Outgoing Board Members We Are Going to Miss

Having a strong and committed Board of Directors with the vision, foresight, courage, and skills to provide valuable and strategic guidance is a critical resource for any organization that seeks to thrive and succeed by constantly challenging itself to fulfill its mission in the most effective way possible.

Two of our valued Board Members, Deepti Sharma, CEO of FoodtoEat, and Larisa Ortiz, Principal of Larisa Ortiz Associates, stepped down in 2018 and we want to thank them not only for their important contributions to BCNA’s development and growth, but also for serving as role models as female entrepreneurs.

Deepti Sharma, who steps down after 5 years on the Board, was first introduced to us by our friends and partners at the Street Vendors Project in 2013, when she had just created her app  – FoodToEat  and she was training street vendors to use to it to get orders digitally, as well as teaching and enouraging them to promote their businesses via social media.  

FoodtoEat has now evolved into a corporate catering concierge service with a focus on working with immigrant, women, and minority owned food businesses and whose clients include such companies as Microsoft, Droga 5, and Vox Media.  “We focus on improving team culture through palate-broadening food experiences that inspire conversation,” explains Deepti, “whether it be at a small team meal or a 500 person event.”

FoodtoEat is currently working on a new social campaign called I Made Your Food, which focuses on telling the personal stories of its local food vendors, so that clients have a better understanding of the human beings that create and cook and deliver their food everyday: their background, their beliefs, their passions, and their “stories.”

Asked what she was happiest about having contributing to BCNA, Deepti cited: “Overall strategy and helping create a more robust marketing initiative to build awareness of the great work BCNA is already doing!”

As for her hopes for BCNA’s future, she went on to say, “I want to see BCNA grow and continue to help underrepresented groups build strong businesses.”

Larisa Ortiz joined BCNA’s board in 2016 and played a key role in helping us realize the role BCNA can play in supporting community development in neighborhoods with a large number of immigrant owned businesses. 

As a retail and planning consultant, Larisa works with small businesses in communities nationwide, helping communities devise strategies to ensure that those small businesses remain competitive in an increasingly challenging retail environment. This past year has included work with many upstate communities through Governor Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative, and she is growing her practice in the South as well, where she work with communities in Memphis and Atlanta. 

About BCNA’s future, Larisa told us: “I’m looking forward to watching BCNA grow, and continue to provide high quality services to immigrant business owners, and help new American’s establish themselves on firm financial footing.”

“I’m very happy to have been part of the BCNA strategic planning effort,” she noted, adding, “This plan will be critical to BCNA’s growth – it provides a clarity of mission and a benchmarks for success that will give staff and the Board a set of clear marching orders.” 

Indeed it does! 

We are indebted to Deepti and Larisa for their service, insights, and counsel.

To learn more about our current board members, please click here.