Napa Sonoma SBDCSanta Rosa and Napa, California

Our Team

The Napa-Sonoma SBDC is staffed with experienced leaders who assist SBDC clients grow and develop their businesses.


Mary Cervantes, MPA


Mary manages, supervises, and markets SBDC programs and services in both Napa and Sonoma Counties. Mary provides assistance with all aspects of business planning and development.

Mary's background includes 12 years in economic development for Merced County prior to locating in Sonoma County with her family in 2010. Mary holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from California State University, Sacramento and a Master of Public Administration from California State University, Stanislaus.

Mariana Almaraz

Business Advisor

Mariana was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco Mexico. In 1997 she graduated from the University of Guadalajara with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. In the same year, she came to the U.S to study English, Math and QuickBooks.

From 2009 to 2015, Mariana worked in the management department of a large company, and, in 2015, she decided to open her own business. Mariana is also a NxLeveL graduate. In 2016, Mariana joined the Napa-Sonoma SBDC to work with the Hispanic business community and share her passion for entrepreneurship. She teaches classes in Spanish in Sonoma and Napa counties.

Cathy Balach, MBA, MIM

Online Marketing & Website Specialist - Instructor & Lead Business Advisor

Cathy Balach is a marketing advisor and is passionate about all things online marketing -- especially website design, content development, email communications, and marketing media.

Cathy has worked for PepsiCo, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, and three startups of her ow. With over 10 years of experience consulting and mentoring small businesses, Cathy has worked with hundreds of start-up and growing businesses in the North Bay.Industry-wise, she's worked with many types of small businesses, including retail (online and bricks-and-mortar), food businesses, and nonprofits.

In her free time, she's a bicycling enthusiast who loves working with bicycle fundraisers and taking cycling vacations.

Michael Basayne

Finance, Succession and Transition Planning, Business Performance

Mike joined the Napa Sonoma Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in 2009, and assists clients with business performance planning, to include sustainable best practices, sourcing financing, succession and transition, and land use planning.   He teaches various workshops through Napa Valley College. With a background in finance, consulting, and government, and a focus on agriculture and the wine industry, Mike holds degrees and certification in business and finance from St. Mary’s College, U.C. Berkeley, and University of Washington.  He is a strong advocate of staying engaged and embracing continuous improvement to enhance one’s skills.  

His banking career began in agriculture in the California’s San Joaquin Valley, when ranchers were becoming real estate developers.   Eventually Mike’s scope of work-included California’s winegrowing regions, where he worked with grape growers, engaging in vineyard development and winery operations.  Later as a consultant he developed succession and transition plans for families, which included business valuation, construction, project management, and performance planning.   


Marie Bianco

Sustainable Ag and Hospitality

Marie provides assistance in the area of sustainable agriculture and hospitality.

Paul Bozzo, MBA

Business Advisor - Business Planning, Equity Capital, SBA Lending, Startups

Paul’s background blends over 25 years of professional experience in start-up strategy, business planning, angel/VC financing, SBA lending and crowdfunding. Paul’s specialty is working with entrepreneurial ventures to refine their business model, create an investment-driven business plan and prepare an effective funding pitch. He also advises CEOs and founding teams on these common start-up issues: legal entity selection, equity financing structures, financial forecasting and exit strategies.

Tom Camerato, MBA

Business Planning, Sales and Marketing, Legal Structure and Finance

Tom is a private consultant, a business owner and an investor for nearly 20 years, Tom calls himself a Financial Strategist, one who integrates Business Strategy with Financial Management. In private practice, Tom's early focus was on the Pharmaceutical and Biotech industries and their growth strategies through acquisition, licensing and partnering. In recent years, Tom's clients have covered a range of industries, and sizes and include business expansions (both organic and through acquisitions), start-ups and turnarounds.

Tom’s educational background includes Master’s Degrees in both Biochemistry and Business Administration from the University of California, Berkeley and Carnegie Mellon University.

Sheila Cargill

Finance and SBA Loans

Sheila is a skilled, reliable and professional business project manager, assisting her clients in all aspects of business planning and strategies.

Through her long experience in banking as Senior Vice President of both Summit State Bank and National Bank of the Redwoods, where she served as a SBA loan officer and administrator, Sheila is very helpful in providing information to help her clients chart a path to succeed in their steps to growth and their financial goals.

Cynthia Cope, MBA

Business Advisor, Generalist

As a recent small business owner, Cynthia Cope has firsthand knowledge of what needs to change in order for entrepreneurs to achieve success! She helps small business owners and startups to complete their business plans and financials to attract capital. She also works with start-ups to more effectively market to their target audience to attract more paying clients.

Most recently, Cynthia spent fifteen years growing and selling a small business located in Marin and Sonoma County. Prior to this, Cynthia spent six years as a business consultant and ten years as both a marketing and financial analyst.

Cynthia has an economics degree from Mills College and an MBA from UC Berkeley. 

