The San Francisco SBDC is staffed with experienced leaders who assist SBDC clients grow and develop their businesses.
Meredith Garcia Obeso
Meredith is an economic development specialist with expertise in finance, project management, and small business counseling. She holds a Master's in Business Administration emphasis in finance and Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration, double-degree with U.S. and Mexico studies.
Prior to her current position, Meredith served as Center Director for Imperial Valley Small Business Development Center. During her role, she helped small businesses start, grow, and pivot ideas to innovate enterprises. She had previously worked in collaboration with the San Diego & Imperial Network to create more business opportunities as chair of the finance committee and support small businesses to access $17 million in capital programs.
Her expertise extends from general business to international trade and export programs for small businesses. During her previous role, she was able to work with minority-owned, Latino-owned companies in underserved communities, providing services and supporting their access to resources.
Meredith is a small business advocate and committed to helping entrepreneurs access resources and the support they need to thrive in their business.
Jacques Bidjima is an engineer certified in music production. He is also a certified QuickBooks online ProAdvisor, and finishing an Associate Degree in Broadcasting at San Francisco City College.
In 2017-2018 Jacques was a Public Service trainee Intern with the Office of Economics and Workforce development, where he developed substantial skills in workforce development. Prior to that, he held an Account management position with the SFParkingInc. For 7 years, mastering critical thinking, problem-solving, natural relationship building with integrity and reliability.
Jacques brings with him an excellent record of customer satisfaction and a genuine passion to assist in general, human beings experiencing trauma and life stressors. He is Self-motivated and able to thrive in a results-driven environment, ensuring the timely and successful delivery of solutions according to customer needs and objectives.
Jacques is eager, determined, enthusiastic and excited to join the Small Business Development Center and becoming a contributor in promoting a positive community and economic growth in our neighborhood.
Valerie Camarda has been a marketing consultant and advisor for over 25 years. Prior to starting her company Marketing Sense, which serves entrepreneurial businesses and non-profits, she held positions as a marketing communications manager and marketing director in corporate America.
She served as a lead marketing and business consultant with the Oakland SBDC for several years, as well as taught the marketing segments of multi-week Business Planning courses for the SBDC and Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center.
In her role as a marketing consultant she works with company presidents, directors and partners and develops and implements strategic marketing, advertising, social media and public relations plans that include objectives, goals, strategies and tactics for a variety of industries including finance, retail, restaurant and all trade contractors.
Valerie is an award-winning communicator and has extensive experience developing marketing communications materials for non-profit, real estate, retail, high tech, health care, banking and finance, professional services, restaurants and consumer product companies.
Valerie has held a leadership position at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and held the position of vice president, communications with the American Marketing Association and was a member of their Board of Directors for three years. She has also served on the board of the Association for Women in Communications and was a member of the Board of Directors for the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and Rebuilding Together, formerly Christmas in April, a non-profit organization that helps rebuild communities in San Francisco.
Business Strategy/Financial Management
Tom Camerato has been 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, clients have covered a range of industries and sizes, and include business expansions (both organic and through acquisitions), start-ups, and turnarounds. Tom’s work history includes more than 10 years commercializing biological technologies in the very early years of the Biotechnology Industry and has two Master’s Degrees: one in Biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley and the other in Business Administration from Carnegie Mellon University.
Jossiel earned his Bachelor of Science in Economics degree from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. After his graduation, Jossiel began working in politics, then transitioned to the Department of Commerce where he managed the Kiva Philadelphia program and a CDBG program for small businesses under the Office of Neighborhood Economic Development. He is committed to ensuring individuals have the necessary resources to generate wealth within their communities. Jossiel also speaks English, Spanish, and Portuguese. He is excited to learn a lot and make an impact in San Francisco.
As a certified Business Advisor, John DeGaetano advises new and existing business owners in the areas of planning, sales and marketing, cost analysis, legal structure, finance and economic development. Johnconducts workshops on business plan writing, sales and marketing timelines, creating start up operations and analysis, financial projections and related topics.
John recently earned the national designation Northern California’s State Star with the SBDC for his outstanding economic impact performance in assisting small businesses. John is also a certified NxLevel instructor in addition to advising in the areas of business planning, sales and marketing and finance.
