Who We Are: The Mentor Works Team

  • Bernadeen McLeod, President & Owner

    Canadian government funding expert

    Bernadeen McLeod is the principal behind Mentor Works Ltd. As a corporate mentor and specialist in government grants and loans, she helps executives and business owners redefine their organizations in new and exciting ways – to build engaged teams and increase profits.

    After 18 years as an executive and general manager, Bernadeen began coaching other organizations on small business financing options once she realized that being a successful company is about more than financial results, net profit, ratios with trend lines and return on investment. It is also about thinking strategically and growing the business with the help of government capital funding, wise investment and training.

    Individuals and organizations that are good react quickly to change.  Individuals and organizations that are great create change”
    – Robert J. Kriegel

    Bernadeen operates her business out of Cambridge, Ontario with clients throughout the region including Toronto, Kitchener, Waterloo, Guelph, and Burlington. Bernadeen is also an active member of many online social forums. Be sure to stay informed of the latest government funding opportunities and business resources by following her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


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    Chris Casemore, Director of Client Management & Development

    IMG_9831Chris Casemore helps companies learn about and leverage government funding on a daily basis, while managing the Mentor Works website, social media strategies, and employee development. He graduated from the University of Guelph with an Honours Bachelor of Commerce. Majoring in Marketing Management with a Co-op designation, Chris was able to integrate his personal passion for marketing and technology with both academic theory and practical work experience. Chris was hired by Mentor Works via a Canadian government funding program for recent Commerce graduates in January 2010. His internship involved a complete redesign of the company website, creation and execution of social media strategies, and online marketing initiatives. Over the course of this project, Chris was able to gain a broad understanding of the various Canadian government funding programs available to small businesses to help accelerate their growth.

    Knowing How to Think Empowers You Far Beyond Those Who Know Only What to Think.”
    – Neil deGrasse Tyson

    Given his strong interest in strategic planning and business development, he took the opportunity to expand his responsibilities to business consulting, funding support, and internal employee development. Chris currently lives in Waterloo, Ontario and enjoys playing guitar, snowboarding, camping, and motorcycling in his spare time. Please add Chris to LinkedIn , Twitter, and Google+ in order to stay up-to-date on the latest news and resources on Canadian government grants, loans, and tax credits.


     Martin Rerak, Director of Operations

    Research and Development Funding Expert Martin Rerak is a Team Lead with Mentor Works. Prior to joining, Martin has progressive experience in various positions within the Financial/Operational Management disciplines in healthcare manufacturing/distribution, healthcare services, and renewable energy industries. His responsibilities have extended beyond traditional financial reporting & analysis, with specialization in business process improvement and strategic business planning. He has delivered many successful projects in various stages from initial development to execution, for a variety of initiatives, across many platforms; ERP, MIS, and CRM systems, as well as home grown solutions. In supporting sales and operations teams to secure  RFQ/RFP’s and extend customer relationships, Martin also has experience in competitive analysis, product analysis, and the importance of digital and social marketing mediums. Martin’s success can be attributed to his drive to find optimal business solutions with a comprehensive approach to staff, skills, & available technologies, coupled with sound financial skills. His tenacity has resulted in strong relationships with clients and internal teams from line staff to executive management.

     The People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
    – Apple Computers, 1997

    Martin has obtained the Certified Management Accounting designation. Martin also holds a Bachelor of Business from the Wilfrid Laurier University with specialties in finance and insurance, as well successful completion of the Canadian Securities and Life License accreditation.


     Jill Schoolenberg, Director of Business Development

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    Jill Schoolenberg is a business, marketing and sales leader with over 20 years experience in delivering revenue growth and customer satisfaction for B2B and B2C businesses. Most recently Jill worked at Microsoft Canada where she held leadership roles across several business units. Specifically, Jill started her tenure at Microsoft at MSN Canada starting as a Communications Manager and went onto to lead the marketing organization as the Director of Marketing. Jill then led the business and product management team responsible for managing the Windows P&L in Canada, as well as the Security strategy for Microsoft Canada. In her last five years at Microsoft, Jill led several business units including the Small, Medium and Enterprise customer segments with accountability for the end-to-end business and both the Marketing and Sales functions.

