Michael Sauvante, Chairman
Expertise: Chief Architect of the Sustainable Communities Framework
Michael Sauvante brings over 45 years of experience in founding and running more than a half dozen companies and non-profit organizations. He is an expert in new venture creation, also within mature companies including pioneering work at HP Labs, and has long been a progressive thinker in the field of sustainability, corporate social and environmental behavior, and corporate responsibility. Michael also has a deep understanding of general corporate law, corporate securities law, banking and tax law and more.
Beginning in 2008, Michael has conducted extensive research into economic development issues pertaining primarily to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and their critical role in the economic vitality of communities. That research has focused on getting money into the hands of SMEs through capital formation (investments) and credit facilitation (loans). It also focused on how current laws and structures often impede rather than facilitate those functions, and how disruptive new vehicles and approaches can provide the breakthroughs necessary to lift up those businesses and their local communities. Some of that work helped contribute to the passage of the JOBS Act in 2012.
Likewise Michael got actively engaged in the banking industry, in particular in connection with public banking. That led to his role as an advisor to the Public Banking Institute and his writing and speaking on the topic. In 2012 he was one of the keynote speakers at the Public Banking In America Conference, whose presentation was titled “Foreclosures, Eminent Domain and Public Banking“. More recently that has led to a deep dive into credit unions, who for over a hundred years have existed to primarily “serve the underserved”.
Michael’s research into local economic development issues has resulted in his writing and publishing an extensive number of articles on banking, securities, currencies and related topics found here, here and under his full bio linked below. This effort led to an in-depth exploration of the use of alternative currencies for economic development, resulting in his article Money – A Time for Change, exploring how such currencies can serve as the underlying mechanism to comprehensively bootstrap local economies, especially stressed economies.
From that knowledge he developed a system called the Sustainable Communities Framework (SCF) for harnessing those ideas into an integrated regional economic development program, introduced in this document. And as this document explains, the SCF program very closely maps to all the elements of the Green New Deal (GND), including job creation; small business growth and development; income and wealth disparities; climate change and other environmental issues; infrastructure, housing and energy issues; local farming and food; municipalities, schools, hospitals and other not-for-profit service organizations. The one key difference is that the SCF can be implemented locally now, without waiting for Congress and massive federal funding.
The SCF uses several new entities Michael created starting with a non-profit structure called Commonwealth Development Organizations (CDOs) designed to organize and implement the SCF program in a region. He and his colleagues at National Commonwealth Group initially planned to launch a pilot project based on the SCF in Puerto Rico, introduced in this document. That effort attracted attention in other regions, but because of pandemic restrictions, we elected to focus on Florida, home to the majority of our team members.
This effort has also attracted the attention of leadership with the Centre for Enterprise and Economic Development Research (CEEDR), at Middlesex University in London. Middlesex hosts a top tier business school, of which CEEDR is the leading research centre specializing in local economic development, small business financing and support policy, and social enterprise. CEEDR has awarded Michael an Honorary Research Fellowship in recognition of his pioneering work in the field of local economic development and business financing with National Commonwealth Group, based on his decade+ research and work in this field. More recently he joined the Global Institute for Sustainable Prosperity as a Research Fellow.
Summary of Previous Activities
For Michael’s full bio and a comprehensive list of his other writings, visit nationalcommonwealthgroup.net/michael-sauvante.
Scott McIntyre, Director
Expertise: FinTech/AgTech/EdTech, Entrepreneurship/Workforce Devp.
Founder and Chief Architect of Commonwealth’s entrepreneurship and workforce development practice, Scott is a lifelong entrepreneur and venture catalyst focused on FinTech, AgTech and EdTech sectors. He currently serves as Chief Development Officer at Renaissance Park Corporation, an economic development initiative centered on regenerative agriculture. Scott is also president of American co-op, Hemp Made Products™, helping advance the industrial hemp movement in the US and Latin America.
As a volunteer, in addition to his work at NCG on the SCF, Scott recently concluded his 4th term as President & Chair (remaining as Chairman), of the Crowdfunding Professional Association, the leading 501(c)(6) trade group formed by the change agents behind the JOBS Act of 2012 and Crowdfunding’s emergence since. Scott is active in venture communities and a frequent speaker in the U.S. and abroad, addressing audiences in the tens of thousands in China and Russia, and delivering keynote presentations to governments and global conferences in Australia and India, and in Austria where the U.S. State Department selected him to address the European Union’s Finance Ministers on the subject of Alternative Finance. Scott maintains an active network of leading AltFin bodies with associates in over 20 countries, and he served as Interim CEO of a unit of Groupo Venture Capital, a Chilean investment bank.
