Meet Our Team

Chief Executive Officer

 

Business Attraction

 

Finance + Administration

 

Marketing + Communications

Research

Regional Business Development

Regional Marketing Alliance

Chief Executive Officer

Thomas A. Waltermire

Thomas A. Waltermire joined Team NEO in March 2006 as its Chief Executive Officer, following a 31 year career with major Northeast Ohio corporations: BFGoodrich, The Geon Company and PolyOne Corporation. Tom served as Chairman and CEO of both Geon and PolyOne.

Tom grew up in the Akron area, and joined BFGoodrich in 1974, following degrees from The Ohio State University and the Harvard Business School. He held a range of financial, operating and general management positions, until becoming Geon’s CFO when it spun off from BFGoodrich in 1993. In 2000, as Geon CEO, Tom led the formation of the $3 billion PolyOne Corp. when Geon acquired Cleveland-based M.A. Hanna Corporation. PolyOne’s global polymer operations spanned 25 countries.  He served as PolyOne CEO from its formation until late 2005, a record earnings year for PolyOne. Waltermire today serves on the Board of Directors of Westfield Bank, Flow Polymer, AlSher Titania and Collaborant.

Tom's active engagement in economic development of Northeast Ohio and the State of Ohio includes having served as Chair of NorTech (NEO regional technology consortium) and on the executive committees and boards of Cleveland Tomorrow, the Greater Cleveland Partnership, JumpStart, Inc. and the Ohio Business Roundtable. Tom is the founding Chair of the Ohio Polymer Strategy Council and has been appointed by two Ohio Governors to Ohio’s Third Frontier Advisory Board, a major state initiative in technology-based economic development. He also has served as Board Chair of the worldwide Ohio State University Alumni Association and as Board Chair of Business Volunteers Unlimited. He currently serves on the Boards of Baldwin-Wallace College, The Cleveland Orchestra, Deaconess Community Foundation, Global Cleveland and ideastream.

twaltermire@teamneo.org | 216-363-5425

Executive Assistant: Mary Kulak
mkulak@teamneo.org | 216-363-5418

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Business Attraction

Jay Foran
Senior Vice President, Business Attraction

Jay helps businesses discover exciting growth opportunities in the Cleveland Plus region. He works with site selectors and corporate clients and helps them navigate through the regional economic development framework, partnering with local and state economic development groups. 

Prior to joining Team NEO, Jay was Vice President, Business Development for The Lake West Group LLC, a management consulting firm. Jay also served in a variety of key leadership positions with Procter & Gamble during a lengthy and distinguished career where he was responsible for a variety of business building initiatives that have been emulated throughout the consumer products industry.

Jay has an impressive record of leadership in enabling successful civic advocacy organizations, private and public campaigns, and assessments to support community sustainability. He currently sits on the Board of Trustees for Lakewood Hospital Foundation and is a Lakewood Alive Founder, Officer and Board Member. 

jforan@teamneo.org | 216-363-5407

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Thomas ("Tom") Sudow
Vice President, Business Attraction

Tom helps bioscience and medical device companies achieve growth in Northeast Ohio. He is the Director of Business Development for the Global Cardiovascular Innovation Center (GCIC), a research and product development consortium created to attract, expand and retain companies that develop new cardiovascular technologies.

Prior to joining Team NEO and the GCIC, Tom served as Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce in Beachwood where he coordinated economic development efforts for the city. During his tenure, he helped more than 20 international companies establish their North America headquarters in Beachwood. 

Tom is committed to the Northeast Ohio community, having served as chair of the Northern Ohio Area Chambers of Commerce (NOACC). He is also a frequent guest columnist in publications such as Crain's Cleveland Business, Inside Business and the Cleveland Jewish News. For his outstanding work, he has been recognized with awards from many economic development and community organizations.

tsudow@teamneo.org | 216-363-5421

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Bernardine van Kessel
Director, International Business Attraction

Bernardine is a seasoned international economic development professional with a wide range of experience in the public, private as well as the non-profit sectors. At Team NEO she is responsible for developing and implementing strategies for global business attraction for the Northeast Ohio region.

Bernardine started her career in the polymer industry, managing international sales for Seal Master Corporation.  She was Director of the Int’l Trade Assist. Ctr. at the ARDB, (now Greater Akron Chamber) and was the first Economic Development Director for the City of Hudson, Ohio for which she designed and implemented a comprehensive economic development program and attracted 14 new companies. 

