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Lead Consultants

Lead Consultant/ Bilingual

Jesse Esparza

As the CEO of Morning Sun Enterprises LLC, Jesse has provided guidance and supported to a variety of individuals, organizations and companies. At the present he is a certified counselor and is a business advisor to the East Colorado, the Boulder and North Metro Small Business Development Centers.

He is also certified as a Health Coverage Guide counselor for small business owners, providing direction and support for their small business healthcare needs.

He has counseled and provided needed services and resources to over 400 new potential and existing entrepreneurs. He is also currently a Board member of the Carbon Valley Chamber in Firestone, Colorado and the President of the Latino Chamber of Commerce of Boulder County. He is a member of the Advisory Board for the Boulder County Work Force.

His professional career has included 31 years as an educator 21 of those years as a principal. His leadership skills include helping individual improve their performance, cross cultural education, improving organizations, business development, and tapping potential and appropriate resources. He was the Colorado Small Business Development Center volunteer of the year in 2007 and the Small Business Development Center Counselor of the Year in 2009.

Financial Management and Lending

Karen Patel

Karen brings an enormous wealth of economic and business industry experience to her clients. The understanding of day to day business challenges and opportunities serves clients well from 25 years in financial management and commercial lending.  Her integrity in building relationships shines through with her personable and trustworthy demeanor.  Providing a high-touch level of service, Karen focuses on each client’s need for learning, understanding and executing the strategies that are implemented.

With regional, national, and international contacts and economic development experience, Karen is able to provide resources and networks to strengthen her clients’ overall position. With a formal education in accounting and management from St. Norbert College, there is a structure and discipline present to constantly review and track all implemented strategies of her clients’ plans.  She sits on numerous community and non-profit board of directors keeping her in decision-making company with other successful leaders.

As a business owner herself, Karen understands the needs of small businesses and is passionate about helping entrepreneurs lay the foundation of sound financial principles and practices.  Starting at the age of 9, her strong work ethic allowed her to see the value of the dollar.  As a young teen, she confirmed her vision to reap rewards from her disciplined saving.   She saved, spent and paid taxes realizing there must be better ways to manage her small fortune.  Knowing that not everyone has the knowledge, experience or professional contacts to assist them, Karen strives to assist her lifelong clients and those referred to her by satisfied clients.

Karen has a variety of licenses and certifications, including being a certified family business specialist (CFBS), certification in Long-Term Care (CLTC), registrations for her Series 6, 63, 65 and 7, along with her Life and Health license. She is very proactive with current and prospective clients, which she goes about by holding educational events like business owner symposiums, seminars and workshops for business owners and other financially related topics.

Outside of her practice, Karen enjoys hobbies and recreations like cooking and baking, gardening, rooting for her favorite NFL Teams, eclectic arts and crafts, winetasting, golf and traveling internationally. She has been married for over 25 years and has three marvelous children who together keep the family laughing and active.

Lead Consultant

Adrian Hovey

When I first entered Naval service fresh out of college, one of the lieutenants gave me some advice that I have never forgotten. When asked how to succeed he paused for a moment, then replied “Show up on time and wear black socks.”  At the time it was strange advice, but I took it to heart and over the years it has come to be a defining philosophy.

 

To me, it is a gentle yet firm reminder to be present in all that you do and respect not only your time but the time of others. With all of the wonderful distractions competing for our attention, it’s more important than ever to stay focused on people, enrich relationships, and take part in quality interactions that make life meaningful. I do that now through my role as a Financial Advisor at Edward Jones and as a consultant for the North Metro Denver SBDCC.

 

After graduating from Cornell University, I served as an officer in the Navy for six years. Following that I began a professional career that included management consulting, operations, sales and marketing across many different industries. Along the way, I developed a love for small businesses and entrepreneurship and went back to school for an MBA. I have started several small businesses, and continue to serve as an MBA academic advisor for Cornell University and Queen’s University.

 

Outside of the office, you’ll find me outside on the Open Space trails and parks with my wife, son and daughter jogging, biking, playing lacrosse and enjoying the outdoor life in Colorado. I love to cook, hike, fish, solve crosswords and read (recommendations welcome) as much as I am able, but not as much as I should.

