Who We Are: The Mentor Works Team

  • Bernadeen McLeod, President & Owner

    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.

    Accessing government funding will never be easy but the process can be made simple”

    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.


    Chris Casemore, Director of Client Management & Development

    Chris Casemore helps companies discover 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 has been with Mentor Works for over four years, helping to develop the company’s strategic network, client engagement practices, and online presence. His goal is to ensure that every business in Canada is aware of government funding opportunities available to them and has a clear strategy for leveraging them to overcome their growth challenges.

    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, Chris manages Mentor Works’ marketing activities, strategic partnerships, and business funding research activities. He currently lives in Waterloo, Ontario and enjoys playing guitar, snowboarding, camping, and riding his motorcycle 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

    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.

     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.


     Laura Hunter Mater, Business Development Executive

    Canadian business funding grants and loans expert

    Laura Hunter Mather loves nothing more than being part of helping others and watching their business and the people within them grow. Laura joined Mentor Works with a background in insurance and financial services and an Applied Health Sciences and Business degree from University of Waterloo.

    With significant corporate experience and having previously owned her own business, Laura is very familiar with both the personal passion that comes in owning a business as well as the struggles and challenges inherent to running one. She is well versed in explaining technical details and promises clients knowledgeable advice and straight-forward communication.

     There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
    – Nelson Mandela

    In her time away from work, Laura enjoys time with her partner and their four kids, cooking, camping, hiking & renovation projects. Please, connect with her on LinkedIn.

     Jennifer Bleakney, Team Lead

    An 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

    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.

     Rob Maciel, Team Lead

    Robert Maciel is a Team Lead at Mentor Works. He brings eight years of progressive experience working in research and marketing environments. Prior to joining Mentor Works Robert was employed by the University of Western Ontario as a graduate student researcher. He recently completed his Ph.D. in Political Science at Western where his research focused on immigration policy, municipal affairs, and international economic development. He has given presentations throughout Canada and Portugal on a range of topics and has had policy briefs appear in several international journals.


    Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing…”

    In addition to his academic background, Robert has worked in several marketing and consultative sales environments, including social media marketing and technology sales. He brings a range of analytic research and writing skills to help develop customized grant applications for his clients. In his spare time Robert enjoys spending time with his family, watching soccer and baseball, and reading.

     Omar Kassim, Team Lead

    Omar is a Team Lead with Mentor Works. He is a hands on, experienced professional that is highly accomplished in strategy, sales, finance, and accounting with 15 years of progressive leadership and business development growth within world-class global business environments. Prior to joining, Omar held various senior banking and finance positions at multinational organizations. More recently, Omar completed extensive senior consulting engagements within Pharmaceutical, CPG, and Various Manufacturing Facilities that spanned across Canada, United States, Europe and Asia. He has been instrumental in helping organizations plan, achieve and execute their local and global expansions, training, and capacity building objectives through complex engagements with Senior Management, Executive Boards, and Board of Directors.

    Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.”
    – John F. Kennedy

    His seasoned acumen and success has culminated in a multitude of national leadership awards. Omar holds an undergraduate degree in Biochemistry and Biotechnology from the University of Waterloo, an MBA with a Finance Specialization from Wilfrid Laurier University, and Chartered Professional Accountant Designation (CPA-CMA) from the Chartered Professional Accountants Institute. He currently sits on 3 executive advisory boards.

    Nick Kourtesis, Team Lead

    For the past 10 years, Nick Kourtesis has worked in the financial sector for several financial institutions and investment firms in a variety of progressive roles from Financial Analysis to Financial Reporting. Nick has a great deal of experience with financial analysis & planning as a result of his tenure in the financial sector. Nick graduated from Fanshawe College with a diploma in Financial Planning Services.

    Nick is committed to his role at Mentor Works in helping Canadian businesses succeed in spite of the recent economic downturn. After witnessing the effect of the economic downturn on various investment funds first hand, Nick has had the urge to help repair the damage that has been done, and Mentor Works is the perfect opportunity to help the Canadian economy by ensuring Canadian businesses achieve their goals through government funding, grants and loans.

    No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.”
    – Isaac Asimov

    Nick’s spare time is usually spent reading, researching new technology, going on long road trips, or playing a variety of video games.

     Fiona Parascandalo, Business Funding Analyst

    Fiona graduated in 2011 from Wilfrid Laurier University with an 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.

     Sarah Babin, Business Funding Analyst

    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.

    Matthew Rodgers, Business Funding Analyst

    Matthew is a graduate of the University of Waterloo and Conestoga College in Business and Human Resources. He first became interested in Government Funding while working with Federal Development Ontario to administrate funding contribution agreements with clients in both the public and private sector. After completing his 4-month contract, Matthew moved to the private sector, and recently joined the Mentor Works team.

    In all hard work there is profit, but merely talking about hard work will bring poverty.”
    King Solomon, Proverbs 14:23

    Matthew enjoys developing his technical skill-set, and is currently enrolled in the Payroll Administration program at Conestoga College.


    Lea Bourgaize, Sales Coordinator


    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.

    Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them.”
    – Anne Landers

    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.


     Rosemarie Greer, Executive Assistant

    Rosemarie 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.