Prior to joining Team NEO, she was President of Kennemer Consulting which focused on international development projects with several large int’l corporate clients.  Bernardine speaks Dutch, German and French and is the President & Founder of the Netherlands American Chamber of Commerce – Great Lakes.  She serves on a number of local, national and international boards and has degrees from Leiden University and Kent State University. 

bvankessel@teamneo.org | 216.363.5415

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Camille Chin Billups
Senior Director, Business Attraction

Camille is responsible for managing projects that lead to the attraction of domestic and international companies to the Cleveland Plus region. Her focus is attracting minority owned companies to help diversify Northeast Ohio’s business community. Camille manages client relationships and helps to execute projects by connecting prospective businesses with a variety of resources including: providing information on the region, helping to determine potential supply chain partners and determining the most appropriate financial incentive package.

Camille joined Team NEO with 8 years of deal execution experience in the banking industry. While at Bank One (now JPMorgan Chase) and Societe Generale, she structured and helped to sell Asset Backed Securitization bonds in a variety of industries. She holds a bachelor's degree in Economics and Management from Albion College and a Master of Public Administration degree from Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University.

cbillups@teamneo.org | 216-363-5434

 


Mary Cierebiej
Director, Business Attraction

Mary manages and executes business attraction projects that lead to investments in the Cleveland Plus region. She does this by working with regional partners to connect opportunities for prospective businesses with a variety of resources including properties, supply chain partners and appropriate financial incentive options. 

Before joining Team NEO, Mary was manager, attraction and expansion for Team Lorain County. Prior to entering the economic development arena, Mary was a Transportation Planner, Project Manager and Marketing Manager for HNTB in Cleveland. 

Mary currently serves as a member of the Planning Commission for the City of Lakewood and is a member of LakewoodAlive. She is a member of the 2009 class of Crain’s Cleveland Business “40 Under 40.” Mary holds a Master’s degree in Urban Studies and Economic Development from Cleveland State University and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Dayton. Mary is a Certified Planner (AICP) and a member of the Executive Committee for the Cleveland Chapter of the American Planning Association.

mcierebiej@teamneo.org | 216.363.5411

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 Jenny Spencer
Manager, Business Attraction


Jenny manages and executes business attraction projects designed to encourage new investment into the Cleveland Plus region. Her responsibilities include connecting prospective businesses with a variety of resources, from properties and supply chain partners to financial incentive options. 

Before joining Team NEO, Jenny worked as a Project Manager at Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization. Jenny's principal responsibilities included both real estate and business development. She managed a $3.5 million streetscape project, $1 million in parking improvements, and oversaw the finances of the Capitol Theatre, a historic movie theater redeveloped in 2009. She also led the establishment of a Business Improvement District.

Jenny holds a Master's degree in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University and a BA in Political Science from the Ohio State University. She is an Economic Development Finance Professional certified by the National Development Council. Jenny served as a United States Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay, South America, from 2005-2007 and has past professional experience in state and local government.

jspencer@teamneo.org | 216-363-5431

 


Paul Boulier
Vice President, Business Attraction

Paul is responsible for developing and executing direct-to-company business attraction for the region’s core industries, including metal fabrication and machinery; polymers, chemicals and coatings; energy, oil & gas; as well as packaging and transportation.

Previously, Paul held senior management roles at A. Schulman, a global thermoplastics compounder serving the packaging, transportation, consumer products, industrial and agricultural markets; Core Molding Technologies, designer/molder of reinforced composite products for the transportation, electronics, industrial, automotive aftermarket and alternative energy markets; Avery Dennison, a manufacturer of high-performance adhesives and consumer products; and Nova Chemicals, a global manufacturer of Styrenics polymers, polyethylene and petrochemicals.

Paul earned a master’s degree in Plastics Engineering from UMASS Lowell and a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He also completed advanced studies in Global Marketing and Business Strategy at the Katz Graduate School at the University of Pittsburgh. Paul actively volunteers at Great Lakes Science Center and Mercy Corps International.

prboulier@teamneo.org | 216.363.5402

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Tatyana Hower
Director, Business Attraction

Tatyana focuses on supporting the expansion and attraction of biomedical companies to the Cleveland region. Through her role, she helps connect companies to regional resources and partners, and also to incentives that support their growth. 