Lead Consultant

Nancy Barnett

Nancy has 25 years of experience in corporate training, human resources, and vocational business training. Nancy’s passion is helping business owners start or improve their businesses by understanding all the components to build a strong business foundation. She takes great pleasure in helping owners with strategic planning and business plan development. She spent ten years at national Education College in California, as a teacher, Business Department Chairperson and Director of Education, as well as 14 years with AAA Colorado as Director of Corporate Training before joining Suzy to create Apis Business Solutions.

Besides working side-by-side with Suzy to build Apis Business Solutions, she is a trainer and consultant at the SBDC (Small Business Development Center) Metro Denver focusing on small business development as start-ups. She also designs and manages business training delivered through Apis. She and her husband, David have four grown children and eight grandchildren. In her free time, she enjoys genealogy, bead embroidery and collecting antiques.

Nancy’s areas of expertise are:

  • Business Plans
  • Start-up questions-how to file documents to get your business up and running
  • Defining Overall Marketing Strategy
  • Using Quick Books data in your business
Lead Consultant - Marketing

Megan Bortner

Megan has over 10 years of experience in marketing strategy consulting, digital marketing, and analytics. She started her career consulting for Fortune 500 businesses which taught her best-in-class methodologies that she now applies to small businesses. Megan understands the challenges of starting and running a business, as she herself co-founded a small consultancy. Megan is classically trained in business and holds her MBA from Purdue University.

Lead Consultant

John Henry

After 14 years at United Parcel Service covering assignments from delivery driver to division manager, John was recruited by FedEx to join the team that drafted the initial operation plan which served a 25 city network. Over the next 13 years he was responsible for the development of several key managers accountable for budgets in excess of $140 million. As Managing Director of Canada his team was responsible for the simultaneous opening of ground operations and airline interface facilities in nine cities across the country. This coupled with the role he played in the U.S startup, along with similar assignments while at UPS, sharpened and tested his organizational and planning skills. As if that wasn’t enough, he took on the challenge of founder/owner of Transamerican Couriers Ltd., a local courier company engaged in same day and next day services along the Front Range.

For the last 25 years he has been teaching business and management courses, including Small Business Management, at Front Range Community College. During that span he has provided guidance, counseling and experience sharing with many students in their pursuit of careers in the business community.

John’s areas of expertise include:

  • Start Ups
  • Strategic Planning
  • Operations Analysis
  • Leadership Development
  • Cash/Cost Management
  • Industrial Engineering
Lead Consultant/ Veteran’s Specialist

Ron O’Herron

As a seasoned strategic management-operations business development consultant with more than 30 years of successful corporate management and consulting experience, Ron has extensive knowledge and expertise in both domestic and international business operations. His focus and methodology are structured and directed at helping businesses operations and people, research, plan and implement both short and long-term goals for both personal and business successful growth. He has worked with companies ranging in size from $250 thousand to $500 million in annual revenues.  His industry exposure includes Aerospace, Luxury Boat Manufacturing, Banking, Forensic Structural Engineering, Government Contracting, Metal Fabrication, Oil & Gas, Plastics Manufacturing and Telecommunications.  Ron was honored as the Colorado SBDC Consultant of the Year for 2015.

Ron grew up and graduated from college in Iowa, which he attended on a football scholarship and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Business. He later enhanced his education with Management MBA’s in Business Law from Cornell and Strategic Business Development from Michigan. After college he served as a platoon leader in Vietnam with the 1st Armored Cavalry. Prior to going into the consulting arena, he spent 10 years as the president of an International Electronic Capital Equipment Manufacturing company with 15 domestic offices, 1 in Canada and 5 in Europe.  He and his wife, Sheri, are avid outdoor people with four children and eight grandchildren.

