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The Center is composed of a team of experienced professionals who provide support and resources to farmers and value-added producers participating in the programs. The team includes product development specialists, marketing and branding experts, business consultants, investment and growth experts, a loan fund manager, and a legal consultant.

Learn more about each member and their role in delivering the center’s programs with the brief profiles below.

Jeff Landsman, Specialty food sales

Areas of Mentorship: Food Distribution And Sales

Jeff Landsman, the founder and partner of Specialty Food Sales, has been in the food business for more than 35 years. He has experience in food service and retail sales channels as a broker, manufacturer, importer and distributor where he has excelled as an innovator.

Mr. Landsman was a Vice President and General Manager of Landsman Companies, a multi-location food processor, importer, and distributor of refrigerated and frozen fruits. He oversaw the New York facility and managed activities in a co-owned factory in Nuevo Leon, Mexico.

Mr. Landsman attended Rutgers University and the University of Maryland.


Area of Mentorship: IP, Investment, Business Growth

Mr. Zappas brings to CAIC a wealth of entrepreneurship experience in the areas of Intellectual Property, Investment, and Business Growth. Currently he heads a consulting practice that focuses on revenue strategy. Mr. Zappas’s experience includes founding media organizations and consumer companies. He serves on the Boards of several non-profits and private companies including serving on the Advisory Boards of early-stage and late-stage companies.


Areas of Mentorship: Lead Business Consultant 

Brian Brown serves as the program manager and lead business consultant of the Chesapeake Agriculture Innovation Center. He is also the Business Development Manager for the Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project, (RCAP) Inc. He previously served as Executive Director of the Halifax Industrial Development Authority. Brian’s background includes serving as an economic development professional for 20 years and having leadership roles in the areas of security, media, real estate, architecture, and engineering

Megan todd, agriculture law education inititative

Areas of Mentorship: Legal Considerations And Employment Practices

Margaret (Megan) Todd is a Legal Research Associate with the Agriculture Law Education Initiative (ALEI) where she provides educational resources, presentations, and trainings to Maryland’s agricultural community on a variety of legal topics such as labor and employment law, business law, food safety, and land use and zoning.

Megan is a member of the State of Maryland Bar Association. She received her Juris Doctor from the University of Maryland, Baltimore Carey School of Law with a Certificate in Environmental Law.

Michael k. Jackson, Sr. international trade specialist

Areas of Expertise: International Trade

Michael K. Jackson joined the Baltimore office of the U.S. Commercial Service as a Senior International Trade Specialist in April 2021. He assists businesses in the agribusiness, cosmetics, energy, food and beverage, financial technology and services, and marine technology industries to expand into international markets. He has 14 years of federal government export assistance experience that includes business development roles at the Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of the U.S. and the Small Business Administration (SBA).  


We have worked with the following consultants in the past, and they are available for consultations if participants need it.


Areas of Mentorship: All Phases Of Marketing; Developing Sales Channels.
Kim Bryden is the founder and CEO of Cureate; Cureate is a woman-owned business based in Washington, DC. The company offers strategic counsel to help small businesses navigate shifting consumer tastes and interests in the agriculture and aquaculture food sectors. Mentorship will cover the topics of successful go-to-market strategies, market analysis, sales channels, distribution, and marketing.


Area of Mentorship: Regulations, Licensing, And Permitting. 
Janna Howley, of Annapolis-based Grow & Fortify, focuses on value-added agriculture and aquaculture startups that require mentorship in the areas of government regulations, licensing, packaging, labeling, zoning, and permitting procedures. Although Grow & Fortify specializes in alcoholic beverage producers (breweries, wineries, meaderies), they deal with all value-added producers who need advice on regulations and licensing.

Mark haas, helmsman group

Areas of Mentorship: Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG), Commercialization And Scaling

Mark Hass is the CEO and Founder of the Helmsman Group. He is a Commercialization Expert who specializes in accelerating high-potential food brands in multiple categories including snacks and beverages.

Mr. Haas has served as an Advisor to 88 Acres, Nai World, and Clover-Vitality.  He is a General Partner in Brand Factory Ventures.

Mr. Haas’s works with the next generation of food industry leaders including Christie & Company’s Gang of Good and serves as the Industry Advisor to    Silverwood Partners.


Areas of Mentorship: All Phases Of Marketing; Developing Sales Channels.
Kathleen is recognized as an invaluable community builder, a facilitator of Cureate Courses, and a provider of one-on-one coaching to entrepreneurs.
Kathleen Overman, Director of Connection at Cureate, has more than a decade of community engagement experience. She focuses on local business advocacy in the Mid- Atlantic region. Her work as a field marketing expert in development and grassroot campaigns has brought the products of more than 25 area businesses to more than 50 retail outlets throughout the region.


