North Coast SBDCEureka and Crescent City California

Our Team

The North Coast SBDC is staffed with experienced leaders who assist SBDC clients grow and develop their businesses.

Leila Roberts

Director

 

Leila began serving as Director of the North Coast Small Business Development Center in August 2016. She brings to SBDC lessons learned from a 20-year career growing strong community institutions—from Philadelphia to D.C., Vermont to Bangladesh.

In twelve years with the global arm of United Way, Leila guided local business and community leaders in 45 countries who wanted to start up homegrown nonprofit organizations. Right out of college, she ran a small town Planned Parenthood clinic. Before coming to Humboldt to settle with her family, she consulted with small nonprofit and business clients across California on their marketing, PR, and sales or fundraising. 

She serves on College of the Redwoods Entrepreneurship Advisory Board as well as the national Board of the Move to Amend coalition, and volunteers with the North Coast’s True North Organizing Network and Centro del Pueblo.

She has a master’s degree in the management of sustainable development. Leila is the daughter and granddaughter of immigrants from England and Morocco. She lives in Eureka with her husband John Richmond, general manager of Lost Coast Communications, and their pointy-eared dog Benny. 

Leila believes thriving small independent businesses are the heart of our community and the key to our prosperity. 

Paul Bozzo

Business Advisor

Paul Bozzo is a scalable entrepreneurial and technology ventures expert in the San Francisco Bay Area. Paul’s background blends over 25 years of professional experience in start-up strategy, angel and venture capital financing, strategic planning and SBA lending. His specialty is working with entrepreneurial ventures to refine their business model, create an investment-driven business plan and prepare an effective funding presentation. He also advises CEOs and founding teams on these common start-up issues: legal entity selection, equity financing structures, financial forecasting and exit strategies. Paul is an adjunct faculty member in both Sonoma State's Executive MBA program and Dominican University's Green MBA program.

Janet DePace

Business Advisor

Janet DePace is a longtime resident and entrepreneur of Humboldt County, one of the original founders of Yakima Products Inc., and has served her community as president of Arcata Economic Development Corp., and Chair of the Humboldt County Workforce Investment Board. Prior to coming to the North Coast SBDC she maintained her own consulting practice with an emphasis on artists and manufacturers.

Catherine DeSantis

Marketing

Catherine DeSantis of Trinity Marketing is a Business Advisor, specializing in business issues related to marketing. She has worked in the communications field since 1980 in print media, market research and consumer goods marketing. Her advising specialties include development of sales and marketing strategy, PR, media relations, market research, identity programs, trade advertising, marketing collateral and social media.

Jeff Hall

Business Advisor

For fifteen years Jeffrey G. Hall was an international area manager for S&W Fine Foods in San Ramon, CA, and managed their sales and operations in Europe and Asia. In 1996 he became a client of the SBDC and started his own international trading business.

In 1999 Jeff came back to the SBDC as an instructor in the New Venture Training Program. In his work at the SBDC over the last several years he has helped 500 persons plan the start-up and launch of a new business. 

Jeff holds a BA in Philosophy from St. John’s University and MA in Education from Chapman University.

Spencer Hamilton

Business Advisor

Spencer Hamilton has worked in investment funds and on strategic initiative of Fortune 500 companies in technology and healthcare/life sciences. His career began in the Peace Corps working in an agriculture research and development group. He is passionate about new venture creation. He brings significant experience in product development, strategy and new venture finance. Spencer holds a BA and MBA degrees from the University of Southern California and Johns Hopkins University, respectively. In his spare time, he travels abroad and reads books on design thinking. Expertise includes Business Plan Development and Review; Customer Insight and Product Design/Launch; Market, Competitor, and Industry Research and Benchmarking; Strategy Partnership Assessment and Sales Pipeline Development; Valuation of Business Acquisitions; Financial Projections and Financial Health Analysis; Grants, Venture Finance, Crowd Funding, and Community Development Finance; Turnaround Financial Management; and Information Technology Assessment for Small Business.

Cynthia Mackey

Social Media

Cynthia is a private consultant and the principal of Winning Strategies LLC, a digital marketing agency that creates online campaigns and tools to grow our customers Internet sales and services.  Cynthia’s 20+ years’ experience span the entire supply chain lifecycle: from manufacturing, product and technology management, and enterprise sales, to customer support, call center and customer training. This experience gives her hands on know how to assist small businesses in tactics to effectively market using social media, the web and mobile apps.  As a small business owner, she realizes the need for flexible solutions to meet the various growth levels and changes small and medium businesses face. Winning Strategies has worked with local and state governments, entrepreneurs, non-profits, advertising and interactive agencies, & Fortune 500 corporations.

Cynthia is also a sought after trainer and learning strategist. Her experience includes; Adjunct Professor at Golden Gate University where she taught Telecommunications Fundamentals, Ecommerce Fundamentals, Ecommerce Systems and Technologies and Global Ecommerce.  She has also served as the VP of Internet Services at a consumer software company and acting VP for ecommerce startups.  Prior to starting Winning Strategies, Cynthia was engagement manager at a national interactive agency, USWeb/CKS, and prior to that, Technology Manager at Pacific Bell/Pacific Bell Internet Services (now ATT).

