Maryland Small Business Development Center

Eastern Staff

Serving Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, Talbot, Wicomico, Worcester Counties in Maryland


John Hickman

Regional Director,
Eastern Region

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John has served as the Regional Director of the SBDC for since 2002. Prior to being appointed as the Director, he served as a Business Consultant for the SBDC. He was the Maryland SBDC State Star in 2003 and chairs the state’s Professional Development strategic team. He has worked with other government agencies and private businesses to develop and expand businesses on the Eastern Shore. In addition to his work as SBDC Director, John is an adjunct professor at the Perdue School where he teaches Small Business Consulting and Applied Business Learning. He is a board member or past board member of many local nonprofits and economic and community development entities and serves as an advisor to several community loan funds.

Before joining the SBDC, Hickman held a number of positions in banking, marketing of both recreation services and agricultural products, and management that have allowed him to put to practical use the knowledge he acquired while earning his degrees. These skills have allowed him to increase sales, make recommendations for improvement, and prepare business plans and forecasts for expansion within the companies that use the SBDC services; he holds a Bachelors of Science in Agricultural Economics from North Carolina State University and a Masters of Business Administration from the College of William and Mary.

Vanette Seals

Talbot County - Eastern Region

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410-822-5400 x2340

Vanette is the Administrative Associate for the SBDC Eastern Region at Chesapeake College. After retiring from 32 years of service with the State of Delaware, she worked in the President/Vice President office for five years at Chesapeake College. She has a BS in Organizational Leadership and Management from Regent and a MS in Information Technology from  American InterContinental University (AIU).  

Francesca Hedrick

Eastern Region

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Francesca has worked for the SBDC for 20 years as an office manager and budget administrator for the Eastern Region in Salisbury, MD. She is a graduate of Salisbury University and former small business owner.

Training and Marketing

Business Consultants

Sumathy Chandrashekar

Business Consultant,
Eastern Region

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Sumathy Chandrashekar is a professor of Information and Decision Sciences at the Perdue School of Business, Salisbury University. She received her bachelor’s degree, majoring in Economics, History and Sociology, and her Master of Arts in Philosophy (M.A) from Bangalore University, India. Subsequent to that, she received her M.B.A. from Salisbury University and has over 15 years experience in teaching basic statistics, regression analysis, and time-series forecasting, statistical quality control, and other related operations management topics to undergraduate students.

In addition to being faculty, Sumathy serves as a small business consultant at the SBDC, and has considerable consulting experience working with area small businesses assisting them with writing business plans, formulating financial statements, performing financial analysis, market research and market analysis. She also has taught several business planning workshops.

Being a teacher in business and a business consultant has enabled Sumathy to enrich the classroom experience with real-life business situations and, by the same token, to be able to apply the academics to the small businesses she consults with.


Richard Loeffler

Business Consultant,
Eastern Region

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Cambridge 410-228-8191, Wye Mills 410-827-5304


Richard (Rich) Loeffler is a BSME graduate of Newark College of Engineering (now known as New Jersey Institute of Technology), who for the last 16 years has worked for the Maryland Small Business Development Center (SBDC) on the Eastern Shore of MD as a Business Consultant.

Prior to working for the “SBDC”, Rich was part owner of a small manufacturing company located in a very rural section of the Eastern Shore, Dorchester County, MD. This business grew to be number one in its field and recognized as a leader in the industry not only in the USA but also throughout the world. Rich retired in 1998 after selling his interest in the business to his partners. The business continues to thrive today.

Rich has taken his experience in operating a small business and applied that knowledge to assisting others currently in business or those striving to start their own business. As a firm believer in “understanding the numbers”, Rich emphasizes to business owners, that particularly in today’s economy, the savvy business owner must be knowledgeable not only in the product and people side of the business but also in the financial side of the business. Rich uses his personal experiences to help business owners grow their businesses.

Tim Sherman

Business Consultant,
Eastern Region

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Tim joing the SBDC Eastern Region in Salisbury, Maryland as a Businesss Consultant in June 2015. He received his BS in Business Administration and MBA degrees from Salisbury University. Tim's background includes employment in the banking industry, serving as the Business Department Head and Occupational Education Dean at Wor-Wic Community College and Chief Loan Officer for Maryland Capital Enterprises, an alternative business lender. He uses his lending and educational experiences and skills to assist business growth.

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