Scott is a recognized pioneer in Education Technology since his role as a founding executive of REAL Education in 1994, the startup that built the first online education platform, launching worldwide as eCollege at IPO in 1999. eCollege is now a cornerstone product of global Education market leader, Pearson, having acquired eCollege for $477 million in 2007. While a Director at The University of Toledo, Scott envisioned, implemented and managed the school’s first Office of Student Entrepreneurship & Engagement, and managed the State of Ohio’s Edison Technology Incubation program. SCF’s entrepreneurship & workforce development program carries on that work, now providing a platform able to guide aspiring innovators, academic institutions and growing companies into community partnerships focused on sustainability.
Whether helping student entrepreneurs, transitioning workers or small business owners, Scott is passionate about sustainable economic development. Details of Scott’s work history, achievements and recommendations can be viewed on his Linkedin profile.
Dr. Fadhel Kaboub, Director
Expertise: College Complementary Currency Programs & Economic Advisor to the Sustainable Communities Institute
Fadhel Kaboub is President of the Global Institute for Sustainable Prosperity and Associate Professor of economics at Denison University where he runs a student based complementary currency program called the Denison Volunteer Dollar Program (DVD). His focuses is on the fiscal and monetary policy dimensions of job creation programs.
His research is in the Post Keynesian and Institutionalist tradition in the fields of macroeconomic theory and policy, monetary theory and policy, and economic development, with a particular emphasis on job creation programs. Building upon Modern Money Theory (MMT), Fadhel argues that the United States and other countries with sovereign monetary systems can afford to end poverty, ensure full employment and price stability, provide universal healthcare, and ameliorate ecological conditions at a fraction of the costs that society endures under fiscal austerity.
He is a widely published author and his recent work has been presented at prestigious institutions including the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Harvard Law School, Cornell University, Columbia University, Sorbonne University, and the National University of Singapore. Some of his recent media commentaries on employment, development, finance, and the Middle East economies have appeared in the Financial Times, Al-Ahram Weekly, Radio France Internationale, National Public Radio, New Inquiry, BBC Mundo, Carta Maior, Diwan TV, Saudi Gazette, Le Quotidien, and La Presse.
Fadhel earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Tunis, and his Master’s and Ph.D. in economics from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Before settling at Denison University in 2008, he taught at Simon’s Rock College of Bard (Massachusetts) and at Drew University (New Jersey) where he also directed the Wall Street Semester Program. He also held a number of research affiliations with the Levy Economics Institute (NY), the Economic Research Forum (Cairo), the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University (Massachusetts), and the Center for Full Employment and Price Stability (Missouri).
Jeffrey Quintero, Director
Expertise: Human & Technology Networks Enabling Collaborative Programs
Over the last 20-plus years, Jeff has been engaged in research and development efforts in philosophy, science and consciousness, the lean entrepreneurship method, and blockchain technology.
He began his career in communications technology, pioneering innovations for companies like Burger King, large print and video production companies in the United States and Latin America, and portals for Latin American media companies.
He has founded several companies dedicated to identifying a new economic paradigm, formed through new value theory and powered by evolving technologies. He has assisted communities to develop purposeful strategies for achieving more widespread economic gains within a framework that is people-centered, collaborative and guided by shared values.
By combining his technological background with deep insights into the core existential constraints contributing to our current crises, he has developed a set of guiding principles that can foster a new kind of economic development better suited to rapidly changing systems, including finance, entrepreneurship and the strengthening of local economies.
Jeff graduated from the Florida Institute of Technology with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Business Administration, Management and Operations. Born in Venezuela, Jeff speaks Portuguese in addition to English and Spanish.
Vari MacNeil, Director
Expertise: Communications & Creative Strategy
Vari MacNeil’s professional experience spans more than 30 years in online and offline content strategy and development, brand strategy, and communications. She consults on content issues for large international companies, primarily in the automotive, healthcare and pharmaceutical, financial services, construction and home improvement, entertainment, government and economic development sectors.
Vari was previously with Azina Communications, a publishing and Internet consulting firm she co-founded in 2003. Before that she was Executive Director of Member Media for USAA, an international financial services company, where she was responsible for mass communications to 1.4 million member-customers. As Director of Content at marchFIRST/divine, an international Internet consultancy, Vari developed content and brand strategy for multinational companies. She was previously executive editor of The Health Network channel and executive editor of WebMD. Vari started her career as a newspaper and magazine editor.
