Small Business Advisors in Fort Worth, Texas

Robin Lasher (Director)

Between 1976 and 1995, Robin owned and operated three stores in the wholesale/retail beauty supply and salon industry. Upon exiting the industry, she completed her college education before taking a position in 1999 with the Tarrant SBDC as a Business Advisor and a professor at Texas Wesleyan University teaching retailing, marketing and sales management. In 2001, she started a business research, consulting and training services company. Ms. Lasher was the Director of the Navarro College SBDC from December 2007 until April 2014 when she returned to the Tarrant SBDC.

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Sam Emmerson (Business Advisor)

Sam has been an Instructor and Business Advisor for Tarrant SBDC since 2009. With experience in startups and purchasing small businesses, Sam helps new and emerging businesses with business planning, employee retention, marketing, and advertising. Existing businesses wanting to get to the next level can tap into Sam’s 25 years of experience as a small business owner. Sam’s extensive experience includes sales and sales leadership, customer service, process improvement, production management and team building.

Sam previously owned a local company that manufactured cleaning chemicals for the industrial, automotive and janitorial industries. In 2002, his company received the prestigious Small Business of the Year Award presented by the TCU’s Neeley School of Business and Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. Sam has served on numerous business, civic and church boards. Sam is currently Historian of a regional antique car club and enjoys traveling in a restored 1936 Ford.

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Cynthia Harnest (Business Advisor)

Fort Worth native Cynthia Harnest has been a Business Advisor for the SBDC for the past eleven years. She graduated from R.L. Paschal high school and received her Bachelor’s from the University of Texas in Austin, entered the banking industry, but her true calling was entrepreneurial. She headed to the sunny beaches of San Diego, California where she started her own business, the San Diego Delivery Pool, which is a cooperative effort to delivery flowers in a more efficient manner. Cynthia spent the next 10 years building up the company and working the last five years on earning a Master’s degree in Organizational Developmental Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology, which is now Alliant International University.

With Fort Worth always crossing her mind, Cynthia sold her California business and returned to Texas. Wanting to share her experience, she now helps others that want to either start or grow their own business. Cynthia works with a broad spectrum of businesses and is certified as a QuickBooks Pro Advisor. Given her diverse business background, Cynthia is able to give clients advice, direction, and motivation.

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Cle Royal (Business Advisor)

Cle Royal has 19 years of experience as a Business Advisor/Instructor at the Tarrant SBDC. Cle, a veteran, has been a small business owner and a consultant to three national small business associations, including the National Association for the Self Employed. Cle came to small business from very large company where he was a manager of financial reporting for a New York Stock Exchange company.

Cle is a QuickBooks Pro Advisor, and says he speaks four “foreign languages”: Accounting, Marketing, Finance, and Business planning. Cle is passionate about small business. He gets to act on that passion when he facilitates entrepreneurs through self-discovery to learn how to improve their business. Oftentimes Cle collaborates with his colleagues to serve client’s needs. When a client needs assistance in preparing financial projections, determining impact of a chosen business entity structure on profits, such as sole proprietorship or corporation), or troubleshooting QuickBooks, Cle can help.

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Cathy Trinh (Business Advisor)

Cathy Trinh spent several years in finance and banking industry. Her career expanded from local community banks to one of the largest global banks in the world. She acted as a commercial lender helping businesses of many sizes from small micro startup to multimillion dollar companies with their financing needs. Ms. Trinh is excited to bring her expertise in commercial lending to Tarrant SBDC. She is a trusted advisor in assisting clients with their business plan development, financial statement analysis and loan structuring. Her passion is in helping businesses become bankable and aligning them with the right lenders for their financial situation.

Ms. Trinh earned her Executive Master of Business Administration from University of Texas at Arlington. She taught business at Tarrant County College and enjoyed connecting her students with prominent business leaders in DFW area. She served as a board member of the Tarrant County College Business Advisory Committee. She is also an active member of the U.S Pan-Asian Chamber of Commerce and Arlington Chamber of Commerce.

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Efren Villanueva (Business Advisor)

Efren Villanueva has served as a business advisor for nearly twenty years. The last five years he provided business assistance advice to the Army National Guard service members and veterans in Texas and other states. He worked for the Lubbock SBDC for twelve years as a senior business advisor and served as an Associate Director. He received his Bachelor of Business Administration and a Master of Science from Texas Tech University. After college his business plan helped him to secure loans to construct a mini strip mall. He designed plans, secured financing, and supervised the different phases of a construction project. Afterwards he operated his business for more than twelve years. He assisted others to develop their businesses.

He is fluent in Spanish and is an advocate for small and minority business. He has worked with various chambers of commerce in different capacities including: member, committee work, fund raising, small business development, board member, and chairman. He has been recognized by various organizations for his advocacy for small business and work in business assistance and development. He and his wife Lucy have four children. All four completed their bachelor degrees and two completed master’s degrees. One of their children is both a Bill Gates Millennium Scholar and a Leadership Enterprise for a Diversified America (LEDA) scholar.

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Dorothy Gunter (Administrative Assistant)

Dorothy Gunter has worked as an assistant for Tarrant County College team since 2008. Having held positions throughout the years such as manager, bookkeeper, and 22 years in the US postal system, she now performs many important duties for the Tarrant SBDC. She states that her most treasured blessings are being a mother of four with eighteen grandchildren.


Marissa Groce (Administrative Assistant)

In 2013, Marissa Groce began working for the Tarrant SBDC as the Senior Office Assistant. She has a lengthy background working in office administration. Her duties include receiving all request for advising forms, managing the center’s social media platforms, and coordinating all Tarrant SBDC workshops. She enjoys working with entrepreneurs and doing work that gives back to the community.