Founding Partner & Chief Executive Officer
Ernesto Morales is Partner and Chief Executive Officer of Biltmore Group, a Los Angeles-based firm which provides clients with consulting and services in five key areas: business strategy, economic development, revenue optimization and growth, stakeholder management and program implementation.
Morales is a 20-year veteran in business and strategic partnership development and has extensive experience in delivering projects and programs that engage and empower clients and communities across the United States. In 2012, Morales founded North Star Alliances, a division of Biltmore Group and community engagement firm, which he grew from a home-based operation to a 10-person team managing multi-million dollar projects in just six years. Under his leadership, North Star Alliances built a reputation for producing expectational results for its clients, which includes Google, Coca-Cola, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority, and L.A. Care, among many others, due to the company’s strong focus on 360-degree customer service and high quality execution on strategy development, marketing, communications, public relations, community engagement, creative partnership development and grassroots outreach.
Morales was recently appointed by California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon to the California Employment Training Panel and is a member of the board of directors for the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation and the East Los Angeles YMCA. Morales graduated from Pepperdine University with a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science in Business Management.
Partner & Chief Strategy Officer
Jesse Torres is Partner and Chief Strategy Officer for Biltmore Group. His primary practice areas include economic and workforce development, supplier diversity and business strategy.
Torres, is former principal Small Business Advocate for the State of California and Deputy Director of Small Business and Innovation for Governor Brown’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz). During his three-year tenure at GO-Biz, Torres was successful in securing more than $108 million in state general funds to provide match and capacity building grants for the federal small business technical assistance providers operating in California. In addition to his work as principal advocate in the state on behalf of small businesses, Torres administered a portfolio of high profile programs including the state’s Innovation Hub (iHub) Network, the state’s defense supplier diversification and cyber resiliency program, CASCADE, the California Cybersecurity IT Health Advisory Board, and the California Cyber Innovation Challenge. In addition, Torres led small business recovery efforts for GO-Biz following major disasters.
Prior to joining GO-Biz in 2015, Torres served as Regional Director for the Los Angeles Small Business Development Center Network and is a former Director of Alumni Affairs for the Graziadio School of Business and Management at Pepperdine University.
Torres is a Southern California native and received his Master of Business Administration from Pepperdine University and Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of California Los Angeles. Torres is a member of the board of directors for Union Station Homeless Services and Associated Students UCLA.
Partner & Chief Operating Officer
Chris DeGroof is Partner and Chief Operating Officer for Biltmore Group, where he oversees the firm’s fiscal operations and ensures the timely and efficient execution of projects.
For BG, DeGroof has been instrumental in the successful delivery of complex projects for clients such as Google, L.A. Metro, Parking Company of America and Exposition Park.
DeGroof is an accomplished operations management executive with 23 years of experience specializing in new division start-ups, account management, project management, kaizen/continuous improvement, supply chain management, global sourcing, and the establishment and management of key performance indicators.
Prior to joining BG, DeGroof’s most notable achievements include the start-up of brand new divisions within four different companies, all achieving multi-million-dollar revenues within his first year at each respective company. Previous roles include his five years at children’s toy company, Applause, Inc., in which he managed accounts and projects for Disney Consumer Products, Universal Studios, General Mills, and Tricon Global Restaurants, introducing more than 250 million toys into the market including 35 million talking chihuahua stuffed toys for Taco Bell’s famous promotional program. During his 10 years as Vice President of Operations at EZ Shipper Racks, Inc., Chris managed teams in Asia as well as in the USA for concurrent and multi-faceted programs, including global supply chain operation projects for Home Depot, Lowes, Tractor Supply, and MTD Products.
DeGroof holds an Executive MBA from Pepperdine University and a B.A. in Psychology from UCLA and is certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) through APICS. DeGroof has served as a member of the Board of Directors for the San Fernando Valley chapter of APICS, the Association for Operations Management.
Vice President of Business Development
Cynthia Gutierrez is Vice President of Business Development for Biltmore Group. Gutierrez is an accomplished professional with over ten years of experience in the private and non-profit sectors.
Throughout her career, Gutierrez has garnered significant experience working with corporations, philanthropies, non-profit and community organizations, specializing in strategic partnerships, fundraising, special event planning, community outreach, civic engagement, and project management.
Gutierrez formerly served as Manager of Corporate Relations at The Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund (MALDEF), the nation’s leading Latino civil rights organization. In this capacity, she was responsible for developing and executing strategic initiatives for corporate and individual giving programs. Chiefly, Gutierrez was responsible for meeting and exceeding established fundraising goals and objectives while growing existing relationships and developing new partnerships on behalf of MALDEF. In addition, Gutierrez coordinated and executed all aspects of MALDEF’s annual fundraising and civic engagement events throughout the United States. Gutierrez also assisted in the development and implementation of a comprehensive marketing and communications plan including: logo and event redesign, brand consistency, social media engagement, online communications, and translated material as needed. Gutierrez worked to build strategic alliances with corporations, celebrities, elected officials, luminaries, and other non-profit groups to move MALDEF’s brand and agenda forward.
