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Staff


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Alfa Demmellash - Chief Executive Officer

Alfa Demmellash co-founded Rising Tide Capital in May 2004. As Chief Executive Officer, she oversees strategic growth, programmatic innovation and stakeholder engagement at Rising Tide Capital. She graduated cum laude from Harvard University with a degree in Government. Alfa is the recipient of Honorary Doctorates from St. Peter's University and New Jersey City University and has won numerous awards for her work as a leading social entrepreneur. 


Read Alfa's Extended Bio 

Read more about Alfa


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Alex Forrester - Chief Operations Officer

Alex Forrester co-founded Rising Tide Capital in May 2004. As Chief Operations Officer, he has been principally responsible for program evaluation and outcome measurement, financial management, and fundraising. Forrester graduated cum laude from Harvard University in 2004 with an accelerated Bachelor of Arts in Postmodern Theology and Philosophy. Alex is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from New Jersey City University.


Read Alex's Extended Bio


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Carlee Catena - Executive Assistant

As Executive Assistant, Carlee provides direct support for Rising Tide Capital’s co-founders Alex Forrester and Alfa Demmellash. She joins Rising Tide Capital with a passion for community service and 11 years of administrative experience. Most recently, she served as the Executive/Administrative Assistant at the HIV Prevention Community Planning Support and Development Initiative at Rutgers University.  Carlee graduated from Rutgers University with a dual degree in Anthropology and Classics in 2006. After graduating, she spent two years working and traveling abroad. A New Jersey native, she is excited about the opportunity to directly impact the state where she was born and raised. When she is not at Rising Tide Capital, Carlee enjoys rollerskating and mentoring youth through the Catholic Charities Connections Program in Edison, New Jersey. 

Read more about Carlee


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Michael Caslin - Managing Director, Strategy and Development

Michael Caslin brings to RTC a passion for entrepreneurship and 3 decades of proven success in social enterprise and business venture development.  Over a 20-year career as the CEO of Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, Michael helped lead the nonprofit from start-up turn-around stage in 1988 to what it is today - a social enterprise with $20 million in annual revenue and 4,000 NFTE teachers and 1.4 million graduates across 31 states and 14 countries.

He is the founder of several triple bottom line ventures including URGENT VC- CleanTech Venture Development for renewed urban centers and sustainable tribal reservations; and the Urban Ecology Institute founded with Boston College. A recognized expert on entrepreneurship, he has been called to testify before various institutions including the United Nations, U.S. Congress and the White House. He has been a featured lecturer at numerous universities including Harvard, Babson, Stanford, Duke, NYU, Columbia and University of Hong Kong and Prague Business Schools.

Currently, Michael serves as an Adjunct Faculty member of Babson College’s Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship and Professor of Entrepreneurship and Sustainability at CUNY- Baruch Zicklin Business School in New York (ranked #1 and #8 respectively in the USA).


Mike was featured in Babson's 2012 Alumni Magazine 

Read more about Mike


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Jay Savulich - Managing Director, Programs

Jay Savulich oversees both the Community Business Academy and Business Acceleration Services, and works directly with clients as an instructor and business coach. Before starting at Rising Tide Capital, he had a twenty-year career owning and operating successful restaurants in New York City. He also has worked as a technology trainer in the developing world, and continues to work as a photographer. His passion is using his varied experience to help others learn the steps to achieving success in small business and in their lives. Previously, he spent three years as an instructor, business counselor, and microloan officer at a similar organization in Brooklyn. He has been teaching the Community Business Academy classes at Rising Tide Capital since they began in September 2006.

Read more about Jay


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Keith Dent - Assistant Director

As Assistant Director, Keith is facilitating the pilot replication of our programs in Essex County as Rising Tide Capital expands into Northern New Jersey. He is responsible for community outreach—establishing and maintaining stakeholder relationships to ensure that our programs reach potential entrepreneurs living in distressed urban centers in Essex County. A resident of West Orange for the past 13 years, Keith has over 5 years experience as a Program Manager for IMPACT Community Development Corporation in Montclair, NJ. He holds a Master’s Degree in Non-Profit Management from Milano the New School for Management and Urban Policy and a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Georgetown University. He is also a certified empowerment coach from the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (IPEC).

