Meet Erika Ortiz, Director of Design at JUST. Erika comes from El Paso and holds a Bachelor’s of Business Administration in Finance from St. Edward’s University. After working in the banking industry for more than 3 years, Erika saw the need for services that supported a more financially inclusive world.

Erika learned about JUST through a flyer in 2016 and contacted co-founder and CEO, Steve Wanta. The rest is history.

During her time at JUST, Erika has developed unique pillars to the JUST program like the leader-led approach and 8-week leadership program. The young professional says she has been using a “cheat sheet while designing for our clients.”

“In order to have a human center design approach we have to create a lot of empathy for our clients and I sort of took a cheat sheet model because my mother is my greatest inspiration,” she admitted.

When Erika first entered high school, her family lost everything. Nevertheless, her mother took a job at a restaurant and did everything in her power so that Erika could follow her dreams.

“Even though she worked her way up and became the general manager, she always had this entrepreneurial spirit. A dream she couldn’t quite access because she had no capital, no credit score and to a bank, she was simply a number they couldn’t approve.”

When Erika designs for JUST clients, she takes into consideration the power and unique skills non-traditional entrepreneurs have earned through their experiences.

“Many times our clients are told things that they aren’t or that they can’t do,” she said.

“Here at JUST we’ve taken a different approach. We do give them credit to grow their businesses, but at the same time, what we are trying to do is motivate them, empower them. That is important for me when I think of my mother because she is the strongest woman I know and there is not much she needs other than an opportunity.”

Currently, Erika is working on designing new services for the community of JUST. These include, our very own JUST app and a homeownership program.

“The ultimate dream is to create resilient communities all around the country filled with women who feel empowered to reach for their dreams and change their own lives,” she said.