The Plexus Mission

To provide proactive business development for the LGBT business community and allies.

Plexus is an affiliate of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce



Board Member Bios

Michelle Tomallo
Co-Founder | President
FIT Technologies
Plexus Board President

Michelle Tomallo is President of FIT Technologies, a full service Managed IT Services firm headquartered in downtown Cleveland. FIT supports clients throughout Ohio and in other locations nationwide. FIT is certified by WBENC as a female-owned enterprise and by the NGLCC as an LGBT-BE.

She has 18 years of senior-level management with an emphasis on start-up operations, training, business development, and change management. Prior to co-founding FIT in 1999, Michelle worked as a strategic development consultant for a non-profit group, was Vice President of New Life Hospice, and marketing director for healthcare facilities.

Michelle joined the Plexus board in 2010, serving in the roles of Events Chair, Membership Chair and now as the Board President. She speaks regionally and nationally on entrepreneurship, business certification and supplier diversity. Michelle was involved for four years with Gay Games 2014 as a board member, community liaison, volunteer and sponsor. In addition, Michelle supports HRC, Equality Ohio, and other advocacy groups along with being actively involved in COSE, OH Tec, GCP, and other business groups.

She fancies herself a cheerleader for Cleveland, eager to be involved in the on-going transformation of the city by participating in many arts and culture events, sponsoring local organizations and being an ambassador of sorts for where she lives and works (Detroit Shoreway and Playhouse Square). Michelle incorporates her commitment to fitness by leading their company's wellness program and is a champion of workplace wellbeing, and is an avid runner and participant in dozens of charitable races.

Leslie Bednar
Engagement Consultant
Better With Mustard

Known for her quick wit and loud laugh, Leslie Bednar is a high energy engagement consultant, currently collaborating with other professionals through Better With Mustard to provide business growth support. Leslie is intensely interested in all things not boring and enjoys assisting others, including clients, achieve meaningful goals.

After more than 25 years of organization management and nonprofit development work in Geauga County, Ms. Bednar moved her marketing and communication skills to Cleveland in 2014. Today, she creates and carries out strategy-based projects focused on building clients' audiences of partners, members, customers, or attendees.

Leslie is also the co-founder of The Strategy Sessions, a community-based monthly event providing next-step strategies through collaborative conversation.

In her free time, Leslie enjoys doing jigsaw puzzles, riding motorcycle during the short North Coast summers, speaking publically, and playing with words through writing and games.

Gina Dalessandro
The Dalessandro Group

The Dalessandro Group is Gina Dalessandro's third small business venture in the Northeast Ohio region. A graduate of John Carroll University's Boler School of Business with a Marketing degree, Gina has spent more than 30 years successfully developing relationships with many of the city's major players. Her focus on relationship building contributed to one of her previous ventures growing from zero to $1.5 million in less than five years.

Gina has the unique ability to focus on the big picture while taking small manageable steps and focusing on the individual needs of her clients. In one of her previous positions at the American Diabetes Association, she took on all aspects of the events she planned from securing major sponsorships to handpicking favors for the tables.

From non-profits to national marketing companies, Dalessandro has worked extensively in the digital printing, data solutions and advertising industries. When she's not punching the clock, Gina dedicates much of her time to volunteering, mentoring and networking. Gina presently serves on the boards of John Carroll University's Cleveland Alumni Chapter, Executive Leadership Committee for Hattie Larlham and Plexus Chamber of Commerce. She has served as a COSE Ambassador for the past seven years and is a member of the Cleveland Civic Leadership Institute. Previously, she served as Past Vice Chair of the Ohio Minority Supplier Development Council, Vice Chair of Minority Business Enterprise Input Committee, Advisory Board member for Women in Networking and is a past chairperson of the Cleveland Community Leadership Board for the American Diabetes Association where she has been involved for over 15 years. Previously, she served as president of Toastmasters International's Valley View chapter and achieved her Competent Communicator certificate.

Though her resume in the industry is extensive, it's Gina's passion for making connections and building relationships that are the keys to her success.

Raland S. Hatchett
Managing Consultant
R&H Professional Services

Raland S. Hatchett is Managing Consultant of R&H Professional Services, a professional service firm headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio providing strategic business consulting services to the small business and nonprofit sectors in Northeast Ohio and beyond. With his broad-based background and skills in the areas of entrepreneurship and strategic business consulting, staff development, relationship development, process improvement, strategic planning, execution, business development, financial budgeting, marketing, credit and risk analysis, and operations management the company's main objective is to assist our clients to solve issues, create value, maximize growth and improve business performance.