Read more about Keith


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Bryan Franklin-Development Coordinator

Bryan Franklin joined Rising Tide Capital in August 2011 as an AmeriCorps VISTA.  In August 2013, after completing a 2-year service period, he joined Rising Tide Capital as Development Coordinator. He coordinates a variety of projects—Grant Writing, Funder Pipeline Management, Special Projects such as The Rising Tide Exchange 2.0, and The Start Something Challenge—to ensure that Rising Tide Capital’s mission is supported by ample funding. Bryan graduated from Stevens Institute of Technology in May 2011, and holds a BS in Business and Technology Management.  He continues to stay involved in the local Hoboken and Jersey City communities through his church, Hoboken Grace, and as a mentor for TRUE Mentors. His passion for Rising Tide Capital’s mission stems from his interest in community building and entrepreneurship. In the future, Bryan hopes to start his own nonprofit that brings together one or all of his passions—God, youth, entrepreneurship, and athletics. 


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Seedra Enver - Fundraising & Development Assistant– AmeriCorps VISTA


Seedra’s passion for the sciences and commitment to non-profit work brought her to the Rising Tide Capital Fundraising Team. She holds a degree in Biological Sciences and Public Health with a Certification in Health Education from Rutgers University. While at Rutgers, Seedra served as the Finance Coordinator for various organizations, including the New Jersey chapter of AlMaghrib Institute where she organized a campaign that raised more than $32,000 for international humanitarian relief.Seedra also enjoys mentoring youth and giving back to her community. Her commitment to mentorship and entrepreneurship lead her to become one of the youngest National Coordinators for the YM Youth Group in the organization’s history. Seedra personally identifies with RTC’s mission as her parents owned and operated a small business in Central New Jersey while she was growing up. In her free time Seedra loves to travel, read, and experiment in the kitchen with east-meets-west cuisine.

 


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Louisa Cousins - Program Evaluation Manager

Louisa Cousins joined Rising Tide Capital in January 2011. She oversees the critical area of program evaluation. This includes reporting our activities to our funders and developing a performance framework to measure our programs’ success. With over nine years of experience in non-profit program evaluation and administration, Louisa has brought a wealth of experience to our team. Prior to RTC, Louisa worked for the UK Film Council where she was responsible for evaluation and reporting on nationwide funding programs. She holds an honors degree in Social Sciences from City University in London.

Read more about Louisa.


Avery

Avery Zuvic- Development and Research Assistant– AmeriCorps VISTA

 

With a strong interest in small business development, Avery Zuvic joins the Rising Tide Capital team as Development and Research Assistant- Americorps Vista.  Avery graduated Magna Cum Laude from Dickinson College with a degree in International Studies, Globalization and Sustainability.  During her tenure at Dickinson, Avery served as captain of the volleyball team and a member of Alpha Phi Omega, a national co-ed service fraternity, where she initiated several service projects in the surrounding communities. She brings development experience from her previous work at a locally-owned small business and environmental nonprofit. Avery will support RTC’s mission by assisting in the development of the RTC Office of Licensed Partnership, which will allow for the replication of the RTC model in other communities. Avery will also work with the Programs Evaluation Department on the collection, analysis, and reporting of data on RTC’s programs. Outside of the office, she enjoys traveling and spending time outdoors


Mary J. Sansait - Program Manager, The Community Business Academy

Mary Sansait is the Program Manager of the Community Business Academy (CBA), working with Jay Savulich, Managing Director of Programs. In addition to administrative support for our signature 12-week program, she is responsible for developing and managing community partner relationships in Hudson County. Mary oversees the implementation of recruitment goals and outreach strategies, enabling our CBA to reach high potential Hudson County participants. Upon completion of her Planning and Public Policy degree at Rutgers University, Mary's passion for community development grew stronger while serving an AmeriCorps term as Volunteer Coordinator and Violence Against Women Act Specialist for the International Institute of New Jersey.

Mary is also an accomplished singer, recording artist and entrepreneur who uses her skills to engage creative entrepreneurs in the community with markets in the North Jersey area. Her passion in fusing community development with the arts is a direct result of Rising Tide Capital’s art, music and vendor festival called ARTfest! which showcases Rising Tide’s artist entrepreneurs.

Read more about Mary


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Roger Cervantes -Program Manager, Business Acceleration Services

Roger Cervantes provides support to Rising Tide Capital’s  Business Acceleration Services programs.  Upon receiving his degree in Religion at Montclair State University, he went on to work for Bank of America, providing low-income workers with access to financial services as a CRA (Community Reinvestment Act) Representative & Assistant Branch Manager.  In addition to his passion for economic development, he also brings more than 7 years of combined experience in Retail Management and as an Executive Assistant in the fields of Labor and Community Development.  As a long-time Jersey City resident, Roger admires the important role that Rising Tide Capital plays in his community and looks forward to helping the organization further its mission.


