Who We Are: The Mentor Works Team

Mentor Works’ team of Government Funding Planners™ work directly with clients to design and implement tailored solutions to support business growth. We work with Canadian businesses to develop a dynamic government funding plan that supports all areas of business investment; this gives a significant competitive advantage when used properly.

Our team has expertise in a diverse range of industries including manufacturing, healthcare, finance, and advanced software and hardware technologies.

We work closely as a group to support our clients, which is one of the reasons Mentor Works helps businesses receive an average of $180k in grant funding. To learn more about what we do and the types of businesses we support, please register for a free Canadian government funding event.

The Mentor Works Vision

Mentor Works provides the critical pathway to connect businesses with government funding resources to foster innovation, productivity improvements, and as a result create new jobs and wealth in Canada. Our involvement is the key determinant in the simplification of government funding processes to leverage maximum cash for strategic growth.

The Mentor Works Team


Bernadeen McLeod

President & Owner

Bernadeen McLeod is the principal behind Mentor Works Ltd. As a corporate mentor and specialist in Canadian small business 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 Guelph, Ontario with clients throughout the region including Toronto, Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, and Burlington. Bernadeen is also an active member of many online social forums. Be sure to stay informed of the latest Canadian government funding opportunities and business resources by attending one of Bernadeen’s upcoming small business funding events.


Chris Casemore

Director of Client Management & Development

Chris has always been curious about finding better ways to get things done. He was first brought onto the Mentor Works team to develop and manage the Mentor Works marketing strategy and business systems, with the underlying goals of scalability and customer excellence.
Chris obtained an Honours Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Guelph. Majoring in Marketing Management with a Co-op designation, he 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 since 2011, helping to develop the company’s strategic network, client engagement practices, core business processes, and online presence. His goal is to ensure that every business in the country is empowered to access government funding opportunities available 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 Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario and enjoys playing guitar, snowboarding, camping, and exploring new physical challenges in his spare time.

Rob Maciel

Robert Maciel

Director of Program Development

Rob Maciel is the Director of Program Development 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…”
– Pelé

In addition to his academic background, Rob 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 Canadian government grant applications for his clients. In his spare time Rob enjoys spending time with his family, watching soccer and baseball, and reading.


Alex Barlow

Business Development Executive

As a Business Development Executive at Mentor Works Ltd. Alex has the great privilege of providing companies with strategic advice and support to execute on their growth plans. Her interests have always been in economic and business development, which led her to work for a regional innovation centre, the provincial government, and FedDev Ontario.

In her 5+ years at Mentor Works, she has seen firsthand the impact of government incentives on business, helping clients ranging from small family businesses to some of Canada’s Best Managed Companies access millions in funding as a writer and strategic advisor. Deeply passionate about business in Canada and the Mentor Works mission to help them grow, Alex loves learning about where our products and services are made, who makes them, and how Canadian technologies offer the opportunity for disruption.

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”
– Winston S. Churchill

A native of Kingston, Ont. Alex currently lives in Guelph and enjoys spending time with family and friends. Connect with Alex directly at an upcoming small business funding event to discover the latest news and resources on business resources and incentives.

Jeff D. WO

Jeff Dumart

Business Development Executive

Jeff is a Wilfrid Laurier, Business Co-op graduate with over four years of combined experience in account management, sales and marketing.  He took advantage of Laurier’s Coop program by experimenting with various business roles and companies, including a work term at Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA).  It was there he gained his experience, knowledge and a strong interest in government funding. After graduating, Jeff worked as a marketing specialist and sales rep for a hydraulics distribution company, as well as an account manager in the high tech industry. His current success as a Business Development Executive with Mentor Works can be attributed to strong collaboration with the team, on-going research of market trends, and excellent communication with internal and external clients.

