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ThrivePoint Programs Mentor, Facilitator and Resource Network

ThrivePoint Programs Mentor, Facilitator and Resource Network:  As we customize our delivery based on your needs, a selection of these resources may be used for your one-on-one mentor engagements, or they may serve as subject matter experts as part of a training program.

Jim Finta is a Risk Management and Compliance professional with a background in Aviation, program management, loss control, safety, and leadership. Jim served for 24 years as a helicopter pilot and aviation professional in the United States Coast Guard. During this time he amassed over 3000 hours of flight time and led several standardization programs designed to maximize training efficiency and effectiveness, and enhance the standard application of policy and practices in a highly exacting discipline across a broad, diverse organization. As a young pilot, Jim was involved in a catastrophic helicopter crash. From that experience he developed an aviation leadership and professionalism program which was adopted by the Coast Guard as part of its core curriculum in aviation training.  Jim most recently served as the Safety and Compliance Director for Amerit Fleet Solutions, the largest national commercial motor fleet management provider in the country. As a mentor, he focuses on leadership, process analysis and management, loss control, risk management, and motivation.

Cigdem Gencer, founder of Fazilet Consulting, is an inspirational leadership coach with extensive experience and demonstrated success in coaching and guiding tomorrow’s leaders. She has coached and built high-performing international teams– strategically, financially, and competitively.  

Previously, Cigdem held progressive roles at Wells Fargo leading across a wide array of businesses and functions, including CFO of Wealth Management and Head of International HR.  Her earlier career includes the role of  CFO at Intrax Cultural Exchange, executive roles at a B2B startup (ADPM) and a decade of management consulting with First Manhattan Consulting Group and Mitchell Madison Group, where she helped establish the Madrid, Spain office.

Cigdem’s acute business acumen, emotional intelligence, communication, and analytical skills have contributed to her success. She holds an MBA from the Wharton School of Business, a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Harvard University, and a patent in analytic methodologies.  In addition, she currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of the SF-Marin Food Bank.

Chris Gonzalez’s career has been shaped by an interesting mix of teaching, military and government consulting experience. He co-founded A-G in 2008 with a focus on providing Strategic Planning, Program Design & Evaluation, Stakeholder Engagement, and Data Analysis services.  A-G is now a multi-million-dollar consulting firm and leads several large-scale Public Health initiatives. As a Marine, Chris has deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and Panama to promote political and economic stability. His work with the host-nation governments earned him the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and the Navy Commendation Medals, along with several others. In 2017, A-G Associates received the Bridging the Gap Achievement Award by the Greater Baltimore Committee and Future 50 Business Leaders Award by Smart CEO Magazine.  In 2018, he was awarded the Young Alumni Achievement Award from his alma mater, Frostburg State University. Chris is a graduate from Operation Hand Salute, an Executive Development program through John F. Kennedy University and AT&T. He received his BS in Social Science from Frostburg State University in 2001, and his Master of Arts in Education from Towson University.  Chris currently sits on the Board of Directors for Health Care Access Maryland and Mentoring Mentors. He has is a regular speaker and supporter of the Veteran and Latino Business communities. He is a certified WholeScale Change™ facilitator and Project Management Professional (PMP). Today, Chris serves as a mentor for transitioning servicemembers and others in the Project Management community looking to launch their businesses. As a mentor, Chris focuses on building the necessary capabilities, relationships and infrastructure to be successful in the government contracting space.   

Scott Jower operates a Wealth Management practice providing entrepreneurs, corporate executives, and business owners a holistic approach to the accumulation, preservation, and distribution of wealth. His pragmatic approach to mentoring professionals and corporate growth is attributed to his work experience at bootstrapped startups (,, hyper growth organizations, and publicly traded companies (AOL, Netscape, Time Warner, UBS). In addition, his work experience at two of the Big Four accounting firms (KPMG, PWC) provides his clients valuable insight related to business performance and tax mitigation. He has an entrepreneurial mindset in building opportunities from the ground up. Emphasizing the importance of human capital in an organization, emotional intelligence, and the application of Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) principles. He has an aptitude to quickly learn new technology, recognize shifts in market trends, synthesize abstract concepts and apply acquired knowledge into measurable solutions. His strong curiosity to understand human behavior and its influence on the development of products, services, and business models is what makes him a valuable business partner. Mr. Jower has a BS in Tax Accounting from Golden Gate University and an MBA (Honors) from Saint Mary’s College of California.