Hatchett previously served as the Executive Director of the MBDA Business Center (Minority Business Development Agency) in Cleveland, Ohio. In this position, he led a team of business experts who provided minority entrepreneurs with strategic business consulting services designed to assist with access to contracts, capital and new markets (domestic and international). Driven by his commitment to minority business growth and development his team efforts over a five-year period helped businesses gain $101M in contacts/procurement awards, obtain $21M in capital and created 900+jobs in the region. The business center was awarded the Century Club Award for outstanding business performance by the U.S. Department of Commerce/MBDA in 2015.

A Cleveland native, Hatchett earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix and his MBA in finance from Case Western Reserve University — Weatherhead School of Management. He has served on several boards and advisory councils most notably, Weatherhead Alumni Advisory Council (Class of 2016), and Black Professional Association Charitable Foundation, and is a member of the Leadership Cleveland Class of 2016.

Luz Pellot
Senior Analyst

Luz Pellot is a skilled software consultant with more than 20 years of software and hardware experience.

She has been with Xerox Corporation for more than 16 years where she currently holds the position of Professional Services Senior Analyst. Luz is as subject matter expert for ReqDirect Plus Core products. In her role, she provides software support to a wide of array clients spread across the globe. These clients represent diverse industries including healthcare, financial institutions, retail, insurance, and manufacturing.

Luz is responsible for managing, implementing, and training ReqDirect Plus Core new installations. She works closely with the Development team as a liaison between the client and the software developer, managing product performance issues and proposed enhancements from beginning to end. Luz also works alongside the IT team in assisting them with the hosted environment. Luz takes pride knowing that her client's needs are addressed to satisfaction with little to no downtime.

Luz is co-founder of WH2 (Women's Happy Hour), a women's social network group,est. 2010. The WH2 LGBT social group meets monthly at various establishments in greater Cleveland and Akron areas. In addition, she is tri-Chair of the Human Rights Campaign Gala, as well as co-Chair of the North Coast Men's Chorus (NCMC) Outreach Committee. Most recently, Luz was asked to serve on a committee tasked to help select the new building for the LGBT Center of Greater Cleveland. She proudly served as co-Chair of the Parties and Special Events committees for Gay Games 9 (GG9) in 2014 and subsequently is serving on the Gay Games 9 Legacy committee. She routinely provides support to PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). Luz enjoys eating at finer restaurants, tennis, kayaking, exercising daily, and traveling around the world.

Luz is a graduate of Kent State University (B.A. in Business Administration).

David Phillips
Energetic Awakenings

David Phillips is the President of Energetic Awakenings which is a certified LGBT owned business. Energetic Awakenings is a coaching and consulting firm that focuses on personal transformation and organizational development for businesses and non-profits.

David works with individuals clients to achieve personal transformation through body based psychotherapy & energy work. The two main modalities employed are Core Energetics & Reiki. David also consults with businesses on projects that deliver sustainable and measurable results to the bottom line. Areas of specialty include: customer service delivery systems, CRM implementations, business process definitions, supplier diversity, and training & development.

David received his masters of Education from Cleveland State University with a focus on Adult Learning and Development. His bachelor's degree was achieved in business management from Marshall University in Huntington, WV. David has received his reiki training from the Chagrin Valley Wellness Center and University Hospitals. He is currently enrolled at the Institute of Core Energetics in New York City.

David Rabinsky
Director of Social Catering
The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland

David Rabinsky is the director of social catering at The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland. He has been at the hotel since March of 1999. David's responsibilities include booking all social and non-profit events for all event space within The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland and the historic Silver Grille in the Higbee building located in downtown Cleveland.

Prior to joining The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland, David owned and operated David's Gourmet, Inc., an off-premise catering company that served the Cleveland community from 1983 until 1999.

Born in Cleveland and living in the Warehouse District, David and his guide dog, Kody, can be seen walking the city.

