What's a TReC Guide?

Business Mentors in Niagara Falls

The Entrepreneurial Mountain

Climbing the entrepreneurial mountain can be a long and lonely journey. Even the best in the world had some guidance from time to time. 

Sherpas Help You Grow Your Business

How 'Bout a TReC Mountain Guide?

As a member of TReC, you'll have access to some of the most successful entrepreneurs and professionals in the country. 

Have a general engineering question? We've got a Guide  for that. (I hear he's a rocket scientist)

Marketing question? Accounting? We've got you covered. 

Guide Calendar


 Our TReC Guides are dedicated, but busy folks. Our members will receive a schedule on when each Guide will be at TReC for a general consultation.  



Alphabetical Listing of TReC Guides

Joe Bell, Exec Director, Niagara Aerospace Museum linkedin.com/in/joseph-bell-6931a3165

Joe retired from Moog in 2017 after 31 years. 

Joe offers a very broad work experience across numerous disciplines in international settings.  Specifically, he can help with data analysis, company and international cultural issues, leadership development, contracts and suppliers.  Joe also works hard to provide direct and frank feedback on the pros and cons of ideas and make people find their own way by asking sometimes difficult but thought-provoking questions.  Joe feels it is better to help people find their way than to just provide answers.  His experiences have allowed him to develop skills required to listen well and provide guidance and perspective to others.

Tony Billoni, Career Coach, ABCreativity. linkedin.com/in/abilloni

By leading with deliberate creativity, Tony creates results-oriented capacity-building, marketing and advocacy programs. His coaching practice leads executives, at any stage in their career, to their highest goals. His passion is community-building, the arts, wellness, cultural heritage and volunteering. He is a faculty member of the Creative Problem Solving Institute and holds a masters degree in Creativity and Change Leadership from Buffalo State College. As a founding member and Past-President of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus Rotary Club he values service above self. Areas of focus include: Career growth, Organizational Development, Writing; Strategic Planning, Personal and Organizational Communication Strategy; Creativity

Deanna Alterio Brennen, Certified Business Advisor, NCCC Small Business Development Center linkedin.com/in/deanna-alterio-brennen-77692846 

Small Business consultant providing assistance to small business owners and entrepreneurs through all stages of their development. Specializing in cash flow analysis, business plan development, financing, marketing strategies, international trade, business basics and more. Deanna is proud to be part of the economic growth in all of Western New York and has experience includes owning small businesses, economic development and non-profit environments. 

Jeannine Brown Miller, HR Websource.com


JBM serves as a Third Party HR Partner with small business in assisting with their HR Compliance as well as ongoing HR support. JBM offers this through both traditional consulting and her online options on www.hrwebsource.com.    

JBM seeks to offer small business the "big business" experience by benefitting from her extensive expertise and experience in the field.  HR is getting even more complex than ever.  JBM offers products that work for any type of business and custom packages are also available to ensure she can meet your needs.  Whether it be having a "quick HR question" through her "HR Now'" product or purchasing online consulting time.   

JBM also offers compliance training, specifically Anti-Harassment (NYS requires this annually) through both traditional in person training and webinar through    hrwebsource.com 

 JBM also offers Leadership/Career Coaching both traditional and online options as well as an HR Assessment tool so businesses can determine their level of knowledge and compliance related to the HR components of running your business.    

Whether it be HR compliance guidance, training, webinars, FREE HR video tips, improving professional leadership style, conflict resolution, team building, employee relations, group meeting faciliation, work performance & efficiency assessments,  harassment /discrimination complaint investigations or just handling sensitive employee meetings.  JBM is here to make this easy for you in a cost effective, time efficient manner. 

Lisa Churakos, Digital Strategist, WorkBea Digital Solutions linkedin.com/in/lisachurakos

Whether it be HR compliance guidance, training, webinars, FREE HR video tips, improving professional leadership style, conflict resolution, team building, employee relations, group meeting facilitation, work performance & efficiency assessments,  harassment /discrimination complaint investigations or just handling sensitive employee meetings.  JBM is here to make this easy for you in a cost effective, time efficient manner. 

