COB Advisory Council

Meet the Advisory Council for JWU’s College of Business.

The Business Advisory Council’s 11 inaugural members represent a wide range of industries, from accounting and financial services to information technologies and hospitality enterprises.

Advisory Council Members

James Fisher '96

James FisherJames Fisher is a Senior Project Manager with Cetera Financial Group with 25-plus years of experience in various facets of financial services, from broker-dealer servicing to wealth-tech implementation. His current role is implementing new financial services for the growing RIA market and transforming the broker-dealer service model. He has been working exclusively in project management for close to 15 years.

Prior to Cetera, Fisher worked with Advisor 360, a wealth-tech startup focused on finding innovative software to streamline business operations in the broker-dealer market. At Advisor 360, he successfully led the implementation of insurance integration into the company’s platform — their first new product launch.

Fisher began his career with Fidelity Investments and later transitioned to roles at the Wellington Management Company, MFS Investments, and State Street Bank & Trust. These roles encompassed business analytics, risk management, technology implementation, and compliance.

Fisher received a B.S. in International Business from JWU and an MBA from Boston University. He is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP).

Vaughn Hardin '90

Vaughn HardinVaughn Hardin serves as the director of special operations for LabWare, the world’s largest laboratory information management systems company.

Hardin received his Culinary Arts A.S. as part of the first graduating class of Johnson & Wales University following the college’s accreditation in 1988. He received his Food Service Management bachelor’s degree in 1990.

Following graduation, Hardin became executive chef for Marriott’s Business Dining Division. He began working for MBNA America in an administrative role. Over 14 years, he achieved senior executive vice president, responsible for executive administration, board relations, fleet services, dining and hospitality, aviation, health and safety, corporate aviation, and assistant to the Chairman. He left MBNA to open his own company, which he owned and operated for another 14 years.

After that, Hardin returned to the corporate world to take the position at LabWare. He has been married for 25 years and has 3 children.

Jacquelyn Gatti '92, '96 M.S.

Jacquelyn Gatti Jacquelyn Pentecost Gatti spent the first 12 years of her career working for the Omni Charleston Place, Capital Grille, Four Seasons hotels and Louis Osteen at Louis’s. She then spent 23 years in corporate recruiting for such companies as Compass Group and Carter’s/Oshkosh B’gosh. She currently contracts with Chik-fil-A.

Gatti graduated from JWU with degrees in Culinary Arts, Food Service Management and Hospitality Administration. She attended the Charleston, South Carolina, campus for her undergraduate work and Providence for grad school.

Gatti and her family live in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, and Kiawah Island, South Carolina.

Gary Kapner '83

Gary Kapner and his wife, Rachel, co-own CWI Design, which sources, manufactures and installs custom home furnishings for clients in the mid- to high-end residential market. CWI is based in New Providence, New Jersey, and primarily operates in New Jersey, Manhattan, Philadelphia, Palm Beach and Naples, Florida.

Kapner began his career with the Stouffer Hotel & Restaurant Company and transitioned roles at Sheraton and Hilton Hotels. He was also involved in several startups and franchise operations. Currently, he is a partner in TAP Into, a local online news franchisor with 90 franchised sites.

Kepner has served on the New Providence planning board and two terms as a city councilman; he currently holds a seat on the Mendham Township zoning board.

Kapner is a JWU graduate with food and beverage operations and event sales background. He lives in Mendham Township, New Jersey.

Hubert Klein '86

Hubert KleinHubert Klein is a partner and practice leader for the Financial Advisory Services Group’s New Jersey location. With over 35 years of experience, Klein is frequently called upon as a technical resource in various litigation actions. He has consulted and provided services for cases involving complex damages, business valuations, fraud, forensic investigations, lost profit calculations, shareholder disputes, reasonable compensation/benefits analysis, insurance claims analysis, and bankruptcy proceedings.

In addition, Klein has served as an agreed-upon neutral expert and a judge-appointed expert witness. He has been appointed by various courts to serve as a receiver, provisional director, special fiscal agent, and the court’s independent forensic auditor in various civil litigation cases. He also provides traditional accounting services, such as financial statement and tax return preparation, financial analysis, and consulting services.

As a strong proponent of professional development, Klein frequently speaks to business and civic groups on topics like business valuation, forensic accounting, commercial damages and fraud.

Klein is an active member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA); he currently serves on the organization’s National Accreditation Commission (NAC). He previously served on the Forensic & Litigation Services Executive Committee; the Business Valuation Committee; Forensic Fraud Task Force; and the Valuation Conference Committee. He also received the Volunteer of the Year award. In addition, the National Association of Certified Valuators & Analysts recognized Klein as Outstanding Member for extraordinary committee participation and service.

Tom Nolan '06

Tom NolanTom Nolan is a digital product innovator who has eloquently fused creativity and technology while building best-in-class customer experiences for well-known tech, startup and consumer brands. Currently, he heads up product design at Amazon Web Services (AWS) and is helping to spearhead the development of a new suite of business applications looking to transform the supply chain industry.

Before that, Nolan served as the vice president of customer experience at H&R Block, overseeing an ambitious digital transformation of their virtual and retail tax businesses. He also spent time with Progressive Insurance, where he led the experience design group responsible for the direct-to-consumer online sales channels — eventually taking on the role of innovation leader at the $40B+ personal & commercial lines insurance provider.

