Skip to Main Site Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Footer
Back To Top
decorative element

Business Advisory Council Members (2022 – 2023)

${alt}

Ashon Avent (’08)

Entrepreneur and Owner, The Main Avent Group, LLC

Ashon "Chewy" Avent is the owner of The Main Avent Group LLC & T-Shirt World, a company that specializes in the provision of custom apparel to create branding opportunities for small businesses. The company also manufactures uniforms, clothing, and other items for teams, clubs, and organizations. Ashon is the founder of two clothing Brands BLK (Bold Loyal & Kind) and No Luck All Hustle Clothing Brand. Ashon teaches marketing as an Adjunct Professor at Eastern Connecticut State University. He is an instructor in the Level Up Leadership Academy workshop series called “Advertising You & Entrepreneur 101, teaching new entrepreneurs the basics of starting a business. Ashon holds an MBA from Albertus Magnus College and is an active alum of Eastern Connecticut State University, where he received a B.S. in Business Administration.

${alt}

Jeffrey Farmer (’08)

CEO and Founder, Center for Transitional Living (CTL) Jeff Farmer is the CEO of Center for Transitional Living and head of the CTL Foundation, a nonprofit focusing on food insecurities and the wellbeing of the elderly throughout the state of Connecticut and Massachusetts. Before working as CEO, Jeff founded CTL in 2013 and was responsible for agency operations, Medicaid billing, recruiting, and end to end management of client on boarding. Prior to CTL, Jeff was an eligibility services worker for the Department of Social Services and was responsible for auditing financial data and household make up of individuals who apply for Medicaid services. Jeff is a graduate of Eastern Connecticut State University with a degree in Business Administration.
${alt}

Mary Fitzgerald

President, Acme Wire Products Mary Fitzgerald is the President of Acme Wire Products in Mystic, CT. Acme Wire Products specializes in custom formed and welded wire component parts for a variety of industrial applications such as baskets, racks, frames, handles, guards, and CNC wireforms. She participates in and/or serves on the boards of various organizations such as the Eastern Advanced Manufacturing Alliance, Women in Manufacturing, the Precision Metalforming Association, and the Noank Community Support Services. Mary coordinated the EAMA Video Challenge which paired high school students with local manufacturing companies to expand manufacturing career awareness and develop partnerships between educational and business entities. She has an English degree from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA and an MBA in Marketing from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY.
${alt}

Andrew Gutt (’09)

Entrepreneur and Owner, Stone Row Kitchen and Bar

Andy is a 2009 Eastern graduate who opened his first restaurant, Cafemantic, in 2010, setting a new standard for hospitality excellence in the Windham area. His hospitality projects have earned rave reviews, earning fans near and far, including a stellar restaurant review in the New York Times. Andy successfully ran Cafemantic for ten years along with his full-service catering and production company, A Moveable Feast. Through his experiences Andy has been honored with accolades including Connecticut Main Street Center’s Business of the Year and The New Face of Small Business by the Connecticut Small Business Development Center. Most recently, Andy launched Stone Row Kitchen and Bar, the successor restaurant to Cafemantic. In 2021, Andy embarked on his first lodging project and is in the process of converting a historic Victorian in the Willimantic Hill Section. In 2022, Andy will  launch a wood-fired pizza concept in the Riverside Drive section of Willimantic. Andy serves on the Board of Directors for Thread City Development, Inc.

${alt}

Thayne Hutchins Jr.

Treasurer, Tribal Counsel, Mohegan Tribe Thayne D. Hutchins, Jr. has served on the Mohegan Tribal Council since 2007. He assumed his role as Treasurer after six years in the finance department of the Mohegan Tribe. As a staff accountant, Hutchins’ business skills were employed in a variety of responsibilities, including the analysis and monitoring of the Tribe’s many financial concerns. Hutchins graduated Magna Cum Laude from Eastern Connecticut State University, holding a B.A. in Economics with a concentration in accounting. He is a board member of SECTER (Southeastern Connecticut Enterprise Region), he serves on the Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment Audit Committee, and he is also on the Eastern Workforce Innovation Board (EWIB) where he serves as the Vice Chair. 
${alt}

Milton Jackson (’05)

SVP, Experience Design Executive at Bank of America

Milton graduated from Eastern with degrees in history and social science. After three years as UI/UX Designer (user interface and experience) in innovation and research at United Technologies, he moved to The Hartford in 2018 and is currently the Assistant VP of Design and User Experience. He is co-founder and lead UI Developer for PicSpotr, a web site and mobile app aimed at helping professional photographers organize, promote, and manage their businesses.  Milton’s previous professional affiliations also include five years at ESPN and two years at The Travelers. At Eastern Milton was a recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Distinguished Service Award and he remains actively engaged in various initiatives at the university.