Kirk Knapp is a member of the faculty in Graduate Business at Saint Mary’s College of California.  He enjoys teaching and managing portfolios for clients and himself.  After finishing his MBA at the University of California, Berkeley, he worked in Silicon Valley in strategic marketing [Hewlett-Packard, Silicon Graphics, Oracle, Network Appliance, and two start-ups] and then went on to form his own independent investment advisory firm – Emerald Management - serving high net worth private clients while completing the CFP and CFA Programs. He also provides consulting to start-up companies and to investors in them. He is an angel investor and member of the Keiretsu Forum, the largest angel investor network in the world & headquartered in Orinda, CA.

Mr. Knapp has a BSEE degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois and an MBA in Marketing & Finance from the University of California, Berkeley.  He also holds the CFA Charter (Chartered Financial Analyst) and is a member of the CFA Society of San Francisco.

John Lettko is the Chief Executive Officer of Talisys. With more than 34  years in the financial and technology services industries, John has held a variety of senior executive positions for high-growth service delivery organizations. Prior to joining Talisys, John was the COO and General Manager for All Weather Insulated Panels from 2008–2012. He was President and CEO of MedAvant Healthcare Solutions in Atlanta from 2005–2008. From 2001 to 2005, he was Chairman and CEO of Viewpointe Archive Services in Houston. He was President of Xpede in Oakland from 1999–2001. Prior to that, he was a senior executive with EDS in the financial services industry. As a mentor, he focuses on growth strategy, business viability, M&A, technology and finance.

Stephanie Lindsly currently serves as President of Bratan Business Solutions Inc, a certified woman-owned business providing advisory and consultant services.  At Bratan, Stephanie focuses on diverse supplier development as well as corporate supplier diversity strategy and execution.  Before starting her own company, Stephanie held a variety of leadership positions in Sales, Operations and Supplier Diversity throughout her 30-year career at AT&T.  As Associate Director, Supplier Diversity, Stephanie played a key role in the most recent enhancements of AT&T’s diverse supplier advocacy program.  Stephanie earned her bachelor’s degree in Business Management at Dallas Baptist University.   

Rob Lippincott has an extensive track record leading learning technology innovation while achieving financial success for public and private enterprise. He is a market-leading innovator and entrepreneur in digital and online learning content, product development for home and school, teacher preparation and professional development, new media and publishing technologies. He is both a compassionate leader and a lifelong educator, who has built and run all aspects of an organization needed to drive learning efficacy and deliver success. Rob has served as CEO of TEACH-NOW, SVP for Education for the national public broadcasting station, and SVP for Discovery Education. As VP of the Family Education Network, he engineered several acquisitions preparing the company for sale to Pearson where he then served as Senior Vice President and General Manager. He cofounded the eCommerce consulting division of Perot Systems Corporation. Mr. Lippincott taught as a member of the faculty at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, as the Assistant Headmaster of the Stowe School and in three Pennsylvania schools. His mentoring focus includes education, digital technology, merger and acquisitions and growth strategy. Rob lives a ferry commute from San Francisco with his wife and near his two daughters, while enjoying singing, biking, the outdoors and lifelong learning.






Access world class mentors in our resource network

Carm Lyman has a decades-long career in communications and marketing. She is principal of Lyman Agency, a boutique marketing agency that she founded in 2000. She's a consultant for numerous startups - and is passionate about helping them grow- while also having led marketing for business units of a public company and other more established private companies.  She's a contributing writer for both Forbes and Thrive Global, a past contributor to, and is a trained crisis management expert.

Tamara Monosoff is a social entrepreneur, best-selling author, inventor, speaker, and leading voice for women in business. She is the founder and CEO of Mom Invented®, the globally recognized consumer brand. She is a former Clinton White House Advisor and U.S. Department of Education Chief of Staff for Adult Education. She is a mentor and expert in the field of marketing, including digital and social marketing, enrollment, and engagement.  Currently based in Portugal, Tamara enjoys exploring her new country, walking in nature, playing tennis, reading a great novel, and practicing yoga to refuel.

David Morse is President and CEO of New American Dimensions, LLC and author of the book Multicultural Intelligence: Eight Make-Or-Break Rules for Marketing to Race, Ethnicity and Sexual Orientation. He is a frequent speaker on U.S. multicultural markets and is known for having worked with some of the most successful companies in America in developing innovative and profitable multicultural marketing strategies. Mr. Morse has over 30 years in market research, brand management, and strategic planning in the United States and Mexico.

Ben Olmos   is a business professional, academic, and entrepreneur with more than 20 years of experience in the consumer-packaged goods industry. At Coca-Cola Ben worked in sales and marketing operations, leading projects for Coca-Cola’s top national and regional customers.  In 2014, Ben entered the wine industry, providing analysis and insights for sales, marketing, and operations to executive leadership.  Ben has also worked as adjunct faculty in higher education, teaching courses in business management, operations, project management, marketing, and leadership. In addition, Ben is also founder of Satisfactionist, a consulting, training, and media company focused on providing services to help organizations improve trust, communication, processes, and routines through analysis, coaching, and media edutainment. His mentor focus area is operations, marketing, and management.