Areas of Expertise: Food Manufacturing, Operations, Biotechnology
Chris Hlubb, Program Director of the F3 Tech Accelerator, works with companies to commercialize innovations and technology. His experience includes start up innovations and turnaround successes. Mr. Hlubb has proven to be an agile mentor and catalyst for change and progress.


Area of Expertise: Business Law
Mr. Nemphos’s law firm, Nemphos Braue Law, represents entrepreneurs and their companies in the following areas:

  • Entity Choice and Formation
  • Mergers and Acquisitions
  • Private Placements of Debt and Equity
  • Complex Joint Ventures
  • Structural and Day To Day Issues
  • Corporate Governance
  • Securities Law Compliance

Lauren ziegler, of councel at Nemphos Braue

Areas of Expertise: Entrepreneurs And Emerging Businesses

Lauren Ziegler is Of Counsel at Nemphos Braue. Her area of practice are Entrepreneurs and Emerging Businesses, Corporate Formation and Structuring, Capital Raises, and Mergers and Acquisitions.

Ms. Ziegler represents startups, emerging and mature private companies, and investors in a variety of corporate, securities, and business law matters. She assists clients with mergers and acquisitions, raising capital, securities laws compliance, technology transactions, entity formation and governance, joint ventures, business structuring, and contract management and negotiation.

Flor Andres

Flor andres

Areas of Mentorship: Finance

Flor Andres is a global finance and accounting executive with extensive experience in accounting and operations for public and privately held companies.

Ms. Andres previously worked as the CFO for KIK Personal Care and was Vice President of Finance and Global Integration for Stanley Black and Decker.  She currently is the Vice President of Finance for C-Care, a Maryland-based manufacturing company. Ms. Andres consults with small- to medium-sized companies in the areas of strategic planning and execution, operational finance and data analytics, and dashboard creation.

Tim Sherman, SBDC

Areas of Mentorship: Risk Assessment And SWOT Analysis 

Timothy   Sherman has been with the Maryland Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for 7 ½ years. He currently serves as the Program Director and Consultant for the SBDC’s Eastern Region that includes the eight counties of the Maryland’s Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Mr. Sherman also has served as the Chief Operating Officer for Maryland Capital Enterprises located in Salisbury, Maryland.  Maryland Capital is an alternative small business lender serving the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Anne Arundel County, and Baltimore City.

Michael antone, U.S. Registered Patent Attorney

Areas of Expertise: Intelectual Property

Michael Antone is a U.S. Registered Patent Attorney. He is Of Counsel at NemphosBraue. Mr. Antone has more than 20 years of experience as a U.S. Registered Patent Attorney. At Nemphos Braue he helps clients protect their intellectual property assets through copyrights, trademarks, patents, and trade secrets or through licensing arrangements. Mr. Antone also has experience in corporate and business law, private equity, and as a professional engineer.

John Hickman, beacon

Areas of Mentorship: Risk Assessment, SWOT Analysis

John N. Hickman is the Director of BEACON (Business Economic and Community Outreach Network) at the Perdue School of Business, Salisbury University. He is an adjunct professor at the Perdue School where he teaches Small Business Consulting and Applied Business Learning.  Mr. Hickman serves as a board member or past board member of many local nonprofits and economic and community development entities and serves as an advisor to several community loan funds.

Before BEACON, Mr. Hickman served as the Regional Director of the SBDC at Salisbury University.  He was the Maryland SBDC State Star in 2003.  He has worked with other government agencies and private businesses to develop and expand businesses on the Eastern Shore. 


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Mini-Grants up to $5,000 are available for:
– Market Research and Validation of Target Market
– Customer Acquisition
– Product Development Initiatives
– Food Safety Classes
Value-added producers and companies with traction ($20,000 or more in yearly revenue) in Maryland and Delaware are eligible to apply for Mini-Grants. Participants may apply once for each of the categories. Applicants must demonstrate that they have a unique and differentiated product or service that incorporates an aspect of innovation or technology in its production, processing, distribution, or other element of the food supply system.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Award decisions will be made and funds will be available no later than three weeks following the receipt of a completed application.
Application Process
Applicants must submit Mini-Grant proposals by filling out the form at this link. Copy(ies) of quote(s), proposal(s), estimate(s), or any other supporting documents.


CAIC offers access to Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) who can offer authoritative advice based on their deep knowledge and experience in a specific area. See the ADVISORS page of this Web site to learn more about the SMEs who are available to CAIC participants.