Amber was born in Colorado Springs and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. At 19, she left Colorado to explore America with her husband Mark. After road tripping for months and stints of living in California & Arizona, they made their way back to Durango. Their 2 beautiful children Isabella and Gabriel were both born at the old Mercy Hospital. They bought a house in Hermosa in 2013 and can’t imagine calling any other place home.
Amber has been providing bookkeeping & payroll services to Durango businesses for over 15 years. She is also the founder of Luminous Sojourns & New Hat Baking, and was the former Operations Coordinator at the La Plata County Economic Development Alliance.
Amber believes fostering the success of local independent businesses is the solution to today’s economic struggles in America. She joined the Board of Directors at Local First in May 2016 to aid in the development of that vision here in Durango. She enjoys gardening, singing, dancing, drumming, and always welcomes a good jam session or dart night with her friends.
A management consultant specializing in sustainability and sustainable development, Cindy Dvergsten helps clients acquire decision-making skills that allow them to be socially, economically, and environmentally sound.
Dvergsten started her training and development company Whole New Concepts, LLC in 1996.
“My specialty is agriculture, so I teach land planning, grazing planning, and all the things that go along with agriculture. Most of my clients are family-based farming operations,” said Cindy.
Dvergsten works with ranches all across the U.S. and abroad, most of which are looking to develop products, and some of which are just getting into farming for the first time.
“I coach them on defining this or that enterprise,” Cindy says. “Some want to start big but get the cart before the horse, so we go through enterprise by enterprise and analyze which ones can be profitable and fit in with the big picture.”
As the interest in agriculture bounces back, Dvergsten is excited about the new economic possibilities that come with the resurgence.
“Twenty years ago if you mentioned words like ‘sustainability’ and ‘holistic,’ people just looked at you,” Cindy recalls. “Now the concepts are more accepted but people still don’t know the how-to’s. And more people want to get into agriculture and also invest in it, so there are some new opportunities to capitalize on agriculture,” Cindy adds. “There’re good possibilities for entrepreneurs who want to be processors, packers, distributors, marketers, even retailers.”
Dvergsten cites Navajo trail sheep as an enterprise that will be in demand to fill a worldwide shortage in lamb and supply emerging industries like carpet wool.
But more than just wanting to see land used in an enterprising and sustainable way, Cindy is a natural champion of people. “I love coaching and moving people forward, and at this point in my life I get to bring all my experiences and skills into the mix, which is enhancing my ability to help.”
Starting Your Business (Accounting)
Coelene M. O’Kane, CPA, CGMA is a Tax Manager assisting with all areas at FredrickZink & Associates, PC. Of the 15 years with the firm, she spent the first 10 years in the audit and financial reporting areas. Coelene now concentrates in the areas of tax return preparation for individuals and business, with focus on estate and trust work. She especially enjoys helping new businesses get their accounting systems up and running and aiding existing businesses in improving their reporting capabilities. Coelene has also provided services in investigatory accounting regarding fraud and embezzlement for conservatorships and non-profit entities.
Coelene was born in Oklahoma and spent some time in Texas, but she has enjoyed the last 40 years in Colorado. She received a BA in Business Administration in 1999 and a BA in Accounting in 2001 from Fort Lewis College and earned her Certified Public Accouting License in 2004. In addition to working full time for FredrickZink & Associates, Coelene is co-owner and accountant for a chokecherry farm that has operated in La Plata County for many years.
Coelene is a member of the Colorado Society of CPAs, American Institute of CPAs and a Chartered Global Management Accountant. She has been actively involved in a variety of the education programs and committees of Durango School District 9-R over the last 25 years, with 8 years serving as a member on the 9-R Finance Committee. Coelene co-facilitates the accounting portion of the quarterly seminars hosted by the Small Business Development Center “How to Start Your Own Business.” She is a standing member of First United Methodist Church and is a Durango Diplomat. As a Diplomat, she acts as a goodwill ambassador for the Durango Chamber of Commerce, volunteering in the community, assisting with ribbon cuttings to celebrate grand openings and other special events throughout the year. Coelene was named “2017 – Diplomat of the Year” by the Chamber of Commerce for her exceptional commitment to the business community as a Durango Diplomat. Coelene and her husband Sean have 5 children. Coelene enjoys dancing, singing, sewing, gardening, camping and playing with her grandchildren.
Starting Your Business (Marketing)
Durango Chamber of Commerce executive director Jack Llewellyn has lots of marketing tricks up his sleeve from many years’ experience in radio/TV sales and corporate fundraising.
