Finance and Revenue

“Doing Business with the Commonwealth” Presentation (PDF)

Robyn Young
Government Contracting Specialist
Northwest Commission Procurement
Technical Assistance Center

Robyn Young has been the Government Contracting Specialist for the Northwest Commission’s Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) in Oil City, PA for the past 4 years. She also has an Erie office at Knowledge Park.

Robyn is currently responsible for assisting businesses in Erie County and had previous assignments in Clarion, Mercer, Lawrence and Venango Counties. She is responsible for assisting businesses with all their Government Contracting efforts; Federal, State and Local.

She received her certificate as a Certified Procurement Professional (CPP) in 2016 and was certified in 2015 as a Certified Verification Counselor by the Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE) of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. This certification qualifies her to assist Veteran Owned Businesses in becoming verified.

Robyn has her Bachelor’s degree from Clarion University. Prior to joining the Northwest Commission, Robyn worked for the PA CareerLink as an Employer Services Specialist and also ran her own business for many years.

“Funding for Your Business” Presentation (PDF)

Raymond L. Vargo
Director, Small Business Development Center
University of Pittsburgh

Raymond L. Vargo, Director of the University of Pittsburgh Small Business Development Center at the IEE, counsels businesses at all stages of their lifecycle.

Working with businesses in industries such as retail, high tech, manufacturing and professional services, he provides strategic business and financial advice to help companies expand their profits, explore new markets and overcome business challenges.

Since opening the Washington County Outreach Office of the University of Pittsburgh Small Business Development Center in 1995, Vargo has grown it to become one of the most successful outreach offices in the Pennsylvania SBDC system.

He has become a leader and valuable resource for Western Pennsylvania businesses, and in addition to his consulting management responsibilities, Vargo teaches accounting and small business management to both undergraduate and graduate students at Waynesburg College and the University of Pittsburgh.

“Creating Business Value Through Supply Chain Management” Presentation (PDF)

Millard L. Humphreys
Senior Director Supply Chain and Logistics
AUMA Actuators, Inc.

Millard Humphreys is the Senior Director of Supply Chain and Logistics with AUMA Actuators, Inc., a subsidiary of AUMA Riester GmbH & Co. KG a leading global manufacturer of electric valve actuators. With extensive experience in the areas of supply chain strategy, operations, inventory management and procurement, Mr. Humphreys is a change leader having expertise and “practical wisdom” across the full range of supply chain disciplines in both domestic and global environments.

Most recently as a Supply Chain Consultant for the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence of the University of Pittsburgh, he has focused on assisting small and mid-sized businesses with transforming supply chain functions from an expense to be minimized, to a customer-driven asset for operational and financial excellence and driving business growth via market differentiation and competitive advantage.

He holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Industrial Engineering, an MBA in Management and Lean Sigma Certification.

Sales & Use Tax Basics

Joseph C. Ledford, CPA/ABV, CVA

Joseph C. Ledford, CPA/ABV, CVA
HBK CPAs & Consultants

Joe is a Principal in the Meadville, Pennsylvania office of HBK CPAs & Consultants and has been with the firm since 1986.

Joe has extensive experience in the areas of business valuation, succession planning, tax planning, business consulting and retirement planning. Joe provides accounting services to a wide range of industries, including, tool and die, manufacturing, construction, timber, farming and plastic injection molding.