“You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take.”
– Wayne Gretzky

In his spare time, Jeff enjoys staying fit and playing many sports.  In the winter months, he partakes in hockey, snowboarding and snowmobiling, while in the summer you would most likely find him on a golf course, or up at his family cottage wakeboarding and fishing.  Jeff also has a passion for travel, as he has been to many places around the world, including nine countries in Europe and the East Coast of Australia. His travels have been both pleasurable and educational, and have helped push him out of his comfort zone to become the outgoing, open minded and selfless person he is today.

Brenda Cane Blackwell, Business Development Executive at Mentor Works Ltd.

Brenda Cane Blackwell

Business Development Executive

Brenda helps guide the strategic positioning of Canadian SMEs seeking market growth, enterprise digitization and workforce development. With graduate degrees in Marketing and Business Communications, New Media Management, and Adult Education, she brings a wealth of academic and applied knowledge to the Mentor Works team. As a former member of the Team Canada Trade Mission, she has a critical understanding of how Canadian companies can develop brands for international audiences.

“Whether your footprint is local, or global, positioning is everything.”

Brenda is respected for her boundless energy and deep impact relationships. She enjoys an active life with her family, including open water swimming, cycling, travel and water colour painting.

Katlynd Poulton Marketing Mentor Works

Katlynd Poulton

Marketing & Sales Analyst

Katlynd graduated with Distinction from Conestoga College’s Bachelor of Public Relations Honours program. After graduating, Katlynd joined Mentor Works’ team as the Online Marketing Intern and has been implementing digital marketing campaigns. Prior to joining Mentor Works, Katlynd gained invaluable experience in communications and marketing while fulfilling co-op internships with Hammond Power Solutions, Conestoga College, and Education at Work Ontario. Katlynd is a creative communicator and enjoys supporting Canadian businesses and sharing their success stories.

“The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.”
– Donald Kendall

Simply put, Katlynd loves animals. Her passion for animal wellbeing is reflected within her volunteer work, charitable giving, and the home she shares with her two cats, dog, and bearded dragon. When possible, she also loves to travel and learn about different cultures – it is her goal to explore every continent and enjoy some good food along the way!

Ann Wong, Canadian Government Funding Planner at Mentor Works

Ann Wong

Program Manager

Ann has over 10 years of financial management experience in both the for-profit banking industry and the not-for-profit sector. Her experience combined with her education background in Economics and Business Management from the University of Waterloo and University of Toronto has prepared Ann well for the Program Manager role at Mentor Works. Ann is creative, has strong financial management skills and uses her analytical capabilities to help businesses capitalize on opportunities to increase their competitiveness through government funding. She has spent the last 6 years writing high value grants and proposals, managing government-funded projects and liaising with community partners, funders and government officials.

“If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway… What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway… Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world your best anyway.”
– Mother Teresa

Ann spends her days assisting SMEs to grow their business, but by night she champions her inner superhero. Ann founded and manages a superhero club with over 600 volunteers who operate a free café twice a month. The club also organizes large holiday dinners and walk the streets of Toronto monthly to feed the homeless men, women and animals. Ann dotes on her two dogs, Sponge and Pugsley, is a huge animal lover, and loves to help people. She is a firm leader with a heart of gold.


Stephanie 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. 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 dogs Sam and Ted in Milton, Ontario. She enjoys tennis, yoga and fervently following pop culture in her spare time. Please contact Steph on LinkedIn to stay up-to-date on Canadian government funding opportunities.

Melissa Corey Mentor Works

Melissa Corey

Team Lead

Melissa brings over 10 years of experience working in a university setting where she managed an academic publication and successfully received government grants on the behalf of academics. She has a keen eye for succinct writing, expression, and story-telling and is committed to working with clients to best meet their funding requirements. With a Master of Arts degree from McMaster University, Melissa does not hesitate to ask questions and is motivated to develop an understanding of the bigger picture.

“As much as we need a prosperous economy, we also need a prosperity of kindness and decency.”
– Caroline Kennedy

Melissa is an avid reader and crafter. She and her family enjoy the outdoors and can often be found canoeing in the summer and skating in the winter.

