Meet the SBDC Team

The Illinois SBDC at Harper College provides no-cost confidential consulting for startups, small, medium and home-based businesses. Schedule below to receive expert help with one of our advisors. 

Our services are paid for through a partnership between DCEO, the Small Business Administration and Harper College and cost you nothing.

Tom Cassell: General Guidance

Thomas Cassell PhotoAs Director of the Illinois Small Business Development Center at Harper College, Tom Cassell advises startups, early stage, and mature companies on financing, marketing, strategy, operations and business development. He has provided one-on-one business coaching to 1000+ businesses across many different industries over the last 12 years. Tom has helped Chicagoland businesses acquire over $30 million in startup and operating capital, helping to create and retain hundreds of jobs in Illinois. Tom served on Congresswoman’s Tammy Duckworth’s Small Business Advisory Committee and is a Fellow for the U.S. State Department’s Small Business Network of the Americas Program.

Anthony J. Baldassano: Accounting, Tax, General Guidance

Anthony J. Baldassano PhotoAnthony J. Baldassano has extensive experience in tax services, business coaching, and financial consulting, including business and estate planning, business evaluation, and management services. His experience includes a broad range of industries, including: real estate, wholesale distributors, trucking companies, retailers, contractors, education, chemical companies, contract manufacturers, farming, and business services. Anthony J. Baldassano graduated cum laude in May 1988 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from Northern Illinois University and Master of Science degree in Accounting from DePaul University. He holds a Certified Public Accounting certificate from the State of Illinois and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. He has passed the Investment Advisor licensing exam and holds the Professional Financial Specialist (PFS) credential, issued only to Certified Public Accountants. Learn more about Tony.

Dennis LaPorta: Sales Strategy Help

Dennis LaPorta PhotoDo you need help with developing your sales strategy? Not having much luck with your sales calls? Dennis LaPorta can help. He's been in sales for over 25 years and has an in-depth understanding of the many hurdles facing entrepreneurs in their efforts to launch a successful sales campaign. Dennis will help you fine tune your sales technique resulting in better outcomes. Dennis can help with sales calls, sales message, sales strategy, consultative sales, sales presentations, prospecting and much more. Learn more about Dennis.

Jennie Johns: Website and Technology HelpJennyJohns

Book an appointment with Jennie Johns if you need assistance with your website, email service, and/or other technology issues. Jennie specializes in web functionality, usability and customer experience. She can assist with your technical questions regarding website creation, deployment, and ongoing maintenance. Jennie has over 20 years experience in developing websites along with 8 years teaching website usability, programming, and Microsoft Office applications. Learn more about Jennie.

Cheri Kretsinger: Marketing, Branding, P&L Management

Cheri Kretsinger PhotoCheri’s Fortune 500 marketing experience gives her the ability to help businesses with everything from developing a strategic marketing plan, to commercializing a product, to writing a press release. On the strategy side, she really enjoys helping folks refine their marketing strategy and communications plan through a situation assessment, SWOT analysis, and a review of their branding and positioning. Cheri’s broad business background also enables her to help with general business tasks like budgeting, forecasting, P&L management, and pricing. As a brand manager she was responsible for product and packaging development, pricing, and promotion of products through various distribution channels like grocery stores, mass merchants, club stores, c-stores, vending, food service, and e-commerce. Cheri holds a BA in chemistry from Northwestern University and an MBA from DePaul University. Learn more about Cheri.

Kevin McVearry: Restaurant/Bar, Hospitality Specialist

Kevin McVearry PhotoKevin specializes in the restaurant and hospitality industry and works with business owners at all levels of operations- from start-ups to well-established businesses. Kevin has spent 25 years starting and operating restaurants, bars, and industry-related events across the country. Kevin has extensive knowledge about establishing new ventures, including venue selection, conceptual design, construction, budgeting, menu development, promotions, and customer acquisition and retention. He is also experienced in recruiting, hiring, training, and coaching employees of all levels including senior management. Kevin has been an SBDC Business Advisor since 2012.


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