Peter Fong - District Director
Peter Fong is currently the District Director, for SCORE serving the 38 Counties of Central California.
Peter consults and networks regularly with business and community leaders to help create synergistic, financial, educational solutions for emerging and existing businesses. Peter also serves on the Board of Directors for Valley Small Business Development Corp., (VSBDC) and a member of the Fresno County Veterans Employment Committee (FCVEC) and is a service connected disabled veteran.
Raised in Napa, CA, he learned at very early age the challenges of owning your own business working in his parent’s grocery store stocking shelves and pricing merchandise at age 4 and graduated to the cash register at age 6 and studied business and accounting at Napa College. After college he served in the U.S. Navy, and attended the Air War College at Maxwell AFB and the 41st National Security Forum. After military service, he joined a national retail firm and was awarded best store performance in the Western Region.
Following his retail career, Peter started a real estate company, developing small office buildings and multi-family units along with a Mortgage Brokerage Company he owned for 26 years.
In 2005 Peter moved to Fresno as a consultant for a new company, Andrade International. The company was struggling in a very competitive market, designing and distributing Quinceanera dresses. The facility of a new business model prompted by Peter, the company grew and expanded their business from a local distributer to a national distributor in the United States and Puerto Rico. The company was awarded Verizon’s “Small Business of the Year” in 2008 with a $5,000 cash award with Peter’s marketing and strategic planning assistance. In December, 2008 Peter was recruited to become a SCORE volunteer leading to Chairman in 2009 and District Director in 2011.
Peter believes successful businesses should give back to the community by serving with civic organizations for their support and success. Peter has done so for many years. Some of these organizations include; President Napa Boys Club; President, Fairfield/Suisun Chamber of Commerce-State Legislative Committee and awarded a Lifetime Chief Ambassador; Board of Directors Tri-County Armed Forces; North Bay Health Care Foundation; Officer and Director Green Valley Country Club, Awarded 2014 District Director of the Year, by the SCORE Association.
SCORE is a 501(c) 3, nonprofit known as “Counselors to Americas Small Business” and resource partner to the U.S. Small Business Administration since 1964.
Mari Kroigaard - Chapter Chair
A valley native, my passion has always been about helping Small Businesses in the community I serve. I started my career in Banking in 1989. I spent several years crafting my skills with careers in Sacramento, Temecula and Beverly Hills. During this time, I managed a national SBA Processing Division for one of the largest SBA lender’s in the country. This position gave me the opportunity to learn so much about small business and all of the SBA lending programs. In 2005, I made the decision to move back home to be close to my family. I jumped right back into Banking which eventually landed me the job of SBA Division Manager at Central Valley Community Bank.
In May of 2017, I started working for the Fresno CDFI as their Credit Manager. Fresno CDFI is an “Alternative Lender” for small businesses. Fresno CDFI, a subsidiary of the Fresno EOC, is a U.S. Treasury “certified Community Development Financial Institution” with a mission to provide training, technical assistance and financing for the startup, strengthening and/or expansion of micro- and small-businesses, particularly those that are owned and operated by low-income individuals, are located in low- and moderate-income communities or provide employment opportunities for members of low-income communities. My current position couldn’t be more perfect based on my small business lending background.
I joined SCORE as an Advisory Board Member in 2005. Being involved with SCORE has been such a rewarding experience. I’ve taught the workshops, coordinated and assisted with grant funding opportunities that have allowed Central Valley SCORE to be sustainable. I’ve also volunteered as a committee member for the SCORE Women’s History Forum from 2015-2017. It’s truly an honor to be SCORE Chapter Chair for the next 2 years and I look forward to continuing our mission to mentor/train small business entrepreneurs in our community.
Yuliana Franco - Vice Chair
I first learned of SCORE through one a classmate at CSU, Fresno. I had visited the website but had not yet attended any meetings. Then, I met Peter, Jim, and Tony one day at Inspiration Park, a park that I am fundraising for. ABC 30 did a story on this park, and I was able to spend some time with members from SCORE. Tony invited me to the July luncheon scheduled for the following week. When I arrived, everyone was so friendly that I just couldn’t say no to becoming a member; I don’t think SCORE will be able to get rid of me now. I am looking forward to meeting everyone.