Hazem Madarati Team Lead Mentor Works

Hazem Madarati

Team Lead

Hazem has several years of experience working directly with the Province of Ontario. In his most recent position with the Ministry of Economic Development Growth, he helped administer government programs. He also attended school at Brock University and the European Business School in Germany where he attained a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science in General Management. His government experience combined with his education background has prepared him well for a Team Lead role at Mentor Works. Hazem has excellent analytical and communication skills which allows him to synthesize and creatively interpret information. He is driven to succeed in everything he does and ensures tasks are completed in a timely manner.

“All successes begin with self-discipline. It starts with you.”
– Dwyane “The Rock” Johnson

Outside of the office, Hazem enjoys weight lifting, playing soccer with his Sunday League team, and enjoys the occasional tennis matches in the summer. On weekends, he loves to watch soccer with his friends, try a new restaurant in town, or simply stay home and relax with the family.

Anik WO

Anik Islam

Team Lead

Anik earned his BASc and MASc in Electrical Engineering from the University of Waterloo, where he also held positions specializing in technical proposal writing, research facilitation, and project coordination. At Waterloo, Anik secured millions in highly competitive, industry-sponsored and government-matched funding for research into next generation communication technologies. He writes passionately about the commercial, environmental, and societal impacts of technology in ways that speak to technical experts and government officials alike.

“The man with insight enough to admit his limitations comes nearest to perfection.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

In his spare time, Anik engages his passion for diversity and equity by providing planning, writing, and organizational support to non-profit initiatives that promote the inclusion of gender, sexual, and ethnic minority groups.

Sunnie R. WO

Sunnie Rothenburger

Training and Development Lead

Sunnie Rothenburger earned a PhD in English at Dalhousie University. An accomplished researcher and writer, Sunnie has published newspaper, magazine, and journal articles on Canadian culture and politics, and has presented papers at several national conferences. Before joining Mentor Works, Sunnie worked in public relations for the British Columbian government, and as an editor for a communications firm. She also taught courses in business writing and literature for Laurentian University, Mohawk College, and the University of Guelph.

“A word after a word after a word is power.”
– Margaret Atwood

Originally from BC, Sunnie now lives in Kitchener. In summer months, she enjoys camping, sailing, and herding her two children to the ice cream store. In winter months, Sunnie reads novels beside her husband, watches Doctor Who, and writes about pirates.

Travis Dwarika

Travis Dwarika

Business Funding Analyst

Travis Dwarika is a Business Funding Analyst at Mentor Works.  As a polymath, Travis has a diverse portfolio of knowledge and a comprehensive background to match.  Prior to joining the Mentor Works team he had been employed in both retail and manufacturing sectors.  During his work experience, Travis became acquainted with business development, hiring and training, and high level report writing.  His educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts in Classical Studies from the University of Waterloo, and his ACMT Computer Technician certificate from Apple Inc.

 “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
 – Winston Churchill

Travis is a LEGO and Star Wars enthusiast and is delighted when these two worlds come together.  He appreciates all things Sci-Fi and pursues reading and writing in his spare time.

Danielle McDonald, Business Funding Analyst at Mentor Works

Danielle McDonald

Business Funding Analyst

Danielle is a recent history graduate, having earned her BA from the University of Toronto and MA from the University of Waterloo. Prior to joining the Mentor Works team, she worked as a Research Assistant at the University of Waterloo. Her time spent in academia facilitated the growth of her critical analysis and communication skills, which she applies to her work as a Business Funding Analyst. She is particularly interested in supporting Canadian businesses and fostering their continued growth.

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”
― C.S. Lewis

Danielle enjoys reading and writing, anything in the sci-fi/fantasy genres, pilates, and spending time with friends and family. She also loves board games and video games (preferably Xbox), but sticks to single-player games because she can get pretty competitive playing against friends.