Vari brings an international background, having grown up in Scotland and worked for many years in Germany. As a co-founder of Commonwealth Group, Vari has helped develop programs around small business capital and credit issues, and the sustainable development of local economies. She is the recipient of multiple awards for print and online content.
Jeff Greene, Director
Expertise: Government Relations & New Venture Creation
Jeff has been a Florida state legislative and executive lobbyist and a member of the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists since 2017. He has focused primarily on three emerging industries: alternative energy, industrial hemp and digital currencies. He was instrumental in getting the Industrial Hemp Research bill of 2017 and Hemp Commercialization bill of 2018 passed.
In 2019, he saw a need for a Hemp Trade Association and recruited leaders in Florida to establish The Florida Hemp Council, a 501(c)(6) non-profit organization. He is a founder and partner in Natural Life Franchise Corp, the first chain of retail stores that specializes in CBD and other holistic plants. In 2020, Jeff launched Greene’s Reserve, Inc, an FDA registered hemp food manufacturing company. In 2021, he began working on legislation for virtual digital currency and continues to seek out opportunities to further these burgeoning industries.
Jeff spent his early years working for Dun & Bradstreet in Southern California, a position which honed his ability to read and evaluate financial statements. He later earned his Series 6, Series 7 and Series 63 securities licenses in Atlanta, GA. Beginning in 1995, Jeff spent 12 years in the mortgage industry, specializing in refinances. He launched the Jeremiah Foundation in 2002, a down payment assistance program to take “Homeless to Homeowner”.
From 2008 to 2016 he worked with municipalities and private companies on the design, build and operate model for compressed natural gas in fleet vehicles.
Jeff graduated from Texas A&M university with a degree in economics and a minor in finance.
Jeffrey Londres, Advisor
Expertise: FinTech, Banking & Working Capital Management Programs
Jeff has accumulated more than 24 years of successful sales and leadership experience in the areas of finance, treasury, working capital management, benefits management, business process outsourcing (BPO), HR, IT technology, workforce management, human capital solutions, and Payment Processing and integration.
Jeff has led organizations providing enterprise-level consulting to global 2000 clients, driving solutions of betterment in the areas of Order to Cash and Global AR, treasury and cash management, and Procure to Pay optimization. Additionally, Jeff has held leadership roles growing commercial solutions supporting payment processing and integrated payments to ISV and software platforms.
As an entrepreneur, Jeff successfully founded and built several innovative startup companies, including a SaaS-based customer retention platform supporting the mortgage industry; a consulting company focusing on business alignment, strategy and integrated payment technologies; and most recently, a payment processing solution company enabling credit/debit card processing nationwide to the cannabis/CBD industry.
Jeff is passionate about connecting people, experiences and knowledge to solve complex problems and brings this passion and grit to each opportunity and cause he supports.
Bernadette Irizarry, Advisor
Expertise: Branding, Messaging, Business Strategies & Campaigns
A creative leader with her roots in graphic design and sculpture, Bern has built and led cross-disciplinary teams for over 20 years. She has researched and developed award-winning customer experiences, products, and campaigns for companies in multiple categories, including entertainment, high-tech, home improvement, and education. She delights in combining the aesthetic with the usable and holds two patents in color selection. Bern is VLVT’s fearless leader and one smart cookie.
Robert Palmer, Advisor
Expertise: Banking and Community Banks
Over a 48-year banking career, Bob most recently served as president, chief executive officer and director of a state trade association, the Community Bankers Association of Ohio (CBAO) and its subsidiaries CBAO Service Corporation (CBAO-SC), CBAO Insurance Agency, Inc. (CBAO-IA), and as managing member of Community Banking Initiatives, LLC (CBI-LLC) a multi-state insurance agency focusing on the collective needs of community banks across the United States. Also, during this time, he was a registered legislative agent.
He currently holds accident and health, life, variable annuities, casualty and property insurance licenses with the Ohio Department of Insurance.
Beginning his banking career dealing directly with customers as an assistant cashier, Bob rose to successive positions of responsibility, culminating as regional vice president, regional executive vice president, and director, president and chief executive officer in community banks with assets up to $1.2 billion. He has also served on seven community bank boards of directors.
Bob served as trustee, fellow and instructor for the West Virginia School of Banking, instructor for AIB and Bank Simulation as well as adjunct professor for colleges and universities. He has been a speaker for the FDIC on subjects such as CRA and held the positions of director, president, and second vice president of finance for the Bank Administration Institute (BAI).