John DeGaetano

Business Planning, Sales and Marketing, Legal Structure and Finance

John DeGaetano is a former bank executive with a strong background in management and leadership. DeGaetano has extensive experience in administration, marketing, sales planning, training, operations, auditing, project management and financial analysis.

John recently served as First Vice President and Regional Manager for a community bank in the Bay Area where he played a major role in the bank’s growth development. 

John is a graduate of Ohio University with a Bachelor of Arts degree and recently earned the national designation Northern California’s State Star for his outstanding performance in assisting small businesses. John is a certified NxLevel instructor in addition to advising new and existing business owners in the areas of business planning, sales and marketing and finance.  

Evert Fernandez

Sales, Marketing, Financial Planning, Training, Presentation and Customer Service

Evert Fernandez is a bilingual (English/Spanish) small business consultant. He has an extensive background in sales, marketing, financial planning, training, presentation and customer service. He is experienced in a variety of corporate environments with small, mid and fortune 500 companies. He has exceptional success in community involvement, projects, events and fund raising. In addition, he is a founding member of the Sonoma County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.  Evert meets with clients in Santa Rosa.

Carolynne Gamble, MFA


Carolynne provides assistance with graphic design, branding, advertising, marketing strategies, marketing plans, publications and public relations.  She specializes in Facebook marketing and E-marketing campaigns in Constant Contact or Vertical Response.  Carolynne has an MFA from San Francisco State in Art/Communications and a BA in English from Pepperdine University.  She has been a business advisor with NVC Small Business Development Center for ten years.

Jerry Jinnett

Marketing Consultant and Market Research Specialist

From 1977 to 1985, Jerry Ann Jinnett was the owner of Sunshine Art Products, a business designing and manufacturing stained glass and pressed flower giftware sold at art/craft shows, through manufacturers’ representatives and in gift shops. 

In 1986, Jinnett formed Out of Your Mind…and Into the Marketplace. As a partnership, the company specialized in writing, publishing, and marketing step-by-step “how-to” books and workshops for entrepreneurs. 

Jinnett currently works with the Napa-Sonoma SBDC as a business advisor, workshop presenter, and researcher providing clients and other consultants with in-depth market research reports to enable them to create cost-effective solutions to business challenges.

Al Lerma photo

Al Lerma

Business Advisor

Al is a career economic development professional who launched ImpactNow Advisors, an independent economic development, research and govt. affairs consulting advisory firm in 2019. He has over three decades of experience in providing economic development services to city, county and state governments and minority communities. ​He is passionate about assisting small businesses in obtaining access to capital through banks or small business micro loan programs and helping your business to get loan ready. He previously managed San Francisco’s Small Business Revolving Loan Fund for over a decade that provided loans for hundreds of small businesses that could not access traditional sources of capital for business startup or business expansion projects.

He holds a B.A. in Economics & Journalism and an MPA in Public Finance both from Indiana University. As a diehard Hoosier he loves watching college and NBA basketball and March Madness.

Herb Liberman

Business Management, Start-up Strategies, Planning, Loans, Sales, Marketing, Manufacturing and Finance

Herb Liberman’s consulting work at the SBDC involves the following areas of expertise: human resource management, business start-up strategies, business plan development, acquiring capital through loans, sales and marketing, manufacturing, and finance. He also teaches a course on Business Planning for the SBDC.

Herb’s experience in these areas was developed through working in four different business and educational environments. His experience includes working as a teacher and school administrator, including Superintendent of Schools, in public education, Operations Manager for company that manufactured automotive car care products, as well as a Director of a post-secondary school, which trained students to be computer programmers, technicians and word processing specialists.


Malinalli López

Business Advisor

Malinalli López is a business advisor with the Napa-Sonoma SBDC. She is also the CEO of XQL media, a company dedicated to producing films, educational and commercial videos, websites, podcasts, social media campaigns and digital tools. She teaches Cinema part-time at Sonoma State University and is a graduate of U.C.Berkeley with a B.A. in Chicano/a Studies.

Anni Minuzzo

Specialty food and beverage industry

Anni Minuzzo has over 30 years’ experience in the specialty food and beverage industry, 20 of which were spent owning a wholesale baking company. Anni Minuzzo has a broad network of professional associations and a long lens on the culture of food & beverage.  Her products achieved international sales with a customer base that included Williams-Sonoma, Dean & Deluca, Neiman-Marcus, Whole Foods, and 1-800-FLOWERS.

For the past 10 years Minuzzo has been sharing her expertise through start-up and expansion workshops for food entrepreneurs in several Northern California Small Business Development Centers.  She also provides one-on-one counseling through this program as well as coaching and consulting on a private basis.


Molly O'Kane

Business Advisor

Your customers are looking for you right now. This second. It's time you made it easy for them to find you! That's where SBDC marketing advisor Molly comes in. She is passionate about matching the right online marketing strategies with entrepreneurs, no matter how tech-savvy they feel. In the past three years, Molly has assisted businesses in adding over $1 million dollars of additional revenue. The businesses she has worked with have grown between 10-500%.

