“Working with my colleagues at West Center and especially with our clients is immensely satisfying. It feels really good to know that we are all helping our small business community be the best it can be.”
West Center Team
People who care can bring about great change. It starts small, with a conversation or two, but soon flourishes into discovery and then achievement. As a team, we support our clients from wherever they start. We build economic prosperity one small business at a time.
Mary Anne Petrillo
CEO of West Business Development Center
Mary Anne Petrillo
Mary Anne Petrillo is West Center’s third Executive Director in its 30-year history. She was hired in 2017 to build the organization’s capacity and deliver new programs. Over the course of the past four years, Ms. Petrillo has expanded training, added a team of specialized business advisors, and developed unique programs that include disaster preparation, business accelerator training, and Centro Latino West, a targeted Spanish language resource program. Under her leadership, the West Center team has not only grown but has expanded its vision to encompass leadership in the county’s economic development planning and execution.
Paloma Patterson joined West Center as Business Development Manager in January 2021 and in 2023 became the Deputy Director of the organization. . Her role in the organization is to oversee West’s day-to-day operations and strategic planning. She will be part of the executive team to develop and implement initiatives that drive growth, improve organizational efficiency, and impact the economy. A native of Mendocino County, Paloma has a Master’s of Art degree in Leadership Studies with an emphasis in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from the University of San Diego, and a Certificate in Fundraising Management from The Fundraising School, a program of The Center for Philanthropy at Indiana University.
Director of Client Services
As a former owner of Mendocino Mustard®, Mike has first-hand knowledge of the challenges faced by small business owners, especially when operating within rural, remote counties. Bringing years of for-profit experience within sales, management, and small business ownership, Mike hopes to make an impact within our community by helping others succeed. He previously served as an Independent Business Advisor for the West Company, the predecessor of the West Business Development Center. Mike earned a BA in History, from the University of California, Berkeley and an MBA from St. Mary’s College of California, School of Economics and Business Administration.
Director of Strategic Programs
Laura Brooks joined West in January 2020 as the Director of Strategic Programs and Women’s Business Center (WBC) Director. In her roles, Laura heads the development of West Center’s business training programs and collaborates with local and state-wide organizations, forging valuable partnerships, including her active involvement with the California WBC Network. Laura also manages the Centro Latino West program to develop high quality training programs in English and Spanish. Laura has a background in program development, community service, and a BA in English from Mills College.
Client Services Manager
Like many SBA business advisors, Steve was first a client with West Center seeking support for marketing and sales activities for his small business venture. Recognizing his long experience in the telecommunications industry and many local connections, West invited Steve to first consult with clients in 2012 and in 2016, he became a full-time Client Services Advisor. On a daily basis, Steve interacts with small business owner clients who are seeking business advice and assistance on a wide array of topics. Steve’s areas of expertise include business start-ups and talent recruitment, operations, budgeting, development of pricing models, and financing.
Elisa has been on the Mendocino Coast since 2019, playing an important role in Event Coordination and Human Resources Management, mostly in hospitality and education. She brings with her a strong dedication to seeing individuals reach their greatest potential and, in turn, creating lasting impact for their communities. Elisa holds a BA from UC Santa Barbara in Latin American & Iberian Studies and Spanish and is currently working towards earning a Certificate from UC Berkeley in Human Resource Management.
Centro Latino West Program Manager
Customer Care Specialist
Originally from New York City, Sasha has been living and loving California for over a decade now. She attended Mendocino College and graduated with two associate degrees in business accounting and business management. Her background will only enhance the understanding she brings to her role at West Center as the Customer Care Specialist. She loves to head to the Saturday’s farmers market in Ukiah and Sunday farmers market in Redwood Valley and enjoys hiking trails all over Northern California, from Humboldt County to Mendocino County.
West Center’s advisors come from a wide array of career paths. They use their specialized knowledge to help our small business community grow and thrive.
Marketing & Market Research
Originally from Australia, Paula has worked and lived in six countries over her 35+ years’ career in Market and Social Research, Marketing and academia. In addition to her professional knowledge and skills, her global experiences have broadened her understanding of both business and consumer behaviors and she brings these insights to her strategic work with clients.
Paula has a MPH and a M. Bus. (Marketing) and is a co-author of several journal articles. She is a graduate of the Leadership Mendocino program and is a Board member of the Redwood Coast Seniors’ Center, Fort Bragg.
Marketing & Advertising
Baqi Kopelman began his career in Hollywood as a Director of Photography for commercials and films. He went on to become a Creative Director and Producer, before turning his attention to helping brands and businesses market their services and products. He has worked with thousands of clients, from major brands to small businesses and individuals, creating content, marketing and communication strategies to boost their businesses and raise capital.
Lisa McCormack has over 30 years as an HR practitioner and leader. She works with small businesses to make HR “manageable” by providing practical solutions to everyday and complex people challenges. Lisa’s strength lies in forging strong relationships with clients. Working for highly successful organizations such as Intel Corporation and numerous venture-backed start-ups has resulted in a pragmatic approach to problem solving and conflict resolution, which produces practical solutions and effective results. Prior to co-founding Affogato HR Consulting, LLC, Lisa spent fourteen years at the Melita Group, where she built and led the HR Consulting practice. Lisa has a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from San Jose State University and is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR).
As a dedicated food industry specialist, Anni has worked with multiple Northern CaliforniaSBDCs since 2005 during which time she has assisted hundreds of food and beverage entrepreneurs, taught insightful workshops, and created dozens of success stories.
After spending two years in Italy studying cultural cuisine, Anni worked with Williams-Sonoma to launch Il Fornaio, designed commercial kitchens, managed catered events, and was on the launch team of a unique food emporium in San Francisco before starting her own wholesale baking company which grew to an international business. During this time she developed a broad network of professional associations and a wide lens on the pulse of the industry’s constantly evolving trends.
