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Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration of Latinx Founders & Businesses

September 28, 2022 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Free Hispanic food and a panel of inspiring Latinx founders and resources in new innovation hub

Join UNC’s Innovate Carolina for a panel discussion to celebrate the success and resiliency of the Latinx community. This event is family-friendly and open to the entire community. Latinx business owners are encouraged to attend! Hear from a multi-industry panel of Latinx entrepreneurs and mentors about the challenges of starting a business and the resources that helped them overcome. Learn how their industries are changing for the better and where they hope to see systemic changes to level the playing field. The panelists include:

Dr. Joe Ruiz is President of Enzerna Biosciences, a UNC-based gene therapy company. Dr. Ruiz has made several career changes including 13 years as faculty member at two universities and a biotechnology entrepreneur who has launched two gene therapy companies (Enzerna Biosciences and Epigenos Biosciences) and a consulting firm (Emerging Biotechnology Development Services) focused on commercializing university-owned life science technologies.

Vania Ramos Ponce is an entrepreneurial ecosystem builder and former business owner who is passionate about supporting Hispanic entrepreneurs. She works for Prospera USA, a nonprofit organization that provides business education and support to Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs, as a Business Development Consultant and is responsible for running the office in Raleigh, North Carolina. Prior to moving to the U.S., she received her bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Auditing, an MBA, and a Ph.D. in Political Economy of Development at the University of Puebla in Puebla, Mexico. She is certified as a Financial Modeling and Valuation Analyst by the Corporate Finance Institute.

Angie Thacker is the owner of Pinam Construction, a minority female own company located in Durham, NC. Awarded General Contractor of the year 2022 by The Hispanic Contractors Association of the Carolinas. The company caters to both the residential and commercial industries. Angie has over 20 years experience in the field, has seen the benefits and challenges in the industry as a business owner. She enjoys encouraging and mentoring other young business owners that need guidance. She partners with other organizations such as Prospera and HCAC that bring resources and knowledge to the Latino business owners of the Carolinas and aims to be the voice of all those Latinos that need the help and to continue to knock on doors for the Latino communities. She is inspired daily by her husband, her “right hand” and biggest fan. She has a son and daughter and two grandchildren that are the light of her life.

Carlos Liriano is the Latino Program Director at Carolina Small Business Development Fund where he focuses on fostering economic development in underserved communities by supporting small business owners. He was born and raised in the Dominican Republic and has been living in the United States since 1999. He earned a Business Administration degree majored in International Business from Mercy College, in Dobbs Ferry, NY. Carlos is a member of the Latin Business Resource Group for the Triangle area at Fifth Third Bank. He embraces his Hispanic heritage and is very involved with the Latin and minority communities. Carlos often volunteer at local events and is dedicated to creating awareness about financial literacy, he teaches about credit and paving the way to buying a first home. Carlos serves as board member at Diamante, Inc., Centro Para Familias Hispanas and is the Board Chair for the North Carolina Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He was recently appointed to serve a two years term as a representative with the Hispanic & Immigrant Affairs Board with the City of Raleigh.


79 Degrees West
120 Mosaic Boulevard, Suite 120
Pittsboro, NC 27312 United States


Innovate Carolina