Laurel is an educator, innovator, entrepreneur, and connector with more than 35 years of professional business and education experience. As a VtSBDC Business Advisor and Student/Educator Entrepreneur Specialist, she shares her passion and professionalism when assisting people of all ages in reaching entrepreneurial endeavors and educational pathways. Prior to her work with VtSBDC, Laurel taught business, entrepreneurship, finance, and hospitality/tourism secondary education classes, while coordinating and implementing service learning, co-operative education and internship programs for students. She is also a certified hotel administrator (CHA) with experiences in the hospitality/tourism industry in key operational, general management, marketing, and training and franchise development positions. Laurel has a mission to generate an entrepreneurial “pipeline” and has created and leads several statewide programs that engage secondary students and educators in business/entrepreneurial initiatives.
Although she’s traveled and lived in many parts of the United States and world, Laurel is a 5th generation native Vermonter. As she says — “Vermont is really at my heart. I am grateful to be here living and working at what I love to do, right where I belong.”
Sarah comes to VtSBDC with two decades of experience working in both large companies and start-ups. Prior to moving to Vermont in 2006, Sarah worked in the Boston area for Converse, Inc., focusing on business development in Latin America. After her time at Converse, she worked for a series of start-up companies primarily on the strategy and business development of consumer products. During that time, she also completed her M.B.A. at Babson College. Sarah lives in Middlebury with her husband David, and her two teenagers, Devon and Amanda. You can generally find Sarah at all different types of arts events…or at the hockey rink (watching, not playing)! Sarah speaks Spanish and has advanced proficiency in French.
Steve is the Business Advisor for Northwestern Vermont (Chittenden County) and Hospitality Industry Specialist statewide. He attended the University of Denver earning a BSBA in Hotel & Restaurant Management and MA Economics; served as a USMC combat officer in the Vietnam era. An entrepreneur at heart, Steve developed, owned and operated many successful businesses across the hospitality, wholesale meat & seafood, travel, recreation and fulfillment industries. Steve has been a speaker on several regional and national stages, sharing his entrepreneurial stories and experiences with both start-up, existing businesses.
Charley serves as the Business Advisor for Central Vermont, as well as the Craft Beverage Specialist statewide. Charley joined the VtSBDC family in 2009 as a business consultant before he joined VtSBDC full-time as part of the “Small Business Jobs Act” and then EDA Disaster Preparedness Specialist. In 2014 he became the Area Business Advisor for Central Vermont. Originally from Long Island Charley moved to Vermont in 1987 and opened several businesses before joining VtSBDC.
Sara Munro brings a breadth of experience with Vermont’s small business and non-profit sectors. She has worked in digital marketing, housing, health care, community action, and leadership development and public policy. Her recent work has focused on youth innovation through STEM education, gender equity, and women’s entrepreneurship.
In 2015, Munro founded her business, Bay Haven Consulting, to work directly with small businesses and non-profits around program development, public relations, online fundraising, event planning, and content marketing. She regularly presents social media and digital marketing workshops for new business owners and entrepreneurs. She is also the co-host of #SocialChatter, the longest-running weekly talk show about social media news from Social Chefs.
She holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Public Administration degrees from The University of Vermont. She is a long-standing volunteer with the Junior League of Champlain Valley and a member of the Vermont Technology Alliance and Maine Women in Tech.
Phyllis Ershowsky, APR, CPRC is the Marketing and Communications Specialist for the Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC). She joined VtSBDC as a marketing consultant in January 2020, and was appointed to her current role in March 2022.
Phyllis advances the marketing and communications activities in support of the mission of the VtSBDC. This involves strategic planning, writing, scheduling and distributing press releases, announcements, blog articles, e-newsletters, and working closely with other team members on social media, web content related to organizational initiatives and events. She also serves as a co-advisor for marketing and communications, working as a team with the other VtSBDC advisors.
Prior to joining VtSBDC, Phyllis owned and operated a marketing and public relations firm based in Southwest Florida. Originally from NY, she began her career in marketing for a major cruise line and served as public information officer for county government. She was also vice president of a full-service marketing and public relations firm before opening her own agency, PKE Marketing & PR Solutions where she was a solo entrepreneur and a client of SBDC in Florida. She now lives in Rutland County.
Phyllis received a bachelor’s degree in English from Vassar College, and a master’s in business administration from Dowling College. She is an accredited public relations professional (APR) and a certified public relations counselor (CPRC) and is currently a member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Yankee Chapter.
She is also the author of the children’s book, “Emily and Lucy to the Rescue.” In her off hours, Phyllis enjoys reading, skiing, caring for her sheep, chickens, and dogs, and knitting.
Sergio is a statewide advisor who works with small business owners on ownership transition, financial preparedness, and technology/cybersecurity. His expertise helps clients optimize their time and money, reduce business risks, and make sound business decisions.
Prior to joining VtSBDC, Sergio was a senior associate at JPMorgan Chase & Co. where he led a global project team from finance, technology, and operations to automate financial processes.
A veteran of another Small Business Development Center, he has also served as a finance/technology business analyst and advisor at Delaware’s SBDC.