Ron’s areas of expertise are:

  • Business Development
  • Manufacturing
  • Strategic Management
  • Operations
  • Veterans
Lead/Manufacturing Consultant

Jon Jaggers

Jon is a seasoned operations consultant, specializing in optimizing organizational capabilities through implementing process systems, application of lean techniques, and developing strategic plans. He has twenty plus years of operational management experience with several Fortune 500 companies. He has been a Lead Consultant for SBDC for the last five years.

Jon utilizes a methodical approach in developing organizational capabilities through strategic planning, tactical initiatives, and operational accountability. He is a certified in lean operational techniques, that when applied drive process excellence while delivering superb customer value. He assists clients in applying metrics to measure and improve key performance indicators.

His focus is on small to medium size company’s strategic and tactical plan development and execution. He has had the opportunity over the last five years to consult with numerous companies that have financially grown and prospered.

Jon has a BA in Business Administration and an MBA in Organizational Leadership from Ashford University. He was awarded State SBDC Consultant of the Year in 2015 for his contribution to his clients for economic development.

Marketing

Lead Consultant - Marketing

Megan Bortner

Megan has over 10 years of experience in marketing strategy consulting, digital marketing, and analytics. She started her career consulting for Fortune 500 businesses which taught her best-in-class methodologies that she now applies to small businesses. Megan understands the challenges of starting and running a business, as she herself co-founded a small consultancy. Megan is classically trained in business and holds her MBA from Purdue University.

Marketing

Kendra Fernandez

Kendra Fernandez is the founder and owner of Fernandez Business Development. Ms. Fernandez received her bachelors of science in marketing from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. She furthered her education by attending Regis University, where she received a Master’s in Business Administration with an emphasis in Strategic Management. Ms. Fernandez has held marketing positions for several well-known organizations, including: Costco Wholesale, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Life Care Centers of America, HCR ManorCare, the City of Federal Heights, and a few privately own healthcare facilities in the Denver Metro Area. After completing the MBA program at Regis, Ms. Fernandez wanted to give back to the community by assisting small to medium sizes business with marketing and strategy services in order to accomplish their goals, which led to the founding of Fernandez Business Development. She has demonstrated her ability to formulate and implement marketing strategies, which have resulted in exceeding organizational goals.

Kendra’s areas of expertise include:

  • Marketing including marketing plan formulation and implementation
  • Strategic Management including strategy formulation and implementation
  • Inbound (Online) Marketing: website design and management, social media marketing, email marketing, etc.
Marketing Strategy & Planning

Mike Saunders

Mike Saunders holds an MBA in Marketing and is a Business Strategist and a Marketing Fanatic.

He helps Small Business Owners with his proprietary system called “CA-TA-SA” to make sure that their business growth is maximized by: Reputation, Reach, Resell and Referral. 

What sets him apart from other business advisors is that he combines personalized the academic Strategy with cutting-edge Tactics.

He is the author of Amazon Bestselling book Authority Selling™, contributor to The Huffington Post, Adjunct Marketing Professor at several Universities and member of the Forbes Coaches Council – an invitation-only community for the World’s Most Influential Business and Career Coaches.

As an Authority Marketing Strategist, Mike helps business owners build their Authority and Expertise to enhance their Competitive Advantage by helping them become an Amazon bestselling author without writing a word. The result is a spectacular Authority Positioning Portfolio™ which is the solution for opening more doors to closing more business.

Limited complimentary copies of my 162 pg. book, Authority Selling™ that Tom Hopkins endorsed are available for shipment, and give away. Details at: http://authoritysellingbook.com/

Marketing Consultant

Peter Brissette

Peter has more than fifteen years successful experience in B2B and B2C sales and marketing for small businesses.

Working in such industries as advertising, automotive, catering, financial services, computer hardware and software, senior care, high tech manufacturing, internet marketing, consumer electronics, video security and many more.

Peter can walk a small business through a discovery process to uncover the key factors that will differentiate them from their competition. This differentiation will oil the machine of digital marketing for business growth.

Peter has expertise in the following areas: Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Website Development, Internet Marketing, Video Marketing, Email Marketing, Mobile Marketing, Content Creation, Product Development, Social Media Marketing, etc.