 WordPress websites that generate leads, create better experiences and automate process. She is passionate about building synergy and people within cross functional teams. Lisa is completely fascinated with technology. She’s had the privilege to be in leadership roles where she implemented digital strategy to grow revenue. What's her secret sauce? Content dripping, site flipping, and process stripping. Lean, revenue generating, digital footprints. 

Lisa has vertical experience in retail, hospitality, high tech, professional services, & non-profit and has been an instructor in the Women's Business Center at Canisius College; a SCORE Mentor; a Certified LEAN Practitioner. 

Clark Dever, Program Director, Techstars linkedin.com/in/clarkdever

A data driven, process-oriented, and customer-focused senior IT and operations management executive with 15+ years of technical experience and unique understanding of business management building high performance teams utilizing process orientation for repeatable success. As a strategic systems thinker and resourceful problem solver, Clark possess an innate ability to drive process design / implementation, full stack Web development, and personnel management and development. He thrives as an articulate communicator with success building relationships and cultural development within diverse environments.

Startups • Entrepreneurship • Leadership & Team Building • Cloud-based Software Architecture • New Product Launches • Research & Development • Budgeting & Cost Control • Quality Assurance & Data Protection • Stakeholder Relations • Investor Relations • Performance Measurement • Full Lifecycle Project Management • Research & Analysis • Recruitment & Retention • Continuous Process Improvement • Agile Methodologies

Rick Doornink, Entrepreneur, USA and Canada linkedin.com/in/richard-doornink-9b74734

Rick is an entrepreneur and mentor who has driven product. He has considerable experience in international market development through global corporate experience working with customers and offices in the US, Canada, Mexico and Europe. Functional expertise includes Change Management, Start-ups, Sales, Marketing, Social Media and Brand Development, Manufacturing/Operations, Finance, Supply Chain, Quality Control, Risk Management, Legal and Regulatory experience.

As a forward thinking entrepreneurial individual he provides strategic, commercial and operational leadership, a visionary growth mindset and understands how to develop a business organically. 

Kathleen Granchelli, CEO, YWCA of Niagara Frontier   linkedin.com/in/kathleen-granchelli-a794784

Kathy has been CEO of the YWCA of the Niagara Frontier for the past twenty-five years. Under Kathleen’s tenure, the YWCA of the Niagara Frontier has secured over $20 million in grants to expand programs and services in Niagara County and northern Erie County. Funding for new programs has included state and local investment dollars for comprehensive domestic violence and sexual abuse prevention, early childhood and school age childhood programs and over $6 million for the adaptive re-use of “Carolyn’s House” a historic facility in Niagara Falls providing supportive transitional and permanent housing for homeless women and children. Under Kathleen’s leadership, the YWCA also implemented social enterprise businesses as part of the agency’s employment and training and economic self-sufficiency mandate. In 2015, the YWCA merged with the Tonawanda’s Affiliate to become the YWCA of the Niagara Frontier. Prior to becoming CEO at the YWCA, Kathleen was an Assistant Vice President at Goldome Bank and Key Bank in Buffalo and a Legislative Assistant to Congressman John LaFalce. Kathleen received her BS and MPA (ABD) at SUNY Brockport and is also a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School program for State and Local Government. Kathleen is a Leadership Niagara Graduate, a member of the Niagara County Work Force Investment Board, a Board Member of the Homeless Alliance of Western New York, former President of the YWCA’s of New York State, a Niagara University St. Vincent DePaul and St. Louise de Marillac Awardee and a New York State Woman of Distinction. 

Specialties: Grant Writing and Compliance; Housing Management/Tax Credits; Board Governance; Social Enterprise Development 

Jack Greco, Executive Director, Techstars linkedin.com/in/jackgreco2

To say Jack works to create a more verdant entrepreneurial ecosystem across Upstate New York is a massive understatement. He has founded, co-founded, or contributed to, numerous startups in the region. And that was before taking on the Techstars job!!  

