Our team of on-call consultants and facilitators are dedicated to serving the needs of our region’s entrepreneurs and small businesses. And as part of the extended Colorado Small Business Development Center Network, we also have access to hundreds of additional experts across the state. To meet with a consultant, please register for consulting and a member of our team will help connect you to the consultant best suited to your current business needs. 

Executive Team


Erin McCuskey

Erin McCuskey is the Economic Resiliency Manager for Eagle County Government and the Director of the Northwest SBDC. Eagle County is the host organization for the Northwest SBDC on behalf of a 10-county region, whose economies are as interdependent as they are unique.

Erin’s economic development career began in workforce development. In addition to general human resources background, her professional experience includes organizational development, leadership coaching, communications, marketing and recruitment campaigns. She grew up working in restaurants, farm fields and farmers markets, all of which continue as side hustles when friends call.

Eagle County has been home for 15 years, with a few years in between to work on a ranch near Saratoga, Wyoming. The experience cemented an appreciation for rural mountain living and the hard-working, help-your-neighbor values that are found throughout Northwest Colorado. The opportunity to engage and support entrepreneurs and community-minded partners drew Erin to the Small Business Development Center in June 2019. She has a genuine interest in understanding what makes each community of Northwest Colorado unique while capitalizing on those that they share in common to promote a successful regional SBDC.

Program Manager

Ashley Pynes

Ashley is a recent transplant from the Western Slope of Colorado. She brings her experience working for the West Central SBDC and the Region 10 Loan Fund, serving a large region that includes communities transitioning from coal and mountain resort towns. She has facilitated, taught, and consulted on topics such as starting a business, retail business basics, and how to successfully plan and manage cash flow.

Her background in corporate finance began when she worked for a major retailer planning sales, margin and inventory in the merchandising department to maximize profit and inventory efficiencies. After several years planning cash flow for specific merchandise departments, she moved into corporate financial planning & analysis to apply her Bachelor’s Degree in Finance, and forecast sales and cash flow at the company level. She is also a Certified Exit Planning Advisor.

Growing up in West Texas, Ashley spent every summer and most holidays in the mountains of New Mexico or Colorado where she had close family, and there developed a love for the outdoors and cooler weather. She knows the deep satisfaction that comes from living and giving to rural communities, and the importance of local businesses who support those communities. She loves providing entrepreneurs with resources and tools that help them run their businesses more efficiently and more profitably. She is thrilled to have moved further north into the rural community of Clark, just north of Steamboat Springs, to serve the counties of Northwest Colorado.

Program Coordinator

Danise Cardona

Danise is the Program Coordinator of the Northwest SBDC. She is a generalist with knowledge gained through a varied background which includes working for and with government and nonprofit entities, entrepreneurship, communication and marketing, website design, events, grants, fundraising, small business finances, and tax preparation. She also served on the Gypsum, CO Chamber of Commerce Board for two years.

Her work with NWSBDC includes raising awareness of programs through communications and marketing as well as connecting small business clients with consultants, providing business assistance and resources, and helping to facilitate events and programs.

Originally hailing from Los Angeles county, with a stopover in the Mojave desert, Danise has called Eagle County home since 2009.



Business Consultants & Trainers

Business Consultant

Tom Erhart

Tom has over 30 years of upper level business management experience with an emphasis on operations, sales, marketing, human resources, organizational efficiency, community relations, project management and entrepreneurial leadership. He also has extensive experience in manufacturing, retail, building materials, hospitality and service industries.

Tom has a Masters in Business Management, started and owned several small businesses, and most recently operates as a business counselor and coach for entrepreneurs from start-up through growth stages.

Business Consultant

Lisa Wood

Lisa Wood lives in Winter Park, CO and is a former banker and Chief Financial Officer in the healthcare industry.

She received her MBA from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas and her BBA from University of Houston-Downtown. As a commercial lender for over 20 years, including a stint with Vectra Bank in Denver, Lisa has experience with a wide variety of industries throughout the life cycle of businesses. She has also worked with borrowers to obtain 7A and 504 loans. As a CFO in Houston she applied for SBA disaster loans for her employer when Hurricane Harvey struck the Gulf Coast in 2017.

Business Consultant & Trainer // Consejero certificado bilingüe

Jesse Esparza

Jesse Esparza es un consejero certificado bilingüe (Español y Inglés). Es asesor de negocios al SBDC(centros de desarrollo de la pequeña empresa), en Boulder, North Metro, en el este y el  noroeste de Colorado,  y también a la cámara de comercio de el Condado de Boulder. Jesse da uno-a-uno de los servicios a los particulares, y también da los clases de grupo en el inicio de la planificación de negocios y seminarios. Tambien dar recursos y materiales con los clases. Él ha aconsejado y proveyeron servicios a más de 700 nuevo, potencial y las empresas que ya existen.