Jill Osur has long utilized her passion for competition and sports to fuel a successful and prosperous entrepreneurial career. Jill has worked with many startups through their launch phase, and she is a seasoned sales and marketing executive. She is also a respected author, speaker and strategist responsible for raising more than $150 million for the Special Olympics. She currently serves as President for Goldline Brands and has launched a Sutter Creek based winery called 1850 Wines. Jill specialty mentor expertise includes marketing, product branding, development, manufacturing and sales.

Sangita Patel is a financial consultant who partners with start-up and mid-sized companies to establish financial systems and explore financing options that help fuel organizational growth. Having spent over 15 years in corporate finance, Sangita understands that well-developed and well-executed financial systems lead to continued organizational success. Most recently Sangita has worked with companies in the diamond, electronics, security and internet of things (IoT) industries. When mentoring, Sangita focuses on strategy, technology and finance. A San Francisco native, Sangita loves grabbing a bite to eat from the city’s best eateries before catching Giants and 49ers games with her family. Her teenage children have made sure she earns her “mommy” title and she would have it no other way.

Les Schmidt is a serial entrepreneur and leader with first-hand experience in the development and growth of enterprises. As a C-level executive he has led early-stage companies, middle stage and public companies. His forte is leading business transformations when companies get “stuck” – i.e. when a company’s growth plateaus and a quest begins for new directions, products or capabilities. Les directed the Bay Area JFKU Accelerator and mentored many entrepreneurs during that time. In a brief departure from entrepreneurship, Les even took on transforming the San Francisco. 49ers as that organization’s COO. He specializes in strategy development, product-market alignment, data-analysis and forecasting.

Christy Taylor is an executive with a track record of building businesses, delivering substantial sales and profitable growth for large and small companies globally in the Consumer Packaged Goods and Pharmaceutical/OTC healthcare categories and the Specialty Foods realm.  Recently, Christy has worked as a consultant for private businesses across a variety of issues, including strategic growth and exit planning, financial strategy, organization and succession planning, and governance.  Christy has enabled organizations large and small to transform from startup through formalization, restructure due to poor performance, manage through fast growth, and launch new initiatives, products, and services both regionally and globally. Christy is a native Californian, and for the past 15 years, she and her husband have lived in Napa Valley.  She loves to travel, entertain, hike and is passionate about design. 

Brian Vandegrift is accomplished in sales, sales leadership, and executive leadership.  Brian has sold and led sales teams for most of his 26-year career, selling or driving sales of everything from cars to water to complex technology solutions.  In the back half of his career, he has also been a member of his company’s executive leadership teams, providing strategic guidance and decision making in addition to leading the organizations’ sales teams.  Brian’s strengths are helping organizations with sales process development, comp plan development, sales organizational structure and workflow development.  With a strong technology background, Brian also excels in guiding companies through complicated strategic technology initiatives and challenges with an ability to facilitate communication and decision making between IT and business leaders.

Savern Varnado brings over 18 years of experience in leadership, learning and development as a thought-leader, change agent, and practitioner. Having partnered with major financial services institutions, as well as telecommunications and wholesale distribution/manufacturing firms nationally and internationally, Savern has the unique combination of knowledge and technical skills that have enabled him to provide practical, cost-effective solutions to his customers. Savern holds the distinguished CPLP (Certified Professional in Learning Performance) certification, issued by ATD, rounding out a well-versed professional. His mentor specializations include employee engagement, leadership and sales training & development with organizations of all sizes.

Bill Wiersma is the founder and principal of Wiersma and Associates—a management consulting and training firm. Bill is a seasoned advisor on senior team development and organizational culture. A renowned thought-leader, Wiersma’s latest book and major best seller, The Power of Professionalism, has given rise to the school of thought he made prominent—namely, using professionalism as a platform to transform people and organizations. He is a mentor and expert in the areas of team formation and professionalism.

Brett Yokom is an instructor, presenter and workshop facilitator in business and entrepreneurship programs at UC Berkeley Extension and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He is also currently working on a Ph.D. in Business Psychology with an emphasis on the experiences of start-up founders in the tech ecosystem. He has been active in the Silicon Valley and San Francisco region for four decades, having worked in sales and business development roles in addition to running his own start-up in the first dot-com boom. His areas of expertise include entrepreneurship and the founder’s journey; audience engagement and messaging; workplace communication; intercultural communication; organization and management; and almost anything related to “soft” skills.

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