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Counselor Bios

SCORE, America’s Counselors to Small Business, is a volunteer organization that does free counseling for entrepreneurs starting their own business and free consulting to small business with problems of any type. The SCORE Greater Knoxville chapter has over 30 counselors who have volunteered to do this work free of charge. What type of people are they? Does their background qualify them to do this counseling and consulting? Here is a brief description of some of these volunteers:


Michael Baltzell –  Michael  (Mike) Baltzell retired from Alcoa in September of 2005 after more than 34 years of service in the Aluminium Industry from the position of President Primary Growth for Alcoa. In that position he was responsible for developing organic growth opportunities in the Primary Group from initiation through start up. In that role he developed and staffed the Growth Organization and was the Lead Negotiator for the Alcoa Fjardaal Aluminium Smelter in Eastern Iceland. Prior to that position he was President, Alcoa World Alumina – Australia and Managing Director, Alcoa of Australia in from December 1998 and was stationed in Perth, Australia.  He joined Alcoa in July 1998 following Alcoa’s acquisition of Alumax Inc. as executive vice president, Manufacturing for the Primary Metals business unit.  Prior to joining Alcoa, Mike was president of Alumax Primary Aluminum Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Alumax Inc.  After retirement, Mike consulted exclusively with Alcoa in the areas of Smelting Technology, Raw Material Supply Strategy, and due diligence for smelters until September 2007.  He has extensive experience in China.   Mike is currently President of Baltzell Management Consulting, LLC and has been consulting with a Chinese company selling technology into the United States.   He received his bachelor of engineering science degree in operations research and industrial engineering from Johns Hopkins University in 1971 and a Master of Science degree in operations research from George Washington University in 1976.  Mike also conducted postgraduate studies at Hood College and is a graduate of the University of Michigan Executive Program.

Bruce Benton – Industry Experience: Banking, Financial Services and Insurance, Homeowner Services/Home Improvement, Marketing, Advertising and Creative Services, Retail and Wholesale Trade, Technology and Web-Based Services Professional Experience: I am basically a retired serial entrepreneur. Education: Stanford University and Stanford Business School Experience: Investment banking, very large commercial photography studio and photo lab, venture capital, marketing, mail order and web based businesses for specialized light bulbs and then for personalized teddy bears and over 200 different plush animals. I owned and operated a construction oriented home fix it business. At one time, many years ago, I was a licensed life and disability insurance agent. In recent years, I completed a two year course of study to become an ABA certified paralegal.

Paul Bowman

Marc Brashares – Marc retired after 32 years in the Yellow Pages business with The Berry Company/AT&T. He has a BS in Applied Organizational Management from Tusculum University. During his career he worked in a wide range of management and leadership positions. His career began in outside sales in Louisville, KY. He then transitioned to management and served as Premise Trainer and District Sales Manager In Birmingham, AL and Area Sales Manager in Louisville, KY with responsibilities for 24 sales reps and 4 District Managers. The E TN Division was created and he served as Division Manager with 45 sales people and 8 managers including  2 Operation and 7 District Managers. During that time he was involved in creation and implementation of  a new type of Division structure (Segmented team sales) which was modeled and proven in E TN. He was then asked in implement the new structure company wide in 17 divisions. He also served as Director of Marketing, Director of Training, Division Manager for NY and PA and as Senior Managing Director Of Berry Sales and Marketing Solutions he launched an international consulting business offering a broad range of consulting services to International publishers in Europe, South Africa, Australia, and Japan. At the same time he also had responsibilities for business development (new and renewal contacts with Telephone companies). After the sale of the company to Local Insight Media he was the leader of the strategic transition team and was responsible for the movement into the sale of websites, SEO and SEM. He has extensive experience in sales and marketing, leadership, project management, and HR/Training. Since 2010 he has been a Score mentor in Dayton, OH and Knoxville, TN

Guy Briggs

Cliff Caudill

Chuck Christiansen – General Management, Executive: P&L responsibility for manufacturing facilities in areas of metal stampings, cold heading & forming, impact extrusion, plastic injection molding & extrusion, assembly, distribution & warehousing. Owner of several small retail firms. Particularly skilled & adept at “Turn Around Management”. Several years [over 15] experience in Sales & Marketing. Owned a screw & washer assembly operation. Owned retail establishments ranging from mail order to gift shop to camping trailer distribution. Consultant for Reorganization, Strategic Planning, and Business Planning. International Executive Service Corps volunteer with completed assignments in Macedonia [1 seven month assignment] , Kazakhstan [3 assignments, 1 month, 3 months, 4 months] & 1 assignment Tajikistan [3 months]Education: Rockford School of Business, Rockford, Illinois with accounting degree. Many courses and seminars in management, marketing, personnel & human relations. Extensive experience in third world countries as volunteer adviser to companies converting from planned economy to market economy in all areas of industry; retail, wholesale, distribution, manufacturing, service, communications, transportation, agriculture