Jesse Esparza is a certified bilingual (Spanish & English) business counselor and business adviser to the East Colorado, Boulder, Northwest and North Metro Small Business Development Centers and to the Latino Chamber of Boulder County. Jesse provides one-on-one services to individuals as well as group classes in business planning and startup seminars. He has counseled and provided needed services to over 700 new, potential, and existing entrepreneurs.

Business Consultant

Reagan Freed

HR consultant, is an accomplished HR executive with over 20 years of experience developing people strategies that support organizational goals. Her experience ranges across a wide variety of industries and global companies including CH2M HILL, ECC, Comcast Cable, Sitel and ServiceSource. Reagan’s broad knowledge of HR and business disciplines enable her to develop unique people strategies designed to contribute to overall strategy and directly impact bottom line results.

Her areas of focus are HR strategy, employee engagement, compliance/policy development and training, process evaluation and improvement, and refining employment structures to meet the ongoing and evolving needs of the business.

Reagan earned her Bachelor’s in Business Management from the University of Colorado, Denver, and is a certified SHRM-SCP. Reagan also serves as an HR Consultant for the Boulder Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and serves on the Board of Directors for the Colorado State HR Council.

Business Consultant

Dale Jasinski

Dale Jasinski lives in Fraser, CO and is a former CPA, family businessman, serial entrepreneur, and an associate professor of entrepreneurship at Quinnipiac University where he teaches entrepreneurship and strategy courses. He received his PhD in strategy and entrepreneurship from the University of Colorado and undergraduate degrees in Political Science and Accounting from Northern Arizona University. He is one of only 50 professors worldwide who have received certifications from Stanford University in Lean Launch, Hack for Defense, and Mission Model Canvas methodologies and uses this expertise to help large and small organizations build their innovative capacities and his students consistently make the finals of national and international business plan competitions.

His expertise on entrepreneurship and innovation is enhanced by the fact he has started several successful organizations: (1) Automation Partners (1983-1992), a technology based startup which designed, implemented and supported computer systems for law firms from offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego; (2) Professional Athlete Transition Institute (2001-2010), which provided consulting, education, and training services to current and former professional athletes; (3) Catalyst Media (2012 to 2016) which created and deployed digital media to help companies launch and grow; (4) The Enstitute (2013 to 2017) a nonprofit which provided an apprentice based alternative to college to learn entrepreneurship; and (4) Eggheadprofs (2017 to present) an educational and consulting company.

Business Consultant

Don Rowe

Don graduated with a BS in Electrical Engineering and earned an MBA. He has 40 years of experience with a number of high tech companies in the area of instrumentation, computers, lasers and satellite communications. He has been involved with most aspects of the business, especially sales, marketing and general management, as well as considerable experience in international business.

Don enjoys working with startups and early stage companies in any business area and with companies looking to expand and/or move into new opportunities. He likes helping clients to develop business plans and strategies, financial models and to focus their activities and resources. Due to his overseas assignments in the past, Don speaks some Spanish and German.

Nonprofit Consultant & Trainer

Robin Thompson

Robin Thompson has over two decades of experience in fundraising as Executive Director and Vice President for Development for several nonprofit organizations.

As a Vail, Colorado based fundraising consultant, trainer and coach, Robin works with large and small nonprofits throughout North America and internationally. She has a unique ability to share knowledge, concepts and best practices in a fun way with outstanding results.

Robin earned a fundraising certificate from Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Her BS degree is from West Virginia University and she has a Masters Degree from the University of Utah. Robin is the author of two books: Putting the Fun in FUNdraising: The Secrets to Raising More Money Faster and Easier as well as Know Stress to No Stress—A Guide to Achieving Life Balance. www.RobinThompson.com


Kelly Johnston

Kelly Johnston has experience in both the public accounting and private industry accounting fields. Her background includes a Bachelor in Finance and a Master of Science in Accounting, with experience in the healthcare industry with critical access hospitals and physician offices, audit, and tax preparation. Her education and experience can add value to new start-up organizations, developing businesses, and healthcare entities by creating a strong financial reporting set up and assisting in new financial reports.  Kelly is the President and CEO of JFS Consulting – a financial services firm. She is also a highly requested consultant and trainer for the Grand Junction SBDC and the Region 12 SBDC.

Business Consultant

Jill Lau

Jill Lau is the founder of JRL Digital Media. From web design and redesign, SEO content marketing, social media management, brand strategy, email campaigns and offline marketing initiatives, Jill builds a comprehensive and targeted marketing strategy in order to help businesses increase lead generation online.

