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2016 BPC Judges

  • David Baer, Business Lawyer, Baer Counsel
  • Douglas C. Bates, M.S., M.B.A, Aderit Internet Marketing Consulting, Member Hub Angels and Walnut Ventures
  • Glenn Champagne, DataPoint Ventures
  • C.W. Dick, Managing Director, Ascent Venture Partners
  • Dino DiPalma, CEO, Benu Networks
  • Maria Nigro Di Stefano, Northeastern Regional Director, Massachusetts Office of Business Development
  • Gina Flynn, Vice President of Eastern Bank 125 Washington St Salem MA branch
  • Kara Halas,  Assistant Vice President, Store Manager, TD Bank, Loring Ave Salem
  • Arend de Jong, Managing Partner, bridge2grow
  • Louise Leduc Kennedy, President, West Hill
  • Dr. Linda Nowak, the Dean of the BERTOLON School of Business, Salem State University
  • Paul R. Simms, Senior Vice President, First Ipswich Bank, Commercial Banking
  • Marc Slafsky, Vice President, Insurance Broker, Salem Five, Insurance Services
  • Mike Wheeler, President & CEO, Beverly Bank


David Baer
Business Lawyer, Baer Counsel

David Baer is a business lawyer who has practiced as in-house counsel and in private practice as a corporate attorney.  From 2010 through 2012, David was in-house counsel at GT Advanced Technologies (  From 2008 until its acquisition by GT Advanced Technologies, David was Chief Financial Officer and General Counsel at GT Crystal Systems, Inc. of Salem, Massachusetts.  Prior to joining Crystal Systems in March 2008, he was a shareholder with the law firm of Ruberto, Israel & Weiner, P.C. from 1997 – 2008 and concentrated his practice in general corporate, business and technology law.   David was Chair of the Mergers & Acquisitions Group and has substantial business law experience in all matters including intellectual property, licensing, commercial agreements, mergers, acquisitions, shareholder agreements, corporate reorganizations and business succession issues.  From 2000 through 2006, he served as Ruberto, Israel & Weiner’s President and Managing Shareholder.  Prior to joining Ruberto, Israel & Weiner, P.C., he practiced with the firm of Ardiff & Morse, P.C. for 18 years.  Mr. Baer earned his BA degree from Elmira College and his MA and JD degrees from Boston University School of Law.  He is a member of the Massachusetts Bar.  He has served on the Board of Directors of the North Shore Chamber of Commerce, the North Shore United Way, the North Shore Workforce Investment Board, the North Shore Community College Foundation and is the Founder and past president of the North Shore Technology Council.


Douglas C. Bates, M.S., M.B.A., Aderit Internet Marketing Consulting
Mr. Bates is the co-founder of Apredica, whose business plan won first place in the 2006 North of Boston Business Plan Competition. Apredica launched shortly thereafter, with funding through bootstrapping and friends and family investors. In 2010 Apredica was acquired by Cyprotex, a UK-based publicly traded company. Cyprotex and Apredica were rivals, performing preclinical pharmaceutical contract research. Cyprotex acquired Apredica to expand its reach into the US market and to speed its entry into the new and rapidly growing in vitro toxicology market where Apredica had already secured a leading position.

After the acquisition, Mr. Bates served as Cyprotex’s Chief Marketing Officer. Previously Mr. Bates held roles in marketing management for Aquent, Nequity, Signet Bank, Providian, and The Franklin Mint. Mr. Bates holds an A.B. degree from Dartmouth College, an M.S. from the University of Pennsylvania, and an M.B.A. from the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University.  Mr. Bates is a member of Hub Angels and Walnut Ventures.

GlennChampagneGlenn Champagne, Angel Investor, Launchpad Venture Group
Glenn is an active angel investor and served on the board of directors of Launchpad Venture Group from 2004-2011. Over the last 10 years Launchpad Venture Group has made 35 investments, investing over $10M in companies that in turn, have gone on to raise nearly $175MM. Glenn brings more than 20 years of experience in the software industry focusing in consulting, sales, and management at the likes of then pre-IPO companies Oracle and Business Objects. He was also Director of Technical Services for Eprise Corporation, and a Principle with IBM/Tivoli. Glenn was vice president of sales at Inboxer, which was acquired by SafeCore in May 2009. Glenn was a 1st, 2nd, and pre-final round judge at the MassChallenge in 2010 and 2011 and a 2011 judge at North of Boston Business Plan Competition. For seven years, Glenn volunteered weekly at Children’s Hospital Boston playing games with children battling cancer. He is an avid skier and enjoys Porsche Club of America autocross racing. Glenn holds a B.S. in Business Administration from Northeastern University.