LaShawn Reed
Director of Corporate Relations
Ohio Minority Supplier Diversity Council

LaShawn Reed-Kendricks, MBA is the President; CEO of Essentials 4 Success and Founder; Executive Director of Success Her Way. After many years of working in entrepreneurial support organizations, she decided to embrace her passion for supporting women entrepreneurs by helping them gain clarity around their work and what's keeping them from obtaining their highest level of success. As the Director of Corporate Relations for the Ohio Minority Supplier Development Council, LaShawn helps minority business owners connect with corporate purchasing and procurement departments for supplier contracting opportunities across the state.

LaShawn earned her undergraduate degree in Business Management at Indiana Wesleyan University and her Master's in Business Administration from Ursuline College. LaShawn is married to her wonderful husband Chris and they are the parents of three beautiful daughters; Dakotah, Montana and Sydni. LaShawn enjoys traveling with her family, volunteering and reading motivational books.

Ronda Toth
The Legacy Group

Having a positive impact and personally engaging each client to navigate to their best coverage options are the primary reasons that Ronda, and her husband Jim, established The Legacy Group in 2004. The Legacy Group is a full service insurance agency providing solutions for Commercial and Small Group coverage as well as Home, Auto, Health and Life.

Ronda focuses on Commercial Business Insurance and Group Medical Benefits, for which she has been awarded Preferred Broker Status. Ronda is a champion for small businesses and consults with each client to define their insurance needs and objectives. This one-on-one attention is why The Legacy Group continues to grow and is known in northeastern Ohio as the expert in Commercial and Small Group insurance. Ronda has been a licensed insurance agent for over 10 years complimented by 15 years of software development and corporate consulting experience.

Ronda is honored to sit on the Plexus Board of Directors and also serve as a strategic partner for The Hispanic Business Chamber. She is also an active member with CREW (Cleveland Roundtable of Entrepreneurial Women) and Easter Seals Northern Ohio. Supporting The Wounded Warrior Project is an ongoing effort for The Legacy Group to ensure vets and their families are not forgotten.

She is from Avon and is a graduate of Miami University. Ronda, Jim and their two children reside in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. They enjoy sledding, volunteering at Rescue Village and caring for their rescue cats and dogs.

Plexus Education Foundation Board Members

John F. Garofalo
Vice President, Community Investment
Akron Community Foundation
Plexus Education Foundation Board President

John F. Garofalo has served as the vice president, community investment at Akron Community Foundation since August, 2011. He is responsible for managing the foundation's grant distribution process as well as all the affiliate fund grant distributions.

The foundation began in 1955 with a $1 million gift from the estate of B.F. Goodrich executive Edwin C. Shaw. It now has over $181 million in assets and more than 550 funds. The foundation, including donor-advised funds, has awarded over $131 million since the organization's founding.

John joined Akron Community Foundation after over 25 years of experience in the nonprofit sector that included various management and development positions. John was previously employed as the Manager, Strategic Community Initiatives and Senior Development Officer at University Hospitals in Cleveland, where he was responsible for all third party fundraising events and promotions for the entire hospital system and well as securing major gifts for the institution. He also served in various leadership roles at other nonprofit organizations including Beech Brook in Pepper Pike, United Way's in Cleveland and Canton and Big Brothers and Sisters in Akron. He began his nonprofit career right out of college with the American Red Cross in Portage County and was employed for 10 years there and at the Northern Ohio Red Cross Blood Services region in Cleveland.

John received his B.S. in community health education from Kent State University and his M. Ed. in community health management and administration also from Kent State. John also carries the prestigious Certified FundRaising Executive (CFRE) certification. John currently serves as a board member for the Kent State University National Alumni Association, where his daughter is a fashion merchandising senior and this past year studied in Florence Italy and New York City. He will serve the Alumni Association Board until his term ends in 2017. He also serves on the Social Services Advisory Board in Summit County as well as Past President's Council for the Greater Cleveland Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. John is also the staff lead to the Medina County Community Fund and the Gay Community Endowment Fund of Akron Community Foundation. He also served as co-chair of the Opening Ceremonies for the Ninth Gay Games that were held in Cleveland+Akron in 2014. He has also been a volunteer juror for the Cleveland International Film Festival.

A native of Painesville, Ohio, John lives in the beautiful Highland Square neighborhood in Akron.