Caitlin Szikora Mentor Works

Caitlin Szikora

Business Funding Analyst

Caitlin holds a BA from the University of Toronto with a major in Cinema Studies and minors in English and History, in addition to an MA from Wilfrid Laurier University in English. Her time as a graduate student greatly contributed to the development of both her analytical skills and writing skills, which she now uses to connect businesses with government funding. Prior to joining the Mentor Works team, Caitlin worked as a teaching assistant and nature interpreter.

“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”
– Robin Williams

In her spare time, Caitlin can be found attending film festivals, playing video games, or leading hikes through the woods.

Michelle Lawlor, Mentor Works Ltd.

Michelle Lawlor

Business Funding Analyst

After graduating from McMaster University with an Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree in English, Michelle began her career in public relations and corporate communications. She subsequently established a successful freelance business providing writing, editing and project management services to clients in hospitality and municipal government. Today, Michelle is a Certified Structural Editor who loves assisting clients of Mentor Works in communicating their development plans and growth potential.

“For a long time now I have tried simply to write the best I can. Sometimes I have good luck and write better than I can.”
– Ernest Hemingway

When she’s not writing, you can find Michelle enjoying quality time with her husband and two daughters, laughing with old friends, baking something delicious or planning her family’s next holiday.

James Vaclavek Mentor Works

James Vaclavek

Business Funding Analyst

James completed an Undergraduate degree from the University of Guelph in Environmental Governance and is currently finishing a Master’s degree in Economic Development and Innovation from the University of Waterloo. Previous to this position, he worked as a Research Assistant with the University of Waterloo analyzing innovation policies and funding opportunities for businesses in Southwestern Ontario. He’s also particularly interested in bridging the gap between enterprise and government to enhance business development in the Canadian economy.

“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”
– Nelson Mandela

James is passionate about living an active and healthy lifestyle. In his spare time, he enjoys playing sports such as basketball, tennis, golf, and squash. When he’s not playing or watching sports, James enjoys spending time with friends and family, playing the piano, and playing cards – especially Euchre.

Sandy Smith, Sales Development Analyst at Mentor Works

Sandy Smith

Business Funding Analyst

Sandy graduated from Western University with a Bachelor in Management and Organizational Studies and a specialization in Finance. She also completed her minor in Health Sciences, where she  explored the complexities of social and personal health determinants. Prior to Mentor Works, Sandy studied and lived in New Zealand where she learned about alternative business environments, leadership and community outreach.

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
– Albert Einstein

In her spare time, Sandy enjoys being active and going for hikes. She also enjoys spending time with her family and friends, watching sitcoms, and crafting. Sandy hopes to continue travelling and exploring new places around the world.

Mustafa Aydin Mentor Works

Mustafa Aydin

Business Funding Analyst

Mustafa earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree at the Marmara University in Turkey. Prior to joining Mentor Works, he spent several years in a Regional Development Agency as a Regional Development Specialist and Investment Support Office Coordinator. Having worked with both the public and private sectors, he’s learned first-hand how government funding supports economic development and leads to sustainable business growth. Mustafa brings multiple years of project management and grant proposal writing experience to his role, and is excited to help Canadian business access government incentives.

“The garden of the world has no limits, except in your mind.”
– Rumi

Mustafa lives in Kitchener, Ontario with his family. Like most Turkish people, he is a die-hard black tea fan. After work, you can find him spending time with his boys in a playground. He loves travelling to explore new places or restaurants. Enjoying different parks with family and friends while grilling meatballs on a BBQ is one of his favourite activities.

Angel Sanchez Business Funding Analyst for Mentor Works

Angel Sánchez

Business Funding Analyst

Upon graduating as a Mechanical Engineer and working in automotive, defense and aerospace engineering roles, Angel returned to school to receive a MSc in Engineering & Innovation Technology Management, and later a PhD in Manufacturing Engineering. He also earned a Chartered Engineer designation. His experience in R&D projects – both in industry and academia – has prepared him to be innovative, to manage uncertainty and tackle problems that are out of his comfort zone.