Dan Clifton –  Thirty nine years as an Executive and CEO for Boy Scouts of America. Worked with Longhorn Council in Fort Worth, Texas; Blue Ridge Mountain Council in Roanoke,Virginia; Cape Fear Council in Wilmington, North Carolina; and Great Smoky Mountain Council in Knoxville, Tennessee. Areas of expertise include non-profit organizations, business plans and strategies, budgeting, fund raising including trust and foundation management and building maintenance.




Evan Evans

Bob Fisher Senior executive with 20+ yrs. experience building profitable manufacturing companies worldwide. Functional experience includes division management, plant management, mergers & acquisitions, sales/marketing management, strategic planning, corporate finance and manufacturing operations. Industry experience includes networking equipment, power distribution equipment, automotive climate controls, electronic sensors, instrumentation, robotics, factory automation equipment, Internet sales, precision measurement equipment, lobbying, non-profits and education. Company size experience includes start-ups, 10 million and 5 billion+ (union and non-union). Education: MBA Harvard Business School. Retired in mid-40s to volunteer/give back on Non-Profit Boards and as Adjunct College Professor (Marketing/Sales/Strategic Mgmt.).


Cindy Galler

Mike Garl – President & General Manager of Tomcat USA, Inc. Set up 60,00 sq. ft. manufacturing facility in Knoxville, TN then supervised the relocation of 2 facilities from Guadalajara, Mexico and Midland, TX. President & CEO of James Thomas Engineering, Inc. Built company from 1 man operation to 37 employee manufacturing operating within an ISO 9001:2008 Quality Assurance System developed in house.  Worked with PLASA (International Trade Association) Technical Standards Program in the development of ANSI Standards for the Entertainment Industry. Currently Co-Chair of Technical Standards Council and formerly Chair of the Rigging Working Group.  Currently a Recognized Trainer for Entertainment Technician Certification Program.


Ed Harless - has over 30 years of diverse business experience in the Health Care and Marketing Services industries. He recently retired from ADVO, Inc, the nation’s largest full service targeted direct mail marketing services company, as Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer. He held various positions at life science company Aventis Bio-Services, including Senior Vice President and General Manager, and has held senior human resources and general management positions with American Hospital Supply Corporation, Revlon Healthcare, and Pilkington Barnes-Hind. He has had hands on experience in new business start-ups and business turnarounds. Primary skills are general management, customer service and logistics, human resources, and business planning. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Purdue University and a Master of Business Administration from Pepperdine University. He has served as a Director for the Hartford Arts council, and, as a veteran of the U.S. Navy, is an active member of the American Legion



Alice Hodge– spent the last 2 years of her business career at corporate headquarters with Office Depot as the Senior Infrastructure Technology Manager of Production Services in Global Technology Support. Office Depot: $15.5 billion annual sales, 52,000 associates in 43 countries with 1,212 retail stores in North America and 384 across the globe. Alice’s team supported multiple technology tools and corporate processes including: batch job processing scheduling, monitoring tools for the distributed environment, report production and archiving, in & out bound electronic file transfer process, change control management, automated code promotion, deployment and repository tools working closely with the Global Data Center and the Application Development Teams.

Prior to Office Depot, Alice dedicated 22 years of her career to Citibank / Citigroup Consumer Banking Divisions in NY and FL with a myriad of jobs and functions from individual contributor to managing a staff of 60. Positions included: Training & Development Management, Project / Program Management, Major Systems Implementations, Data Center Consolidations, New Product Technology Development, Liaison between business management & technology. As a certified Black Belt in Quality, her last position at Citibank was as the Latin America Consumer Bank Quality Manager supporting 9 countries and delivering higher customer quality scores and Net Promoter Score increases by improving the customer experience.  Remarkably, Alice started her professional career in the health field as a Speech and Language Pathologist.

Frank Kot – has over 40 years of diverse engineering and product development experience n the Consumer Electronics industry. He recently retired from Philips, a major global consumer and industrial electronics company, as Senior Director of Strategic Product Planning for US Projection Television products. He held various positions at Philips, including Director of advanced digital set-top technology and VP of Engineering of an in-house startup technology business (PHIS). Primary skills are product development planning and engineering management. He has earned Bachelor and Master of Science degrees from the University of Illinois and a Master of Business Administration from Loyola University in Chicago. For the past 20 years he has been an active volunteer for AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization).