Jack brings an experience and track-record of developing over start-ups into early stage global growth ventures. Jack lends knowledge from years of being "on both sides of the table,"​ as both a Venture Capitalist and investor, as well as a founding entrepreneur and operational officer, to support and guide early stage ventures through the growth process. 

Jack Martin, President, J. Fitzgerald Group linkedin.com/in/jfgjackmartin

Jack graduated from SUNY at Buffalo with a degree in English and Marketing. He has worked as a Reporter/Wire Editor for the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal, Press Secretary for NYS Assemblyman Matthew J. Murphy, Jr., PR Supervisor and Spokesperson for Fisher-Price Toys, Advertising Manager at Ford New Holland, and a Sr. Copywriter and Business Manager at a Toronto-based advertising agency before co-founding J. Fitzgerald Group Marketing Communications in 2002. Jack’s specialties are: Digital marketing; Advertising materials; Marketing plans; Websites; SEO; SEM

Anna McNab, Associate Professor, Niagara University linkedin.com/in/annamcnab

Anna is a business professional who loves to solve problems and thrives on change and uncertainty. While at Niagara University, Anna has been teaching a variety of courses related to general Management, Management Information Systems, E-Commerce and Creative Problem Solving. Anna also owns several business and consults as a product strategist for PLATFORM (link: https://plat4m.com/), a top rated app and web design studio. Anna is a co-author of an e-book: Millennials: Why your web or app is not selling to millennials and several other journal and blog articles. 

Anna is a trained HCI researcher, knowledgeable about web and app design with experience working with companies in various stages of development from startups to established multinational companies. Well versed in design thinking, lateral thinking, UX, UI, agile and lean methodologies, Anna is prepared to help you strategize, develop products and services and solve various probLens and challenges.

John Osberg, Director of Business Development, Hoffman Hanafin & Associates - https://www.linkedin.com/in/johnosberg/

Selected into Business First’s 30 under 30 class of 2019, John leverages his proven abilities as a business developer, and as a connector of people, initiatives and businesses to help continue fueling the current expansion of his risk management firm, Hoffman Hanafin & Associates (HHA).

Having recently joined HHA, John’s steadfast mission is to fuse together his professional, personal & civic values in order to provide value and assurance to clients of all sizes from a variety of industries (i.e. tech, healthcare, construction, manufacturing, not for profit, real estate) in the realms of insurance, surety, safety and loss control, & other risk management solutions.

A growth specialist of startups & SMBs; a leader, connector and motivator of people & teams, John has been involved with several local successful technology focused ventures. Most notably, as VP of Sales & founding employee of Buffalo based software development firm EmergenceTek Group.

Taking pride in being a catalyst for positive business/civic outcomes, John genuinely cultivates meaningful and fruitful relationships while embodyinDg the spirit of a brand champion for the organizations that he has worked with/currently represents; operating with a 10x #GiveFirst mentality as far back as he can remember.

Supplemental to his business focuses, John is a civic leader closely involving himself with organizations like TReC by NGTI, TechStars (Buffalo), Heritage Christian Services, The First Tee of WNY, and The Police Athletic League.

Deb O’Shea, Founder/Owner of The O'Shea Law Firm, PLLC linkedin.com/in/deborahoshea

Deb is the founder/owner of The O'Shea Law Firm, PLLC which provides business and transactional legal services - including contract work - and business counseling. Particularly focused on healthcare, healthtech and green/clean tech companies.

She was co-founder and principal of Global Resource and Innovation Network, a business advisory firm focused on healthcare and healthcare technologies to advance disease prevention and treatment. Deb was COO/General Counsel for Viropro, Inc., a biosimilars company; CLO/COO of Advantage Home Telehealth, Inc., and Chief Networking Officer for As It Is, Inc., a meaning-based computing company. She co-founded and was CEO of Atlantic Corridor USA, a transatlantic business/technology accelerator for businesses and universities in Upstate New York, Ireland, the UK and Canada.

