), responsible for investment activities including the $45 million Puerto Rico Fund for Growth, investing in locally managed funds that provide equity and debt financing to Puerto Rican businesses. Mr. Bernstein has served as a member of CDVCA’s Board of Directors since 2008.  

From 1999 to 2018, Mr. Bernstein was a partner at the Wall Street law firm, Carter Ledyard & Milburn LLP. 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.

From 2014 to 2019, Mr. Bernstein was the President of the New York Network of Investors Circle, the national angel impact investing group focusing on early-stage companies with a strong social or environmental mission. Mr. Bernstein also serves on the Board of Directors of Or HaLev, an Israel-based center for Jewish mindfulness.  

Mr. Bernstein received his B.A. from Stanford University and his J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. 

Kerstin (Zijia) Du , Analyst

Kerstin (Zijia) Du is an Analyst at the Community Development Venture Capital Alliance (CDVCA). Kerstin gathers and analyzes financial and social impact data about CDVCA’s investments in funds and companies. Prior to joining CDVCA, Kerstin worked as an analyst at a boutique asset management company. She was also a Sustainability Investing Fellow at an impact investing firm, where she designed SDG-linked investment instruments, creating a Blue Bond model, and developing an investment pipeline database for sustainable food projects. Prior to that, Kerstin led business development and sustainability project efforts for a design firm. Earlier in her career, Kerstin was a fixed-income analyst at one of the world’s largest pension investors. 
Kerstin is an entrepreneur and a sustainable lifestyle influencer. Her vegan app start-up project GreenBowl won the 2021 Sobotka Prize in the sustainable venture competition of the Yale Center for Business and Environment. Kerstin strongly believes that every decision we make in our daily lives can make a big impact on society and the planet. This drives her to promote a sustainable lifestyle on her social media platforms to make vegan food, sustainable fashion, clean beauty, and zero waste lifestyle more accessible and more persuasive.
Kerstin received an MS in Actuarial Science from Columbia University, and a BA with a double major in Economics and German from the University of California, Davis. She also earned the CFA Institute Certificate in ESG Investing and is now a candidate for the IFRS Foundation FSA Credential Level II.

Alexandria Harris, Vice President

Alex Harris is Vice President of the Community Venture Capital Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to economic development through access to private capital markets.  

Alex is an attorney and manages the assets of CDVCA’s $46M Innovate NY Fund, and $45M Puerto Rico Fund for Growth, as well as CDVCA’s New Market Tax Credit (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 the NMTC program by leading outreach, performing initial screenings, overseeing pipeline and due diligence, and preparing investment memoranda for CDVCA Board of Directors approval. 

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

Alex earned her Juris Doctor from George Washington University and her Bachelor of Science from Ithaca College.

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, 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. In the University of Puerto Rico, Alejandra was an active member of the 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, and an international volunteer at the Panamanian Women Center in Panama City. Alejandra was the executive coordinator of commercial trade missions at the Office of the Government of Puerto Rico in Colombia where she supported Puerto Rican businesses in the internationalization process to enter the Colombian market.

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. 

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. 

Elizabeth Ross, Communications & Marketing Strategy

Elizabeth Ross manages communications and marketing for the Community Development Venture Capital Alliance and supports programming for Unlock Capital in Puerto Rico. Elizabeth is a strategy executive who has led development, strategic partnerships, business development, 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 founded and launched Springdale Park, a LEED-certified elementary school in Atlanta, GA. Elizabeth is a graduate of the Erwin Zaben Leadership Development program and served on the Board of Directors for the Fulton County League of Women Voters and Piedmont Park’s North Woods Advisory Committee.  

Elizabeth received her Master of Business Administration in Marketing from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business and a Bachelor of Science in Communications from Boston University.

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 that create good jobs, productive wealth, and entrepreneurial capacity to advance the livelihoods of low-income people and the economies of distressed communities. 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. CDVCA manages $320 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. 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 past board chair for seven years, of the Coalition of Community Development Financials Institutions (CDFIs). He serves on the boards or advisory boards of eleven impact investment funds around the nation, as well as the Financial Innovations Roundtable at the Carsey Institute and Impact Reporting and Investment Standards (IRIS) of the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN). 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. 

Dr. Ernesto Villarini-Baquero, Vice President

Dr. Ernesto Villarini-Baquero is Managing Director of the Community Venture Capital Alliance (CDVCA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to venture and private capital investing for community and economic development. He leads CDVCA’s Puerto Rico office, co-manages the $45 million Puerto Rico Fund for Growth, directs the $2.5M Unlock Capital investment readiness program, and engages in advocacy efforts and field building activities. He is a member of CDVCA’s investment committee and member of the board of GFC Holdings and Biomass Green Fuels.  

Dr. Villarini-Baquero has more than 20 years of experience in executive management, entrepreneurship, and corporate governance. 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  Master’s and Doctoral degrees in business administration and Bachelor’s in biology. He volunteers as treasurer of the Puerto Rico Model Forest and the ChangeMaker Foundation.

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.

Julian Wood, Vice President

Julian Wood is Vice President of the Community Venture Capital Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to economic development through access to private capital markets.  

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

Julian leads the CDVCA Peer Group Network which has more than 135 Fund Managers, managing 85 Funds with $3B in AUM and across 27 States and Puerto Rico. 

Julian has led in all aspects of capital raising, deal flow, due diligence, fund construction/management and strategy development and has advised and supported more than $200M in startup and growth stage company investments. 

Julian has a unique and diverse background gained in investment banking and the airline, financial services, and hospitality industries. He has established networks with leading foundations, family offices, institutional investors, and development financial institutions, having supported and raised more than $300M. 

He has been a pioneer and a thought leader on 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 $300M investment portfolio including New Market Tax Credit (NMTC) allocations and Central Fund. He leads the Job Quality and Workforce Development programs that complement CDVCA’s primary investments. 

Julian also manages CDVCA’s emerging fund manager peer community. A group of more than 75 individual funds, with 125 fund managers, (75% of whom are minority managers). The emerging fund manager community has raised, and is in the process of raising, more than $2.8B in capital and operates in 27 States in the United States and Puerto Rico. This CDVCA initiative is at the forefront of supporting emerging managers investing in businesses in low-income communities to create quality jobs for marginalized people. 

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

In his spare time, Julian is also the Ambassador for CEO Circle, New York for Bunker Labs, a leading nationwide veteran entrepreneurship non-profit that supports the scale and growth of veteran owned businesses. He also serves as an advisor to the Veterans Business Project, a program that supports veteran entrepreneurs nationally. 

Julian has published two business management books for entrepreneurs in frontier markets and was a guest lecturer at Galilee College in Israel for two years. 

Julian has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Westminster and studied International Banking and Finance in London, UK.