Kathryn Bryan, Ph.D.
Senior Associate & Financial Planner
Skylight Financial Group

Kathryn Bryan, Ph.D. a native of Medina, Ohio, graduated with a B.S. in psychology from Baldwin-Wallace College in 2000 and went on to receive her M.A. and Ph.D. from Kent State University in behavioral neuroscience. Having spent several years as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Cleveland Clinic, Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland VA Medical Center 'Katy' made the decision to make a career change. Skylight Financial Group was the beneficiary of this when she decided to become a financial planner. Katy has a vast knowledge of different planning groups and works with a diverse array of clients such as physicians, research scientists, families with special needs, businesses in transition, and with families and businesses in the LGBTQ community.

She has been a recipient of Skylight's Rising Leader award and is very active in the community, and has served or is currently serving on the boards of Medina Creative Housing, the Renee Jones Empowerment Center for human trafficking, and A place for Us housing. In addition, she currently is on the Executive board for the Benjamin Rose Institute of Aging and Connecting for Kids. Her latest venture is the launch of a new young professionals networking group, called FLARE, focused on LGBTQ and ally rising entrepreneurs to build strong business, community and leadership connections in the Cleveland area. Most recently she was recognized by Crain's Cleveland Business as a 2016 "Forty Under 40" Honoree.

Thomas Hawn, MA CDP
Facilitator and Organizational Consultant

Thomas Hawn serves as the Board President of Plexus Education Foundation, a 501c3 organization. He is an independent consultant providing services to organizations in the areas of diversity and cultural competency, strategic planning and organizational effectiveness.

Thomas' professional work career has included Senior Vice President at KeyBank with responsibility for: the Client Experience at Key Bank, Mass Market, Emerging Cultural Markets and the Underbanked Consumer Segments. Also, while at Key, he founded Key Bank's Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Employee Business Networking Group. Prior to joining Key Bank in 1999, Thomas served as the Chief Financial Officer of Slavic Village Development (SVD). SVD, a member organization of Greater Cleveland Community Shares, is a Cleveland neighborhood development organization committed improving the quality of life in Slavic Village through housing, community organizing and commercial revitalization. During that time, Thomas held a variety of roles and responsibilities at Progressive Corporation from 1982 through 1994.

Thomas has been active in the non-profit sector as Board President of Broadway Area Housing Coalition, a predecessor organization of Slavic Village Development and Board President of Greater Cleveland Community Shares. Thomas also served as the Board President of the LGBT Center of Greater Cleveland. He was also a founding board member of Plexus, the Chamber of Commerce for the LGBT Community and Allies.

Steven Licciardi
Vice President, Financial Advisor and Senior Portfolio Manager
Morgan Stanley

Steven M. Licciardi is the kind of Investment Advisor who brings trust and credibility to his profession. He is genuine, thoughtful, and deeply passionate about the investment management services he provides his clients. Steve joined Morgan Stanley in 1999, after spending 10 years in private banking. As the Financial Advisor he delivers high caliber investment management and exceptional client service helping individuals and institutions implement sophisticated investment strategies. His focus is always on the client, in a format that includes a high level of integrity, professionalism and confidentiality.

Steve graduated from Baldwin Wallace University with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with an emphasis in finance and a minor concentration in French. He also served as Vice-President of the Baldwin Wallace Financial Management Association.

Steve is dedicated to many charitable groups and serves on the Boards of Directors of several non-profit organizations dedicated to not only the LGBT Community, but the Special Needs Community as well.

He has received the West Haven Foundation's Board Leadership Award (2008), the Ohio Provider Resource Association's Outstanding Volunteer Award (2009), and the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities Volunteer of the Year Award (2008) and was featured in WVIZ's "Make a Difference" documentary (2007).

Joe Matuszewski
Ernst & Young LLP

Joe Matuszewski has over thirteen years of public accounting experience serving a variety of multinational clients in different industries, primarily in the industrial products and consumer products industries. Joe has extensive experience leading globally integrated audits with frequent travel to meet with clients and affiliate audit teams in Europe and Asia. Joe is actively involved in reviewing annual and quarterly SEC filings and has significant experience with SEC registration statements and equity and debt offerings, including initial public offerings. Joe is also the campus recruiting leader for the EY Cleveland Audit practice and executive sponsor of Northeast Ohio Unity — EY's LGBT+ professional network.

Joe is a Certified Public Accountant in Ohio and holds an MBA in Accounting from Baldwin Wallace University. Joe is also a member of the AICPA and the Ohio Society of Certified Public Accountants.

Joe is a resident of Medina where he lives with his husband Nathan and daughter Addyson.