  • BS degree in Accounting with a minor in Economics from Pennsylvania State University - Behrend College
  • Certificate of Education Achievement in Business Valuation from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)
  • Accredited In Business Valuation (ABV) from American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)
  • Certified Valuation Analyst (CVA) designation from the National Association of Certified Valuation Analyst (NACVA)

Professional/Civic Associations:

  • Member, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)
  • Member, Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA)
  • Member, National Association Certified Valuation Analyst (NACVA)
  • Member, Forest Landowners Association (1998-2013)
  • Member, Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association (2006-2013)
  • Vice President, Economic Progress Alliance of Crawford County
  • Past President, Crawford County Co-Operative Extension Board of Directors
  • Member, Crawford County Co-Operative Extension Board of Directors
  • Past Member, PICPA Long Range Objectives Committee
  • Member, NACVA Course Review Committee
  • Member, Gannon Small Business Development Center Board of Advisors
  • Past Member, North West PA. Export Team
  • Past Chairman, Meadville and Western Crawford County Chamber of Commerce
  • Past Chairperson, St. Teresa’s Financial Committee

“Best Practices for Small and Growing Businesses” Presentation (PDF)

Shane Finn
Senior Associate
HBK CPAs & Consultants

Shane is a member of Hill, Barth & King's (HBK) National Tax Practice. He has more than 8 years' of experience with State and Local Tax (SALT) consulting, controversy and compliance services. Shane is one the most experienced SALT consultants in the Northeastern United States having worked at Big 4 accounting firms and performed services to Fortune 500 companies in the Greater New York City, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh areas. As a member of HBK’s National Tax Practice, he frequently teaches tax related training courses both internally for the firm and externally for clients and the public.

State & Local Tax Services: Tax Controversies and Audit Representation Services, Tax Planning and Compliance Services, Sales and Use Tax Services, Voluntary Disclosure Agreements, Credits & Incentives Services, Tax Systems Implementation Services, Unclaimed Property Services.

Industries Served: Agribusiness, Construction, Dealerships, Energy, Financial Services, Healthcare, High-Net-Worth Individuals, Hospitality & Gaming, Insurance, Manufacturing, Not-for-Profit Organizations, Pharmaceuticals

  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from The Pennsylvania State University and is a member of The Ohio Society of Certified Public Accountants.

Corporate Governance & Structure

“Online Communications: Best Practices for Small Businesses” Presentation (PDF)

Amanda Kochirka
Technology Consultant
Gannon SBDC

Amanda Kochirka is a Business and Technology Commercialization Consultant with the Gannon University Small Business Development Center. She is a 2009 graduate of Gannon University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Arts and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Public Administration.

She has held positions with the eMarketing Learning Center as the eMarketing Special Interest Group Coordinator, Mercyhurst University as the Web and Social Media Manager, and The Nonprofit Partnership as the Marketing and Communications Specialist.

Through her work experiences she has built and managed a custom branded social networking community, websites, social media profiles, and a communications makeover grant program. She is extremely well-versed in online marketing best practices and strategies and frequently speaks to local professional organizations and networking groups regarding how to create a marketing plan that is cost-effective, data-driven, and impactful.

In 2016, she was announced as a finalist for the Women’s Roundtable Diane DeLuca Thompson Woman of the Year Award and was named to the Erie Reader’s 40 Under 40 list. In her spare time, she is an adjunct faculty member for Gannon University’s Advertising Communications program, a co-chair of the ATHENA Circle of Trust, an advisory panel member for ATHENA PowerLink, and a membership committee member for Erie Arts and Culture.

“Successful Young Entrepreneurs: Lessons We Can Learn” Presentation (PDF)

Kristan J. Wheaton
Associate Professor
Mercyhurst University

Kristan J. Wheaton (Kris) is an associate professor at Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania.

He runs Mercyhurst’s Quickstarter Project which is designed to help entrepreneurs use crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo to fund their projects.  Funded by the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority’s IgniteErie Grant and in partnership with Penn State Behrend, Quickstarter has worked with over 100 local entrepreneurs and has a 90% success rate in crowdfunding campaigns it has supported.

Kris is an entrepreneur himself and is the owner of Sources and Methods Games, a company that designs educational games for the intelligence community.  His games are used by a number of agencies and organizations including the FBI and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. 

He holds a Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina, an MA (Russian and East European Studies) from Florida State University and a BBA (Accounting) from the University of Notre Dame. He is the recipient of the CIA Seal Medallion and the State Department’s Superior Honor Award and is a member of the South Carolina Bar.