Sergio is fluent in English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, and Italian. He has lived and worked in Europe and Latin America. During his off hours, Sergio enjoys playing the cello and hiking in the Green Mountains.
With an Associate’s degree in Animal Science from the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, and a Bachelor of Science in Recreation Management and Regional Planning from the University of Massachusetts, Heidi set out on a scenic career path. She has held employment with state, federal, and municipal agencies including work as a coordinator of community development, business manager at a small private high school, and years working as a naturalist in state parks. Heidi has also been involved in nonprofit management as both staff and a board member, and was a co-founder and owner of Umiak Outfitters, a retail and tourism business based in Stowe, VT. Starting at VtSBDC as an advisor for the Vermont Food Venture Center of the Center for Agricultural Economy from 2010-14, Heidi has been a regional advisor in the Northeast Kingdom since 2015. Her specialty is value-added food production, tourism and outdoor recreation.
Debra has been a VtSBDC Business Advisor since 2010. She has an extensive background in both large and small business and the non-profit arena; with experience in marketing, operations management, financial forecasting, and consulting with small business owners to create efficient and profitable businesses. In the wake of Tropical Storm Irene, she has also gained a skill set in disaster recovery which has provided VtSBDC’s advising team and SBDC advisors nationwide with resources for advising on disaster preparation and recovery.
Debra has always had a creative focus to her career; owning and operating three custom framing and art stores, working in publishing, at creative design firms, and with an educational video production company. Debra is a craftsperson whose work has appeared in various galleries and juried art shows in New England. She has a BA in Education and continues to teach craft and writing courses.
Karianne is the Vermont Small Business Development Center’s Business Advisor for Orleans, Essex, and Caledonia counties in the Northeast Kingdom. She provides one-to-one, confidential, no-fee guidance to small business owners at any stage of their business, from start up through transition. As a 9th generation Vermonter with roots in the Northeast Kingdom, she brings lifelong knowledge of the region’s culture to enhance her new role.
Prior to joining VtSBDC, Karianne was an accredited advisor in insurance (AAI) at the Noyle-Johnson Group. She has also served as a Realtor for a major real estate broker, and as an education curriculum director for an early childhood center.
Karianne graduated from Lyndon State College with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and attended a master’s program at Springfield College. She is a member of her local school board.
Scott helps entrepreneurs and companies plan for successful commercialization of their innovative ideas or products. Scott’s work covers many aspects of a product development pathway and is focused helping entrepreneurs see and understand undeveloped aspects of their project that have the potential to jeopardize and/or increase the expense and timeline of the project. His career has spanned from medical device development, manufacturing in consumer goods, business ownership in the automotive field and food products, retail in food and household goods, sales of computer hardware and software, consulting on government contracting, research and development funding options and commercialization. Scott volunteers his time as the co-director at the Horizons Observatory where they integrate learning about astronomy and their curriculum. Scott enjoys the outdoors hiking, skiing, snowshoeing and for fun he can be found flying his remote-control airplanes and helicopters.
Elke joined VtSBDC in 2020 where she works with the lead center team on a wide range of administrative and systems projects. Her responsibilities have grown to encompass onboarding, online event management, and in-person event logistics. With a diverse employment history, including serving as an administrative assistant, and a human resources assistant, Elke has gained a wealth of experience. Moving around with her husband while he served in the Airforce provided Elke with a global perspective. With her team-oriented, “can do” approach, Elke is always looking for ways to collaborate and find innovative solutions. Originally from the Netherlands, Elke attended college in her home country before moving to the United States with her husband.
Linda Rossi, State Director, is extremely proud of the cohesive and high-performing VtSBDC team. She joined the VtSBDC program in 2005 and has been a business advisor, Assistant Director and Associate State Director prior to becoming State Director in 2013. She is Chair of the New England region’s professional development program including Core Competency onboarding for new advisors. She was a member of the America’s SBDC Board of Directors for the past six years and a member of the national Leadership committee. Prior to joining the SBDC, Linda spent 20 years in the private sector as a national project manager for IBM, business manager for 4 start-up and growing small businesses, as well as an Adjunct Faculty member in higher education and the Treasurer and founding board member of a non-profit organization. In addition to a degree in business management, marketing, and psychology, she holds several certifications in leadership, project management, entrepreneurship education, and workforce development; and received recognition for her efforts in disaster recovery with the SBA Phoenix Award
Heather M. Gonyaw joined the VtSBDC team in 2002 and has held several positions during that time. She currently serves as the Associate State Director. Heather’s main focus is financial and grants management, process and operational management of the organization, compliance, and conference planning and logistics.
Heather holds an Associate in Applied Science degree in Accounting from Vermont Technical College and a Master’s in Business Administration focused on Leadership from Norwich University. Heather is a native Vermonter, born and raised in the Northeast Kingdom. She is an active member of her community having served on the local district school board and the area Supervisory Union Board for many years. Heather is a current board member of a local theater group Theatre UP. Heather also serves as the elected treasurer of her town, treasurer of the local historical society, and treasurer of the Caledonia County Farm Bureau.
Nationally recognized Vermont State Star in 2005, 2018, and 2023