CWDickC.W. Dick, Managing Director, Ascent Venture Partners
Walter has helped build and finance successful New England-based technology and non-technology companies for over twenty years, including thirteen at Ascent. Prior to joining Ascent, Walter spent twelve years in a variety of executive positions in numerous subsidiaries of UST Corp., including President of its Venture Capital and Corporate Finance Subsidiaries. Walter is a former member and chairman of the Board of Governors of the National Association of Small Business Investment Companies. He received a BS in Agricultural Economics from Cornell University, as well as an MBA from Babson College.

DinoDino DiPalma, CEO, Benu Networks
Dino has more than 20 years of experience leading high-growth technology organizations.  Dino previously served as Chief Operating Officer at Acme Packet prior to its $2.1 billion acquisition by Oracle Corporation in February 2013. There, he oversaw the company’s global sales and business development, customer service and support, and manufacturing organizations. Prior to serving as the COO, Dino held the role of Senior Vice President of worldwide sales and business development at Acme Packet where he was responsible for building a global team, established the company as the leader in the newly-created session border controller space, and led the sales & BD team through a successful IPO.  Prior to Acme Packet, Dino led systems engineering, sales and business development, and the worldwide business development directors group at Sema Priority Call, Inc., which produced network-based solutions for prepaid calling, enhanced messaging and one-number services.  A native Montrealer, Dino holds both a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Political Science from McGill University as well as a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Business Administration.

Gina FlynnGina Flynn,  Vice President of Eastern Bank 125 Washington St Salem, MA branch

Gina has worked as a Branch Manager in the local banking industry for over twenty five years, and has extensive knowledge in all areas of banking. Gina works with many new startup small business companies, and corporation she provides supports and guidance in many areas outside of banking.

Gina maintains active involvement is several community service organizations. Currently she serves on the board of Directors at North Shore Community Health Center Treasurer, the board of Directors for the Salem Chamber of Commerce, and the Salem Main Streets Steering Committee. Salem Main Streets is a coalition of downtown businesses and area residents committed to the revitalization of downtown Salem as a vibrant year-round retail, dining, and cultural destination through business recruitment, retention, and the promotion of downtown Salem.  Salem Main Streets has been instrumental in bringing over 14 events into the downtown, including the Salem Arts Festival and Salem Farmers’ Market, the Salem Film Festival, Literally Salem: a Literary Festival, and the Living Green and Renewable Energy Fair. You can usually find Gina working at events like Shop and Dine Salem, Santa’s arrival, Salem So Sweet, Ice Scream Bowl, and Mayor’s Night Out.

Her passion is helping the Salem Business grow Committed to the success of all small business.

karaKara Halas,  Assistant Vice President, Store Manager, TD Bank, Loring Ave Salem

Kara joined TD bank, at the Salem location, in 2011. She has over 15 years in banking and small business. Kara enjoys working with business owners to find ways to work more effectively and grow their business. She believe that personal connection is the key to a success business relationship.

While Kara was raised in the Southwest. She fell in love with Salem MA as a HS freshman when her mother brought her on a business trip to the area in order to look at colleges. She currently resides in Marblehead with her husband. She holds a BA in Liberal Arts, a MA in Liberal Arts and PhD in Organizational Management.

distefanoMaria Nigro Di Stefano, Northeastern Regional Director, Massachusetts Office of Business Development

Maria is the Northeast Regional Director of the Massachusetts Office of Business Development. This office is the Commonwealth’s one-stop source for businesses seeking to expand or locate in Massachusetts. She came to this position after having served as the Neighborhood Business Manager of the Boston Main Street Program. She worked in city economic development for 14 years, and received first-hand knowledge of the issues small businesses face while working at the Bank of Boston. Maria graduated from Salem State University with a degree in political science and is a North Shore and Rockport resident.

De JongArend de Jong, Managing Partner, bridge2grow
Arend founded bridge2grow with Herman Heller, focusing on how to create business growth, and how to optimize the processes and systems supporting such business growth. With 20 years experience in managing international projects in the private and public sector, his expertise is in Marketing Strategy and Business Planning. Bridge2grow concentrates on Small and Medium Enterprises globally. Arend has led projects in the USA, Europe, Caribbean, India and Africa. Education: MBA – TRIUM program, hosted by London School of Economics, New York University-Stern Business School and HEC School of Management, Paris. Arend is a Certified Management Consultant, completed the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants exams in London, and holds a B.A.(Hons) in European Business Administration from the University of Wolverhampton and a HEAO-Diploma in Commercial Economics from Hogeschool Holland, Netherlands

kennedyLouise Leduc Kennedy, President, West Hill
Louise is a business attorney and Founder and President of West Hill, a seven-attorney boutique business and technology law firm.  Louise has extensive experience advising technology companies on strategic and commercial matters relating to software, services, intellectual property and on-line business. Prior to forming West Hill, Louise worked for nine years as in-house counsel at IBM. During this time she supported Global Sales and Distribution, Business Consulting Services as well as the Lotus brand within IBM Software Group. Louise was instrumental in the launch of Lotus’ debut Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) enterprise collaboration offering. She also provided general legal support for software development, licensing, marketing and strategic relationships including complex interoperability deals with AOL, Yahoo! and Google.