He is an expert at creating digital platforms, systems and tools for small businesses.

Financial

CPA - Financial Accounting

Lauren Kmetz

Lauren Kmetz is a Certified Public Accountant with a dedication to help entrepreneurs achieve financial success on their own terms. She consults on accounting and tax topics, helping business owners get organized financially, pursue tax optimization strategies, and reduce stress over money. Lauren received her Business Administration degree from Colorado State University and her Master’s in Accounting from University of Colorado Denver.

Financial Management and Lending

Karen Patel

Karen brings an enormous wealth of economic and business industry experience to her clients. The understanding of day to day business challenges and opportunities serves clients well from 25 years in financial management and commercial lending.  Her integrity in building relationships shines through with her personable and trustworthy demeanor.  Providing a high-touch level of service, Karen focuses on each client’s need for learning, understanding and executing the strategies that are implemented.

With regional, national, and international contacts and economic development experience, Karen is able to provide resources and networks to strengthen her clients’ overall position. With a formal education in accounting and management from St. Norbert College, there is a structure and discipline present to constantly review and track all implemented strategies of her clients’ plans.  She sits on numerous community and non-profit board of directors keeping her in decision-making company with other successful leaders.

As a business owner herself, Karen understands the needs of small businesses and is passionate about helping entrepreneurs lay the foundation of sound financial principles and practices.  Starting at the age of 9, her strong work ethic allowed her to see the value of the dollar.  As a young teen, she confirmed her vision to reap rewards from her disciplined saving.   She saved, spent and paid taxes realizing there must be better ways to manage her small fortune.  Knowing that not everyone has the knowledge, experience or professional contacts to assist them, Karen strives to assist her lifelong clients and those referred to her by satisfied clients.

Karen has a variety of licenses and certifications, including being a certified family business specialist (CFBS), certification in Long-Term Care (CLTC), registrations for her Series 6, 63, 65 and 7, along with her Life and Health license. She is very proactive with current and prospective clients, which she goes about by holding educational events like business owner symposiums, seminars and workshops for business owners and other financially related topics.

Outside of her practice, Karen enjoys hobbies and recreations like cooking and baking, gardening, rooting for her favorite NFL Teams, eclectic arts and crafts, winetasting, golf and traveling internationally. She has been married for over 25 years and has three marvelous children who together keep the family laughing and active.

Lead Consultant

Adrian Hovey

When I first entered Naval service fresh out of college, one of the lieutenants gave me some advice that I have never forgotten. When asked how to succeed he paused for a moment, then replied “Show up on time and wear black socks.”  At the time it was strange advice, but I took it to heart and over the years it has come to be a defining philosophy.

 

To me, it is a gentle yet firm reminder to be present in all that you do and respect not only your time but the time of others. With all of the wonderful distractions competing for our attention, it’s more important than ever to stay focused on people, enrich relationships, and take part in quality interactions that make life meaningful. I do that now through my role as a Financial Advisor at Edward Jones and as a consultant for the North Metro Denver SBDCC.

 

After graduating from Cornell University, I served as an officer in the Navy for six years. Following that I began a professional career that included management consulting, operations, sales and marketing across many different industries. Along the way, I developed a love for small businesses and entrepreneurship and went back to school for an MBA. I have started several small businesses, and continue to serve as an MBA academic advisor for Cornell University and Queen’s University.

 

Outside of the office, you’ll find me outside on the Open Space trails and parks with my wife, son and daughter jogging, biking, playing lacrosse and enjoying the outdoor life in Colorado. I love to cook, hike, fish, solve crosswords and read (recommendations welcome) as much as I am able, but not as much as I should.

Financial Resource - CEF

Lewis Hagler

Lewis Hagler is the Director of Lending for Colorado Enterprise Fund’s loan operations. Mr. Hagler joined CEF in 1994. Previously, he was the Director of the SBDC in Boulder. He is an entrepreneur with over 35 years’ experience owning and operating many successful business ventures, with special knowledge of the restaurant and food service industry. He has served as a business consultant and trainer for numerous projects. Mr. Hagler’s financial analysis skills, extensive contacts, and “real-life” entrepreneurial knowledge make him uniquely qualified to manage CEF’s marketing efforts and structure loan requests.

