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’ needs and ensure we can obtain the best possible results. If you’d like to learn more about what we do and the types of businesses we support, take a look at What We Offer. You can also register up for a free Canadian government funding event to learn more about Mentor Works.

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 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 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 Casemore helps companies discover and leverage Canadian 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 the country 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 exploring new physical challenges in his spare time. Chris is also a regular writer on Mentor Works’ Blog, please subscribe to the Small Business Funding Newsletter in order to receive the top blog articles and stay up-to-date on the latest news and resources on small business grants, loans, and tax credits.

Ryan Fusina Mentor Works

Ryan Fusina

Director of Sales

Ryan started his career with a global leader in the construction supply industry.  Following this, he combined his technical sales experience with a Master’s Degree from McMaster University to take on progressive leadership and executive roles within the Ontario construction sector.  These roles included an opportunity to establish and scale an American Fire Protection Firm in the Canadian marketplace and a further opportunity to consolidate and rationalize a multi-company acquisition in the GTA construction market.  Ryan now combines his leadership and business experience with an interest in helping Canadian companies apply government funding to their strategic plan.

He asks all businesses one question: If you could leverage funding from the government, what additional strategic initiative(s) would you take on to accelerate growth?

“In anything we do, any endeavor, it’s not what you do; it’s why you do it.”
– Howard Schultz

Ryan’s goal is to foster a consultative, solutions-oriented sales approach for Mentor Works’ Business Development Team. Further, he helps Canadian companies understand the importance of combining government grants and loans in support of short-and-long-term growth strategies.

Ryan is married with two amazing kids and lives in Hamilton, ON. While most of his interests are centered on business pursuits like capital market investment and portfolio management, Ryan also enjoys travel, cooking and great wine!


Alex Barlow

Business Development Executive

As a Business Development Executive at Mentor Works Ltd. Alex combines her natural curiosity with an expertise in Canadian Government Funding to provide companies with financial advice tailored to their business strategies. Her interests have always been in economic and business development, which led her to work for a regional innovation centre and FedDev Ontario. She has a strong interest in the continued growth of the Canadian manufacturing sector, as well as seeing Eastern Ontario businesses take equal advantage of funding opportunities. Since joining Mentor Works Ltd in 2012, she has helped companies ranging from small family businesses to some of Canada’s Best Managed Companies access over $25M in funding as a writer and strategic advisor.

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

A native of Kingston, Ont. Alex currently lives in Guelph where she enjoys dog walking, horseback riding and 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 Canadian government grants, loans, and tax credits.

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.


Luke Siroen

Business Development Executive

Luke completed his Undergraduate Studies at Brock University, and has since obtained two Graduate Certificates in Project Management and Marketing Management from Fanshawe College. He is passionate about helping clients reach their long-term goals and ensuring they achieve milestones along the way. His previous experience includes sales development and account management roles for industry leaders in food & beverage, technology and facility services.

“To play a wrong note is insignificant, to play without passion is inexcusable.”
– Ludwig Van Beethoven

Sports and music have been the backbone of Luke’s life; he grew up playing competitive hockey, soccer and volleyball while attending a choir school. To this day, he continues to play competitive soccer and coach a youth team. If he’s not participating in athletics, Luke usually fills his time attending live shows, concerts or festivals.

Cailey WO

Cailey Ribbink

Sales Analyst

Cailey holds a Bachelor’s of Education degree from Nipissing University, as well as a French Teaching Specialization degree and Adult Education diploma from the University of Waterloo. Her interests in education lie outside of the traditional classroom; she uses her training, sales, and customer service background in the business world to inform clients about new business opportunities and strategies for success. After teaching in the United Kingdom, Cailey transitioned to inside sales and customer service with Unitron Hearing, and then took her sales strengths to the insurance industry.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
– Confucius

Cailey is a native of rural Bruce County and currently lives in Kitchener, but spends most of her weekends in the Bruce enjoying the peaceful, scenic views and activities along Lake Huron with friends and family. She enjoys trail walking and catching beautiful sunsets from local establishments’ patios. Cailey also enjoys cooking and searching for new recipes to try in her free time. She loves to travel and has a lot of great experiences from living and studying in France for a year. Cailey’s travels and bilingual work experience have provided her the ability to interact efficiently with a diverse range of people from various cultures and environments.


