FCEDA’s SCORE mentors offer free counseling to aspiring entrepreneurs, current business owners

Are you looking for business counseling and mentoring? The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority provides free business counseling services through an arrangement with SCORE, a nonprofit association comprised of more than 13,000 volunteer business counselors throughout the U.S. SCORE members are trained to serve as counselors, advisors and mentors to aspiring entrepreneurs and current business owners.

A SCORE mentor is available, by appointment only, for a virtual appointment through the FCEDA office in Tysons. Appointments are for one-hour and must be scheduled in advance. To request a meeting, call 703-790-0600 or book online at www.washingtondc.score.org.

Because of the large and diversified business community in Fairfax County and Northern Virginia, the FCEDA has relationships with SCORE mentors who have a broad set of experiences and skills in a wide variety of business sectors. Meet our SCORE mentors:

DELAINE RUSSELL recently retired after 14 years with Gartner, the world’s largest informa­tion technology research company. At Gartner, he held the position of vice president and man­aging partner, with a focus on federal and defense contracting. Prior to Gartner, Mr. Russell was a division vice president at SAIC, responsible for healthcare divisions that included provider, payer and pharmaceutical organizations. At SAIC, he helped develop its mentor-protege program. Before SAIC, Mr. Russell was part of a startup company, Quantum Health Resources, which went public and was ultimately sold. He has worked to successfully raise venture capital with startup companies, from concept to exit strategy. Mr. Russell has a bachelor of arts degree in education and a master of education degree (guidance and counseling) from Missouri State University.

BILL DROHAN is an advisory board member of the Fairfax County Economic Advisory Commis­sion, a board member of Virtual, and managing director of Southeastern Capital Investment Holdings, a real estate development and investment firm. Mr. Drohan founded the Drohan Management Group (DMG), a Reston-based association management and consulting firm. Over three decades, he grew the company to 75 employees servicing more than 30 clients, be­fore selling DMG to Striker Capital Partners. DMG has since been merged into Virtual, one of the largest association management companies in the industry. Mr. Drohan also was a founding director and served as chairman of the board of Alliance Bank in Chantilly.

GOPI GOPINATH brings a diverse background in marketing, sales, business strategy, finance, operations, IT product development and product management. He has worked for more than 25 years in global technology companies such as AT&T, Sprint and Orange. Mr. Gopinath has led multiple organizations with revenues in excess of $100 million for more than 15 years in Belgium, India, the U.S. and Hong Kong. He has earned two graduate degrees: a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Iowa and an MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Mr. Gopinath lives in Fairfax County with his wife.

LEN JOHNSON brings 40 years of business expertise in government contracting, marketing, ad­vertising, media, communications, public relations, creative services and consulting. He grew a three-person graphic design studio into JDG Communications, an integrated marketing com­munications firm with 15 employees, before selling it in 2009. “When I sold my business, I benefited from the advice of a SCORE counselor who helped frame the financial details of the transaction,” he said. “I chose to volunteer as a mentor to experience the joy of seeing oth­er entrepreneurs succeed.” This hands-on management experience and knowledge of marketing, business development and sales is the foundation for his mentoring advice. His mantra is: “I will be your biggest cheerleader and your hardest task-master.”

MARK NOVICK owned and operated a chain of automotive parts and paint stores, plus an au­tomotive machine shop, in the Shenandoah Valley, Leesburg and Purcellville for 25 years. By the time he sold this business to a company with a national footprint, he handled sales, operations and acquisitions for 35 stores east of the Mississippi, as well as in Texas, Arizona and Ontario. Before retiring, he was vice president of field audit and im­plementation for all 175 stores in the company. Mr. Novick graduated from Ithaca College with a bachelor of science degree in business administration.

KRISTIN SHARPE was founder and president of an IT services consultancy that she grew into a pro­fessional services firm with a nationwide presence. Her company specialized in implementing cloud technologies to many of the nation’s top colleges, universities and nonprofits. After 14 years, she sold her company to a larger consulting firm. Ms. Sharpe works with clients to help them plan, start, operate, grow and sell their businesses. She provides guidance in how to develop a value proposition and business plan, close critical first clients, understand financials and build financial success. She also counsels on building an effective team and growing a business through marketing, alliances and partner­ships, as well as pre-acquisition planning and preparation and post-acquisition stewardships.

“The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority thanks our SCORE business mentors for providing their time and expertise,” said Victor Hoskins, president and CEO of the FCEDA. “Their counseling services are an invaluable resource, and never more so than the difficult circumstances that many businesses encountered during the pandemic. We strongly recommend that all prospective business owners and those who want to take their business to the next level consider using this free opportunity in Fairfax County.”

For more information on the FCEDA’s work with SCORE, contact Karen Smaw, FCEDA director of diversity business investment and entrepreneurship, at ksmaw@fceda.org.

June 24, 2021