Financial Resource - TBK Bank

Valerie Escatel

Valerie Escatel is a lender / Branch manager with TBK Bank. Valerie represents the only bank in Brighton that is locally and family owned with a strong belief in community.

Valerie is an individual with high integrity who believes in personalizing her service to offer products meeting the needs of your company. She is a long time Brighton resident with two children.

Valerie has been a banker and servant of the community for 31 years. She was instrumental in the creation and service of the Brighton Small Business Resource Center which evolved into the North Metro Denver SBDC at Brighton and has volunteered as Chair of Brighton Economic Development Corporation Business Resources for the past ten years.

Awards & Recognition:

  • Brighton Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year 2013
  • 2013 Mary Ciancio Memorial Distinguished Service Award
  • Colorado Philanthropy Volunteer of the Year Award – 2014
  • 7 Everyday Hero – 2014

Legal

Intellectual Property Law

Samantha Peaslee

Samantha Peaslee is an international business and intellectual property law attorney for small- to medium-sized businesses and non-profits. Her practice focuses on entity formation, copyright registration and litigation, trademark registration and litigation, business transactions (cross-border and local), international commercial arbitration, and commercial and civil litigation. She also serves as general counsel for small businesses and non-profits.

Samantha has a J.D. from University of Denver Sturm College of Law, an M.A. from Josef Korbel School of International Studies, and a B.A. from Middlebury College. She placed first in the 5th Annual Shanghai International Commercial Arbitration Pre-Moot in 2015 and was a quarterfinalist in the 12th Annual William C. Vis (East) International Commercial Moot, where she also was the fourth best oralist overall. At Sturm College of Law, Samantha was Senior Managing Editor of Denver Journal for International Law and Policy and published her article “Is There a Place For Us?: Protecting Fan Fiction in the United States and Japan” in its Winter 2015 issue. In addition to her work and research in international business and intellectual property, Ms. Peaslee also researched extensively on state, national, and international energy laws with Professor K.K. DuVivier at Sturm College of Law and piracy issues with the Ved Nanda Center for International and Comparative Law.

Originally from Alexandria, LA, Samantha has also lived in Vermont, Maine, North Carolina, France, and South Korea. She speaks fluent French and can read Italian and some Korean. She has taught English as a second language in Paris at Montmartre After-School studies and in Seoul at Chungdahm April (Mapo). She currently furthers her international interests as a member of Denver’s Alliance Francaise, Denver Sister Cities Takayama, World Denver, and Denver World Trade Center’s NextGen Steering Committee. Samantha also continues to coach the University of Denver Vis Moot team.

An avid supporter of the arts, Samantha works with visual and performing artists to protect and promote their works. At Middlebury College, Samantha was a member of the Middlebury College Musical Players. Her capstone with that group was directing a performance of West Side Story in April 2010. Samantha was also involved in dance (notably tap) and choir. Although not actively performing, Samantha now supports the arts through membership in the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts and Colorado Attorneys for the Arts. She is also a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers.

Samantha is also a member of the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce.

Education:

  • University of Denver, Josef Korbel School of International Studies (M.A. in International Studies, 2015)
  • University of Denver, Sturm College of Law (J.D.; Order of St. Ives; International Law Certificate, 2015)
  • Middlebury College (B.A. in International Studies, 2010)

Bar Admissions: Colorado

General Legal

Margrit Parker

Before entering private practice, Margrit Lent Parker served as a judicial law clerk for Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey of the Colorado Supreme Court, and as a judicial law clerk for federal Magistrate Judge William Beaman in Cheyenne, Wyoming. In law school, Margrit completed internships with Colorado Supreme Court Justice Allison Eid, the Denver U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the Denver City Attorney’s Office Litigation Section.