Legal and Intellectual Property

“Intellectual Property” Presentation (PDF)

Jonathan D’Silva, Esquire
MMI Intellectual Property

Jonathan D'Silva is a registered patent attorney who practices various aspects of intellectual property law from prosecuting patent, trademark, and copyright applications, to drafting agreements for the sale or licensing of intellectual property, to the enforcement of intellectual property rights.

Jonathan deals with not only the science, engineering, and technology aspects of intellectual property, but also the business aspects. He works closely with CEOs, R&D engineers, small business owners, and inventors to make sure that they understand the options available to them and how best to protect their intellectual property assets. Jonathan works to protect his clients' intellectual property locally, state-wide, nationally, and internationally. Jonathan is active in the community and is and has been a board member of many non-profit organizations. He also gives presentations and lectures on intellectual property issues to students at various regional colleges and universities and to the public through many of the local and regional economic development organizations.

Jonathan has been recognized as a 2014 Pennsylvania Rising Star by the Super Lawyers publication.


  • J.D., University at Buffalo Law School - Buffalo, New York, 2005
  • M. Eng Agricultural & Biological Engineering, Cornell University - Ithaca, New York, 1999
  • B.S. Agricultural & Biological Engineering, Cornell University - Ithaca, New York, 1998

Bar & Court Admissions Pennsylvania

  • New York
  • District of Columbia
  • United States Patent and Trademark Office
  • Court of Common Pleas of Erie County, Pennsylvania
  • Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
  • New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department
  • District of Columbia Court of Appeals
  • District Court of the Western District of Pennsylvania

“Session 1: Choosing a Business Legal Structure/Corporate Law” Presentation (PDF)

“Session 2: Legal Issues of IP Cyber Security” Presentation (PDF)

John Persinger
MacDonald ILLIG

John Persinger is an Associate at MacDonald Illig where he is a member of the Firm's Business Transactions, Labor & Employment, Government Services, and Emerging Technologies Practice Groups. Mr. Persinger is a 2012 graduate of the University of Notre Dame Law School, which he attended on a Rumsfeld Foundation Graduate Fellowship. While at Notre Dame, Mr. Persinger was on the editorial staff of the Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics and Public Policy. Prior to attending law school, Mr. Persinger served in several government and political roles. He was Associate Director of Scheduling for President George W. Bush's re-election campaign in 2004, worked in the White House as an aide to White House Counsel Harriet Miers and Deputy Counsel William Kelley, and also served in a chief-of-staff role to U.S. Ambassador to Australia Robert McCallum at the U.S. Embassy in Canberra, Australia. Mr. Persinger received a bachelor's degree in History from Harvard University in 2003. While at Harvard, he was captain of the men's swimming and diving team and competed at the 2000 Olympic Team Trials. Mr. Persinger's family has deep ties to northwest Pennsylvania. His grandparents, Dr. John and Dorothy DeMarco, moved to Erie in the early 1950s to raise their five children. Members of Mr. Persinger's extended family continue to live in the area.

  • J.D., University of Notre Dame Law School - Notre Dame, IN, 2012
  • B.A. History, Harvard University - Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2003
  • Bar & Court Admissions PennsylvaniaU.S. District Court for the Western District of PA

Pennsylvania Treasury Department
Small Business Initiative (SBI)

Thursday, September 15, 2016 / 7:45 AM to 2:00 PM

Gannon University Center for Business Ingenuity

Gannon University,
Small Business Development Center
Center for Business Ingenuity
900 State Street
Erie PA 16541

Conference (Tentative) Agenda (PDF)

Charlotte McKines

Pennsylvania Treasury Department
Chief of Staff


Ann Lawson

Pennsylvania Treasury Department
Executive Assistant


Debra S. Tingley, APR

Pennsylvania Treasury Department
SBI Project Manager