Earlier in his career, he honed his skills in the advertising industry, crafting digital strategies and campaigns for clients like Disney, MTV, HBO, the North Face and Ray-Ban.

Nolan received his bachelor of science in Marketing Communications from JWU Providence, where he met his wife, Janine. They live in Austin, Texas, with their 3 boys.

Siobhan O’Bara '84

Siobhan O’BaraSiobhan O’Bara is an accomplished leader with 30-plus years of experience in supply chain, logistics, and operations management. As GS1 US’ senior VP of community engagement, she is responsible for developing a single vision for the company’s industry priorities; she leads a team that supports all GS1 US customer needs and programs. This includes guiding strategy to drive broader adoption and use of GS1 standards and solutions across 25 industries and for building lasting industry relationships through meaningful collaboration.

At GS1, O’Bara serves as lead ambassador to the consumer-packaged goods/grocery, healthcare, food service, fresh foods, apparel, and general merchandise industry sectors. In addition to her industry role, she is responsible for customer service offerings, including member support, education and training, and the advisory services program.

Before joining GS1, O’Bara held several executive leadership positions at Covidien (Medtronic), a leading global provider of healthcare products. As VP of customer operations, she created a Global Shared Services customer operations team that supported over 200,000 customers in 3 sectors and 6 global business units. She also served as VP of supply chain systems and solutions, responsible for systems conversions and merger/acquisition integrations. She led the supply chain functions at multiple Covidien divisions, including medical supplies, retail, imaging, pharmaceutical, and respiratory technologies.

An accomplished author and public speaker, O’Bara often speaks at industry events and university supply chain management programs. She graduated from Johnson & Wales University, the University of Connecticut, and Babson College.

David Peters '86

David PetersDavid Peters started his career at accounting giant KPMG’s Providence and Philadelphia offices. Over 6 years, he led financial audits in multiple industries.

Peters then joined the manufacturing firm Tetra-Pak/Alfa Laval as their corporate controller, where he led their ERP system implementation. After five years, he joined ICON Clinical Research as their senior VP of finance. He was part of the team that grew ICON from a small organization through their IPO into a large multinational market leader with offices in over 50 countries employing over 10,000 professionals.

After 16 years, Peters transitioned to multiple positions with various life sciences organizations, culminating in BioClinca’s sale to Cinven partners for $1.6 billion. Since leaving BioClinica, he has worked with several organizations, including a successful capital raise for Globo Language Solutions, a leader in the language interpretation industry focused on the health care, financial services and education industry.

Peters is also a partner and founder of a dry cleaning business with multiple New Jersey locations.

Michael Rypka '96

Michael RypkaMichael Rypka, founder and CEO of Torchy’s Tacos, has been in and around the food business since he was 13.

After spending the early days of his career at Le Peep and Springfield Golf & Country Club, Rypka enrolled in JWU North Miami, where he received his culinary arts degree and really got to work.

During this time, Rypka had the privilege of cooking for President Bill Clinton, Taste of South Beach and Taste of the NFL. After Johnson & Wales, Michael received a Business degree from Florida International University.

Rypka served as executive chef at prestigious corporations like the World Bank, MTV Studios, Disney Animations and Dell Computers. Exhausted by the corporate lifestyle, he put his passion into something new — and the first Torchy’s Tacos food trailer was born in Austin, Texas. Sixteen years and over 100 Torchy’s locations later, you can still find him in the kitchen or hanging out at headquarters, supporting his team and encouraging a culture focused on innovative, affordable scratch-made food.

Steven Sweeney

Steven SweeneySteve Sweeney’s career spans 45-plus years in dining and support services serving higher education institutions nationwide. Currently, he is a consultant specializing in the education market.

Prior to his consulting business, Sweeney served as the president and CEO of Chartwells, a food services provider to over 300 colleges and universities. Under his leadership, the company became a $2B USD food service organization with over 25,000 associates. Sweeney was also an officer and board member of Compass Group NA, the nation’s largest food services company. He also presided over Compass Group’s International Foodservice Forum, which focused on sales growth and marketing efforts in 14 countries.

Sweeney was the VP of operations for Flik International, a New York City-based food service company, prior to its acquisition by Compass. He began his career with Servomation, a food service and vending company based in Boston.

In 2005, Sweeney received the Silver Plate Award, the food service industry’s highest award for business excellence.

Sweeney stays involved in the arts and preservation organizations in his Narragansett, Rhode Island, community.

Daniel Strasshofer, Jr. '95

Daniel StrasshoferDan Strasshofer, C.P.A., is a partner with KPMG LLP, a global audit, tax and advisory firm. He has been with the firm for more than 25 years, serving clients in their asset management audit practice in Boston.

Strasshofer is a member of the KPMG’s Living Green Network, Inclusion & Diversity networks, and their Network of Women’s Mentoring Program. He serves as the treasurer of the executive board of the Boy Scouts of America Spirit of Adventure Council.

Strasshofer has been awarded the following honors: 2011 Greater Boston Chamber’s Class of Boston Future Leaders, 2012 Boston Business Journal’s Class of 40 Under 40, and the National Eagle Scout Association’s Outstanding Eagle Scout Award. He ran in the 2019 Boston Marathon as a New England Patriots Charity Foundation team member.

He graduated from JWU Providence in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. As a student, he worked as an office assistant and handled the university’s investment portfolio accounting.

Strasshofer lives with his wife Karen and their son Daniel in Mystic, Connecticut.