A Fort Lewis College graduate in English and Communications, Llewellyn started his career as a radio DJ and segued into sales. Jack’s previous posts include sales manager and station manager at Kiss Radio (now Kiss Country), general sales manager at Clear Channel, and corporate fundraiser for FLC Athletics.
“I’ve seen success because of my ability to come up with advertising campaigns that stand out from the clutter, and also from knowing how to coordinate print, radio, TV and cable instead of just shot-gunning the approach out there.”
Llewellyn can help clients write scripts for radio or TV ads and put together a comprehensive campaign. “My focus is more on the creative side,” explains Jack. “I enjoy brainstorming and coming up with fun, innovative ideas. There is a lot to be said for some of the ways you can do it.”
Llewellyn can look at clients’ needs and help come up with a cost-effective media-buying strategy. As Chamber director for four years now, he is also finely tuned into the local business community
“We [the Chamber and the SBDC] try to connect everyone with the right people,” he says. “The Chamber does a lot of member-to-member events. We have about 800 members. There are so many offerings under our umbrella that continue to expand and evolve.”
Jack has also been through various trainings for Ref USA, a national data mining program that can be a guide for marketing, business sector indicators, competition analysis, and revenue projections.
The Durango Chamber, the SBDC, Region 9 EDD and the La Plata Alliance partner to offer Ref USA as a resource for local businesses.
Starting Your Nonprofit
Janice Moen has over thirty years of accounting experience, twenty-two years of that time she was the Chief Financial Officer or Chief Executive Officer of nonprofit agencies. Janice received a BBA and a Master in Accounting from the University of New Mexico. She has been a licensed CPA since 2001. Janice has worked with nonprofit organizations of all sizes, including as the CFO of a nonprofit organization with $25 million in revenue and 700 employees. She has extensive experience in preparing the IRS Form 990 and presented for seven years on the IRS Form 990 and other related nonprofit topics. Janice was faculty at the University of New Mexico Anderson’s School of Business for six years. During that time she developed a graduate level class on nonprofit accounting and the IRS Form 990. She also taught financial accounting and auditing. Janice founded and was the CEO of a NM nonprofit CPA firm focused solely on providing 501(c)(3) organizations CFO and bookkeeping services.
In addition to 20 years’ experience in management and consulting, Jasper Welch has been involved in the Durango business community in various capacities.
Welch owned and operated Basin Reproduction & Printing for seven years, headed the Durango Chamber of Commerce for four years, and served on the Durango City Council for eight. Since 1999 Welch has directed the business incubator at San Juan College in Farmington, New Mexico. He also served on advisory boards for local emerging companies like StoneAge Waterblast Tools and FastTrack Communications.
Currently, Jasper is serving on the advisory board for Durango Space, a coworking facility where freelance professionals or mobile workers can utilize office space and other resources; Welch launched Durango Space with business partner Nancy Wharton in February of 2011.
The co-mentoring among that occurs in Durango Space will only add to what Welch has learned from other entrepreneurs over years of advising. “I’ve learned as much from the entrepreneurs I’ve advised as they’ve learned from me, then I take that part of the mix and pump it back in. That cross-pollination helps me do a better job for them.”
Although he just recently joined the Business Advisors Network, Jasper has been involved with the Southwest Colorado SBDC since the 1990s, as a Next Level instructor (now called Leading Edge Entrepreneurial Training) and as a guest speaker for the Marketing for Smarties series. Welch’s area of expertise in business advising covers a broad spectrum. “I am more of a generalist with expertise on a broad range of fields,” explains Jasper. “I’ve focused on start-ups, emerging companies, and have done a lot with negotiation in family- and co-owned businesses, too.
“A lot of times people just need someone who can walk them through issues – when to sell, or management team or growth issues. It can be hard to self-manage your company without outside advice – you just can’t see everything.”
Starting Your Business (Accounting)
John. M. Lopez, CPA, CGMA, is an owner and manages the firm’s tax practice at FredrickZink & Associates, PC. He handles tax preparation, audits, accounting, and consultation for the firm.
John brings over twenty years of experience in public accounting, auditing nonprofit organizations and common interest realty associations, along with the preparation of business, nonprofit, and individual tax returns.
John grew up in El Paso, Texas and earned his BA in Accounting from the University of Texas at El Paso. John began his career as an internal auditor with a Fortune 500 natural resource company, then became part of the accounting team of the first interstate natural gas pipeline in California. He entered the field of public accounting in the mid-90’s when he relocated to Southwest Florida, prior to his move to Durango in 2012.
John is a member of the Colorado Society of CPAs, American Institute of CPAs, and a Chartered Global Account Manager. Board Treasurer of Home Builders of Southwest Colorado, Local First and Co-Treasurer of Durango Arts Center, John supports the growth and development of local Durango businesses. John also volunteers as finance co-chair for American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life. John enjoys hiking, skiing, and biking with his husband Roy and their three dogs.