Vern Lindsey – Significant executive management and ownership experience in the retail industry involving direct responsibility in all functional operations including store management, inventory management, product ordering, sales training, negotiations, store design and merchandising. Retail experience includes small specialty shops and large discount stores. Ownership experience in high tech electronics local and franchise operations as well as local restaurant businesses. In addition to this entrepreneurial experience, Mr. Lindsey has extensive skills and experience in marketing and advertising in both radio and TV including programs and production.

Retail: 60’s into the 90’s
60’s: Management with Women’s Ready to Wear, Records, Cameras with Overall Store Management, bookkeeping & Security of K-Mart style store.
Management and ordering of over a thousand products weekly with Rite Aid Discount stores.
70’s: Management, merchandising, product ordering, Sales Training and more with Circuit City.
Co-Ownership of #1 grossing Harvey’s Warehouse Audio/Video franchisee (1.5 million out of 2000 sq ft store @ 35% margin).
Co-Ownership of Hi Fi Heaven (upscale Audio/Video store)
80’s: Co-Ownership of Lindsey Ward, The Electronics Store for over 10 years in Knoxville with sales of 3.5 million a year@ 34% margin at the Knoxville store of 13,000+ square feet.
VP Marketing of Sales for Stereo Sound aka NOW! AudioVideo.
Duties from the 80’s owned stores included: “Nitch Marketing”, Merchandising, Vendor Relationships, Sales Training, Lease Negotiations, Display, layout, Floor Planning,

90’s: Restaurant & Food:
Ownership of Hilton Head Ice Cream and Soups & Scoops Café for 12 years including both. Expertise in Customer Service, Food Tasting, Menu Planning, Food Cost strategy, Recipe development and tweaking.

Marketing & Advertising:
70’s: Sales & Client advocate for CBS and ABC TV in Richmond, Va. (5 years)
90’s: Radio Sales & Marketing representing WIMZ, B-97 & Extreme Radio in Knoxville.
2002-2011: Charter Media. Client Representation for Cable Advertising Sales, Marketing, Client Production, Creative and On-Air host of 30 minute programs including “A Taste of Knoxville” and “Everyday Kitchen”.
2012-2015: Comcast Spotlight. . Client Representation for Cable Advertising Sales, Marketing, Client Production, Creative Commercials. Retired 12/31/15
2016-Present: Senior Account Executive with Citizen Agency, a Retail focused Advertising Agency.



Bob Nicholson


Dana Peterka – Received his Bachelor of Science degree from South Dakota School of Mines. Has completed over 40 educational programs including Certified Financial Counselor Training by Dave Ramsey, Work Process Re-engineering by Geary Rummler, Creative Problem Solving at Synectics, New Product Development at the University of Michigan, and Marketing and Business Management programs at Columbia University. Served as Director of Marketing and IT Director at a Dow Jones 30 industrial company. Is Chair of the Small Business and Retail Committee of the Roane County Chamber of Commerce and past Chair of SCORE Greater Knoxville. Enjoys doing volunteer work including working with small business managers to improve their effectiveness.


Walter Roessler – Holds a BSIE and an MBA with an Econ Major, retired from General Motors after 39+ years, half of which was involved in Industrial and Systems Engineering activities including factory floor process and methods improvements and design and implementation of business systems in large manufacturing operations.  The last 20 years were spent in Materials Management and Purchasing, managing and directing Production/Inventory Control activities, plus responsibility for a buying and supplier quality group overseeing $2.5B annual procurement value. A member of AIIE (American Institute of Industrial Engineers) and a Lifetime Certified Purchasing Manager (NAPM).  Has led major fund raising activities and served as an officer and board member of various nonprofit activities.


Barb Skidmore – Barb began her career in City Planning and City Management moving onto Business and Community Development rapidly. She received both her Bachelors and Master’s degrees from Kent State University moving onto a Certification in Economic Development Finance from the National Development Council. She moved from geographic assignments to industry specific, from local to regional to statewide responsibilities, during her career, in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Her experience ranges from start-ups, to turnarounds, to manufacturing, retail and service, to technology-based companies. She has worked with Mom and Pop businesses all the way up to Fortune Five Hundred companies.