As a mother of two, Molly loves to cook, travel and explore. Her past speaking engagements including SF Small Business Week, Small Business Administration, Renaissance Entrepreneurial Center, and Urban Solutions.

Ramin Ramhormozi

eCommerce Advisor

Ramin has helped start-up ventures strategize their eCommerce goals, taking their products from concept to market. He focuses mainly on eCommerce platform selection on-site and off-site marketing initiatives, search engine optimization with keyword analysis, social marketing strategies, content curation and creation and road mapping a successful site launch. He has also addressed product data mapping, dropship and fulfillment set-up. Ramin holds a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communications from CSU Los Angeles. He currently resides in Santa Rosa, CA with his wife and three children.

Jeff Sacher

Business Advisor - Commercial Leasing, ABC Licensing, Business Sales, Restaurant Start-ups

Jeff has been a leader in business brokering in the North Bay for more than 20 years. Since beginning his real estate career in 1999, Jeff has assisted buyers and sellers in several hundred business sales and acquisitions, primarily in the food and beverage and restaurant field. Jeff also assists property owners in the sales of commercial and residential properties as well as commercial leasing opportunities for investors. As a consultant, Jeff provides other services for his clients such as business valuations, restaurant consulting and has appeared in court proceedings as an expert witness. As an expeditor with the local Santa Rosa Alcohol and Beverage Control (ABC), he is able to offer fast and effective ABC licensing services and ABC license sales for his clients.

Sandy Stelter, JD, CPO®

General Business Counselor & Organizing Specialist

Owner of Strategic Organizing Solutions since 1994, Sandy provides consultation and hands on professional, customized  organizing, time management and productivity coaching to individuals and businesses.  She is a member of NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) and has served in both local and national board positions. She is an active member of the Fairfield-Suisun Chamber of Commerce.

As a business advisor with the Napa-Sonoma SBDC,  Sandy provides assistance with understanding the business start-up and/or expansion process.  Over the years, Sandy has assisted numerous small business owners achieve their goals of owning and operating their own business. Sandy serves as the lead instructor and mentor for the SBDC's semi-annual NxLeveL® Entrepreneurial Training Program. She also teaches the Business Start-Up classes, Recordkeeping 101, Business Plan classes and TIPs® class.  

Robert Toering, MS

New Product Development

Robert Toering has over a dozen years of experience consulting to CEO’s, business owners and entrepreneurs – providing strategic planning, new business / new product analysis, the development of new products and processes, business plan development and roadmaps for new venture start-up. In addition, Robert’s career includes over a decade as President/CEO of manufacturing and processing companies with 20 to 2,000 employees, and three years in the public sector leading economic development / redevelopment for an industrial city.

Robert’s early management career was in new product development – where he directed the creation and commercialization of numerous products. Robert holds a BSME degree from Purdue University and an MS degree from Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute of Design.  He meets with clients one on one in our Santa Rosa office.

Ed Troxell

Social Media Advisor

Ed Troxell, Founder of Ed Troxell Creative and Creator/Facilitator of the Hey Ed Network, makes starting and running an online business easy for small business owners.

Based out of Northern California, Ed, A.K.A. Tech Man, teaches business owners how to easily show up, deliver, and engage with their audiences online – allowing them to take their businesses to the next level. Ed teaches business owners that it's not just about the number of followers you have online or how great your product is – it's about the engagement and what you bring to the table. 

Ed graduated from Sonoma State University with a Bachelors Degree in Communications, has a Sales & Marketing certification, and has worked both for small and large businesses including The Volunteer Center of Sonoma County and Apple Inc. Ed is a serial entrepreneur who brings a unique skill set to the table, making it very easy for any business to work with him and understand their next steps. 

Janet Wentworth


Janet Wentworth is a small business consultant who works with business owners to help them achieve business success. As the owner of her own marketing company, Janet works with small businesses in a variety of industries, supporting their print and online marketing needs.

More than 20 years’ experience with local technology companies such as Optical Coating Laboratory, Inc. and Computer Associates has given her a strong business, accounting and marketing background, with specific expertise in accounting, branding, product marketing, internet marketing, product introductions and partner relationships.

She has a B.S. degree from the University of California, Davis, earned certificates in Integrated Online Strategies and Search Engine Marketing and Usability from the University of San Francisco, is a Certified Guerrilla Marketing Coach, and is a consultant with the SBDC Technology Advisory Program.  Janet meets with clients in Santa Rosa for one on one business counseling.

Laurie Zerga

SBDC Business Advisor

Laurie is a strategic Business Advisor, accomplished Senior Executive, C-Suite Officer, Consultant, Entrepreneur, Thought Leader, and Board Member with over 25 years of success across financial services, food, international technology and engineering industries. She uses surprising secrets to grow without pain in rapidly changing times.  But very few small businesses use these techniques that allow you to serve a lot more people and increase the bottom line. She is a valuable resource with Marketing, IT, Customer Service, Startups and regulations and P&L accountability from $2M to $45M.

Need Help Starting or Growing your Business?

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 a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA or HSU Sponsored Programs Foundation.