Prior to joining MALDEF, Gutierrez served as an Associate at The Raben Group, a full-service consulting firm. Gutierrez supported a number of the firm’s client teams with a portfolio of leading non-profits and corporations including: MALDEF, The National Museum of the American Latino/ Friends of the American Latino Museum, The Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF), The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), and the Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law. Gutierrez served as program manager and supported various client teams, which included multi-year management and execution of projects, creating strategic alliances and plans to move client’s outreach, public policy, and advocacy goals forward, and developing comprehensive messaging and communications strategies.
Marketing and Public Relations Consultant
Jennifer Elena is a Marketing and Public Relations Consultant and industry partner of Biltmore Group. Elena is the president and founder of JElena Group, a Palo Alto and D.C. -based integrated marketing and public relations agency.
JElena Group specializes in developing national large-scale consumer education and social impact campaigns. JElena Group is currently leading a national movement to educate consumers on digital citizenship on behalf of Google. Elena leads the team in strategy and business development. She has more than 18 years of experience and has worked with fortune 100 companies, national associations, federal agencies and non-profit organizations. Some of her clients include: Google, Wells Fargo, Chase, MassMutual, Mary Kay, American Airlines, National Association of Broadcasters and Stanford University.
She connects her passion, education and entrepreneurship, to her clients’ needs to create change and deliver social impact. Elena holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and Philosophy from James Madison University and a Master of Arts in Literature and Language from Marymount University. Most recently she graduated from the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Program with a certificate for scaling businesses. When she’s not hard at work you can find her playing tennis, reading books or hiking with her husband, Joe, and their baby JoJo. Her morning routine: Smoothie. Read. Learn. Create. Engage. Repeat.
Senior Real Estate Consultant
Rodrigo Gonzalez is a Senior Real Estate Consultant and industry partner of Biltmore Group Consulting. Gonzalez is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of DEODATE, a Los Angeles-based corporate real estate strategy and brokerage services firm.
Prior to launching DEODATE, Gonzalez served as Vice President of Transit Adjacent Assets for Sperry Van Ness (SVN) Commercial Real Estate, one of the largest commercial real estate firms in America. For the last decade he has represented public agencies, non-profit organizations, national and private companies, developers, and individual investors in nearly $2 billion of project strategy/project management, real estate strategy consulting and transactional/brokerage services in California, Tennessee, Virginia, Texas and Georgia. Most recently, he led the DEODATE team in championing the east coast capital expansion of the largest family-owned snack food manufacturer in America, secured the US headquarters for Dynsity Global, a Chinese conglomerate dedicated to artificial intelligence and driverless auto technology, and the acquisition strategy and management of nearly $125 million of property for L.A. Metro.
Under his leadership DEODATE has represented clients such as Coca-Cola, The State of California Department of General Services, Exposition Park, Price Waterhouse Copper (PWC), the Metropolitan YMCA of Los Angeles, U.S. Small Business Administration, Caltrans, Metro Gold Line, Anita’s Mexican Foods, Los Angeles World Airports, multiple mid-sized companies and municipalities, cities and school districts. As part of its commitment to the community, DEODATE serves as industry advisor to the Pepperdine University Sands School of Real Estate in assisting graduate students in real estate to advise the City of Los Angeles in the creative identification, use, and development of over 9,000 parcels across the City, creating strategies that helped shape investment, land use, and development practices in Los Angeles for years to come. Gonzalez is a licensed State of California Real Estate Corporate Broker. Gonzalez is the President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders, a member of the board of directors for Echelon USA, a national mentorship organization based out of Houston. Gonzalez received his Masters Degree in Business Administration from the Pepperdine University and his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Irvine. Gonzalez resides in Pasadena, with his wife Diana and their children, Isaac and Penelope.
Strategic Consulting Partner
As Biltmore Group’s Strategic Consultant Partner, Jonathan helps leads development and implementation of the financial services strategy for Biltmore Group. Wilson’s vast industry experience helps our clients with new market and business growth initiatives.
Director of Events
Nathyely Godina is Director of Events for Biltmore Group. She has more than 11 years of experience with event planning, production, and experiential marketing.
Lauren Morales is Program Director for Biltmore Group and handles arrangements for logistics and staffing for community engagement and event efforts. Morales is a key member of the BG project management and client relations leadership group.
Angelica Pena is Events Manager for Biltmore Group. Pena has extensive community relations and outreach experience, including event planning and coordination. She is the team lead for all North Star Alliances events, having led more than 200 events ranging from community meetings to intimate political receptions.
Alejandro Guzmán, MSc. is the Creative Director for Biltmore Group (BG). He has built a portfolio of professional experience for the past 15 years that includes entrepreneurial projects, including gamification consulting, cause-related marketing and educational efforts.
E.J. “Jay” Lynn
Executive Program Assistant
E.J. “Jay” Lynn is Executive Program Assistant for Biltmore Group’s North Star Alliances division, where he has been employed since 2017.
Ernesto Morales III
Field Operations Supervisor
Ernesto Morales III is Field Operations Supervisor for Biltmore Group’s North Star Alliances division, where he has been employed since 2016.