Assisting Clients in the
Greater South Bay
hosted by: El Camino College SBDC

The SBDC hosted by the El Camino College

About the El Camino College Small Business Development Center

Mission Statement

The mission of the Small Business Development Center hosted by El Camino College is to be the number one service provider of no-cost, expert entrepreneurial consulting, education and access to capital assistance to the small business community in the greater South Bay and Los Angeles area.

We are part of the Los Angeles Regional SBDC Network, which assists small business owners throughout the Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties.

About the El Camino College SBDC Team

Our team is pleased to offer our consulting services in English and Spanish, as needed. Please contact us at 310.225.8277 to schedule your appointment.


Starleen Van Buren, MBA

Position: Director

Starleen Van Buren is the SBDC director and has served in that position since 2008. She and her husband own a small business so she understands the challenges that business owners and those looking to start a business face. Star has many years of experience in the field of marketing and specializes in market research, planning, communications and public relations for small businesses. She earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership from USC, an MBA from the University of Redlands, and a BA in communications from CSU Dominguez Hills.

View Starleen Van Buren, MBA's Professional Bio


Larry Johnson

Position: Lead Program Advisor
Business expertise: Food and Beverage Industry, Debt and Equity Funding

Larry has been a core advisor at the SBDC since 2012 with dual specialties in the food & beverage industry as well as debt and equity consulting. Active after hours as a Rotarian in his local community, and also an aficionado of classical music and the LA Phil. His weekend passions include golf, tennis and hiking the local mountains.

View Larry Johnson's Professional Bio


Business Consultants


Michael DeDonato J.D.,MBA

Position: Business Advisor
Business expertise: Management

Michael' expertise lies in management consulting, management accounting as well as mergers and acquisitions. "I am dedicated to the success of every client and very much look forward to the actualization of client aspirations and visions."

View Michael DeDonato J.D.,MBA's Professional Bio


Deborah Deras

Position: Business Advisor
Business expertise: Social Media

Deborah Deras, Social Media Marketing trainer and consultant, is an author, corporate trainer and motivational speaker. She has over 15 years experience coaching small business owners. Her Fortune 500 clients secured through social media include: Coca Cola, Pinesol, Verizon, Allstate and NASA. She has a Masters in Education from CSULA. She is passionate about helping owners navigate the ever changing world of social to increase their visibility and achieve their business goals.

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Nate Jemison

Position: Business Advisor
Business expertise: Access to Capital, Finance

Nate Jemison provides access to capital, financial analysis and loan consulting. He has over 20+ of years experience as a commercial and corporate banker with national, regional and community banks. Nate has also operated his own independent financial consulting business for the past 15 years. He is a graduate of CSU Long Beach and received his formal credit training from the distinguished and highly regarded Security Pacific National Bank Commercial Loan Training Program.

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Laura Lara

Position: Business Advisor
Business expertise: Finance

As a Business Advisor, with a specialty in QuickBooks and Finance, Lara assists nascent, new and existing businesses understand the money they make. When not helping clients, she enjoys genealogy and hiking.

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Charlie Lowe, CGBP

Position: Business Advisor
Business expertise: Marketing, Business Planning, Procurement and International Trade

Charlie is a core business advisor with special skills in marketing and international trade. Charlie also assists with business start-up, planning and government procurement, and can do it and both English and Spanish! Charlie's passion is helping small businesses become empowered to change their lives for the better. When not working, he enjoys listening to live music and going out to nature, camping and exploring.

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Andrew Strachan

Position: Business Advisor
Business expertise: Finance

Andrew has many years of financial analysis expertise serving as financial analyst/VP of finance for over 20 years in the U.S. and Europe following an earlier career in two start-ups and serves on the board of a bank. Andrew leverages this experience for the benefit of his SBDC clients as he assists them with financial model development, financial statement creation and review, along with strategy development, business planning and working with investors (pitch deck review, business plan, presentations). He is also fluent in French.

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Debbie Goldfarb

Position: Business Advisor
Business expertise: Marketing and Branding

Debbie is a well-respected marketing coach and consultant. For over 25 years--Debbie has specialized in market research and multi-touch campaigns for small and large businesses. She works with a cache of industry leaders and enjoys coaching small business owners to success whether they are developing, growing, expanding, sustaining and/or transitioning their business.

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Omari Valentine

Position: Business Advisor
Business expertise: Website Development

As an experienced digital project manager and business owner in the fields of marketing and web solutions, Omari specializes in web design, development and SEO for small businesses. He offers businesses knowledge of the digital landscape and help them understand the options available to build and maintain a healthy web presence.

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Danielle Jenkins, Ed.D

Position: Business Advisor
Business expertise: Management and Human Resources

Danielle provides training in different areas of business such as business management, leadership, human resource management (hiring, training, development, compensation, motivation, communication, and administration), digital marketing, social media, and technology. Danielle earned her doctorate in Organizational Leadership and Behavior from Pepperdine University and her MBA in Public Administration from CSU Dominguez Hills.

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Michael Williams

Position: Business Advisor
Business expertise: Contracting

Michael is a Licensed Career Technical Education Instructor and was the chief Instructor for Peerless Institute for more than 18 years, were he help create Construction and Engineering companies by helping them with the State of California Contractors Licenses. He has dedicated his professional life serving and helping people achieve their goals in life and business. Had an extensive career in retail management and has worked in the financial services market helping people with retirement planning, insurance and estate planning. Aside from his work in the financial services, Michael is President and founder of Contractors License Network, which he founded in 1991. He also founded Soloman's Temple Design and Development with his twin brother Mitch to assist single mothers with finding, building and adding value to their homes. and he is a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity where he helps build homes for the disadvantaged in his community.

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Brett Dickstein

Position: Business Advisor
Business expertise: Financing

Brett Dickstein works with early stage ventures to help them commercialize and fund their ideas from mind to market. In the initial 10 years of his career, Brett worked with multinational consulting firms and investment banks. He spent the next 10 years supporting startups and growth-oriented businesses as they test marketed innovative products on the pathway to becoming investment ready. Brett is committed to enhancing entrepreneur and innovation ecosystems around the world, having driven business incubation and workforce development activities in 15 countries with the World Bank. Brett also contributed to launching a retail, import-export, fintech, ecommerce, and social impact consultancy. He has a Master’s in Public Finance from Columbia University and a BA from Emory College.

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