Board of Directors
& Advisors

Board of Directors

Each director brings knowledge and experience that not only allow for a well rounded board of directors, but where each can lend their particular expertise to provide an individual hands on guidance for particular programs and functions under the overall Sustainable Communities Framework program.
Michael Sauvante

Michael Sauvante, Chairman

Expertise: Chief Architect of the Sustainable Communities Framework

Michael Sauvante brings over 40 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.

Recent Activities

For the past decade, 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 their 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.

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 overall mechanism that can be used 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 a coherent and 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 exception 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 carry out the overall SCF program in any one region. He and his colleagues at National Commonwealth Group were planning on launching a pilot project based on that SCF strategy on the island of Puerto Rico, introduced in this document. That effort has attracted attention elsewhere and a number of other regions are already looking to replicate the Puerto Rican SCF model. Along came the pandemic and the team at National Commonwealth Group elected to shift gears and focus on our home state, Ohio, as the place to pilot the SCF program.

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, to go along with his recent enrollment in the capstone professional doctorate program (DProf) at Middlesex based on his 10 years of research and work in this field.

For Michael’s full bio and comprehensive list of his other writings, visit


Scott McIntyre, Director

Expertise: Entrepreneurship and Workforce Development Programs

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 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 governments and audiences in the tens of thousands in India, China and Russia, and delivering keynote presentations to governments and global conferences in Australia and in Austria where the U.S. State Department selected him to address the European Union’s Finance Ministers. Scott maintains an active network of leading foreign alternative finance bodies, with associates in over 20 countries.

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. As a Director at The University of Toledo, Scott envisioned, implemented and managed the school’s first Office of Student Entrepreneurship & Engagement. 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 committed to elevating quality of life through sustainable economic development innovation. Details of Scott’s work history, achievements and recommendations can be viewed on his Linkedin profile.


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.


Kristen Olmi, Director

Expertise: Government & Political Relations, 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”.


Vari MacNeil, Director

Expertise: Communications & Creative 

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, mostly in Munich, Stuttgart and the Bavarian Alps. 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.


Bernadette Irizarry, Director

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.


Patricia Carlson, Director

Expertise: Operations, Accounting & HR

Patricia Carlson has a successful track record in the administration of startup and growth companies. She brings over 30 years experience in founding and running more than a half dozen enterprises. She has managed all administrative functions, including accounting, taxes, personnel, inventory and facilities, as well as all the administrative functions of the boards of directors. She is an ABA certified paralegal and has completed the first year of law school for a JD.



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.


Robert Palmer Advisor

Expertise: Banking & Community Banks

Bob currently serves as Director, President and Chief Executive Officer of Community Bankers Association of Ohio, CBAO Service Corporation and CBAO Insurance Agency, Inc. He is also manager of Community Bank Insurance, LLC and co-manager of Community Banking Initiatives, LLC. He is a Certified Professional Insurance Agent (CPIA) holding active major and limited lines insurance licenses in Accident & Health, Casualty, Life, Property, Variable, Credit and Crop in six states.

He graduated Valedictorian of his 1972 high school class. He received his Associate of Science Degree in Banking & Finance from International University and his Board of Regents Bachelor of Arts Degree in Banking & Finance from Fairmont University.

Bob is a graduate of the Stonier Graduate School of Banking, the National Consumer Credit School, the BNY Mellon Commercial Lending School, National Mortgage Lending School, and the West Virginia School of Banking. He was awarded the Basic, Standard, General and Advanced Banking Certificates from the American Bankers Association (ABA) in Washington, DC and has served as an Adjunct Professor for Bank Administration Institute (BAI), American Institute of Banking (AIB), colleges and universities. He also served as fellow and instructor for the Bank Sim and Bank Exec computer simulation games.

He has been employed in the community banking industry for more than 45 years, having held positions as Director, President, Chief Executive Officer, Regional Executive Vice President, Executive Vice President, Regional Vice President, Senior Vice President, Senior Lending Officer, Vice President, Cashier and Assistant Cashier. He has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of two community banks, one of which he was the founder, on four community bank and three community bank advisory board of directors during his career. He has been a guest speaker at numerous civic organization, shareholder, and director meetings.

Close Menu