“I know one thing, that I know nothing.”
– Socrates

Angel loves classic European cars and motorbikes; he owns a 1992 Mercedes and a 1967 Vespa scooter which he hopes to have in Canada soon. He also likes restoring classic bicycles. He loves playing soccer, tennis table and biking when he is not playing with his two daughters in a park.

Jeff S. WO

Jeffrey Shepherd

Marketing Coordinator

Jeff Shepherd holds an Honours Bachelor of Business Administration at the University of Guelph-Humber. After graduation, he began working for Mentor Works as a Marketing Analyst and fine-tuned his writing abilities. Now Marketing Coordinator for Mentor Works, Jeff uses a range of marketing strategies to inform business leaders of growth opportunities available through Canadian government funding programs.

“We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it’s forever.”
– Carl Sagan

Jeff lives in Rockton, Ontario and spends the majority of his free time completing home improvement projects. He is a lover of 80’s hair metal music but also gets down to old-school hip hop. Outside of professional growth, Jeff aspires to be a volunteer fire fighter and also contribute towards environmental conservation/restoration initiatives.

Myra Bredin, Marketing Analyst of Mentor Works Ltd.

Myra Bredin

Marketing Analyst

Myra graduated with a Business Marketing Diploma from Conestoga College. Her background stems from customer service positions across many businesses and industries, to marketing communications roles in companies like BDO and The Williamson Group. Her interest in blog writing, social media and event planning makes her excited to be Mentor Works’ Marketing Analyst, where she can use these skills to help Canadian businesses learn more about government funding.

“It’s never too late in life to have a genuine adventure.”
– Robert Kurson

Myra has a strong passion for travel, having been to over 15 countries, and living long term in both England and Austria. She loves exploring new cultures and developing friendships from all over the world. One of her goals in life is to be fluent in a second language. Another passion of hers is charitable foundations, having volunteered for organizations such as The Canadian Cancer Society and Children’s Aid Services. In her spare time, she is usually planning day trip adventures with friends or family, or in the Tim Horton’s drive through for an iced capp.


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.

What our clients are saying

  • Sodecia North America Canadian Government Funding
    The greatest value [in working with Mentor Works] is the fact that they know what kind of information the funding agency is waiting for and do all of the writing based on client information.
    Sodecia North America / Sonia Monteiro Moreira, Chief Financial Officer
  • Miovision
    “We have always aggressively targeted government funding sources but Mentor Works was able to expose us to some additional programs we were unaware of.”
    Miovision Technologies / Lauren Greig, Corporate Controller
  • Therapure-Biopharma_2754342_18706_image (Custom)
    “The application process was easy with your ability to quickly understand our industry, business, and project."
    Therapure Biopharma / Mark Krause, Head of Plasma Proteins
  • Vitalis
    You've been incredibly helpful and have consistently provided me with some of the best customer service I have ever experienced. Thank you!
    Valitas Capital Partners / Louis Goldberg, Director, Investment Banking Coverage
  • HydraDyneTech
    "Mentor Works followed up on our grant application from start until final approval."
    Hydra Dyne Technology Inc. / Darko Dorakovski, Human Resources Manager
  • Chudleighs
    Mentor Works has become a high value partner in our business growth strategy by providing us with highly effective resources (both knowledge and people).
    Chudleigh’s Ltd. / Brent Winterton, Vice President Human Resources
  • horizn Canadian Government Funding Testimonial for Mentor Works
    "We would recommend Mentor Works, they are knowledgeable and action oriented."
    Horizn / Robert Rubenstein, Managing Director
  • Canadian government funding for machine shops
    "By providing a streamlined process and knowledge of all the programs available, [Mentor Works] saves us a tremendous amount of time."
    Attica Manufacturing Inc. / Andy Mavrokefalos, Owner
  • foam-solutions
    "What I like about [Mentor Works] is the promptness in addressing a business' immediate opportunities. There’s no fluffy, floral version – just honest and straight-forward."
    Foam Solutions / Andrea Morris, Vice-President

Ask a Funding Question

Want to ask a question about Canadian government funding? Send us a message or give us a call at 1-888-599-3111.