Staff

Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns

State Director

Joseph Burns is the Hawaiʻi SBDC State Director, where his responsibilities involve direct management of all our service center locations state-wide. Previously, he served as the Oʻahu Center Director since 2010. During that time, the Oʻahu Center consistently achieved and surpassed its goals, multiplying the effectiveness of the SBDC in working with Hawaiʻi business clients to improve their financial management and performance, and to assist them in obtaining the needed capital to support their market and product/service expansion.

Mr. Burns’ background and training are in private industry, having worked in commodities trading, international business, and in intercultural relations. He started a manufacturing and exporting company and ran it successfully for 12 years before embarking on a second career in management consulting on the U.S. mainland and in Canada, working with an array of businesses, and on an extended assignment with a large military installation before moving to Hawaiʻi.

He earned an undergraduate degree in Chinese studies and language, and an MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management. He continues his education by engaging in a variety of courses and holds several business certifications. Burns has been recognized with awards from organizations such as the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) among others for his contributions to and achievements in economic development in Hawaiʻi.

Pascual Castaño

Pascual Castaño

Senior Business Advisor - O‘ahu Center

Pascual Castaño has over 15 years of experience working as an entrepreneur and a business advisor for the SBDC network. Pascual’s focus areas within the SBDC are disaster assistance, international marketing and trade, innovation strategy, and business planning.  Pascual has an MA in International Education and BBA in international marketing. He helps entrepreneurs and small business owners of all ages navigate the challenges of starting and scaling their businesses, helping them to create value, achieve rapid and sustainable growth, and become profitable under the premise of “do well by doing good” at the same time and is committed to serving the greater needs of the local and global community.

Stephanie Chan

Stephanie Chan

Center Services Associate - O‘ahu

Stephanie Chan has over 15 years of business knowledge and experience as a business loan officer, commercial loan analyst, realtor, small business owner, sales, notary, marketing, and client services specialist.  Stephanie comes from a family of small business owners.  She is a Honolulu native and graduated from University of Utah with a BS in biological chemistry

Pat Diaz

Pat Diaz

Specialty Research Associate - Maui Center

Pat oversees the Maui Center and the Hawaiʻi Business Research Library. Originally from Southern California and with a background in office management systems, Pat has provided assistance to advisors and small businesses for many, many years.

Claire Doi

Claire Doi

Business Advisor - O‘ahu Center

Claire, is a strategic management professional with a proven track record of successful quality control planning and coordinating special projects from initial concept through completion. Claire has a master’s in business administration and a diverse background in finance, banking, accounting, food sciences, commercial real estate, and food safety. She started her own business consulting start-up in 2002’ and served on the board of directors for several trade associations.

Ken Hoyle

Ken Hoyle

Director - West Hawaiʻi Center

Ken has over thirty years of experience in driving growth for small businesses and start-ups. With hands-on experience in B2B, retail and CPG, Ken’s areas of expertise include marketing, business modeling & planning, ecommerce + all things digital, operations and product management. Ken has held a broad range of consulting and managerial roles across many industries, including serving as GM/VP for all consumer programs for Wente Vineyards. Ken has a BA in Business Management from Saint Mary’s College.

Marty Kennedy

Marty Kennedy

Business Advisor - West Hawaiʻi Center

Marty Kennedy has started and run several successful businesses including a Day Care and a Housecleaning business. She understands how intimidating it is, as well as the joys and frustrations of, starting and running your own business. Marty has served many years in the nonprofit sector as well. She has a degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Human Resource Management. In 2018 she earned her certification in NAV as a Credit and Lending Specialist. Marty is passionate about helping businesses start, grow, and thrive.

Teryn Macayan

Teryn Macayan

Fiscal/Administrative Specialist

Teryn has worked for the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo in Finance and Administration roles since 2008.  Most currently she serves as the Finance Specialist III at the Hawai‘i SBDC Lead Center, providing support to the network and our stakeholders.  She is a Hilo native who values the SBDC’s role in fostering local business to form, grow, and thrive.

Judi Mellon

Judi Mellon

Senior Business Advisor - East Hawaiʻi Center

Judi operated her own business for many years. She earned the designation of Certified Business Consultant while working with Idaho SBDC for 2 years. She served 20 years in the U.S. Marines, earned a BS in Accounting, MS in Financial Management, and PhD in Adult & Organizational Learning and Leadership. She has strong skills in finance, process improvement and strategic planning. Judi’s passion is working with entrepreneurs to generate sustainable growth in their businesses.

Robbie Melton

Robbie Melton

Director - Kauaʻi Center

Ms. Melton has over 35 years experience engaging industry creators, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders. Her expertise is in mentoring entrepreneurs and early stage companies and serving on investment teams making recommendations for seed and angel funding. Robbie has vision and has created a number of state programs to foster the growth of early stage and small companies.

As the Executive Director and CEO for the Hawaiʻi Technology Development Corporation, Robbie established the Neighbor Island Innovation Imitative (NI3) to work with technology based companies on all islands Under her leadership, HTDC created 4 state funded grant programs distributing $5 million annually to tech development companies, and business accelerators to support small businesses. She instituted an annual economic metric analysis to measure the success and contributions of technology and manufacturing companies to Hawaiʻi’s economy. Before returning to Hawaiʻi Robbie worked for the Maryland Technology Development Corporation a publicly funded startup seed fund serving on the review committee of 3 funds, reviewing over 25 business plans a month and mentoring 25 portfolio companies ranging in a variety of technologies. In 2001 she co-founded Women In Bio a national organization to support women entrepreneurs and professionals in life science companies and co-created Young Women In Bio to encourage middle school girls to pursue science careers. Women In Bio is thriving with 13 chapters in North America. Robbie holds a Master’s degree in Science, Technology, and Public Policy from The George Washington University. She is a member of Zonta International – Līhuʻe chapter, a community service organization.