Jill has a special interest in personal branding. Your name is your brand. Having consistent brand clarity online is key to validating your business to new customers. As search engines become smarter, local ranking factors like business information and customer reviews are becoming more important in rankings. Actively managing your business online is crucial to ensuring that your business does not become obsolete online. The internet is truly an intricate web, everything is connected, and your website is at the center. All facets of digital marketing are intertwined, and having a robust presence online is key to growing your business.

Business Consultant

Ron O’Herron

With more than 30 years of successful corporate management and consulting experience, Ron has extensive knowledge in both domestic and international business markets. His operational methodology is structured and focused on helping business operations and individuals research, plan, and implement both short and long-term goals for successful growth. Ron has worked with companies ranging in size from $250k to $500 million in annual revenues. His industry exposure includes Aerospace, Luxury Boat Manufacturing, Financial Banking, Forensic Engineering, Government Contracting, Metal Fabrication, Oil & Gas, Plastics Manufacturing and Telecommunications.

Ron grew up in Iowa where he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Business from Midwestern College, which he attended on a football scholarship. He later enhanced his education with Management MBA’s in Business Law from Cornell and Strategic Business Management from Michigan. After college, he served as a platoon sergeant in Vietnam with the 1st Armored Cavalry. Prior to going into the consulting arena, he spent 10 years as the president of an International Electronic Capital Equipment Manufacturing company with 15 domestic offices – 1 in Canada and 5 in Europe. He and his wife, Sheri, are avid outdoor people with four children and eight grandchildren.

Ron was honored as the Colorado SBDC Consultant of the Year in 2015. He has extensive experience working with the Pikes Peak SBDC and North Metro SBDC, where he specializes in working with Veteran-owned businesses. As a recent transplant to Grand County, we are thrilled to bring his expertise to Northwest Colorado.
Business Consultant

Jim Olp

Jim Olp has a depth of experience derived not just from his many years working with SBDCs, but also from his ownership of more than a dozen small businesses. He has taught virtually every aspect of small business management and operations at the college level for more than three decades. Jim has exceptional expertise in business financing options and can assist clients in structuring their business plans and pro forma projections toward the goal of securing financing. He can also assist with questions related to the various taxes and accounting problems.


I-70 corridor from Denver to Rifle and related counties, including Summit, Grand, Eagle, Garfield and Pitkin

Business Consultant

Rob Strickland

Rob started Midnight Marketing Solutions in 2004 while he was working at the Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association to answer the call for professional marketing services in rural Colorado. What started as moonlighting (hence the company name) has evolved into many long-term client relationships on all sorts of projects. He has found his niche in interactive marketing because it suits his interests and lifestyle well. He graduated from Western Colorado University Magna Sum Laude with a Business Degree and an emphasis in marketing. Since then he has served on a variety of nonprofit boards, taught marketing courses at WCU, and lead seminars and workshops. His greatest joys come from serving others.

Business Consultant // Consultor de negocios

Diego Leyes

Diego es consultor de negocios para Northwest SBDC, y es el dueño de la empresa Baboon LLC. Actualmente, se especializa en el área de marketing digital, y está muy contento de ayudar a la comunidad de pequeños empresarios, especialmente la comunidad Hispana, a sacar adelante su negocio. Por lo tanto, si usted tiene una pequeña empresa y necesitas ayuda en el área de marketing, entonces Diego es su opción.

Diego is a bilingual independent contractor consultant for the Northwest SBDC, and owner of Baboon LLC. He currently specializes in the area of Digital Marketing, so he is so excited to help the small business community, especially the Hispanic community, to move forward with their business. Therefore, if you have a startup and need help with your marketing efforts, then Diego is your option.

Special Projects

Lauren Ciarallo

Lauren is a Colorado native, born and raised on the Front Range. She graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and an emphasis in Tourism Management. During her time at CU Boulder she also pursued courses focused on Spanish Translation and studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain.

She began her career at the Vail Valley Chamber & Tourism Bureau learning about destination marketing, tourism, sales and customer service. Her professional experience includes corporate and social event planning, hospitality, marketing campaigns and special event production. After gaining extensive knowledge and experience in the event planning industry and becoming a Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP) she started her own event services business, Pine Productions.

Lauren is excited to join the Northwest Colorado Small Business Development Center and help small businesses access the resources they need in order to grow and thrive.

Business Consultant

Juanita Puga

Juanita Puga has over thirty years in the field of early childhood. She holds a master’s in early childhood from the University of Colorado Denver and is an alumnus of the Buell Early Childhood Leadership program. Her time in the field of early childhood education has supported her current role at North Range Behavioral Health in Greeley as the coordinator for the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) program for over ten years. Being a Colorado native, Juanita enjoys all the beauty the state offers and spends time exploring new areas with her family.

Skip to content