Louise is admitted to practice in the state and federal courts in Massachusetts as well as the state courts of Connecticut and New York. She received her B.A. in Economics from Smith College and her J.D., with honors, from the University of Connecticut, School of Law.

Photo.Linda Nowak

Dr. Linda NowakDean of the BERTOLON School of Business, Salem State University
Dr. Linda Nowak is the Dean of the Bertolon School of Business at Salem State University. She brings with her over fifteen years of experience as an academic administrator, having served previously as the Dean of the College of Business Administration at California State University, Stanislaus. Dr. Nowak has an impressive track record in developing both public and private partnerships in order to enhance the educational experience and job opportunities for students. Prior to her academic career, she worked in corporate finance and asset management for Westinghouse Financial Corporation. Dr. Nowak holds a Master of Business Administration from Mercer University and a Ph.D. in Business Administration from Saint Louis University, with a major emphasis in marketing and a minor in international business. She has authored or co-authored over 25 journal publications, with articles appearing in venues such as the International Journal of Human Capital and Information Technology Professionals, the Journal of Management and Marketing Research, and the International Journal of Wine Business Research.

Paul Simms

Paul R. Simms
Senior Vice President, First Ipswich Bank
Commercial Banking
2012 – Present

Paul R. Simms is First Ipswich Bank’s Commercial Lending team Senior Vice President. Paul joined First Ipswich in 2012 with over 30 years of commercial lending experience. He has a significant background in Commercial and CRE lending and is a valuable asset to First Ipswich Bank. Paul was previously Vice President of Commercial Real Estate Lending at NorthEast Community Bank and had held the position of Assistant Vice President, Commercial Lending with Stoneham Savings Bank, as well as
Northern Bank. He was also a Vice President and Senior Loan Officer at Beverly National Bank. Paul earned his Bachelor of Science in Business from the University of Massachusetts. He is an active member of the Peabody Area Chamber of Commerce.


Marc Slafsky
Vice President, Insurance Broker, Salem Five, Insurance Services

Marc Slafsky, CIC, Vice President/Insurance Broker of Salem Five Insurance Services, has over 30 years of extensive insurance experience covering all lines of insurance products. Working with small emerging startup companies to large multinational companies, Marc has helped his clients understand the complex insurance marketplace. Both for profit and not for profit organizations, as well as privately held and family businesses, depend on Marc’s expertise to help them grow and be protected in today’s business environment.

Marc specializes in the Property, Casualty, and Professional Liability marketplace. His expertise in the Casualty marketplace includes Directors & Officers Liability coverage, Products Liability coverage, Professional Liability coverage, as well as many of the insurance products for today’s active mergers and acquisitions environment. Marc has worked on large property schedules, diverse fleets of vehicles and unique complex risks for many of the property management companies in Boston and the surrounding area.

Marc has been involved in many outside activities including a board member of the Jewish Federation of the North Shore, and a board member of his local temple. He visited israel on a businessman’s mission in 2001. In addition, Marc was a board member of Wakefield Youth Soccer, coaching both his children in various town sports programs. Currently residing in Wakefield, Marc is a graduate of Bentley University, where he majored in business and management.

Mike WheelerMichael R. Wheeler
President, Beverly Bank 
Twelfth President
2012 – Present

Prior to being appointed President of Beverly Bank on January 1, 2012, and then to Chief Executive Officer in 2013, Michael Wheeler had been Senior Vice President since 2007. He joined the Bank in 2000 as Assistant Vice President of Commercial Lending, was promoted to Vice President and later to Senior Vice President, overseeing all of lending and also serving as the Bank’s chief compliance officer and clerk.

Mr. Wheeler earned a Bachelor of Science at University of Southern Maine and a Master of Business Administration from Endicott College, Beverly, MA. Well known in the communities Beverly Bank serves, he is currently on the Board of Directors of the North Shore United Way, the Board of Directors and Finance Chair for the YMCA of Beverly and on the Executive Committee of Salem Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Wheeler is a former board member and treasurer of the Salem Boys and Girls Club and Salem Rotary Club. He and his family reside in Beverly.