Tatyana brings ten years of financial industry experience which included the creation of an emerging technology division for a regional bank and unique financing products for life science companies. She is an active member of National Association of Seed and Venture Funds and Ohio Venture Association. Tatyana holds a Bachelor's Degree from Baldwin-Wallace College.

thower@bioenterprise.com | 216.658.3984

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Finance + Administration

Laura Koballa Hudak
Vice President, Finance and Administration

Laura is responsible for overseeing the financial and business operations of Team NEO and supports special assignments such as diversity and inclusion initiatives. 

Previously, Laura was a senior manager at Deloitte & Touche where she focused on information systems and internal controls audits and was instrumental in leading regional HIPPA activities for the healthcare industry and was a national facilitator of Sarbanes-Oxley regulations. Prior to Deloitte, Laura spent 11 years at Ernst & Young, working in the Cleveland, National and London offices where she focused on financial services, manufacturing and health care industries in both Ohio and Michigan. 

Laura is a Certified Public Accountant. She sits on the boards of the Animal Protective League, Northeast Ohio Minority Supplier Development Council, The Cleveland Leadership Center and The Club at Key Center. Laura has been a volunteer for the United Way in various capacities for more than 20 years.

lkhudak@teamneo.org | 216-363-5404

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Marketing + Communications

Jenny W. Febbo, APR
Vice President, Marketing and Communications

Jenny leads branding initiatives to make Northeast Ohio stand out as a great location for business investment. As a member of Team NEO’s senior management team, she also actively promotes engagement in Team NEO's mission among regional leaders and the 18-county Cleveland Plus community.

Before joining Team NEO, Jenny was with Ernst & Young where she led marketing and communications for major global service lines and industry sectors. Prior to Ernst & Young, Jenny was Director of Corporate Communications at Penton Media.

Jenny is accredited (APR) by the Public Relations Society of America and has received numerous awards for her work. She has been a frequent presenter for business and professional organizations. She is a member of the Public Relations Society of America, The International Association of Business Communicators, and the American Marketing Association. Jenny is on the board of trustees for The Beck Center for the Arts in Lakewood and also is the chair of its marketing communications committee.

jfebbo@teamneo.org | 216-363-5426

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Nina Holliday
Senior Director, Marketing

Nina markets the Cleveland Plus region’s collective value to site selectors, real estate consultants and targeted companies to increase awareness of northeast Ohio’s business assets in order to increase business opportunities for the region. She has more than 15 years of experience in marketing, event planning, and media relations.

Previously, Nina was regional marketing supervisor for Alltel where she managed public relations, events/sponsorships, sports marketing, crisis management, employee communications, community relations and philanthropic giving for a five-state region. Nina was also a senior account executive with Liggett-Stashower, Inc., which at the time was one of the largest communications companies in the Midwest. She worked with clients such as Cole Vision Corp, Forest City Properties and Motorists Insurance.

Nina holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from Baldwin-Wallace College. She is on the Board of Trustees for the Substance Abuse Initiative of Greater Cleveland. In addition, she is a marathon runner and member of Women in Sports and Events (WISE) and Friends of the West Side Catholic Center.

nholliday@teamneo.org | 216-363-5428

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Jessica Chapman
Manager, Marketing and Communication

Jessica develops and manages marketing and communication initiatives that build awareness of the region's assets and strengthen the Cleveland Plus brand. Her focus is on digital marketing.

Jessica's background is in marketing and communications in the nonprofit sector. Before joining Team NEO, Jessica served as the Development & Marketing Director for Boys Hope Girls Hope Northeast Ohio, where she led a number of marketing initiatives including the creation of a new website, social media strategy and an associate board of young professionals. Previously, she was the Communications Specialist at The Joyce Foundation in Chicago, where she created and implemented strategic communication plans and activities to support the work of the Foundation and its grantmaking initiatives.