Jackie Muller

Jackie Muller

IT Specialist

Jackie operates as the administrator for everything technology at the Hawaiʻi SBDC. She started her career as manager in the retail industry before transitioning into the field of small business at the West Hawaiʻi SBDC in 2012. She has her IT Certification from the Hawaiʻi Community College and continues to seek higher education training.

Larry Nagayama

Larry Nagayama

Senior Business Advisor - O‘ahu Center

Larry Nagayama is a Senior Business Advisor for the Hawaii Small Business Development
Center with 31 years of local financing experience. It includes 22 years in commercial banking
and branch management along with 8 years as bank Senior Credit Analyst. Prior to banking,
Larry compiled a decade of on-premises sales and off-premises sales management for local
Food & Beverage Wholesalers. He also served non-profit organizations in the capacity of;
Trustee and Secretary/Treasurer (St. Louis School), Corporate Director (The Japanese Chamber
of Commerce), and Finance Chairperson (HBN – Honolulu Business Network).
Familiar with SBA loan programs including the HEDCO 504 loan program, Larry advises from his
sales, commercial lending, management, and credit analyst background. The goal is to help
entrepreneurs, professionals, and seasoned businesses attract lenders and capital sources who
in turn seek them as creditworthy clients.

Kaiana Neizman

Kaiana Neizman

Center Director - East Hawai‘i Center

Kaiana (Kai) Neizman joins HISBDC as Center Director in April 2024 after spending 30+ years in the banking industry.  In his career, he has held a number of leadership roles while working with small businesses across multiple industries and sectors. Kai graduated from UH Hilo with a BBA in Management, an MBA in Financial Management from City University and a graduate of the Pacific Coast Banking School. In addition, he graduated from GoFarm’s AgXcel Program and the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement’s KūHana Business Program both in 2023.  He is also Board Treasurer for Kua O Ka Lā New Century Charter School and was previously Treasurer for an affordable housing organization. He resides in Kea’au. 

Fred Rickert

Fred Rickert

Senior Business Advisor - Maui Center

Fred W. Rickert has over 35+ years of financial leadership experience in Agriculture, Real Estate Development, International Shipping, Maritime Port & Airport Operations, and Financial Services. For the last several years, he has provided consulting services to a variety of industries across the Hawaiian Islands in business plan creation, financial modeling, enterprise risk management, leadership training, accounting systems & controls, and change management strategies. An Air Force veteran, he holds an Executive MBA from St Mary’s College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from California State University in California.

Lydia Santiago

Lydia Santiago

Administrative Assistant - East Hawaiʻi Center

Lydia has been with the Hawaiʻi SBDC since 1996 serving in our Hilo Center. She has vast experience and knowledge in everything small business, including customer service, start-up assistance and training. Prior to SBDC, she was employed in Hilo by the Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DBED) and assisted the Business Action Center.

Dennis Wong

Dennis Wong

Senior Business Advisor - Oʻahu Center

Dennis contributes his expertise as senior bank administrator in the banking industry with over 41 years of experience in business, mortgage, and consumer lending along with banking operations. As a former business banker and administrator, he is well versed of all industries in Hawaiʻi.  He is a graduate of Pacific West Coast Banking School at the University of Washington and Advanced Commercial Lending Graduate School at the University of Oklahoma.  Dennis is active and well-regarded in the business community and recently appointed by Governor Ige to serve on the Hawaiʻi Green Infrastructure Authority Board.

Wayne Wong

Wayne Wong

Director - Maui Center

Wayne brings over 30 years of IT experience evolving from coder to senior management. With several dot-com/startup/entrepreneurial experiences, his technical expertise focuses on e-commerce, online marketing, and data security. Prior to HiSBDC, he served as the Small Business Solutions project director under EdVenture at UH Maui College responsible for planning and executing curriculums for small employers to remedy skill shortages and education/training gaps. His community outreach and employer engagement experience, combined with his expertise in small business commerce and technology represents a compelling offering to assist our small businesses struggling to keep up in this ever-changing environment. He graduated locally from the Kamehameha Schools and holds a BS from the University of Washington and an MBA in marketing from the University of Puget Sound.
Wayne has served as the HiSBDC Center Director for Maui for 9 years and was named the Small Business Advocate of the Year at the 2020 SBA Small Business Awards. He is on several cultural and non-profit boards including: The Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ Native Hawaiian Revolving Loan Fund.

Cynthia Yamasaki, MBA.

Cynthia Yamasaki, MBA.

Director - O‘ahu Center

Cynthia Yamasaki has more than 4 decades of leadership, project management, business, finance, and human resources experience. She worked in a variety of senior management roles in the corporate and nonprofit sectors, and as a small business owner. Her multi-faceted background, extensive training, and local values provide her with an unparalleled perspective on leadership, entrepreneurship, and business success. Cynthia was a Better Business Bureau Hawaii Torch Awards for Ethics Nominee in 2017 and was named the Women in Business Champion by the U.S. Small Business Administration in 2014.  She holds a master’s degree in business administration and a bachelor’s degree in business administration in finance. She is certified as a GrowthWheel® Business Advisor, Six Sigma Master Black Belt, Peer Counselor, and accredited Color Accounting workshop leader.

Learn More About Hawaiʻi SBDC