Evelyn Casuga

Certified Economic Developer Evelyn Casuga was elected Chair of the Growth Partners Arizona (GPAz) Board of Directors. Business Development Finance Corporation President Gary Molenda will continue as Vice Chair and Primavera Chief Executive Officer Peggy Hutchison was elected Secretary/Treasurer. YWCA Southern Arizona Chief Executive Officer Magdalena Verdugo is a new member of the GPAz Board of Directors.

“We are fortunate to have such dedicated people leading GPAz. They bring a wealth of experience in providing economic opportunities for people and communities across the state, and I’m excited about working with such a dynamic team,” said GPAz Executive Director Lesli Pintor.

Casuga serves in a variety of economic and community development, education and civic engagement capacities including Community and Economic Prosperity Director for the Center for the Future of Arizona. After 25 years, Casuga retired in 2014 as General Manager of Community Affairs at APS and she served nearly 10 years in municipal government, including City Manager of Eloy and Town Manager of Marana; and Manager of Community and Client Development for the Western Gateway Team.

Molenda joined the nonprofit Business Development Finance Corporation (BDFC) in 1987 as Community Development Group Manager and has served as President of BDFC since 1993. BDFC is a nonprofit SBA lender dedicated to economic development through affordable financing for Arizona businesses. Gary also oversees BDFC Advisor Services, LLC, whose clients include the City of Tucson Industrial Development Authority and the nonprofit Community Finance Corporation.

Hutchison serves as the Chief Executive Officer of The Primavera Foundation, a chartered NeighborWorks® America community development organization that provides pathways out of poverty through safe, affordable housing, workforce development, and neighborhood revitalization. Peggy has worked in the community development and economic justice fields in the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East for more than 25 years. 

Verdugo joined the YWCA Southern Arizona as Chief Executive Officer in 2020 after 29 years with Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc., where she held a variety of positions including Vice President of CPLC Community Schools, Vice President of SE AZ Region & Education, and Vice President for School Readiness and Education. The mission of the YWCA Southern Arizona is to eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.

More about Growth Partners Arizona

As a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and mission-based lender, Growth Partners Arizona’s focus is on underserved communities and borrowers who lack access to traditional capital sources like banks. GPAz prioritizes borrowers located in low-income communities, those who employ and/or serve low-income and minority communities, or are low-income, minority and/or women business owners. For more than 30 years, CDFIs across the country have a strong track record of making an impact in those areas of America that need it most, areas where mainstream finance doesn’t reach or cannot lend.

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