Bob was founder of a de novo bank in West Virginia in 1994. He served as director and president and chief executive officer of the bank, whose assets reached $66 million.
Bob is a graduate of the prestigious Stonier Graduate School of Banking, also graduating from the ABA National Consumer Credit School, ABA National Mortgage Lending School, BNY Mellon Commercial Lending School, and The West Virginia School of Banking.
He received his basic, standard, general and advanced banking certificates from the American Bankers Association, Washington, DC.
He received his Associate of Science Degree from International University and his Board of Regents Bachelor of Arts Degree from Fairmont State University.
Stephen deMeulenaere, Advisor
Expertise: Digital & Complementary Currencies
For almost 30 years, Stephen DeMeulenaere has been contributing to the field of digital currencies worldwide. He has worked with development organizations to implement and strengthen complementary currencies in Asia, Latin America and Africa, and in North America has years of complementary currency system management experience.
His contributions in the field have been noted in The Future of Money by renowned economist and architect of the euro Bernard Lietaer; The End of Money and the Future of Civilization by Thomas Greco; in Healthy Money, Healthy Planet by Diedre Kent, and in Rethinking Money: How New Currencies turn Scarcity into Prosperity by Bernard Lietaer and Jacqui Dunne. Stephen was also engaged by Princeton University Press to review their textbook “Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies”.
Stephen organized the first and largest conference on Blockchain at the United Nations for UNCTAD, Blockchains for Sustainable Development, at the 2018 UN World Investment Forum at UN headquarters in Geneva.
He is a Certified Digital Currency Professional with the Digital Currency Council and graduate of the University of Nicosia Digital Currency Course. (UNIC is a world leader in blockchain technology education and is the first university to offer a cryptocurrency course and a full academic degree in blockchain (master’s degree in Digital Currency), among other firsts.)
Stephen is a founder and director leading technology development at Qoin Foundation.
Storm Cunningham, Advisor
Expertise: Community Revitalization
Storm Cunningham, RRFac is Executive Director of RECONOMICS Institute: The Society of Revitalization & Resilience Professionals, which helps ensure that communities worldwide have Certified Revitalization & Resilience Facilitators. Look for the “RRFac” after their names.
As editor of REVITALIZATION: The Journal of Economic & Environmental Resilience, Storm tracks the latest trends and techniques in urban/rural regeneration, natural resource restoration, and resilience worldwide.
Storm is the author of 2002’s The Restoration Economy, which has been hailed by government and business leaders around the world as “Extraordinary”, “Remarkable”, “A modern classic”, “A landmark work”, “Required reading”, and “The most important and valuable business book I have read in many years.”
His second book, reWealth, was published by McGraw-Hill in 2008. George Ochs, Director of Real Asset Investment at JP Morgan calls Storm “the world’s thought leader on community revitalization and natural resource restoration” and calls reWealth: “The secret weapon…for economic recovery at both local and global scales.”
Storm’s third book, RECONOMICS: The Path to Resilient Prosperity was published in both paperback and e-book form on January 9, 2020. It’s a guide for policymakers, real estate investors and social entrepreneurs.
From 2006-2009 Storm was Distinguished Visiting Professor at Seneca College (Canada’s largest college) in Toronto. From 1996 to 2002, he was Director, Strategic Initiatives at the Construction Specifications Institute, a 60+ year-old association of 14,000 architects, engineers, contractors, and manufacturers.
A former Green Beret SCUBA medic with the U.S. Army’s 7th Special Forces Group, he is an avid SCUBA diver, motorcyclist, and amateur herpetologist. He lives in Arlington, Virginia, USA.
Kristen Olmi, Advisor
Expertise: Grant Funding & Community Economic Development Programs
Kristen served as the Grants Coordinator for the Mahoning County Sanitary Engineering Department for eight years. Kristen’s grant writing has secured millions of dollars for our community and local non-profit organizations.
Kristen serves as consultant and lead on many economic development projects in the Mahoning Valley, and works on business and grant development for multiple clients. Kristen volunteers her time in the community on numerous projects, including Big Brothers Big Sisters; CASTLO Community Improvement Corporation; Mahoning County Young Democrats; Mahoning/Trumbull Democratic Women’s Caucus; The League of Women Voters of Greater Youngstown; Struthers Rotary Community Corps; and YWCA of the Mahoning Valley. Kristen published her first book in 2015 entitled “Winning Elections: A Blueprint for the Public Servant in US”.