John previously 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. During his tenure, he designed and implemented marketing concepts, sales campaigns, training programs, incentive programs and business development, operational functions, security and compliance policies. As a side note, John also has an extensive background in performing arts and is currently president of a non-profit theater group.
President of the Paragon Strategies a management and sales training, coaching and consulting firm and founder of GrowYourselfAcademy.com an online resource to grow yourself and your business. His primary responsibilities include business development, strategic partnership, program creation and making everyone happy. Prior to creating Paragon Strategies, Jerry had spent 13 years in advertising business development where he formulated and executed successful marketing programs for dot.com businesses.
A passionate and an exceptional presenter, Jerry has been asked to speak at numerous events for large and small organizations alike across the nation. He has given outstanding lectures, seminars and workshops for countless organizations in the United States, ranging from the San Francisco Small Business Development Center to large corporations that include Wells Fargo, Organic and Southwest Airlines.
Driven by a desire to help organizations and individuals reach their highest potential, Jerry is a skilled trainer, coach and consultant. As a widely-sought after trainer, he makes sure that his customized instructional style is always a dynamic fusion of fun, theory and experiential learning – the key elements that guide the philosophy of Paragon Strategies. As a keenly perceptive executive coach, he is adept at guiding professionals in overcoming behavioral barriers by carefully examining and challenging the assumptions that underlie their behavior. As a consultant, he draws on his extensive industry experience to analyze existing business problems and assist companies in developing sound business plans that are designed to amplify the bottom-line.
With 10 years of experience as a senior business consultant, Sandra Garsele works onsite with clients to manage general ledger, payroll, accounts receivable, and accounts payable. Sandra specializes in invoicing, budget management and cash flow. Furthermore, her strong business administration, office management and customer service skills have been vital to the success of Hilliard Management Group (HMG). She can be thought of as the “back bone” of HMG, constantly ensuring that all necessary tasks are thoroughly completed in an efficient manner.
Sandra has also had extensive experience teaching. She has been a Latvian language and literature teacher at the Northern California Latvian School and Riga High School in Latvia, in which she taught grammar, composition, conversation and Latvian literature at the beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels. Sandra has taken her
instructional skills to Hilliard Management Group where she leads QuickBooks and Basic Bookkeeping workshops throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Sandra Garsele received MBA in finance from Columbia southern university in 2012 and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Latvian Language and Literature with a minor in Educational Psychology from the University of Latvia School of Education and Psychology. Sandra is a certified QuickBooks Pro Advisor, which, in combination with her background as an educator, allows her to best train others in Bookkeeping andQuickBooks.
Bruce F. Jones
Bruce F. Jones graduated from Humboldt State University with a B.A. in Fine Art/Photography. Upon graduating, he started working in the commercial TV industry, first working on production sets then moving into post-production working as an editor. The last 12 years of his career was spent managing post-production facilities, which required P&L management, sales/marketing and operational oversight. It was this well-rounded business experience which led him to share a part of his time and knowledge with small business owners in 2008 when he began providing business planning consultation and instruction through the Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center in the Bayview/Hunters Point district of San Francisco. The very rewarding experience he gained working with small business owners led him to leave his media career in 2012 to devote his time solely to small business consultation. Since 2012, Bruce has continued to assist small business owners through work with the Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center, San Francisco Office of Small Business and the San Francisco Small Business Development Center.
Lawrence Liu has over 20 years financial services and small business experience. In addition to a wide range of management experience in the corporate world, Lawrence had co-founded a consulting firm which provided entry strategies and executive search services to multi-national insurance companies entering the China market.
Lawrence provides business management counseling to Chinese-speaking entrepreneurs. He also organizes small business classes in Chinese which aim to provide small business entrepreneurs with essential information, knowledge and management skills for business success.
David Mitroff, Ph.D. is a business consultant, marketing expert, keynote speaker and author who has held numerous consultative positions for diverse organizations such as LexisNexis, United Healthcare, U.S. Department of Justice, Providian Financial, Nordstrom, Limited Brands, Constant Contact, Ben & Jerry's and the YMCA. David brings to the SBDC his experiences as the Founder and Chief Consultant of Piedmont Avenue Consulting, Inc. 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 educational 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. David brings a deep knowledge of the entire San Francisco Bay Area marketplace and is a fourth generation San Franciscan who is proud to have been born in San Francisco. 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, training, and keynotes has educated more than 35,000 business owners.