    “To love what you do and feel that it matters what could be more fun?”-Katherine Graham

    Jill holds an Honors Bachelors of Arts in Business Administration (HBA) from the Richard Ivey School of Business Administration at Western University in London, Ontario. In her spare time, Jill enjoys travelling, going to the theatre, volunteering in her community, and is an aspiring Pilates instructor.


     Alex Barlow, Business Development Executive

    Canadian business funding expertAlex Barlow has always been interested in helping people. At Mentor Works, she combines this desire with her past experience in grants administration and economic development to provide strategic advice to companies looking to leverage government funding. Alex graduated in 2010 with a Masters of Arts, Political Science, from the University of Guelph. Her interests were always in economic development and business development, which led her to work for a regional innovation centre and FedDev Ontario. Most recently, she worked for the provincial government managing a $40M portfolio of infrastructure funding, as well as a consulting agency focused on assisting municipalities with their strategic development. She was pleased to join Mentor Works in the summer of 2012 as Team Lead, assisting a wide range of clients with their strategic initiatives.

    It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
    – Charles Darwin

    Currently living in Guelph, Alex enjoys cycling and walking her dog Eddie. Please add her to your LinkedIn Network to stay up-to-date on the latest news and resources on Canadian government grants, loans, and tax credits.


     Jennifer Bleakney, Team Lead

    Canadian government grants expertsAn advocate of economic development, Jenn was instantly drawn to the role of Team Lead at Mentor Works. Jenn’s background in History (BAH from Acadia University and MA from York University) coupled with an MBA from Ryerson University prepared her well for this role. Jenn applies her solid understanding of business strategy to devise tailored funding programs for her clients and draws upon her research, analytical, and writing skills in writing government grant applications. Prior to joining the Mentor Works team, Jenn worked at a municipal foreign investment attraction agency where she deepened her knowledge of economic development and strategic international business expansion. Having recently relocated to Waterloo, Jenn sees a bright economic future for the region, given the wealth of commercial, residential and transit development currently underway. In her spare time, Jenn enjoys running, playing soccer, exploring cities, and baking.

     The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.”
    – Franklin D. Roosevelt

    Jenn is excited to assist SMEs in growing their businesses and increasing their competitiveness through government funding. She believes that business and government should leverage one another for the common good. Please feel free to contact Jenn on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter to stay current on government funding.


     Steph Tenneson, Team Lead

    IMG_9742 Stephanie Tenneson is a Team Lead at Mentor Works. Steph is passionate about economic development and is excited about working with small businesses to ensure their success in accessing government funding. Steph graduated in 2010 with an undergraduate degree in International Development and Globalization and is currently completing her Masters in Local Economic Development at the University of Waterloo. Steph has worked in economic development since 2007 and began her career working with a number of municipalities conducting business retention and expansion programming. Most recently Steph worked with an economic development consulting firm and has conducted economic development strategic planning for communities across Canada.

    Hope without a strategy doesn’t generate leadership. Leadership comes when your hope and your optimism are matched with a concrete vision of the future and a way to get there.”
    – Seth Godin

    Steph lives with her husband and their dog Sam in Toronto. She enjoys tennis, yoga and fervently following pop culture in her spare time. Please contact Steph on LinkedIn to stay up-to-date on government funding opportunities.


     Sarah Babin, Business Funding Analyst

    Government Business Grants Expert Sarah graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University in 2011, with an Honours degree in English, minoring in French. While attending Wilfrid Laurier, Sarah took full advantage of the involved school culture to channel her inner academic, sitting as an Executive on the Laurier French Club Board of Directors.  One of her primary objectives in that role was to foster an environment of learning and knowledge exchange that was free of intimidation for a broad range of language skills—a challenge that she faced with creative thinking and innovative mentoring methods. Sarah enjoys challenging herself and brings her best tools forward when approached with difficult tasks.  In her role as Business Funding Analyst, she understands the importance of strong language skills for effective communication, both verbal and written.  She is a strong believer that knowledge is power and takes every measure to keep her clients well informed.

    Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp.  Or what’s a heaven for?”
    – Robert Browning, English poet and playwright

    In her spare time, Sarah enjoys fitness activities such as jogging and tennis, as well as reading, cooking, and channeling her creativity on canvas through abstract paintings.