Matthew Pelkey, Partner, Colligan Law, LLP linkedin.com/in/matthew-pel


Matthew Pelkey is a business attorney representing investors, high-growth startups, innovative entrepreneurs, and established public and private businesses throughout New York State. From raising capital, structuring deals, regulatory compliance, and securities offerings, to advising clients on internal investigations, conflict resolution, and crisis management. Matthew understands what it is like to launch and grow a business and can navigate complex legal issues with practical business considerations.

Matthew is an active member of the Western New York startup ecosystem dedicating time to helping organizations such as Upstate Venture Connect, TechStars, Startup Grind, Founder’s Institute, LaunchNY, 43North, and Blackstone Launchpad. 

As a faculty member at the University at Buffalo School of Law, Matthew teaches startup law and innovation through the Entrepreneurship Law Center. He is a regular lecturer to faculty, students, and founders on how to start and grow a business, and the various legal issues that can present challenges along the way.

Matthew’s dedication to business and community has resulted in being recognized as the 2019 Buffalo News Next Generation Professional; 2018 Buffalo Business First 40 Under 40; 2018-2019 Super Lawyers Rising Star; 2018 Finalist for Upstate Capital Association of New York Dealmaker of the Year Transactional Professional; four-time finalist for Upstate Venture Connect Community Catalyst Award; 2016 Emerging Business Leader Award by the Amherst Chamber of Commerce; and the 2014 Young Professional Leadership Award by the Amherst Chamber of Commerce.

Dolly Michelle Randle, President at Compliance & Administrative Services of New York (CASNY). 


If you are looking to start a business or grow your current small business, Dolly can provide you with the necessary information to take it to the next level. She informs individuals and small business owners about Federal, State, and City contracting opportunities. With a 25-year background in construction management, Dolly specializes in compliance monitoring and diversity goals on construction projects. She understands the importance of accurate MWBE and Workforce Utilization Reporting. Her company, CASNY, provides networking events to assist with keeping your business owners and students to help them achieve their full potential in their career or business venture.

Bonnie Rose, Independent Consultant, Retired Senior University Administrator. linkedin.com/in/bonnie-rose-72412917

Dr. Bonnie Rose has spent much of her professional life either as an entrepreneur, or as an administer supporting entrepreneurial efforts within academic institutions or in the community.

She also has a good understanding of family businesses, having worked with her husband in operating a successful management consulting firm for over 25 years.

Whether you are developing a business plan, navigating the financial and other challenges of living the entrepreneurial life, or preparing proposals for getting the support you need to achieve your vision, Bonnie will be happy to listen, to learn and to advise you.

Madonna Spitler, linkedin.com/in/madonnaspitler

Madonna is a founder/CEO/COO who has grown startups from ideation to profitability.  She has worked with medical device, predictive analytic, regulatory and workplace injury management software companies and has extensive experience with national conference, trade show and events management.

Madonna has been involved with Techstars, LaunchNY, 43North, WNY Venture Association, Invest Buffalo Niagara, NYS Innovation Hub, d!g Buffalo, Startup Grind weekends, UB BLAST medical and engineering teams and UB’s Blackstone Launchpad, and was honored as Mentor of the Year by Allstate and UB’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership’s Mentorship Program.  

As a TReC Sherpa, Madonna can help companies navigate pathways and opportunities while helping circumnavigate pitfalls that sap resources and slow advancement.  She is a connector and collaborator.  If Madonna cann’t help you, she knows who can!

Sara Vescio, Executive Director, Woman’s Business Center at Canisius College linkedin.com/in/sara-vescio-a978ba45

Sara Vescio has spent the last 20 years driving change by following her passion for correcting injustices and advocating for those who need a stronger voice. 

Since November 2013 Sara has been serving as the Executive Director for the Women’s Business Center (WBC). The Center provides education combined with peer and mentor support empowering women-business owners to grow their businesses to the level of success they desire. She created the areas first female-led accelerator programs for women-owned businesses. Last year, the WBC assisted their clients in 19 new businesses launched; 363 jobs supported and over $3.89 Million in revenue growth. 