Her expertise is in business plan preparation and analysis, loan applications, cash flow analysis, government incentives to business and government, business management, negotiations, development of industry, downtowns, non-profits and micro-businesses. She has acted as an Ombudsman for business issues in general and an advocate for individual small businesses. Additionally, she has operated her own small genealogy-based business since 1992 and has served as an Adjunct Professor at three Colleges in business, government, accounting and history. She offers a 43 year multi-disciplinary background, eagerness to problem solve and a creative approach to analyzing any situation.


Paul Swiderski Retired from The Carlisle Transportation Products Company following 28 years of service in manufacturing and operations in the industrial tire manufacturing business. Paul held various management positions in customer service, operations, logistics, IT and systems. This experience eventually led to the position of Plant Manager of the Clinton, TN plant. Paul was also the Project Manager for the Carlisle Transportation Product’s two year project which consolidated 3 manufacturing plants into one facility in Jackson, TN. The scope of this project was to convert a 550K square foot manufacturing and distribution facility into a tire manufacturing facility. Prior to coming to Tennessee, Paul held various positions in Traffic Management and Operations positions with The Alberto Culver Company and the Bearcat Tire Co in the Chicago area. Paul has a Bachelor of Applied Science Degree in Business Administration from Tennessee Wesleyan College and is APICS Certified.

Dennis Thompson – Received BS Engineering degree with graduate courses in Management.  Over 20 years experience in Project Management, mostly in US Government and foreign contracts. Received certification as a Project Management Professional (PMP) in 2009.  Retired in May, 2014 from a Knoxville small business as Manager of the PM group. Was owner and manager of a small commercial printing company in the St. Louis area for 8 years, where a SCORE counselor was helpful in evaluating company expansion options.​

Jennifer Watkins Jennifer Watkins is an Industrial Engineer by education, experience, and nature. For over twenty-five years, she has implemented process improvements, performed cost analyses, and led projects in the manufacturing sector. While she spent some time in the food and garment industries, most of her experience has been in the extremely challenging automotive supply base. She is also a partner in a small candy manufacturing business, which gives her opportunity to use her skills in her own company as well as eat lots of candy. When not busy with work or business, she enjoys hiking, reading, and spoiling her dog.


Tom Welch Tom has experience in federal taxes having worked for the Internal Revenue Service. I have practiced accounting specializing in preparing federal and state income tax returns for over 30 years. I have worked in the forensic accounting area having assisted in federal financial fraud cases. I am a Certified Fraud Examiner and Certified Public Accountant licensed in Illinois. I have worked in the bankruptcy field as an administrator reviewing Federal Panel Trustees bankruptcy operations. I graduated from DePaul University with a Bachelor Degree in Commerce.

Walter Williams – Received an Industrial Engineering Degree from the Ohio State University and MBA from University of Dayton. After working in the automotive industry second tier supplier manufacture with engineering, plant and general management responsibilities, he founded a consulting company for computer based business systems for manufacturing as a regional BM business partner . Then worked with University of Tennessee’s Center for Industrial Services as an Electronic Commerce Consultant serving small business across the state of Tennessee. Volunteer activity in Knoxville included board member duties for such organizations as Knoxville Chamber of Commerce, American Red Cross, APICS and Kidney Foundation. Recent work activities include consulting and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Internet web site design.


Jim Yann



Vincent Adorno – [ON INACTIVE STATUS]   Started as a Mechanical Engineer at Alcoa. Held various Department Managerial positions. Plant Manager at a New York and Washington State Alcoa Facility. Last position was VP Engineering/Capital/Reliability for Alcoa Primary Metals Global System. Strong Leadership and People skills along with ability to turn around businesses.

Bill Beres[ON INACTIVE STATUS] has over 30 years of Fortune 500 and Entrepreneurial experience in Domestic and International business arenas with P&L responsibility. Markets served are business to business, business to consumer in electronics, construction, medical/dental, advertising. Skill set components include Strategic Planning, Advertising/Market Research, Brand Management, New Product Development/Management, Multi-Channel Distribution, International Expansion, Strategic Alliances. Granted a BS in Business / English from the University of Wisconsin, Bill entered the management training program at Allis – Chalmers, moving into Field Sales and Advertising. Assignments followed with Foote, Cone & Belding and Campbell – Mithun, two of the largest ad agencies in the US as senior Account Supervisor on Sears Automotive, Kraft, Kroger, Zenith. Spent 11 years as VP Advertising/Sales promotion/Market Research/Merchandising at RCA Consumer Electronics during the largest growth period and new products in the electronics industry. Continued in electronics as Director, New Products for Philips Consumer Electronics, adding new categories of business opportunities. Other assignments: President, Darby Group Dental division, NY, VP International Division and Board Member for J.O. Butler Dental/Sunstar. Responsibilities included distribution management for over 60 countries. Additional experience in start ups based on Intellectual Properties and alternate distribution strategies. Member, Executives Club of Chicago and Dean’s Advisory Committee, Harvard University Dental School.