I have now been a member of SCORE for a week, and I have managed to do my first co-mentoring session with Marc Vasquez. I will keep my availability open so that I can continue to work along such amazing mentors. I enjoy helping business owners find ways to strategize and maximize their business. I have a passion for helping and serving the community. SCORE will allow me to provide business owners with the right resources to help their business grow. I have done workshops in Spanish in the past for small business owners; thus, this will allow me to collaborate with other individuals that share the same passion.
My advice to any SCORE volunteer is to have an open mind. Believe that you have the ability to make a difference in a business because sometimes that business just needs a new pair of eyes. Many of the individuals that are coming through our doors need help and support, and we can help these business owners find the resources and tools they have been looking for.
Most of my background is in management. I have been in the restaurant industry for over 10 years. I have worked in small restaurants as well as corporate environment. I have traveled to other cities to open restaurants on behalf of the franchiser. I enjoy and excel in fast pace environments and customer interaction. I have also been in school for a very, very long time. I have a degree in Liberal Studies and a recent degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Management. I am now working with Resources for Independence Central Valley as their Park Fundraiser. I am hoping to make a difference in the community by building awareness of Inspiration Park. I also work for World Financial Group. I have my State License in Life and Health Insurance. I am passionate about educating families on how to get out of debt, how to make a budget, how to save for emergencies, and how to plan for retirement. I think that education is the key to success. When you teach someone, they then have the opportunity of making more conscious decisions.
I am a part of the Madera Sunrise Rotary. In my spare time, I help the City of Madera with their Neighborhood Outreach Program.
In addition to everything I do, I am a wife and a mother of three beautiful girls. This is by far the hardest job I have ever, I mean ever had to fulfill. It came with no instructions and no mute button!
Overall, I love being as active at home as I am in the community.
Elizabeth “Liz” Salas - Secretary
Industry experience: Agriculture and Farming, banking, financial services and insurance. Over 30 years’ experience, 10 years in management and a small business development officer. My job functions include researching, identifying and establishing relationships with prospective small business. This also includes collecting, organizing and conducting preliminary evaluation of small business loan approval
Steve Ocheltree - Treasurer
Steve has over 30 years of experience in business consulting and tax services, as well as installation and training of Sage & QuickBooks accounting software. His professional experience includes providing international business consulting in Mexico. He enjoys teaching and working with people and is in the process of learning Spanish so he can better communicate with his Latin neighbors. Steve is active in church leadership, enjoys music sings and plays trumpet, is a cyclist, and enjoys travel with his wife and 4 sons. Steve has been a member SCORE since 2012, and a Certified QuickBooks instructor and fascinator for our QuickBooks workshops, sponsored by: Finch, Ocheltree, Rowland & Shoopman.
Robert “Bob” Garcia - Committee Chair
As the Executive Director of Cen Cal Business Finance Group for 26 years, I oversaw the management of this company and its mission of administering the Small Business Administration’s Economic Development Loan Program throughout the state of California, the City of Fresno’s Revolving Loan Program and two other loan programs that benefited small business owners. At the time of my retirement in 2014 the company managed a loan portfolio exceeding $65 million.
From 1986 to 1988 I was a Loan Specialist with the Fresno Office of the Small Business Administration.
During the period of 1974 through 1986 I was employed by several banks throughout the Fresno Clovis area. During this time I held positions that specialized in commercial and agriculture lending and business development.
Additionally I was the owner of Fresno and Visalia franchise of Friedman’s Microwave Ovens from 1980 through 1985. I graduated from California State University at Fresno with a Bachelor of Science degree with an emphasis in Business Administration.
Throughout my professional career I have been associated with various organizations including the following:
- Mission and Human Resource committee for Saint Agnes Hospital
- Committee member for Empty Bowls of the Fresno Food Bank
- Past president and member of the Merchants Association of Fresno California.
- Current member of the Sunrise Rotary of Fresno California.
SCORE is an association that became familiar with in 1986 while employed with the Small Business Administration. I saw its mission to educate and consul potential and existing business owners vital to the success of the business owner. I believe that my experience as a banker, small business owner and Executive Director of an organization that specialized in loans to businesses, can be used to help new and existing business owners succeed and grown their business.
J. Colin Petersen