Read more about Roger


 Raul Mercado

 Raul Mercado – Program Coordinator and Small Business Coach

 

With more than 17 years of small business development experience, Jersey City native Raul Mercado joined Rising Tide Capital in July 2013. Through intensive mentoring and one-on-one coaching he will assist Rising Tide Entrepreneurs to build capacity by connecting them to professional resources, access to capital, and procurement opportunities.


Raul grew up in a family of entrepreneurs and knows what it takes to grow a business. As owner of The Mercado Group, Inc. he has established strategic alliances with partners that offer customized capacity building advisory services, project management, and employee benefits solutions. During his tenure as Supplier Diversity Development Manager for Schering-Plough, he developed innovative strategies that significantly increased corporate procurement from small, minority, women, LGBT and veteran-owned businesses.  His positions as Business Development Manager/Certification Specialist at the NY & NJ Minority Supplier Development Council, and Special Improvement Project Manager for the Jersey City Economic Development Corporation, have deepened his small business development experience.


Raul has received recognition for his achievements from the U.S. House of Representatives, Diversity Plus, NJ  Biz, Diversity/Careers in Engineering & Information magazines, Odyssey International and the nationally syndicated television news show, Hispanics Today. 

 

Read More about Raul.


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Milaury Herrera – Programs Assistant

 

A Jersey City native, Milaury is honored to work with an organization that aims to positively enact change in her community. She previously worked for Jersey City Public Schools, where she discovered her passion for providing social services in the field of education. Her passion for providing great customer service and helping individuals succeed brought her to RTC. As Program Assistant for the Community Business Academy (CBA), Milaury provides information about the program for potential applicants interested in starting a business. She hopes to build strong relationships with potential entrepreneurs and offer them the motivation and encouragement they need to start their business. Milaury is a proud graduate of William Paterson University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She plans to continue her education in the near future by attending graduate school for social work. In her free time she enjoys exercising, volunteering and spending time with her family.

 


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Alfreda Rogers – Business Acceleration Services Program Assistant – AmeriCorps VISTA

 

Alfreda Rogers’ dedication to human development and community service brings her to RTC’s programs department.   Alfreda received her bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Rutgers University and has since returned to pursue her Master’s in Public Administration, Financial Planning and Budgeting. Prior to her position at RTC, Alfreda worked at Viacom Media Networks, developing tactics and marketing campaigns to expand the audience of MTV network programs.  Through her role as Business Acceleration Services Program Assistant, she will help make critical services like the Help Desk and Access-to-Capital program, available to Community Business Academy graduates. She hopes to contribute to the development and success of Rising Tide Capital’s entrepreneurs. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling and volunteering.


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Miles Roman - Volunteer Coordinator- AmeriCorps VISTA

Eager to engage volunteers and support entrepreneurs in his home state, Miles Roman joins the Rising Tide Capital Team as an Americorps Vista. In May 2013, Miles graduated suma cum laude from the University of Connecticut’s Honors Program with a B.A. in Political Science and Spanish. During his senior year, Miles coordinated volunteer opportunities for the freshman and sophomore class at local organizations that served immigrant communities.  His passion for economic development and small enterprise was fostered during an eight-week internship with the Social Entrepreneur Corps in Guatemala, working locally to assist entrepreneurs in selling essential products. While at RTC, he will maintain and expand the existing volunteer system and assist with Spanish outreach. In the future, he hopes to work with internationalsocial enterprises.  He enjoys traveling, running, and playing sports in his spare time.

Learn how to volunteer with Rising Tide Capital

Read more about Miles


Russell Borenstein Burd

Russell Borenstein-Burd - Programs and Community Outreach Assistant - AmeriCorps VISTA

Russell joined Rising Tide Capital in May 2013 as an AmeriCorps VISTA. He supports Rising Tide Capital’s outreach efforts and will help with the launch of the first Spanish-language Community Business Academy. He graduated in May 2012 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Cornell College in Iowa. As a student, he enjoyed playing ultimate frisbee and serving on the executive board of a feminist student organization which inspired him to fight for social justice. Originally from Elizabeth, New Jersey, Russell has strong local ties and is eager to join the struggle to end the cycle of poverty effecting New Jersey’s urban centers.

Read more about Russel


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Tawanda Taylor - Finance & Administration Manager

Tawanda Taylor joined the Rising Tide Capital staff in July of 2010. A Jersey City native, she is a recent graduate of New Jersey City University, with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting. Taylor has worked in the non-profit sector for over five years, with her most recent position being with the American Red Cross of Greater New York where she was a finance bookkeeper for three years. While employed at the American Red Cross, she assisted thousands of people who were victims of Hurricane Katrina. Prior to her work at the Red Cross, she worked for the New York Foundling Hospital for two and a half years as a junior accountant in the finance department. In the future, she looks to pursue her master’s degree in Accounting, as well as take the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) exam.