Ray Cavender [ON INACTIVE STATUS]- A native of East Tennessee, graduated from Tennessee Tech with a degree in Business Management. He has over 30 years of textile and apparel management experience most of which was with Levi Strauss & CO. After joining LS&CO in 1968 he held several management positions including Quality Assurance, Contractor Management, Plant & Distribution Management. In 1980 he moved to San Francisco and became Director of Operations for the Mens Sportswear Division of Levi’s. In his last position he was responsible for the sourcing of all Levi products produced in Mexico, Caribbean,& Central America. He retired in 1997 from Levi’s and for a short time did consulting engagements for textile and apparel firms interested in offshore manufacturing then returned to East Tennessee in 2004.

Eric Dunn  [ON INACTIVE STATUS] Whether functioning as a General Contractor, a serial entrepreneur, or a non-traditional artist, I have enjoyed a career that has included evolutions in business development, operational management, and entrepreneurial start-ups. These experiences have afforded me the opportunity to build a diverse skillset and function as an innovative and creative thinker who is capable of producing practical strategy and tangible solutions for business, entrepreneurial, or project-based progressions. My background includes: Business Development, Entrepreneurial & Start-Ups and Project & Systems Development & Management. Every great outcome begins with a great idea. One of the primary skills of a good contractor or entrepreneur is to take an intangible concept and, through a measurable process, make it tangible. It is the practice of engineering a vision. I like to call it “visioneering” and it is who I am, what I love to do, and a good summary of my career overall.


Ed Harless [ON INACTIVE STATUS]- has over 30 years of diverse business experience in the Health Care and Marketing Services industries. He recently retired from ADVO, Inc, the nation’s largest full service targeted direct mail marketing services company, as Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer. He held various positions at life science company Aventis Bio-Services, including Senior Vice President and General Manager, and has held senior human resources and general management positions with American Hospital Supply Corporation, Revlon Healthcare, and Pilkington Barnes-Hind. He has had hands on experience in new business start-ups and business turnarounds. Primary skills are general management, customer service and logistics, human resources, and business planning. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Purdue University and a Master of Business Administration from Pepperdine University. He has served as a Director for the Hartford Arts council, and, as a veteran of the U.S. Navy, is an active member of the American Legion

Don Griffin[On Emeritus Status] has a commendable history of building substantial shareholder value in turnaround assignments as CEO or president of several manufacturing organizations. He has extensive experience in multi-plant operations producing products to exacting specifications in the pharmaceutical packaging, personal care, cosmetics and food container markets. He has served in two organizations as CFO and has in depth knowledge of activity based cost accounting and budgeting systems. He has been involved his entire career in the application of information technology to the manufacturing process. Don graduated from Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management with a Master of Science in Industrial Administration.

Pete Landry[ON INACTIVE STATUS] Over 20 years of a multi-disciplinary executive in technical start-up companies serving the aerospace, automotive, computer hardware, chemical, and computer systems industries. Examples are Ultrum Energy, Inc. in Oak Ridge, TN; SANRISE, Inc. in Santa Clara, CA; Graphics Engineering Corp. in Troy, MI; Austin Group in Los Angeles; and COMSEN Corp. in Hong Kong. Sales growth in some of these companies was achieved through acquisition and bankruptcy turnaround. Participated in leveraged buyouts of closely held defense companies, and served as a consultant to small and large companies. Holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Nuclear Engineering from University of Tennessee.

Joe Schariter –  [ON INACTIVE STATUS] Retired as Commercial Director from MEGlobal Americas after a career of 34 years in Sales, Sales Management, Marketing, and Business Management. Joe began his career in sales with Union Carbide Corporation after graduating Magnum Cum Laude with a BS Degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Tennessee. Joe joined Dow Chemical upon the merger with Union Carbide in 2001 and finished his career helping to launch a new enterprise MEGlobal Americas which is a Joint Venture between Dow Chemical and the Kuwaiti National Oil Company KPC. During his career Joe held positions requiring people management, organization development, negotiation, leadership, project management, strategic planning, business management, and marketing skills.

412 N Cedar Bluff Rd Ste 450,
Knoxville, TN 37923
(865) 692-0716

Copyright © 2023 SCORE Association,

Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.

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