Cynthia has taught courses for organizations such as the San Francisco SBA, Alameda and Contra Costa Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), California Resource and Training (CARAT) and numerous non-profit, church and municipal events throughout Oakland. She has also served as a marketing advisor at an entrepreneur boot camp in Greece, and as a learning strategist either teaching or constructing employee training programs for global companies. She currently serves on the Board of Advisors for Oakland Technology Exchange West, and the Board of Expert Advisors for California Emerging Technology Fund. She has formerly served on the boards of The Stride Center and San Francisco Friends of the Children. 

Cynthia has a BS in Industrial and Systems Engineering from USC, an MS in Telecommunications Management from Golden Gate University and an Executive Education certificate from Duke University, Fuqua School of Business.  

Scott "Q" Marcus

Sales, Marketing, Advertising, Customer service (emphasis on hard to please customers), Public speaking & presenting

After a decades-long background in media and marketing, Scott "Q" Marcus lost 70 pounds and launched his career as a "THINspirational Speaker." He now inspires organizations that are facing trying times on how to break down big barriers into small goals and move past them.

Scott is the past president of the northern California chapter of the National Speakers Association. He is a syndicated newspaper columnist, author of three books, and the CRP (Chief Recovering Perfectionist) of www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com, a site for people who are tired of making promises they don’t keep and are really ready to change.

Prior to his speaking and writing career, has been a DJ, talk show host, Music Director, Program Director, Operations Director and later: sales manager, station manager, and general manager of various radio and TV stations. He also served as an independent representative for an advertising agency in northern California and won two national Telly awards for TV campaigns he helped devise. He still organizes marketing campaigns and does marketing and customer service presentations across the country.

David Mitroff, Ph. D

Business Advisor

David Mitroff, Ph.D. advises clients and conducts workshops on Technology Integration, Restaurant and Retail Marketing, Customer Loyalty Programs, Social Media Marketing, and Business and Partnership Development.

David brings to the SBDC his experiences as the Founder and Chief Consultant of Piedmont Avenue Consulting through which he provides business consulting and marketing services to create brand awareness, strengthen customer loyalty and generate new opportunities. David works with a diversity of clients in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond such as restaurants and retail specialty stores, franchises, professional services firms, start-ups and individual entrepreneurs.

Dr. Mitroff leverages his extensive professional and education background, including a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology to motivate people to create change, while understanding the psychology behind business and marketing decisions. David is an active member, on the executive board, or advisory committees for several organizations. He continually collaborates with several consultant groups, merchant associations, and charities to best serve the community. Dr. Mitroff is also an Entrepreneurship and Marketing Instructor at the University of California, Berkeley and is a Google Mentor for the Google Launchpad Accelerator.

David is a sought-after speaker on a wide range of topics from Social Media Management to the Psychology of Marketing and through his consulting, lectures, trainings and keynotes has educated more than 25,000 business owners.

Richard Olson

Business Advisor

Richard has enjoyed an extensive career working in the business financial community. His efforts included twenty-five years of employment with Wells Fargo Bank culminating in the position of Regional Sales Manager to more than two hundred retail banking offices in central California. He also served as a senior faculty member of the WFB University, as sales training division of the bank.

The son of a foreign diplomatic, Richard spent the majority of his youth growing up in Asia and Europe. His foreign-born familiarity with different peoples of the world has served him well while working  in the multi-cultural  bay area for the past several decades. Over the years he has had the opportunity to conduct financial seminars before numerous city and county chamber meetings, civic groups and  banks. His in-depth background and experience in the financial world has enabled him to successfully serve businesses in their attempt to secure funding. Richard is the principle of LendersII a successful private, organization specializing in business consulting and financing.

Carlos Reza

Business Advisor

Carlos Reza has served as Director of Business Development and Worldwide Sales for several VC funded startups like BloomSky, Inc., (a hardware+app technology, and FundDreamer, (a crowdfunding platform).  After completing an undergraduate degree in Economics at Stanford  University, Carlos worked in corporate environments with companies  like AIG and GMAC, building dynamic teams servicing large customer markets and territories.  Carlos now enjoys helping startups and businesses scale to new heights.

Armando Ricardez

Tips! Restaurant Program

As a small business owner he understands firsthand the rewards and struggles faced by entrepreneurs in the day to day operations of running your own business. Having opened and operated several cafeterias and family restaurants has given him the experience and knowledge to help others tackle some of the obstacles and frustration that are associated with opening a new restaurant. He has successfully passed countless inspections from the Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health, and is familiarized with the California retail food code.  Armando believes the resources that SBDC provides in conjunction with his many years of experience in the restaurant and food service industry will be extremely beneficial to the clients he serves.

