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Berks Latino Chamber of Commerce elects new board chair

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Lucy Cortez, vice president of community lending at the Community First Fund in Reading, was recently elected chair of the Berks County Latino Chamber of Commerce.

Cortez replaced Daniel Sansary, a former lender at Community First Fund and manager at Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Berks. Her term is for one year.

Cortez assumes the leadership position at a time when the nonprofit organization is undergoing transition.

Johanny Cepeda-Freytiz resigned as executive director effective June 30 after two years.

“Right now, the chamber is going through a rebranding and will remarket itself,” Cortez said.

“I’m meeting with the outgoing leadership today to get everything in place and [information on] how I will proceed.”

Cortez began a 22-year career in banking in 1980 at the American Bank and Trust in Reading and eventually worked as a regulator and enforcement administrator in the state’s Department of Banking and Securities for 11 years.

Cortez has worked for two years at Community First Fund’s Reading office, which covers Berks, Montgomery and Chester counties. She provides loans to small businesses, particularly those owned by women and minorities.

The Latino chamber has 70 members, mostly small businesses.

Cortez said many small businesses face challenge and often they are unaware of state or local government programs that are available to them.

Cortez has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Albright College and a master’s in economic crime management from Utica College.

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