Nadine Deleon Guerrero, Mercilynn Kaneshi Palec, and Benjamin Huk Borja of CNMI Small Business Development Center Network at the Northern Marianas College, were nationally recognized for contributing to their local SBDC network through America’s SBDC 40 under 40 awards.
The America's SBDC 40 Under 40 awards aim to spotlight the extraordinary contributions of individuals under 40 in the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network who have significantly impacted their local networks and the broader business landscape.
Among a pool of accomplished young entrepreneurs, the distinguished panel of judges in America’s SBDC Millennial Interest Group selected 40 remarkable winners who stood out for their exceptional business acumen, innovative thinking, and commitment to driving growth and success.
"It is with great pleasure and admiration that we announce these exceptional young professionals who have shown remarkable potential and passion to serve the SBDC network and their clients," said Charles “Tee” Rowe, America’s SBDC President & CEO. "Their dedication, hard work, and innovative mindset inspire not only their peers but also aspiring young professionals across the nation."
America’s Small Business Development Center comprises over 1,000 local service centers. Of these centers, only 40 were selected from the nomination pool and 3 of CNMI’s very own were selected.
“We congratulate Nadine, Mercilynn, and Huk for their exceptional achievement,” NMC President Galvin Deleon Guerrero, EdD said. “Being nationally recognized through America’s SBDC 40 Under 40 awards is a testament to their dedication and impactful contributions to our local business community. These remarkable individuals, through their innovative thinking and unwavering commitment, have not only elevated their own careers but have also significantly influenced the business landscape.”
Deleon Guerrero, who serves as the CNMI SBDC Network Director, earned her Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Communications with a double emphasis in Public Relations and Mass Media and her Masters in Public Administration degree from the University of Guam. Prior to her current role, Deleon Guerrero served on the CNMI Cannabis Commission board as its Chairwoman where she had direct oversight on establishing the CNMI’s cannabis industry. Deleon Guerrero has over 22 years of professional experience including over 10 years in the construction industry.
Palec, serves as the CNMI SBDC Associate Network Director. A proud Proa, Palec earned her Associate Degree in Liberal Arts with an emphasis in education and Bachelor’s of Science with an emphasis in Elementary Education from the Northern Marianas College. She went on to earn her Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Guam. Prior to joining the SBDC team, Palec was Administrator/Coordinator for the Saipan Chamber of Commerce and managed a home-based ecommerce business for more than ten years.
A Tinian native, Borja, serves as the Tinian SBDC Director/Business Advisor. Borja earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration in Accounting from the University of Guam in 2016. He brings years of diverse work experience in the private sector – from manual labor in a small family-owned business, working in sales in a large retail business, to management and operations experience in an investment fund company.
America’s SBDC launched the 40 Under 40 Award to recognize outstanding young SBDC staff across the nation who demonstrate innovation, leadership, and commitment to the SBDC mission. The winners will be celebrated at a reception during the 44th Annual America’s SBDC Conference on Thursday, September 7th, at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, Tennessee.
America’s SBDC is the association that represents the nationwide network of Small Business Development Centers, the most comprehensive small business assistance network in the United States and its territories. Hosted by leading universities, colleges, state economic development agencies, and private partners, nearly 1,000 local centers provide management and technical assistance to help Americans start, run, and grow their own businesses. SBDCs are funded in part by Congress through a partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The CNMI SBDC Network promotes a business-friendly economic infrastructure in the community, builds entrepreneurial capacity and financial literacy within that community, and provides current and nascent small businesses with the technical assistance, counseling, training, and support they need to innovate, adapt, and grow.