Read more about Tawanda


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Esther Fraser - Director of Communications

As the Director of Communications, Esther Fraser supports Rising Tide Capital's programs, services and activities with a mixture of public relations and marketing tactics and strategies, desktop publishing, graphic design, and a passion for non-profit communications. Esther oversees the production  of all the communication and marketing materials produced by the organization, and generates content for all of Rising Tide Capital's communications platforms. Prior to joining Rising Tide Capital as Communications Associate in 2009, Esther worked at the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University, as well as at the Guardian ad Litem Program in Miami-Dade, Florida. She holds a master's degree in Media Management from the S I Newhouse School of Public Communication at Syracuse University, as well as a Bachelor in Communications from Florida Memorial University.

 

Read more about Esther


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Justyna Krygowska - Communications Coordinator

As Communications Coordinator, Justyna Krygowska works on a variety of projects to ensure that the mission behind Rising Tide Capital is reinforced by quality communication materials. A talented designer with a unique point of view, Justyna creates written and graphic content for Rising Tide Capital’s media and communications platforms. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Integrated Design with a concentration in Communication Design and Design and Management, from Parsons the New School for Design in New York City. In the future Justyna hopes to expand her passion for helping others by pursuing a Masters Degree in Communications or Small Business and Nonprofit Management.

Read more about Justyna.


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Shanea Phillips - Public Relations Assistant- AmeriCorps VISTA

Shanea Phillips has a passion for community service and giving back to people in need. She is excited to combine her passion for public relations to tell the stories of the Rising Tide Capital community. She graduated from North Carolina A&T State University with a BS in Public Relations in Spring 2013. While there she held numerous leadership roles in Student Government, The A&T Register, and the National Association of Black Journalists. She also served as the Community Outreach Coordinator on the Student University Activities Board, providing students with volunteer opportunities within the Greensboro community. Shanea’s proudest accomplishment was receiving the Campus Enhancement Award and graduating Suma Cum Laude. Shanea hopes to continue her career in the nonprofit sector and obtain her masters in non-profit management with a focus in communications. During her service period at RTC, she hopes to make a difference in her community while cultivating new relationships and gaining valuable experience.

 

Read more about Shanea



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Fred Dominguez - Community Business Academy Instructor & Business Coach

Fred Dominguez joined the staff in Fall 2010 as a part-time Community Business Academy Instructor and Business Coach. Dominguez comes to RTC with 37 years of experience in the banking industry, and a love for small businesses. An NYC native, Dominguez attended Lehman College where he received his BA in Economics and Business Administration, and furthered his education by attaining his graduate degree in Finance from Long Island University.  Throughout the years, he has held various positions in the banking industry from branch manager, to assistant department manager, to working with installment loans, and small business community lending. He has worked for Banco Popular, Banco de Ponce, and City National Bank of New Jersey to name a few. Dominguez has been consulting and dealing with small business lending most of his life. He has taught the small business plan course for the New Jersey Economic Authority, as well as lectured on small business development at Rutgers University and Kean University.


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Winston Trumpet - Community Business Academy Instructor & Business Coach

Community Business Academy alumnus and entrepreneurial-success, Winston C. Trumpet is excited to return to the CBA as the newest instructor. Trumpet is the CEO and founder of Strategic Business Associates, LLC and has been coaching managers and business executives for more than a decade. Since he graduated from the fall 2009 CBA, he has played an active role in Rising Tide Capital, leading multiple workshops and speaking at events including the 2010 celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week. He is certified in the Strategic Mindset Coaching Process, a program of the Growth Coach Franchise and holds a BSBA from San Francisco State University. He is also the Senior Pastor of Trumpet Family Ministries “The Church with No walls” of Jersey City. In his free time, he enjoys watching crime films, jogging, and spending time with his family. As a CBA instructor he will draw on his personal experience as an entrepreneur and passion for helping others achieve excellence in their businesses.


Read about how Winston became a CBA instructor



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Kene Turner - Community Business Academy Instructor & Business Coach

Kene Turner brings more than ten years of teaching experience to Rising Tide Capital. An avid entrepreneur, he is the founder of Epilife Consulting Inc. which helps businesses incorporate community engagement into their business models. His prior positions include the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship and DEFY Ventures, a nonprofit organization which provides entrepreneurship training for the formerly incarcerated. Turner joined Rising Tide Capital in 2013 and now teaches the Wednesday night CBA in Union City. Outside of class, Turner enjoys spending time with his wife and three children at their home in Staten Island. He loves to play basketball, write, and volunteer with his local church.


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