Jessica received her bachelor’s degree from Miami University and a graduate certificate in Nonprofit Management from North Park University in Chicago. She's on the associate board of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission and volunteers as a mentor for College Now Greater Cleveland.

jchapman@teamneo.org | 216-363-5405

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Research

Jacob Duritsky
Managing Director, Research

Jacob coordinates research for the Cleveland Plus region’s business attraction efforts to better serve the information requirements of Team NEO's various partners and communities engaged in targeted and sustainable region-wide economic growth. His responsibilities include examining, obtaining, developing, providing and analyzing data for medium to large company attraction efforts, spatial display and analysis of data with ESRI ArcView GIS, industry- and occupation-based research, target industries and value chain identification, and marketing support.

Jacob has been with Team NEO since 2008 and previously served as an integral part of the organization's business attraction efforts. Prior to joining Team NEO, Jacob was a graduate and research assistant for The Center for Public Management/Great Lakes Environmental Finance Center where he conducted a regional economic impact study for the Cuyahoga County Department of Development, co-developed metrics for use by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), and developed social indicators for pending U.S. EPA litigation.

Jacob holds a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies from Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, Cleveland State University, where he also holds a Master of Science in Urban Studies. Jacob is currently pursuing his Doctoral of Economic Development from Cleveland State. He is a member or the Urban Studies Association, American Economics Association and American Planning Association.

jduritsky@teamneo.org | 216-363-5424

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Daila Shimek
Research Liaison – Cleveland State University

Daila oversees the research relationship between Team NEO and Cleveland State University's Levin College of Urban Affairs. This relationship provides Team NEO access to the vast knowledge and deep skill sets of researchers at the Levin College, while providing the Levin College’s research team with Team NEO’s direct insights into the needs and priorities of local, national and global businesses. Daila also coordinates Team NEO's relationship with additional third-party research providers and various schools and departments across Cleveland State University.

Daila has more than two decades of experience in the fields of public administration, planning, public finance, and applied research and analyses. Prior to her employment at Cleveland State, she was a planner and analyst with the firm Bramhall Engineering and Surveying in Avon, OH. Daila is a certified planner (AICP). She holds a Master of Public Administration degree from Cleveland State University and a Bachelor of Science degree from Saint Louis University.

d.shimek@csuohio.edu | 216-687-9221

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Sylvio Mecone
Manager, Research

Sylvio supports Team NEO's core mission of business attraction and expansion by researching and analyzing industry and employment trends in northeast Ohio and in other US metropolitan regions. His responsibilities include data collection, assembly, analysis and presentation in support of a number industries advancement efforts in the Cleveland Plus region. Sylvio helps provide the business case for site selectors nationwide, working closely with the region’s cities, counties, chambers of commerce, economic development organizations and industry groups to ensure that client needs, confidentiality and timelines are met in an efficient and effective manner.

Prior to joining Team NEO, Sylvio worked for Cresco Real Estate where he conducted market research to collect and report market data and commercial property and listing information. Sylvio holds a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies and Master of Public Administration from the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University.

smecone@teamneo.org | 216-363-5430

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Michael Lalich
Associate, Research

 

As part of Team NEO’s research team, Michael analyzes industry trends to support business attraction and growth efforts in the region. He utilizes industry and occupational data analysis along with Geographic Information Systems to help companies make sound business decisions.

Previously, Michael worked in collaboration with a variety of Team NEO’s partners to help communities in matters ranging from health and education to economic development. He brings experience in community development research, neighborhood stabilization and public-private partnerships. Michael is currently pursuing a Master of Urban Planning, Design and Development at Cleveland State University.  He received his Bachelor’s degree from Case Western Reserve University.

mlalich@teamneo.org | 216-363-5413

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Regional Business Development

Christine Nelson
Vice President, Regional Business Development

Christine manages Team NEO's regional business development efforts and oversees a staff that assists companies and communities seeking support from JobsOhio for growth and job creation. She brings 20 years of economic and community development expertise at the city, county and regional levels. Christine, who joined Team NEO in 2008, most recently served as vice president, business attraction.

A graduate of Hiram College, Christine also received a Master’s of Public Administration degree from Cleveland State University and is a Certified Economic Developer by The National Development Council. Christine is also the President of the Board of Trustees for the Greater Cleveland Community Improvement Corporation, serves on the Board for The Community Partnership for Arts and Culture and is a National New Market Tax Credit Reader for the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

cnelson@teamneo.org | 216-363-5414

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Steve Fritsch
Senior Director, Strategic Network Engagement

In addition to working closely with companies seeking support from JobsOhio, Steve leads Team NEO’s outreach efforts to Northeast Ohio’s economic development system, collaborating with peers on development, networking and communications programming that optimizes our region’s capacity to fill and serve its business development pipeline.  In 2013, Steve was named to the inaugural “40 Under 40: Rising Star in Economic Development” by Development Counsellors International during the International Economic Development Council’s Leadership Summit in Orlando, Florida.