Jennifer Bleakney

Program Manager

An advocate of economic development, Jenn was instantly drawn to the role of Program Manager 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 Canadian 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 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 Canadian government grant funding. She believes that business and government should leverage one another for the common good.


Robert Maciel

Program Manager

Rob Maciel is a Program Manager 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.


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.

Ann Wong, Canadian Government Funding Planner at Mentor Works

Ann Wong

Team Lead

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 Team Lead 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.

Sarah WO

Sarah Quinlan Cutler

Team Lead

Sarah Quinlan Cutler specializes in government funding and economic development as a Team Lead at Mentor Works Ltd. She has a strong background in analysis, project management, experiential learning, and leadership developed through positions in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Sarah holds a PhD in Geography through Wilfrid Laurier University and an MA in Tourism Policy and Planning from the University of Waterloo. Her expertise in communication has been strengthened by previous university lecturer positions, where she taught and published on a range of topics related to tourism development and research methodology.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act but a habit.”
– Will Durant

Sarah has called many different places home, but now resides in Kitchener, Ontario. With a passion for travel and good food, Sarah is happiest walking through a farmer’s market, reading a good book at the edge of a lake, or going anywhere on a train.

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.

Sunnie R. WO

Sunnie Rothenburger

Business Process Analyst

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.


Matthew Rodgers

Business Funding Analyst

Matthew is a graduate of the University of Waterloo and Conestoga College in Business and Human Resources. He became involved in Government Funding while working with Federal Development Ontario to administer funding contribution agreements with clients in both the public and private sector. Matthew moved to the private sector with Mentor Works, where he has connected Canadian SMEs and major corporations with Government funding for the past 2.5 years.

“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 knowledge, including learning programming languages, furthering his business education, and conducting automotive-sector research for the Mentor Works team.

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.

Mike Dunn

Mike Dunn

Business Funding Analyst

Mike Dunn graduated on the Dean’s List with Honours from the University of Waterloo’s Environment and Business program. He acknowledges the economic value of cooperative government and business relationships, and aspires to help companies leverage funding to increase their growth potential and improve the Canadian economy. Mike brings a wide range of experience from manufacturing, self-directed research, and quality assurance while employed by Toyota, Rockwell Automation, and Farm Business Consultants.

“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”
– Vince Lombardi

Mike is a sports enthusiast who enjoys hockey, golf, football, and beach volleyball. He loves the outdoors, spending time at his cottage, and conservation fishing.

Naomi Roberts

Naomi Roberts

Business Funding Analyst

Naomi attained her Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Guelph, specializing in Management Economics in Industry and Finance. After graduating, Naomi achieved a wealth of experience within the business world, gaining experience in operations management, sales, client management, and business development. To continue her professional growth in finance and economic development, Naomi is pursuing the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation. As a Business Funding Analyst at Mentor Works, Naomi works with clients to leverage government funding to fuel business growth and support economic advancement.

“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”
–Napoleon Hill

Naomi relocated from Ireland to Canada, and currently resides in Burlington, Ontario. She enjoys spending time with family, friends, and seeking new adventures through sports and travel. Throughout the year Naomi spends time volunteering with the Hospice to give back to individuals in palliative care. During summer months Naomi enjoys getting outdoors, exploring nature, and coaching soccer to fulfil her competitive side!

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.

Jeff S. WO

Jeffrey Shepherd

Marketing Coordinator

Jeff Shepherd holds an Honours Bachelor of Business Administration at the University of Guelph-Humber. His expertise, developed through practical and theoretical education, has allowed him to think critically about marketing campaigns and understand the complexity of media in the 21st century. A proud Canadian with a passion for business development, Jeff seeks to inform others of the growth opportunities presently available to them.

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

Jeff lives in Milton, Ontario and spends his free time outdoors whenever possible. He is an 80’s rock music fan, frequent concert-goer, and stuck somewhere in The Twilight Zone.

Katlynd Poulton Marketing Mentor Works

Katlynd Poulton

Marketing 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!


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
  • 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
  • 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
  • BT Testimonial
    “Tell [Mentor Works] your business plan and they’ll identify opportunities to help you accelerate or get funding towards the goals that you have already.”
    Brotech Precision CNC / Jerome Horowitz, Vice-President
  • Anderson-Water-Systems
    "Mentor Works did an outstanding job assisting Anderson with a very complex application process coupled with very tight deadlines."
    Anderson Water Systems / Steven Smith, Controller

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.