Khara Wolf is a digital marketing specialist and graphic designer based out of Durango, Colorado. She is the owner of Khara Wolf Design and has been assisting local and international businesses and organizations grow since 2014.
Ms. Wolf focuses on social media marketing, email marketing, websites, logos, brand identity, digital marketing collateral, and print advertising. Her marketing strategies are focused on ROI (return on investment) goals to maximize marketing efforts and meet conversion goals.
Khara also maintains an active role as the Digital Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the International Double Reed Society, a non-profit organization for oboe and bassoon players.
Microsoft Excel for Your Small Business
Dr. Larry Corman retired in 2007 as Professor Emeritus after teaching at Fort Lewis College since 1982. Prior to Durango, CO, he was employed with a Fortune 500 firm in various financial/accounting positions. After moving to Durango, he was hired by Fort Lewis College, initially to teach Business Statistics. He taught in this subject area along with Auditing and Management Information Systems prior to his acceptance into the Business Computer Information Systems Ph.D. program at the University of North Texas. After completing his doctorate, he returned to Fort Lewis College where he eventually retired as the Assistant Dean for the School of Business Administration.
After “retirement”, Dr. Corman taught at the university level with the University of Maryland University College. He taught graduate courses in cost accounting along with financial modeling using Excel. His expertise is in data analysis using the various Excel tools that facilitate this process. Please refer to the Excel tutorialsthat provide some examples of some of these tools.
In 2012-13, Dr. Corman returned to Fort Lewis College as a visiting professor with the directive to develop some new hybrid courses (a mixture of face-to-face instruction plus online instruction). The new courses included Risk Management (using @Risk) along with spreadsheet modeling. In addition, he taught Financial Accounting, Personal Finance, and Business Statistics.
Besides the “serious side” of my life, I thoroughly enjoy the benefits of living in southwest Colorado. Whether it be hiking, ice fishing, enjoying the temperate climate, I don’t think there’s a better place to live.
Laura Hokanson got interested in accounting while working for the U.S.D.A. Forest Service in the Visitor Center in Bishop, California. Her Associates of Science degree in Forestry Technology from Sierra College in Rocklin, CA, qualified her for a Federal Job. The Visitor Center assigned her to some bookkeeping tasks and she found that she really enjoyed it!
She then pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration on Accounting from California State University in Sacramento followed by a Master’s of Science in Accounting from the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. Among her notable honors, Laura received a Fulbright Scholarship in 1994-1995 to study and conduct research in Canada.
For 13 years, she did audits, reviews, compilations and tax returns for Gallina LLP, a CPA firm based in Sacramento. She also conducted new staff trainings and monitored their work.
Laura has been a CPA for over 20 years and is currently in public practice after working with local CPA firm, FredrickZink and Associates. She also teaches an Accounting Information Systems course at Fort Lewis College, and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the New Mexico Society of CPA’s.
As an advisor for the SBDC and QuickBooks Pro Advisor, Laura enjoys helping client’s set-up their QuickBooks systems and further understand the capabilities of the software as it relates to their business. She explains, “There are different editions of QuickBooks for different industries. The needs of business vary and the edition takes in to consideration the vast inventory of a retail establishment, versus the needs of a construction company, an architect or a non-profit.”
She loves the variety of clients she meets with and looks at their businesses as puzzle pieces. “A new business has different requirements from one that is in a growth phase.” Her experience as an auditor, helps her determine how best to advise the client on what kinds of reports would be most beneficial to gauge how the business is doing. She also assesses and provides advice on employee pay rates and benefits, determining pricing and looks at the hard and soft or indirect costs of doing business.
She thinks, “It is fun to look at what kind of reports would be beneficial in helping the business run efficiently and effectively. Businesses should have an accurate Profit and Loss statement and know what their best selling items are.”
In her spare time, she loves gardening in a greenhouse and in raised beds at her home in Vallecito Lake at 7,800 feet. She likes hiking and then show-shoeing in the winter. In addition to quilting, she “brings the history from the 1800’s back to life in demonstrations of candle making and Dutch- oven cooking.”
Starting Your Business (Legal)
Lindsey Nicholson’s practice focuses on real estate and business transactions. She regularly assists clients with commercial and residential real estate acquisitions, due diligence, leasing, financing, and development. Her business and commercial transactions practice includes the start-up and acquisition of businesses, entity formation, owners’ agreements and ongoing operational matters.
Served as local counsel to the purchaser of local ski resort with regard to financing matters.
