The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

UTRGV Small Business Development Center Division of Research, Innovation and Economic Development

SBDC Team

Program Management

Maria D. Juarez-Serna, Director
Maria D. Juarez-Serna serves as the UTRGV SBDC Director since April 2005. She oversees the program and works with staff in delivering quality advisement and training to the business community. Through strategic and tactical planning as well as through key stakeholder relationships, Ms. Juarez-Serna guides the UTRGV SBDC team to meet and exceed goals in the areas of business development as a way to positively impact the economic climate of the Rio Grande Valley. Ms. Juarez-Serna holds a Master of Arts in English Literature, Master of Business Administration, and a Bachelor of Science, Biology major, and Chemistry minor from The University of Texas-Pan American.

Business Development Specialists

Aaron Gonzalez, Senior Business & Innovation Advisor
Aaron L. Gonzalez serves as a Business Advisor with the UTRGV SBDC and Rural Business Program since 2009. He provides one-to-one advisement, business planning assistance, and training. Mr. Gonzalez has also worked with farmers, ranchers, and rural businesses for several years prior to joining the UTRGV SBDC. Mr. Gonzalez holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from The University of Texas at Austin with a Business Foundations certification.

Arturo Gonzalez, Senior Business & Trade Advisor
Arturo Gonzalez joined the UTRGV SBDC in February 1997, and has since provided business advisement, business plan assistance, and training in both English and Spanish to countless of clients. Mr. Gonzalez is credited with developing and creating the original business Start-up Guide for the UTRGV SBDC and charged with maintaining partner relationships for the center with the Cities of Brownsville, San Benito, South Padre Island, and Matamoros, Mexico. Mr. Gonzalez holds a Bachelor of Business Administration with a specialization in Finance from The University of Texas at Brownsville.

Balde Morales, Business Advisor
Balde Morales serves as a Rural Business Advisor with the UTRGV SBDC since 2012. He provides one-to-one advisement, business planning assistance, and training. Mr. Morales has worked as a branch manager in the financial services industry for several years prior to joining the UTRGV SBDC. Mr. Morales holds a Master of Business Administration, a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from The University of Texas – Pan American.

Cristina Cantu, Senior Business & HR Advisor
Cristina Cantu joined the UTRGV SBDC in March 2009, where she provides one-to-one bilingual advisement, business plan assistance, and training. Ms. Cantu’s expertise includes tax regulations with state agencies, payroll compliance, and retail. She has a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing from The University of Texas-Pan American and an Associate of Applied Science in Accounting from South Texas College. She is currently completing her Master of Business Administration from The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

Eduardo Lugo, Jr., Business Outreach Specialist
Eduardo Lugo, Jr. joined the UTRGV SBDC in 2016, where he provides one-to-one advisement, business planning assistance, and training to pre-venture and startup business owners. Mr. Lugo has a background in business ownership, technology, and marketing. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing Management from Western Governors University.

Janie Caballero, Senior Business & Innovation Advisor
Janie Caballero joined the UTRGV SBDC in February 2008, where she provides business advisement, business plan assistance, and training. Her expertise includes experience with startups in the medical industry and the restaurant industry. Ms. Caballero holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance and a Master of Business Administration from The University of Texas-Pan American.

Marcela Arredondo, Senior Business & Trade Advisor
Marcela Arredondo joined the UTRGV SBDC in 2008, where she provides one-to-one advisement, business planning assistance, and training. Her expertise includes purchasing and supply chain management in the Maquiladora industry. She is also a Certified Global Business Professional (CGBP). Ms. Arredondo holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in International Business Management and Master of Business Administration from The University of Texas - Pan American.

Marivel Mata, Business Outreach Specialist                                                                                              Marivel Mata is a Business Outreach Specialist at the UTRGV SBDC since 2016. She provides one-to-one business advisement, business planning assistance, and training to pre-venture and startup business owners. Ms. Mata has also worked with the business community, serving in a variety of capacities prior to joining the UTRGV SBDC. She holds a Master of Public Administration from The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and a Bachelor of Business Administration from The University of Texas-Pan American.

Partner Relations

Esperanza P. Delgado, Training Coordinator
Esperanza P. Delgado manages the promotional aspects for the UTRGV SBDC in its service delivery-area. In this capacity, she assists the team with social media management, collateral development, media campaigns, targeted outreach to partners and media, and project management. Ms. Delgado holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in International Business Management with a specialization in Economics from The University of Texas-Pan American.

Bianca A. Hammond, Assistant Training Coordinator
Bianca A. Hammond supports the UTRGV SBDC’s training coordination efforts. In this role, she works closely with business advisors to schedule trainings with resource partners throughout the Rio Grande Valley. Bianca also assists the center’s marketing coordinator with media campaigns and with collateral development for outreach. Ms. Hammonds holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a specialization in Journalism and Broadcasting from The University of Texas-Pan American.

Administration & Client Services

  • Eva Martinez, Office Supervisor
  • Mariana Hernandez, Client Services