Cassius Butts/U.S. Small Business Administration
Cassius Butts was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2011. He is responsible for delivery of SBA programs in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. During his appointment, Cassius Butts has managed oversight of two record-breaking years for SBA Lending in Region IV; nearly $8 billion in SBA-backed loans to small businesses within the aforementioned eight states.
Prior to joining SBA, Cassius was employed as one of three Chiefs of the Real Estate Owned Division within the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development where he began his federal career as a Presidential Management Fellow in 2002. Previous to his civil-federal career, since 1992, Cassius has worked in leadership positions for Nations Bank, Fleet Bank and Bank of America (MBNA) as well as the City of Atlanta. In addition, as a small business owner and consultant, he co-founded CB Consulting Group, LLC, which primarily offered entrepreneurial, strategy and community engagement services.
As a strategist and advisor, Cassius has worked with many elected and appointed officials. He is the recipient of many honors and awards such as the U.S. House of Representative Proclamation recipient and was recently appointed to the National Partnership Council in March of 2013. Cassius is a 1994 graduate of Morehouse College, received his graduate degree from Clark Atlanta University’s School of Public Administration in 2002 and Certificate of Grant Writing from Emory University’s Life Learning Institute. He is a 2005 graduate of the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Regional Leadership Institute, and Leadership Atlanta (c/o 2012)- the nation’s oldest sustained community leadership program.
David Perry/U.S. Small Business Administration
The US Small Business Administration is an independent federal agency whose administrator is appointed by the President and is a member of the President’s cabinet. The agency’s primary focus is to help small businesses start and grow.
There are 68 field offices around the country that administer SBA programs to the public. David Perry is Deputy District Director for the US Small Business Administration in Georgia. As such, he manages day to day office operations and in conjunction with the district director ensures the delivery of SBA lending, business development and technical assistance programs in the state. He was appointed to this position in October 2010. Prior to that appointment, David was communications director for the SBA in the Southeastern United States. From 1999 until 2002, he was manager of marketing and outreach for SBA in Georgia.
David joined SBA in 1998 to lead SBA’s efforts at the Atlanta One Stop Capital Shop, an economic development center operated in partnership between SBA and the Atlanta Empowerment Zone Corporation. From 1983 until 1998, he was a domestic policy advisor to US Congressman W.G. Hefner from North Carolina. A native of North Carolina, he is a graduate of the University of North Carolina.
Drew Tonsmeire/Kennesaw State University SBDC
Drew Tonsmeire serves as the Area Director with the Kennesaw State University Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Under his leadership, KSU SBDC was awarded the 2014 Regional SBDC Excellence and Innovation Award by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
With more than eighteen years’ experience within the Georgia SBDC Network, his consulting expertise in strategic marketing, financial packaging, and overall business management has impacted thousands of business owners. His background includes service as President and CEO of a local Chamber of Commerce, as well as, experience in retail, manufacturing, and service environments. Committed to supporting entrepreneurship and small business, Drew is a member of the Board of Directors for the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce. He is also actively involved with strategic planning, building relationships with community and business leaders, and stimulating entrepreneurship with Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State.
A certified instructor for Google, eBay University, and GrowSmart, Drew was recognized by the Georgia SBDC as the 2004 Consultant of the Year. He was also one of the recipients of the Project of the Year Award for 2011 for his team contributions in the Google training and consulting initiative. As a member of the planning committee for the national SBDC Association which annually, brings 1,500 SBDC professionals together for advanced training, Drew enjoys staying up- to- date on the latest in technology and strategic marketing and sharing his expertise with his team, colleagues and clients
Stephen Pararo/Pineapple House Interior Design
Pineapple House Interior Design is an innovative residential and boutique hospitality interior design and architectural specification firm. The organization offers turnkey construction, renovation and decorating services and works nationally and internationally.
Since every project is a unique reflection of their client’s needs and desires, Pineapple House designers work in a variety of styles. Pineapple House has been featured on eleven television networks and in over 100 magazines. They have received over thirty “Design Excellence Awards” by the American Society of Interior Designers and most recently, owner Stephen Pararo was honored as the first runner up for the State of Georgia’s “2014 Small Business Person of the Year.”
Pete Canalichio/Licensing Brands, Inc.
Best-in-class Fortune 100 business practices Drive for bottom-line success At my best facing tough challenges—business turnaround, rapid growth, competitive outmaneuvering, team rejuvenation. Senior Executive with “crisis-tested” leadership skills and a history of delivering both quick wins and strategic long-term growth for companies as large as Coca-Cola and as small as a global marketing agency that I propelled to $2 million annual revenue (nearly 200% growth in 3 years).
Prior to The Blake Project and Licensing Brands, served as General Manager of CardScan, a $20 million global technology business unit of Newell Rubbermaid; there Pete rejuvenated the culture and rapidly recaptured 15 points of market share. Previously Director of Global Licensing; earned corporate MVP award for more than doubling royalty revenues and wholesale sales in 2 years.
Extensive success in Olympic and worldwide sports sponsorship and marketing, for 5 years with Coca-Cola and 3 years with Tula Communications. Achieved record-setting Olympic revenues and recognition; negotiated and managed numerous sponsorship and licensing agreements with high-visibility athletes and professional sports organizations (MLB, NHL, NASCAR, World Cup). Early career in corporate finance with Coca-Cola and as a Naval aviator, honing leadership and decision-making skills in high-stakes, time-critical environments.
Barry Flink/Flex HR
Barry Flink has over 30 years of management experience in multiple industries. Concentrated in the hospitality, nonprofit and transportation markets, he has developed and implemented successful organizational change in a wide range of enterprises and organizations.
Barry has also served in a number of corporate executive positions. As Vice President, Human Resources for Well Fargo Armored Service Corporation, he reengineered the human resources department, and brought substantial cost savings to the Corporation. As Chief Personnel Officer of LEP Profit International, a global freight forwarder, Barry was a key player in the successful merger of the two companies. He served as Chief Operating Officer of Hoffman & Co. and has held senior management positions with Service America Corporation, the Greyhound/Dial Corporation, Westin Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inns Worldwide, and BellSouth Corporation.
Additionally, Barry is visiting professor of management at Kennesaw State University (KSU) and has served on the Board of Directors of both Georgia Tech’s College of Management and KSU’s Coles College of Business. He also is an Executive in Residence at KSU. A Society of Human Resources Management member since 1974. Barry is also a member of Beta Gamma Sigma (national business school honorary) He has served as a guest lecturer at 14 major universities in the United States and Canada and has published articles in several influential human resource journals. Barry was nominated in 2003 by the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce as Outstanding Business Person of the Year.
Barry holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Georgia Tech with a double major in management and psychology and a minor in urban sociology. His MBA was earned in the state of Georgia’s first joint enrollment program, Georgia Tech and Georgia State. Currently he serves on several boards of directors, a mix of corporation and not-for-profit organizations. Barry is past Board Chair and continues to serve on the Board of the Edge Connection, a 501c3 organization in the micro-enterprise space. Barry and his wife, Vicki have one son, David and just celebrated their 40th anniversary.