Bryce Root

Marketing Advisor

As a career marketing strategist, Bryce Root has always held many different marketing roles for organizations ranging from non-profits to global ad agencies and large-scale retail destinations attracting shoppers in the tens of millions. Over the last 20 years, Bryce has acquired a highly diverse skill set that he has now packaged to help California’s ever-growing Central Coast business community.  As the owner of a regional business marketing consultancy, Bryce provides comprehensive marketing services to new and established businesses across all industries who want to elevate their traffic, sales, and overall brand exposure and it’s this unique experience that he brings to his work with the SBDC.

Bryce graduated with a BA degree from Pacific Lutheran University in Recreation Management and Exercise Science, which he used to open his own professional cycling coaching business upon graduation while four short years later he graduated from the University of San Francisco with a MA degree in Sports Business with a concentration in Sports Marketing.

Bashir Shah

Business Advisor

Bashir Shah was Vice President of K&S Transportation from 2004 to 2011. He guided K&S from a staff of 4 to 50 employees in 4 years. Bashir was instrumental in shaping company policy, organization-culture, human resources,

accounts receivables and attracting government contracts. Bashir has worked with a variety of start-ups and developing businesses. He has hands-on experience in product

launching, product marketing, contract management, project management and human resources.

Today, as a Professor at Devry University, Bashir shares his business knowledge with students from a wide socioeconomic background. He is also working on a Doctorate in Business Administration. For the SBDC, Bashir teaches the Practical Business Planning class, supports the Pittsburg and Baypoint Chamber of Commerce, and is active in the community promoting the Pittsburg/Baypoint Enterprise Zone.

Bashir grew up in a family business in Pittsburg, Ca. At age 19 he joined the US Air Force where he learned leadership and responsibility. He served 6 tours of duty during the Afghan War and Iraq war.

Bashir has a Masters of Business Administration (2011) and a Masters in the Science of Management (2009) from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.

Stilson Snow

Business Advisor

Formerly the Lead Business Advisor at the North Coast SBDC, Stilson Snow has over forty years of diverse experience in a variety of fields. He has worked in major corporations, small companies, and has owned several of his own businesses. Among his own businesses have been a management consulting firm and an educational film production and distribution company specializing in medical subjects. He also was on the leading edge of the very first wave of video rental businesses and has had a flight instruction/charter flying business. Stilson has been a professional writer and editor, penning a weekly newspaper column as well as feature magazine articles. In his spare time he enjoys photography and writing novels.

Debbie Toste

BizNet Coordinator

Debbie has been newly recruited as BizNet Coordinator of the North Coast Small Business Development Center. She comes with over 20 years of local small business experience along with an International business background.

As part of her role, she is responsible for providing useful information and tools for creating a small business as well as connecting clients with the right Business Advisor and promoting our services.

Debbie is an Humboldt State University graduate, having completed her BA in French with a minor in Spanish. She then obtained her Master’s degree in French at San Francisco State University. Debbie spent the last several years studying and working in Paris and Singapore. While living abroad, she had the opportunity to do what she loves most:  traveling, hiking and exploring different cultures.

In her free time, Debbie enjoys spending time with her family and being back home in Humboldt County. She has a great love for her community and is ready to help it flourish. 

Debbie Toste

BizNet Coordinator

Debbie has been newly recruited as BizNet Coordinator of the North Coast Small Business Development Center. She comes with over 20 years of local small business experience along with an International business background.

As part of her role, she is responsible for providing useful information and tools for creating a small business as well as connecting clients with the right Business Advisor and promoting our services.

Debbie is an Humboldt State University graduate, having completed her BA in French with a minor in Spanish. She then obtained her Master’s degree in French at San Francisco State University. Debbie spent the last several years studying and working in Paris and Singapore. While living abroad, she had the opportunity to do what she loves most:  traveling, hiking and exploring different cultures.

In her free time, Debbie enjoys spending time with her family and being back home in Humboldt County. She has a great love for her community and is ready to help it flourish. 

Amber Wier

Business Advisor

Amber Wier specializes in general start-up and business counseling for sole proprietorships. Amber has firsthand experience in art/craft business development, at home business set up, gallery, art shows, special event development, grass-roots and creative marketing, as well as general business practices.

Rosie Zepeda

Business Advisor

Speaker, communication/Business Consultant Rosie is the creator of Compelling Conversations (TM), a transformational communication business system for success in sales, public speaking, peak performance and empowerment leadership. She helps entrepreneurs, leaders and organizations find success by learning to alter their language in order to effectively deliver the right message to their target market for consistent business success. She is an expert in sales, marketing and strategic plans for increasing cash flows. Spanish/English

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It all starts here. Complete the application and submit your request. A member of the SBDC will follow up with you and help you achieve your small business goals -- at no cost to you.
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Funded in part through cooperative agreements with the U.S. Small Business Administration, the California Governors Office for Business and Economic Development, and other private and public partners;  and nationally accredited by the association of SBDCs.