Sophie Konuwa has been the director of Butte College Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for over 21 years. Before her position as the director, she was a business consultant at the center providing consulting in business plan, finance, access to capital, marketing, and international trade. Sophie developed, organized, implemented, and managed the international trade program for Butte College Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for three years. In a previous position as assistant and analyst for debt service and fiscal policy in West Africa, Sophie provided financial analytical services for monetary and fiscal policies at the Ministry of Finance in Monrovia, Liberia. She has worked at JCPenney Corporate Office in analytical and management positions, and have managed businesses in Butte & Glenn Counties. Sophie also worked with analysts from international organizations including the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the African Development Bank and analysts from foreign governments throughout the world. She holds a bachelor's degree in banking and finance from Appalachian State University in North Carolina, and a master's degree in management from Cardinal Stritch University in Wisconsin.
Rico Cuneo worked for PG&E for over 30 years including San Francisco corporate headquarters in various levels of management, culminating his career in the office of Corporate Planning as a member of the company’s Strategic Planning Team. Rico is the core Strategic and Financial Business Consultant and Trainer for Butte College SBDC, and has worked for the Center for over 17 years. His expertise includes business planning, forecasting and projections; business proposals; financial analysis; business valuation and sale; and cash flow and business management. As business consultant and trainer, Rico works with business owners and entrepreneurs to start, develop, manage, grow, and expand their businesses. Rico has an MBA (with honors) and emphasis in Finance, and a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Business Management from San Jose State University, in San Jose, California.
Ronn Van Dusen
Ronn Van Dusen is a business owner and expert in diagnosing business financial statements and assisting business owners with strategies for improving profitability. He managed five different retail stores for major retailers where he received multiple awards for profitability and store performance. His passion to help businesses succeed led him to a career in banking where he successfully managed seven branch locations. After 18 years of working with national and community banks, Ronn brought his expertise to Butte College SBDC as the core Financing and Financial Business Consultant and Trainer, and has been with the center for over 10 years. Ronn is a Certified Export and Trade Consultant whose expertise includes access to capital; financial analysis; pricing; cash flow and business management; government contracting; business valuation and sale; human resource; cottage food service industry; and international trade. Ronn has a bachelor’s degree in management from California State University, Chico.
Tom Bruce is a business owner - 37 years, serving the hospitality industry for over 35 years in various capacities including restaurant consultant, mentor, and food service advisor. As an instructor for American River College, Tom taught classes such as Applied Foodservice Sanitation, Purchasing, Basic Cost Control, Advanced Cost Control, and Marketing and Legal Aspects. He is certified by the National Restaurant Association, California Restaurant Association, is a vocational instructor through UCLA, and is a qualified HACCP & ServSafe instructor. In addition to periodic television appearances, Tom has been published in Chef Magazine, is also a regular contributor to Restaurant Start-up & Growth Magazine, and a Butte College SBDC Business Consultant and Trainer focusing on restaurant start-up, management, and growth for more than 8 years.
Jeffrey Samorano is a business owner and experienced digital marketer. He has over 17 years of industry experience including Production Manager; Front End Developer, and Solutions Engineer; Graphic Designer; Senior 3D Creative Designer; and Lead Graphic, and 3D Motion Designer. His expertise includes digital marketing, social media, web development, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and graphic design, with skills in various technology tools and platforms for online business marketing. Jeffrey is a Butte College SBDC Marketing Business Consultant and Trainer since 2018. He has a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in 3D motion Graphics/Animation, Illustration, and Cinematography from Cogswell Ploytechnical College in San Jose, California.
Danie Schwartz is a business owner with industry experience in social media messaging, copywriting, inbound marketing strategy, and email campaigns. She has been a Marketing Consultant with Butte College SBDC since 2018 with expertise including digital marketing, online presence, brand, and marketing strategy. Danie’s honors and awards include Ambassador of the Year, and Young Professional of the Year. She has a Bachelor’s of Art degree in Journalism with emphasis in Public Relations, and a minor in Philosophy from Chico State University in Chico, California
Stephen Kay is a business owner with more than 30 years of progressive experience managing businesses in both the private and public arena. He has a broad base in working with businesses from start-ups through very large international consulting companies. Much of his experience has been gained through grooming companies for growth, taking them public and managing acquisition and consolidation transactions. He has raised over $50M in capital financing transactions during his career. Stephen has held various positions including President, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Senior Partner, and Director of Finance. Stephen is a Butte College SBDC Business Consultant with expertise in financial modeling development and planning; business valuation; business planning, forecasting and projections; corporate structure; cash flow management; QuickBooks; Equity based investments including family, friends, angels, and venture capital; mergers and acquisitions; and general tax and human resource guidance. Stephen has a Bachelor’s of Science, Cum Laude in Microbiology with minor in Chemistry, from Reading University in Reading, Berkshire (about 50 miles west of London).
Carol Leatherman has been a member of Butte College SBDC for 13 years. As an administrative staff, Carol answers requests for services and matches business owners and entrepreneurs to appropriate business consultants, and trainings in addition to other administrative duties. Carol brings to the SBDC a strong customer service background that is felt by everyone who connects with the SBDC. Before joining the SBDC team, Carol worked for Enloe Hospital in Chico, California in various administrative duties.