Joe Winter, Assistant Professor of Accounting, Niagara University linkedin.com/in/joseph-winter-cpa-cfe-citp-mba-7a4242a

Joe has been teaching accounting for over 20 years and is a practicing CPA with more than 25 years of financial experience. Joe started his full-time teaching career at Niagara University during Fall 2013 and serves as coordinator of the CPA review program. He teaches primarily at the graduate level,  with a focus on Accounting principles and theory, Auditing, Financial Reporting and Leadership. He also teaches specialized courses in Health Care accounting and management. Joe’s distinguished career in the private sector began in public accounting at The Bonadio Group, CPAs. He later moved into management positions in venture capital, the insurance industry and in economic development. Prior to joining Niagara University, he was the CFO at a large and innovative health care organization. 

Across his career, Joe has acquired significant experience in mergers and acquisitions, start-ups, business turnarounds and succession planning. For 7 years of his career, he was the CFO of the Erie County Industrial Development Agency (ECIDA) and was significantly involved with designing creative small business lending, training, certification and development programs for businesses in Erie County. Joe contributes his expertise through service on various committees at Niagara University, through membership on the board of directors of The Ashford Hollow Art Foundation, as a board member of the Health Sciences Charter School (Buffalo, NY) along with being a member of the Niagara Community College Accounting Advisory Board. He has also served as the Chairman of the Erie County Budget Commission the past 6 years. 

Joe brings his experience and business knowledge to TReC and will serve as a resource for new and emerging entrepreneurs and businesses in the Niagara Falls ecosystem. a CPA and has worked in both the private and public sectors as well as health care business. He has taught accounting for over 23 years. 

Rick Winter, Owner, Richardson Management linkedin.com/in/rick-winter-51103317

Rick has been a successful entrepreneur since he was a young man.

Liz Zulawski, President & CEO, Leadership Niagara (USA) linkedin.com/in/liz-zulawski-4646758

Liz has more than 20 years of non-profit experience in the areas of leadership, strategic planning, training, development, program marketing, and corporate events. 

As the CEO of LN, Liz is responsible for the strategic leadership of the organization to achieve its mission, vision and core values. Additionally, she directs all operational aspects of the organization and shepherds LN’s graduate-level programming. 

Throughout her career, her greatest passion has been to keep creating meaning, value, importance and purpose in her life and subsequently in the lives of others. She believes that the best way to create a community of leaders is by uplifting those around her and drawing others forward. 

Liz has a proven track record of leadership at many local non-profit organizations, including the American Heart Association, Buffalo Public Schools Foundation and Goodwill Industries of Western New York. She has successfully spearheaded multiple strategic and fundraising plans during her more than two decades of experience. 

As executive director of the American Heart Association, Liz was responsible for the Buffalo Niagara Division. There she directed several successful awareness campaigns and fundraising initiatives. During that time the Buffalo Niagara Division played an integral role in lifesaving work of the passing of the CPR in Schools Bill and mandatory Pulse Oximetry testing on all newborns in NYS. 

Immediately prior to that Liz was the inaugural Executive Director of the Buffalo Public Schools Foundation. Under her leadership, the organization grew significantly with increases in annual revenues, a growing network of regional partnerships and the addition of programs and services to the students of the Buffalo Public Schools. 

Previously to that post, she was employed by Goodwill Industries of WNY as director of community employment and training services. There she spent 11 years assisting developmentally disabled and disadvantaged adults in obtaining gainful employment in the community. Of her accomplishments at Goodwill, she was awarded a federal grant and directed the pilot REENTRY program in WNY. REENTRY’s objective was to reduce the rate of recidivism for 1st time, non- violent offenders on parole or in work release by providing them job skills training and assisting them in obtaining meaningful employment. In addition to her work in the non-profit sector, Ms. Zulawski also spent a few years as a corporate sales manager in the local hotel industry.  

Meet with a Business Mentor

Meet with a Business Mentor