${alt}

Sarah Kannas (’05)

FVP Audit Manager, Berkshire Bank

Sarah is an FVP Audit Manager at Berkshire Bank. Sarah served as the Director of Audit & Risk prior to her role as Director of Finance at SI Financial, Inc. before its merger with Berkshire in May 2019. She has over 18 years of experience in the financial services industry holding key roles in audit, enterprise risk, and finance. Sarah is a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) as well as a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) and Certification in Risk Management Assurance (CRMA). She has a Master of Science degree in Accounting & Taxation from the University of Hartford and is an undergraduate alum of Eastern Connecticut State University where she completed her Bachelor of Science in Accounting. Sarah currently serves on the Board of Directors of the ECSU Foundation. Formerly, Sarah has served for 7 years as Vice Chairperson of the City of Norwich Personnel & Pension Board and 2 years on the City of Norwich Ethics Review Committee. Sarah is a proud veteran having served in the United States Coast Guard.

${alt}

Joseph Lobe ('03)

VP, Deputy General Counsel, Mohegan As Vice President, Deputy General Counsel Joe provides legal support across the entire Mohegan organization including gaming properties in Connecticut, Las Vegas, Pennsylvania and Ontario, Canada.  For over 20 years Joe has held various positions across multiple companies in the gaming industry.  Prior to becoming an attorney he held financial analysis and mergers and acquisitions roles.   Lobe has a law degree (J.D.) from Western New England University School of Law and a B.S. in Accounting from Eastern Connecticut State University.
${alt}

Melissa Meyers (’89)

Chief Operating Officer, Generations Family Health Center

Melissa Meyers is the Chief Operating Officer at Generations Family Health Center, Inc., a community health organization with multiple facilities across Eastern CT. She has worked at the organization for just under 27 years and volunteers for or is on the Board of Directors of several local civic or non-profit organizations in the area. Melissa is an alumna of Eastern, having graduated in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology. She holds a master’s degree in Health Administration from A.T. Still University. Melissa has been a visiting lecturer at Eastern, teaching in the business administration program with a particular focus on healthcare law and ethics, and continues to collaborate with faculty and students.

 

${alt}

Tim Restall

President, The Hartford Yard Goats

A veteran of Minor League Baseball entering his 22nd season, Tim Restall serves as President of the Hartford Yard Goats. Tim started in Minor League Baseball working for the Single A West Michigan Whitecaps (Detroit Tigers) of the Midwest League as the Food and Beverage Manager from 2000-2003. He also oversaw the food service operation at a half-mile racetrack called Berlin (MI) Raceway. Prior to joining the Yard Goats, Tim worked for the Double A New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Toronto Blue Jays). Tim was a founding member of the front office staff for the Fisher Cats during the 2004 Inaugural Season, serving as the Director of Food and Beverage at Gill Stadium. In 2005, Restall became the General Manager for Centerplate, a position he held through the 2007 season. In 2008, Restall became the Vice President of Business Operations for the Fisher Cats. Tim was a proud member of the 2009 Fisher Cats Front Office that was awarded the prestigious 2009 Double A Bob Freitas Award by Baseball America, recognizing the club for achieving long-term success in Minor League Baseball. Tim serves on the board of directors for the Southern and Western New England American Cancer Society, United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut, and YMCA of Greater Hartford. He also serves on the Advisory Board for the Miracle League of Connecticut, Board of Corporators on the IQuilt Plan, and RBI Committee for the Hartford RBI (Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities) program.

${alt}

Nicolai Soendergaard (’15)

Omni Enablement Leader, Newell Brands

Nicolai Soendergaard is an alum of Eastern. Post-graduation Nicolai continued his professional journey into the industry of retailer media networks/digital marketing and the world of overall eCommerce, an industry that has seen tremendous growth coming off the COVID pandemic. As Nicolai built his professional acumen in the eCommerce and digital marketing space, he has been fortunate to elevate his career rather quickly through educating and driving organizational buy in particularly in large Fortune 500 organizations (e.g., Kellogg, Newell Brands) & private held top organizations (Bain & Company – LEGO Systems Inc.) in helping them understand the value of the online and ultimately Omni world while building strategies and roadmaps towards unlocking it. Nicolai enjoys the educating component in his role and hopes to share his experiences in some form of part time teaching & educating at a higher level as he continues in the corporate world.

${alt}

Brian Sullivan (’08) (Council Chair, 2022-2023)

President, Emerald Consulting, LLC

Brian's passion for sustainable, efficient development and green job creation guides his vision for the future of real estate finance. He founded Emerald Consulting in 2016 after building and managing innovative multifamily housing, solar, and energy efficiency loan portfolios with one of Connecticut's largest Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI). He currently serves as an expert consultant to the US Department of Energy's Solar in Your Community program. ​Brian graduated summa cum laude from Eastern with majors in Mathematics and Mathematical Economics before earning his law degree from the University of Virginia. He is admitted to the Connecticut Bar.