Empower women. Eliminate poverty.

Leadership Team

Karen Larson – President & CEO

Karen joined Friendship Bridge in May 2009 as head of our leadership team. Prior to her transition to international nonprofit work, she was the President and COO for Key Equipment Finance, Global Vendor Services, a division of KeyCorp for 10 years where she had responsibility for the vendor leasing business in 26 countries. Karen began her career in the public finance arena providing critical financial solutions to state and local governments. She went on to spend 12 years with AT&T Capital, the financing arm of AT&T, at the time of the Bell companies’ divestiture, helping to successfully finance the critical telecom equipment needs of state, local, and federal governments.  As AT&T Capital grew to an independent finance organization, Karen was instrumental in building and managing numerous IT manufacturer private label customer finance programs globally. As an industry leader, Karen had been a frequent speaker and author on the subjects of global leasing, outsourced partnerships, women in leasing and leadership training. Karen received a BA in economics from the University of California, San Diego, and completed executive education programs at Duke University, the Fuqua School of Business and Case Western University.  Karen’s passion for the work she is doing at Friendship Bridge is a combination of her long term commitment to empower women in the workplace as well as contributing to sustainable solutions for alleviating poverty.

Heidy Garrido – Guatemala Country Director

Prior to being promoted to Country Director, Heidy started in early 2017 in the newly created position of Director of People Services. Heidy brings to Friendship Bridge’s leadership team a long track record in human resource management, training, career development, defining and monitoring of key success indicators, and advisory of business women and entrepreneurs. She worked for 10 years as a leader and executive at the Guatemalan Managers’ Association (AGG in Spanish). Most recently, Heidy worked at Energuate as Manager of Social Management and Corporate Social Responsibility, monitoring and evaluating social and commercial projects, working on the recovery and sustainability of clients, leading the area of social intelligence for assertive decision making, supporting conflict resolution and managing strategic alliances.

Daniel Cotto – Finance Manager

Daniel began working with Friendship Bridge in early 2017. He is a Public Accountant and Auditor. Daniel has a Master Degree in Tax Consulting. He brings to the organization 18 years of experience in microfinance with Share Association of Guatemala. His last position he was Sub Financial Manager, however he started as a loan officer, he was in internal audit, credit and more recently in finance. In addition, he is bringing to the organization specific knowledge of accounting policies, internal controls, implementing changes in processes and systems, budgeting, investor relations and customer service. In his last position, he worked with a team of 10 and contributed to the sustainability and healthy growth of Share Association’s portfolio.

Brandi Mason – Vice President, Global Communications & Partnerships

Through volunteering with Deutsche Bank’s Social Investment Funds Group in 2007, Brandi was first introduced to microfinance and served on the Board of Directors for the Microfinance Club of New York.  In this role, she organized monthly events and panels on microfinance.  In addition, Brandi served as a consultant through Deutsche Bank at a microfinance insistitution in western India.  Brandi has fundraised in paid and volunteer positions for multiple organizations including The New York Botanical Garden, Boulder County AIDS Project and the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy.  She has studied abroad in Northern India, China, the UK and Italy, in addition to volunteering at an AIDS Outreach Center and Orphanage in Tanzania. Brandi is originally from St. Louis, Missouri and holds a B.A. in International Affairs from George Washington University. She lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband and two young daughters.

Yanira Escobar – Director of Credit & Operations

Yanira joined the Friendship Bridge leadership team in December 2016. She has significant experience in portfolio management and recovery and operational credit processes in formal banks and MFIs in Guatemala and Central America. She also has experience in market research, and customer segmentation including sales of services and financial products to micro, small and medium-sized clients. Yanira’s most recent experience in credit and operations comes from working for Finca Guatemala and El Salvador.

Caitlin Scott – Social Performance Manager

Caitlin is responsible for Social Performance Management (SPM) at Friendship Bridge. She works with leadership to develop a strategy to keep Friendship Bridge at the cutting edge of industry advances and trends, standards, and certifications.  In addition, she created and leads a team that is responsible for monitoring and evaluation activities within the organization.  Caitlin joined Friendship Bridge in 2000, when she began volunteering and interning for the organization, and she became an employee in 2009. Prior to becoming Social Performance Manager, Caitlin served in many positions in Friendship Bridge including Program and Project Manager, Development Associate, and Office Administrator. Caitlin holds a Master’s degree in international development, with a concentration in microfinance, from the Josef Korbel School for International Studies at the University of Denver. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Colorado at Denver with a degree in international affairs with a minor in Spanish. Caitlin is trained as an advanced user for the Progress out of Poverty Index® by the Grameen Foundation, was the first external Certified Trainer for the PPI®.