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Financial center top priority for new Gwinnett Village head

NORCROSS - After months of searching and after receiving nearly 100 resumes, the nonprofit Gwinnett Village Community Alliance has found its new executive director - Letycia Pastrana.

Pastrana comes to the GVCA after spending five years as the managing director for the Latin American Association, where she helped open four outreach centers, one of which is in Norcross.

In keeping with the goal of the GVCA, which tries to foster collaborations and attract resources to improve the quality of life for those who live in Gwinnett Village, Pastrana has a big job ahead of her now, too.

She's supposed to establish a "one-stop" community financial services center which could open as early as Oct. 15.

"This is a huge project," Pastrana said. "It will help lower- to moderate-income families who live in the area to improve their economic well being and become self-sufficient."

Pastrana said this would be achieved by helping individuals and businesses in the area receive help with regards to completing their income taxes, receiving credit counseling, reducing family debt, increasing family savings and even giving some an opportunity to become first time home buyers.

She said opening the financial services center is a partnership between the GVCA and the United Way, which is providing a grant to fund the center. She also said it would be modeled on an already existing facility the United Way helped open in Florida.

The GVCA's current office is in the same building occupied by the Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District. Pastrana said the two groups are now looking for a new space that would eventually house both the organizations and the new financial services center "all under the same roof."

Pastrana's hiring drew praise from Chuck Warbington, executive director of the Gwinnett Village CID.

"Her appointment completes the leadership void in the area that will bring focus on the social needs and issues in the southern part of Gwinnett," Warbington said. "The CID is excited to partner with Letycia and the Alliance to bring about positive change on the social side of the CID area."

Improving the social aspects of the Gwinnett Village area is what the GVCA is all about, said its chairman, Keith Shewbert.

"The GVCA was created to increase the human capital of the Gwinnett Village area," Shewbert said. "We know that with Letycia's leadership and resourcefulness, GVCA will accomplish many great things for the community."