Prior to returning to Team NEO in 2011, Steve served as a Business Systems Analyst within the Agency Automation group for Westfield Insurance.  Previously, he served as Director of Marketing and Business Attraction at Team NEO where he led the successful Cleveland Plus business development efforts towards national site selection consultants, as well as managed Team NEO’s online marketing efforts.

Steve has served on the Board of Directors of the Ohio Economic Development Association and the Industrial Asset Management Council’s Demographics Committee.  He graduated from Kent State University and remains involved in the United Methodist Church of Kent and the Greater Akron Alumni Chapter of the Sigma Chi Fraternity.

sfritsch@teamneo.org | 330-414-4676

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Walt Good 
Senior Director,  Regional Business Development

Walt works closely with companies and communities seeking support from JobsOhio for growth and job creation.

Walt brings 17 years of economic development experience from the Youngstown/ Warren Regional Chamber, most recently as vice president, economic development, business retention and expansion. He was instrumental in leading local development efforts there from 2004 – 2011 that resulted in 156 projects with almost $2 billion in new investment, 9,200 new jobs and 15,600 retained/maintained positions. Prior to that, Walt worked for the Cafaro Company, one of the nation’s most prominent and successful retail real-estate developers.

Walt is a former vice president and board member of the Ohio Economic Development Association, board member of CASTLO Community Improvement Corporation, president of the Mahoning County Community Improvement Corporation and liaison to the Western Reserve Port Authority. 

 

wgood@teamneo.org | 330-519-7205

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Stephanie Mercado
Director,  Regional Business Development

Stephanie works closely with companies and communities seeking support from JobsOhio for growth and job creation.

Stephanie most recently served as the Executive Director of the Northeast Ohio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.  As an attorney, she worked for well-known local entities such as the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and she most recently practiced in the areas of business and tax law. In January of 2010, Governor Strickland appointed Stephanie to serve as a Commissioner on the Ohio Civil Rights Commission. 

Stephanie graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and was admitted to the Ohio Bar the same year. She received her bachelor’s degree from John Carroll University. 

smercado@teamneo.org | 440-864-3369

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Rick Batyko, APR, Fellow PRSA
BatykoPresident,
Regional Marketing Alliance 

Rick has over 20 years of Fortune 100 and nonprofit communications, marketing and brand management experience. As President of the Regional Marketing Alliance of Northeast Ohio, Rick is leading corporate, civic and foundation-backed effort to market the Northeast Ohio region, including Cleveland, Akron, Canton and Youngstown, to external and internal audiences. 

Rick has served as director of Communications for Babcock & Wilcox; as a director of Communications and Brand Management for AlliedSignal; as manager, e-Media and News Management at Honeywell International; as Vice President for Marketing & Communications at The Cleveland Foundation; and as Vice President for Regional Marketing for the Greater Cleveland Partnership.

Rick is a graduate of Ohio University’s E. W. Scripps School of Journalism and earned his Master of Arts in Public Relations from Kent State University. He is an adjunct professor at Kent State University’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications. Rick holds his APR accreditation with the Public Relations Society of America and was inducted into its College of Fellows in 2009.

rbatyko@clevelandplus.com | 216-363-5417

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Alicia Blessing
BlessingCommunications Manager,
Regional Marketing Alliance

Alicia assists in managing the day-to-day operations of the Cleveland Plus marketing campaign and brand, with a particular focus on the in-region communications program. Joining the campaign in January 2010, Alicia plays an integral role in managing the campaign’s online and offline marketing efforts.

Prior to her work on the Cleveland Plus campaign, Alicia served as an account executive at BrandMuscle, a marketing services agency located in Northeast Ohio. Alicia has also worked for a mobile startup, leading the company’s PR initiatives. Alicia holds her bachelor’s degree in communications from Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communications. She has volunteered with the Cleveland chapter of the American Marketing Association and has done freelance writing on topics that include digital marketing, social media and more. 

ablessing@clevelandplus.com | 216-363-5433

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