Represented the real estate affiliate of a local medical practice in connection with the acquisition, development, leasing and sale of a new medical center.
Advised investors on all aspects of a large townhome project, from formation of development entity, to pre-purchase due diligence, to construction and sale of units.
Ongoing representation of numerous local restaurants, breweries, and retail stores.
Starting Your Business (Start-Up Specialist)
Mary Shepherd joined the Southwest Colorado SBDC as the Office Manager in December 2014. Prior to that, she worked in the office of admission at Fort Lewis College.
Mary has lived in Southwest Colorado for over 20 years, working in many industries from public relations to hospitality management to educational recruitment. As a public relations account manager, she worked with national outdoor brands to develop media strategies and direct outreach and campaigns to build a favorable brand image with customers, prospects, retail channels and the public. She understands the challenges of small business ownership, having owned a small restaurant in Durango with her husband. She wishes she would have known then about the services the SBDC provides.
Mary received her Bachelor’s Degree in Government from Cornell University. She is a recent Leadership La Plata graduate and serves on the LLP Alumni Committee. She is also currently serving on the steering committee for Southwest Rural Philanthropy Days 2018. She enjoys travelling, camping, and all the great outdoor recreation opportunities that life in Colorado provides.
Rich Lindblad taught entrepreneur workshops on the East Coast at the undergraduate and graduate level for 15 years. His interest in small businesses led him to launch, run and sell several small businesses himself, including a Christmas tree farm in New Jersey, where picking out hand-trimmed trees was a festive experience, not just an errand.
Rich currently teaches the Next Level Leading Edge program in Pagosa Springs and, as a business advisor, spends a fair amount of time with “business owners and people who think they want to go into business but are not sure,” he says. “It’s a coaching exercise, and if you can do it right, you can help lots of people.”
He describes his advising areas as having “no limit.” “You never know what you’re getting into when you provide advice to people – restaurants, cafes, retail stores, private businesses. To be able to turn them around and have them see what they don’t see – that is my job,” Lindblad states. He also offers what he terms as “an environmental scan” of a business. “If you trust me long enough to let me come and hang out with you, I’ll notice things about your retail establishment that customers see that you don’t see because you are too close to it. That is the fun part.” Rich also enjoys working on financials and sharing the concept of utilization.
A self-proclaimed “wannabe chef” who has taken close to 40 cooking classes, Lindblad gives cooking classes in the winter for seniors at the Pagosa Community Center. His favorite cuisine to cook? “Southwestern – not too hot but with a lot of unusual flavors.”
Social Media and SEO
Sean grew up in the Silicon Valley surrounded by technology and learned to use a computer around the same time he learned to speak.
He attended Film School at Humboldt State University and over the past four years, Sean has made a name for himself in Durango as a Digital Marketing guru working for several clients in varying types of businesses.
He is the Committee Chair of Marketing for The Colorado Restaurant Association -Durango Chapter and specializes in food, beverage, and hospitality marketing.
When he’s not glued to his computer, you can find Sean at the movie theater seeing the newest superhero film for the third time.
Understanding Your Financial Statements and Leading Edge
Business Advisor Terryl Peterson garnered most of her expertise working as the chief financial officer for 15 years for Durango-based Lore International (now called Korn/Ferry), a leadership- and executive-development company. “Although I was not the entrepreneur there, it’s a very entrepreneurial company,” says Terryl. “I worked closely with the founder; we grew from seven employees to 50-plus when I was there.”
After leaving Lore, Terryl dove into the entrepreneurial world by starting her own consulting practice a year ago. “Through all of our work at Lore, we had contact with a number of other entrepreneurs and business associates, so I had some third-party exposure to that world and what it takes to launch a business of any kind.”
Although her focus is mostly financial, i.e., how to create cash flow projections, Terryl can offer perspective on the operational side as well. “I do a lot of startup consulting and help people walk through the business plan setup. At Lore I did all the legal and contracts, so I have some exposure to setting up your business entity, what approach to take.”
Between running her own business and pursuing her outdoor passions – which include hiking, skiing, backpacking, camping – Terryl makes time to work as a Business Advisor because she likes the variety. “It’s inspiring to see all the different concepts coming up, and then to be able to help people who would otherwise just be trying to figure it out on their own. Hopefully, we can help them make their idea into something.”
Social Media and SEO
Since the dawn of time, this man always had an interest in computers and the digital world. Building his first website at the age of 11 was only the beginning of what would become a career in digital marketing.
After receiving a BA in Marketing at Fort Lewis College, he set off on an adventure to create an agency focused on small business growth through digital marketing solutions.
When he is not nerding out at the office, you can find him playing the banjo, snowboarding, or off on a backcountry hike.