Our team is dedicated to helping you
Lead by Director Kurt Clark, the SBDC team is here to help. From answering questions, to arranging meetings with consultants, to signing you up for classes, our staff will make every effort to assist you.
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Alliance SBDC Merced Program Specialist
Raised in the Central Valley, Jennifer graduated from Merced High School and soon after enlisted in the United States Air Force as a Cryptologic Linguist. After her service in the military she decided to return to college and earned her B.S. in Business Management. Jennifer relocated to the D.C. area and worked as a program assistant at the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute while working towards her Masters in Business Administration. Returning to Merced, Jennifer worked at the Merced County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Jennifer serves Merced and Mariposa counties. She looks forward to answering any questions you might have about our services and connecting you with our professional consultants.
Valley Sierra SBDC Director
Kurtis grew up on his family’s ranch in Central California and learned entrepreneurism at an early age. He has started and operated two small businesses in his life. Starting right after high school, he spent 26 years in a retail grocery career, 20 of those years in management. During the last 8 years Kurtis returned to college and earned a B.A. in Business Management from St. Mary’s College and a Master of Public Administration degree from CA State University, Stanislaus.
In 2000, he became an adjunct faculty member at three Central Valley Community colleges, teaching over a two dozen business courses, and also joined the local Small Business Development Center (SBDC), as a part-time business consultant. In 2003, he was hired as the Director of the SBDC, a position he continues to hold today. In the past 12 years, Kurtis has personally counseled over 1,000 entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Today, the Valley Sierra SBDC is recognized as one of the premier SBDCs in CA with over 25 professional business consultants under contract providing no-cost business consulting and low-cost training to over 1,500 individuals a year. In 2011, the Valley Sierra SBDC was awarded the US Small Business Administration’s Innovation and Excellence award for Central California.
Valley Sierra SBDC Modesto Administrative Assistant
A native Californian, Peni was born in Bellflower, CA (Los Angeles area) and lived in the area until graduating from Bell Gardens High School. After graduation the family returned to her parent’s home town of Oakdale. There she met and married her husband Larry Hogwood. They have two grown children, Zackery and Audra. Peni has served on the Oakdale Youth Soccer Board and has been a member of various support groups for Oakdale sports activities. The family enjoys camping and fishing trips, Washington Redskins football, and art shows/activities that Larry participates in as an accomplished artist. Peni enjoys photography and writing short stories. She is always working on her book that will hopefully be published one day.
Over the last 25 years Peni has had long term employment in the Administrative Medical, Title Company and Accounting professions. Working with the public is a favorite for her. She is a graduate of Valley Commercial College and has completed several certifications in the Escrow/Title and Accounting fields.
While participating in the Worknet program, Peni had the opportunity to interview for the position she now holds with the Small Business Development Center. She encourages all friends and family who are seeking employment to utilize the tools and support the program offers.
Valley Sierra SBDC Assistant Director
Katy Winders has over 12 years experience working with QuickBooks and over 25 years of experience with bookkeeping. She holds a B.S. in Business Administration (Management) from CSULB. She was fortunate to grow up in a small family business and understand the challenges and rewards of operating a small business. She moved to the Central Valley 17 years ago with her husband and three children. She has a bookkeeping business and enjoys working with small businesses owners; she loves their passion and determination. Katy and her husband also manage a small almond ranch in Oakdale.