Anni is devoted to assisting SBDC clients with the fundamentals of getting started in thespecialty food business, helping them expand, and fulfilling their business dreams.
Our Board serves to guide the organization as it moves through growth and change. Each Board member brings their perspective and life experiences to their role.
Michelle Hutchins is the former Superintendent of Schools for the Mendocino County Office of Education. She was elected in 2018 after spending 24 years in education. Her experience includes having been an art and technology teacher, the director of adult and alternative programs, a university instructor, a principal, and a superintendent in two rural school districts.
In her role as County Superintendent of Schools, Michelle brings her experience to bear as she oversees the regulatory administration and educational support services for all school districts in Mendocino County. She embraces and embodies the Mendocino County Office of Education’s motto, “Success for All Students.”
Dr. Timothy Karas
Dr. Timothy Karas
Dr. Karas has spent the last two decades working in the California Community College system. Prior to serving as the President at the College of Alameda, he held the position of Vice-President of Instruction. Previous positions held include Dean of Liberal Studies and Language Arts at Mission College and tenured faculty member at College of San Mateo. Since 2020, he has been the Superintendent/President for the Mendocino-Lake Community College District.
Dr. Karas has served on several community boards, committees, and commissions, including Rotary, the City of San Jose Library Commission, Bond and Parcel Tax Citizen Oversight Committees, and the Santa Clara County Sister County Commission. Dr. Karas co-authored a chapter in the book Campus Partnership in Small Academic Libraries: Challenges and Rewards.
As branch manager at the Ukiah branch of Redwood Credit Union, Todd’s responsibilities include overseeing member service, staff management, and daily branch operations, as well as local community and business development efforts.
Gerry currently serves on the Willits City Council and was the former Chief of Police for the City of Willits for 13 years retiring in December of 2016. Prior to his retirement he served as a Police Officer, Police Sergeant, and Police Captain before becoming the Chief of Police. In total, Gerry served the Willits community for 30-plus years as a law enforcement Officer.
In addition to the City Council, Gerry currently serves on the Governing Board of Adventist Health Howards Hospital in Willits, is a Board member of the Willits Kid’s Club, and is a member of the Willits Rotary Club. He has been a past board member of the Willits Unified School Board and the Little Lake Fire Board. Gerry holds a Bachelors of Arts in Business Management and Criminal Justice Management from Sonoma State University. He currently resides in Willits with his wife Barbarie who teaches Kindergarten at Brookside Elementary in Willits. Gerry and his wife have two adult children.
Paul retired to Mendocino County in 2013 after a career of 40 years in economic and community development. His broad-based experience included substantial work in small business development, an essential element of West Center’s core mission. He has worked for government agencies, community colleges, non-profits, corporations and his own consulting firm. His professional career included work in El Salvador, Mexico, Oman, and Saudi Arabia.
His previous non-profit experience includes board leadership for Centro Latino Literacy, United Way’s Somos Familia, Neighborhood Housing Services of Orange County, California Community Colleges Contract Education Committee, and has been a member of Orange County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Healthy Smiles, TELACU Community Capital, CSU Fullerton School of Education Advancement Board, Santa Ana Empowerment Zone and Orange County Innovation.
Dr. David Pai
Mendocino College, Associate Professor of Computer Science
Dr. David Pai
David moved to Ukiah in 2014 to take the Professor in Computer Science position at Mendocino College. Before joining Mendocino College, David earned a Doctorate in Communication and Information Sciences at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 2006 and taught Information Technology and Computer Science courses within the University of Hawaii System at both Honolulu Community College and the University of Hawaii—West Oahu. David’s experience includes 15 years in research and development in the aerospace industry, primarily exploring new derivative product opportunities. He has joined the board of the West Business Development Center because he believes developing small businesses is key to the County’s economic success. He has earned degrees in Mechanical Engineering (Bachelors), Business Administration (Masters) and Communication and Information Sciences (Doctorate).
Owner, The Madrones & The Brambles
Jim Roberts has been a resident of Mendocino County for more than 25 years. In 1997 he founded Taylor Roberts, a design firm located in Philo offering services to regional and national home builders on the west coast. The creative think tank garnered regional and national attention with gold awards in The Nationals, platinum BALA awards, and a Gold Nugget award for design and architecture.
Jim is currently an owner/operator of The Madrones and The Brambles, two travel destinations in Mendocino county, as well as co-owner of Wickson Restaurant, The Bohemian Chemist, Sun & Cricket and Sugar Hill Farm. A lifelong entrepreneur, he is vested in the economic development of Mendocino County with a focus on building the regions tourism marketshare while being vested in bettering the quality of life for local residents and supporting fellow stakeholders.
David B. Thurber
Vice President, Branch Manager, Tri Counties Bank
David B. Thurber
David has more than 20 years working in the financial services industry ranging from mortgage lending to financial advising and retirement planning to retail banking and management. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) focused in History from Pennsylvania State University-Erie Campus.
Honorable John Haschak
Mendocino County 3rd District Supervisor
Honorable John Haschak
Raised in Willits, John Haschak attended UCLA where he majored in History and Political Science. John also graduated from UCLA’s Graduate School of Education. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala. After his return to the Mendocino County, he worked as a parent involvement coordinator with Migrant Head Start before teaching Spanish at Willits High School. John chaired the statewide Budget Committee of the California Teachers Association. He was elected 7 times to this position. He also was elected Chair of the Redwood Service Center representing 106 local chapters of the California Teachers Association from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon border. John is now Supervisor for District Three, Mendocino County.
As an authorized nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, West Center makes financial reporting available to the public. All of our financial and reporting documents are available by following the link below or by calling our office at 707-964-7571.