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Anamaria Rocha, the executive director who just led a record-breaking season for Moline’s Mercado on Fifth, will be taking on a new role on Thursday, Dec. 1. That’s when Ms. Rocha, whose last official day at Mercado was Tuesday, Nov. 22, said she will join LaDrina Wilson’s company Iman Consulting as business manager. “I’m excited to work with such a tenacious and intelligent professional,” Ms. Wilson, the Iman CEO, told the QCBJ. “She’s deeply committed to excellence and is exactly what is needed to take Iman to the next level.” For Ms. Rocha – who recently was named one of the QCBJ’s Forty Under 40 honorees – the new post was a perfect fit. “I am very excited about this new position and ecstatic about working with Dr. Wilson,” she told the QCBJ. “As you know, Mercado on Fifth's mission directly relates to supporting diversity, equity and inclusion efforts on a micro level by working to bridge equity gaps, providing a low cost platform that is accessible by the minority communities and creating a welcoming environment for diverse populations.” Mercado on Fifth’s leaders said on Tuesday that they will share information when it is available about Ms. Rocha’s successor. As for its former executive director, Mercado co-founder and President Maria Ontiveros referred the QCBJ to the marketplace’s Facebook page post, which said: “Please join us in wishing Anamaria Rocha the very best. After almost 2 years serving as Mercado on Fifth’s Executive Director, Anamaria is transitioning to the next chapter in her professional journey. “Anamaria will always be part of Mercado’s story. She led the market through a record-breaking season, developed an outreach team to assist underserved businesses, and launched a new signature event, the Dia de los Muertos Parade. “Ana, we look forward to following along on all the great work you will continue to do!” the post said. Ms. Rocha, who said she was a fan of Mercado since it first opened in 2016, joined the organization as executive director in March of 2021. During her tenure, Mercado weathered the COVID-19 storm and celebrated a number of firsts. They included the creation of an indoor space on Fifth Avenue, a food truck lane for the popular open air marketplace as well as this year’s inaugural and highly successful Día de los Muertos Parade in downtown Moline. “Naturally, I move on immensely fulfilled and appreciative of the support I received from the (Mercado) board and the community,” Ms. Rocha said. “I am also proud that the Día de los Muertos Parade inauguration was a huge success and that helped to create a new signature event for the community to continue to participate in for many years.” On Friday, Nov. 11, Mercado also unveiled a series of murals – spanning about 2,500 square feet – on the sides of its newly renovated building at 423 12th St., Moline. Vendors were on hand as part of the fifth annual Holiday Hop festivities. She added: “I close my chapter with Mercado, very proud of my accomplishments during my time as executive director. The record-breaking growth during my tenure leaves the organization with a solid foundation for continued success. It has been very rewarding for me to see the community support and to hear the feedback.” In 2022, Mercado also reported $591,302.74 was spent on food, beverages, merchandise and activities. That’s a 92.5% increase in vendor impact over 2021 and 251% growth over 2019. This year, 116 entities participated in Mercado including 27 food vendors, 20 retail vendors, 22 corporate vendors, 35 nonprofit vendors, and 12 sponsor booth spaces. In addition, 15 nonprofit organizations collected $8,885.45 in volunteer tips at the Mercado beer tent. Her role at Mercado also included mentoring and encouraging entrepreneurs. “I loved being able to aid individuals in their journey to jumpstart their businesses and then having a front row seat to their individual growth,” Ms. Rocha said. “ I greatly enjoyed seeing the diverse crowds share excitement about the events.” “My new role is the perfect next step in my career because it will provide me with the opportunity to continue supporting important and impactful work within our community and it aligns with my passions,” Ms. Rocha said. “I am looking forward to supporting Iman and the opportunity this new role will provide me with to be part of broader DEI initiatives, locally and nationally.”