Margrit is a leader in the community, and her work was featured in the February 13, 2015 issue of the Denver Business Journal. Recipient of the Denver Bar Association’s 2014 award for Young Lawyer of the Year. Margrit played an integral role in researching and developing what is now the Colorado Attorney Mentoring Program, which was developed through the Chief Justice Commission on Professional Development. From 2009-2011, Margrit was the Colorado and Wyoming District Representative to the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division. In that role, and in the following years, Margrit formed and chaired a Colorado Bar Association committee tasked with renewing Colorado’s disaster legal services plan for providing volunteer legal assistance to disaster victims. Margrit was part of the team that implemented the revived program during the state’s 2012 wildfires and 2013 floods.

​Prior to law school, Margrit completed a dual major in Zoology and Equine Science at Colorado State University, after which she worked at a Thoroughbred breeding farm and an equine veterinary hospital, both in Kentucky. Drawing on her horse and legal experience, Margrit has contributed articles and presentations to the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association and the American Veterinary Medical Law Association. Margrit also served on the Board of the Colorado Horse Council in 2015 and 2016, and has served on its Legislative and Regulatory Committee.

Other Specialists

Bilingual Consultant

Stephanie San German

Stephanie San German is a bicultural/bilingual small business owner with extensive leadership experience. For 10 years Stephanie has managed and owned properties. She is also the owner of a complementary health and wellness business.

In addition, Stephanie has professional experience as a project manager, supervisor, trainer and leadership coach. She worked for 7 years in the field of disaster response and recovery; 10 years in the field of environmental science research, and; 4 years in the language service industry. As a former international scholar, Stephanie has lived, studied and worked  in the US, Australia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Germany.

Ms. San German is passionate about people turning their dreams into reality, especially supporting start-ups and Latino owned initiatives grow into profitable businesses. She spends her free time with family, friends and her dogs enjoying the simple pleasures of life–good food, exploring the outdoors or dancing!

Lead/Manufacturing Consultant

Jon Jaggers

Jon is a seasoned operations consultant, specializing in optimizing organizational capabilities through implementing process systems, application of lean techniques, and developing strategic plans. He has twenty plus years of operational management experience with several Fortune 500 companies. He has been a Lead Consultant for SBDC for the last five years.

Jon utilizes a methodical approach in developing organizational capabilities through strategic planning, tactical initiatives, and operational accountability. He is a certified in lean operational techniques, that when applied drive process excellence while delivering superb customer value. He assists clients in applying metrics to measure and improve key performance indicators.

His focus is on small to medium size company’s strategic and tactical plan development and execution. He has had the opportunity over the last five years to consult with numerous companies that have financially grown and prospered.

Jon has a BA in Business Administration and an MBA in Organizational Leadership from Ashford University. He was awarded State SBDC Consultant of the Year in 2015 for his contribution to his clients for economic development.

Human Resources

Courtney Berg

Business humorist Courtney Berg turns typical HR and management issues into fun learning experiences. She draws from her years of human resources and operations management experience to bring boring employment concepts to life. Courtney has built HR departments from the ground up and has experience from front line supervision to vice president in both HR and operations in a variety of industries. Her goal is to bring her knowledge and experience to business owners, making management easier for them.Courtney is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR). In December 2008, Courtney was featured in a “How To Conduct Annual Employee Reviews” in Inc. Magazine. Courtney is also a 2009 Denver Business Journal “Outstanding Women In Business” nominee. She received the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce “Chamber Champion” award in 2011. Courtney has a BS in Business Administration with an emphasis in Management from the University of Northern Colorado.

Courtney’s areas of expertise are:

  • HR issues
  • Hiring
  • Firing
  • Employee Relations
  • Unemployment claims
  • Background checks
  • Company culture
  • Time management
  • New hire paperwork
Child Care Consultant

Dawn Alexander

Dawn received her Master’s degree in Public Administration and has worked in child care for 15+ years, holding roles such as a licensed home provider, a licensing specialist, and a health and safety specialist at the Health Department.

Dawn has been consulting for the past year, working to help child care programs be as effective as possible. Dawn loves creative solutions and building frameworks of support with business owners that enable them to sustain and thrive. Dawn and her husband have three kids.