Dr. Mitroff is an Instructor at the University of California, Berkeley for the International Diploma Program and teaches courses in marketing, entrepreneurship and Innovation. David has also taught at General Assembly, John F. Kennedy University and 15+ other colleges in addition to conducting 100’s of workshops for the Small Business Development Centers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Jim Chinh Nguyen
Jim Chinh Nguyen is an entrepreneur with extensive experience in all aspects of startup development and management. His skills include: starting and running a business on a shoestring budget, developing business plans, advising small business owners, creating ownership structures, pitching and fundraising, managing investor relations, launching betas, and financial management. He also has years of experience developing high-level relationships and business opportunities in China and Vietnam.
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 at 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.
Gabriela is a seasoned business and financial consultant with broad background in quantitative and qualitative analysis to support solid business practices and produce profitable business. Her work experience and skills range from commercial lending underwriting, business development, financial analysis, sales negotiation, non-profit management, and thorough understanding of multi-cultural markets.
From 2009 to 2013, Gabriela was the Assistant Director for the SF Small Business Development Center where she managed business counseling and training programs for emerging and established small businesses, as well as the Hispanic Business Development Program funded by the SF Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development. In 2011, Gabriela was invited to participate in the launch of Kiva Zip Pilot project (one of the first peer-to-peer lenders innovators) by providing guidance on underwriting criteria.
In 2013, Gabriela co-founded Equitable Growth Solutions, a small business consulting company that delivers business solutions and accessibility to financial resources. Gabriela is also a lead consultant for economic development programs sponsored by the City of San Francisco: BizFit SF, a business strengthening program for retailers located in commercial corridors; and Healthy RetailSF, a business technical assistance program geared to corner stores in low income neighborhoods interested in becoming healthy food retailers.
Gabriela holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from University of Lima in Peru, and a Master of Business Administration from San Francisco State University, with concentration in finance and management.
Bilingual in English and Spanish
Jessica Qian Wan
As a Case Manager at SBDC, Jessica oversees Construction Mitigation Program and connects entrepreneurs to essential resources and tools that can help their business success. She enjoys seeing clients realize their dreams and fighting for economic justice for small business owners. Jessica has a wide range of experience in different industries including government, nonprofits and international banking. She is an experienced program manager in the areas of workforce development, budgeting and coalition building. Most recently she worked as Public Information Officer for San Francisco public schools, specializing in media relations and digital marketing. Jessica holds a Master Degree in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, and is trilingual in English, Cantonese and Mandarin.
Gwendolyn Wright is the Managing Consultant of The Wright Consultants. Her mission is to start and grow businesses, increase entrepreneurs’ access to capital and improve their financial acumen. She has extensive experience, from ecommerce, retail and wholesale to manufacturing and distribution, consulting and coaching small and medium size businesses for over twenty years. She has earned a reputation for having a contemporary management style, combining finance, marketing, and project management skills with entrepreneurial vision and discernment. She works well with companies in various stages of development from start-up to planned growth. She is excellent with creating sales and business development strategies. Sweet spots of focus include the food industry (restaurants and cafes, specialty retailers and small craft foods and beverages) and fashion industry (designers and tech, apparel, and accessories- especially jewelry).
Clients are located nationwide from San Francisco to New York City. International projects include Italy, Cambodia and Australia. Continuous market research and trend analysis has taken her around the globe to London, Hong Kong, Beijing, Panama, Johannesburg, Accra, Paris and Tokyo. She was awarded the Small Business Finance Advocate of the Year Award by the Small Business Administration and participated in a congressional trade mission to South Africa and Ghana with Congresswoman Barbara Lee. Education includes Bachelor of Arts, Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio, Graduate study, Business Administration, Golden Gate University, San Francisco, Commercial Lending Graduate School, Corporate Banking Division, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma. She is one of the best small business consultants and coaches in the industry!