     Fiona Parascandalo, Business Funding Analyst

    Ontario government grants for hiringFiona graduated in 2011 from Wilfrid Laurier University with a M.A in Cultural Analysis and Social Theory. During her time at Wilfrid Laurier Fiona developed a passion for performing research as a Research Assistant in the Global Studies department. She worked closely with peer and professors to create an atmosphere of continuous learning and open communication in all aspects of her education. Fiona also possesses an honours B.A with a double major in Cultural Studies and Critical Theory, and Peace and Conflict Studies. While at McMaster Fiona created close ties with her community through volunteer work and continues to volunteer with community development organizations.

    Never limit yourself because of others’ limited imagination; never limit others because of your own limited imagination.”
    –Mae Jemison, Astronaut

    She now carries her passion for research and assisting people into her position as a Business Funding Analyst at Mentor works. Prior to joining Mentor Works, Fiona supported municipal government grant initiatives and ensured funding was properly allocated to achieve the best results possible. Fiona brings her positive attitude, analytic thinking skills, and research abilities to assisting businesses achieve their funding goals.


     Kim Arnold, Research Analyst

    Researcher and Grant WriterKim Arnold joins Mentor Works as a Research Analyst. With a varied background including work in several industries, Kim brings 14 years of experience to her role. Kim has an Honours BA in History as well as a Masters Degree.  In recent years, determined to define a new path for her career, Kim went back to school part-time working to acquire Certificates in Technical Writing and Editing. Kim has a passion for helping people and determination to grasp a full understanding of matters related to her work. She excels at managing details, organizing complicated information into usable pieces, and finding more effective ways to communicate.

    Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you did not do than by the things you did do. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
    – Mark Twain

    Kim has lived in the tri-cities area for almost 20 years and currently resides in Cambridge, Ontario with her partner, 4 children, 4 cats and a dog. When she finds some free time, Kim enjoys cycling, genealogy, quilting and curling up with a good book.


     Ryan Weaver, Marketing Analyst

    Canadian Business FundingRyan is a native of the Niagara Region, and a graduate of the University of Waterloo. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics, a Master of Science Degree in Management; and has several published works including two non-fiction books, and several magazine, newspaper, and online articles. Having spent the better part of a decade living in Asia, Ryan returned to Canada in 2011 with a wealth of valuable personal and professional experience, a broader world view, and a desire to help small and medium-sized businesses in Ontario and across Canada to become world-class companies. As Marketing Analyst at Mentor Works, Ryan enjoys communicating with business owners & executives regarding opportunities to take advantage of government grants and other funding to help overcome obstacles to growth.

    It is only in our decisions that we are important.”
    – Jean Paul Sartre

    Ryan is a regular contributor and editor of Mentor Works’ Government Funding Blog, and also shares updates and information about Mentor Works and Canadian government funding programs and events via the web, social media, and press releases. Ryan is a former member of the varsity tennis team at UW and continues to enjoy playing tennis at a competitive level; he also spends time playing hockey, skiing and lifting weights. Please connect with Ryan on Twitter.


     Rosemarie Greer, Executive Assistant

    Canadian Small Business FundingRosemarie works directly with Bernadeen in order to optimize time management, research Canadian government funding opportunities, and manage client relationships.

    You can’t always get what you want.  But if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.”
    – Rolling Stones

    Originally a Graphic Artist and CG Animator, Rosemarie evolved into the Administrative field gaining valuable experience in Corporate and Municipal sectors. Residing in Campbellville, Ontario, she enjoys raising, training and competing horses for Dressage and spending time with her dog Edwyn.


    Lea Bourgaize, Sales Coordinator

    Lea-Bourgaize

    Lea Bourgaize studied Executive Office Administration at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario and is currently in the process of completing her CIP designation.  Lea brings a wide breadth of experience to her role having served in both the Financial Services and Insurance industries before coming to Mentor Works.

    In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.”
    – Bill Cosby

    Lea lives in the Cambridge, Ontario area and enjoys kickboxing and spending time with family and friends.  When she has “time to kill” you might just catch her playing games on her cell phone.  Connect with Lea on LinkedIn.