Meet the Team

Staff

Peter Chapman, Executive Director

An accomplished economic and community (re)development strategist and practitioner, Peter holds over 20 years of executive leadership experience in several U.S. markets. During the course of his career he has conceptualized and implemented a diverse array of award-winning and nationally-recognized projects and initiatives promoting inclusive entrepreneurship, global commerce and the comprehensive revitalization of economically distressed regions. Peter began his decades-long work in economic development and urban revitalization after a brief stint in investment banking in New York City. Since this time, he has distinguished himself as a visionary, best practices-oriented, and outcomes-driven professional who is particularly adept at navigating some of the most technically and politically complex economic challenges confronting U.S. cities and states, as well as international jurisdictions. Peter’s breadth—and depth—of economic and community development expertise have been largely cultivated by lessons learned while holding leadership and executive roles with institutions across several different development disciplines.

Prior to joining the RTPark in 2018, Peter served as Executive Vice President of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC), a private economic development organization, where he established a globally-focused business development practice group that led efforts to attract multi-national companies to the city such as Google, Microsoft and Tata Technologies; and also successfully implemented new technical assistance programs such as ExporTech Detroit, which helped metro area entrepreneurs secure new customers and investors from overseas markets including China, South Korea and India. Overall, these efforts helped bring 4,600 new jobs to the city of Detroit over a two-year period, thereby contributing to the stabilization of the local economy.

Before being recruited to DEGC, Peter served for eight years in cabinet-level municipal government leadership positions in Virginia’s urban cities, primarily as Deputy Mayor for Planning & Economic Development in Richmond. Earlier in his career, he founded and led a Denver, Colorado-based Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) specializing in debt and equity financing for small and mid-sized enterprises, mixed-income residential projects, and catalytic commercial real estate transactions. Additionally, in his capacity as a member of the economic and community development practice group at Cambridge, Massachusetts-based global consulting firm, Abt Associates, Peter authored or co-authored a number of well-regarded studies on the impact of urban revitalization programs for clients such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Fannie Mae and The Rockefeller Foundation.   

Peter holds a Master of Public Policy (with a concentration in macroeconomics and urban planning) from the Graduate Program in Urban & Environmental Policy at Tufts University. He also completed Graduate Studies in real estate finance and political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Wesleyan University. A New York City native with family ties to the Caribbean and Central America, Peter is an avid cyclist and runner, and a perennial student of urban history and policy.

Aminah Saleem, Chief-of-Staff

Aminah comes to the RTPark with a wealth of knowledge in management and business. She has over thirty-nine years of experience in Government, non-profits, and as a business owner in the Virgin Islands. In 2016 Aminah left her position as the of Deputy Director at the Virgin Islands Energy Office and started her own business which specializes in connecting clients with the services needed, along with coordination and management of small projects.   In her position as Chief of Staff she focusses on connecting the dots, solving the problems, and making those critical connections necessary to keep the RTPark moving forward.


St. Croix has been home for Aminah for 39 years, where she raised with her late husband four sons.  Although she was born in New Jersey; she is a 7th generation Virgin Islander coming from a large family on St. Croix.  Aminah is dedicated to making this community better and sits on the board of three prominent non-profits in St. Croix.  Aminah takes her work at the RTPark seriously and feels that by building strong economic development we will improve many of the social issues facing the VI.

Eric Sonnier, Director of Business Attraction and Entrepreneurship

Eric leads key elements of the RTPark’s business investment and attraction strategy in addition to building the RTPark’s newly formed Entrepreneurship Program. 

Prior to joining the RTPark, Eric was Co-Founder and CEO of Lawgix, an enterprise software company that helps financial institutions scale legal models with real-time vendor collaboration and centralized compliance. Eric was also Co-founder of venture capital backed, Y Combinator (S14) company, Local Lift, which specialized in alternative lending for small businesses through an online marketplace platform. Prior to entering the world of entrepreneurship, Eric worked as a Strategy & Operations Consultant for Deloitte, working on a variety of business process and strategy projects for Fortune 500 companies. 

Eric has a BBA from the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas in Austin and an MBA from Harvard Business School.  Eric currently resides in St. Croix with his wife and two daughters.

John Harrison, Director of Finance and Administration

John joins the RTPark as Director of Finance and Administration where he will oversee all aspects of the finances including the development and management of budgets, preparation of financial statements and reporting to the RTPark Board of Directors and governmental agencies. John brings 30+ years of accounting, auditing and tax experience as a CPA doing work for various governmental agencies as well as multimillion dollar companies, small business and start up companies.

John holds a BS in Business with a concentration in Accounting from the University of Baltimore.

Outside of work, John enjoys spending time with his family – his wife, three daughters and the oldest two daughters spouses and six grandchildren. All thirteen share a love of the outdoors and especially enjoy the water and beach.

Siobhan Cioppa, Senior Manager of Business Development Operations and Compliance

Siobhan has worked with the RTPark in numerous capacities since 2015 in the areas of business development, finance, administration and compliance.  She works directly with RTPark clients to guide through the application processes, ensure their businesses remain in compliance with program requirements, as well as connecting clients to enrichment opportunities with the University of the Virgin Islands.

Born and raised in Ottawa, Canada, Siobhan started her initial move south in 2001 to New York City. She began her management career in hospitality, first in high-end hotels such as The Tribeca Grand, The Parker Meridien Hotel and the Surrey Hotel. In 2007 Siobhan joined Browning's Fitness as their General Manager, and over an eight-year period she assisted Browning's Fitness in the expansion of one to four locations. The staff quadrupled from 10 to over 50 employees, and the client base increased from less than a hundred to over a thousand.


In 2015 Siobhan decided she needed a little more sun and sand in her life, so she made the move to St. Croix, USVI, and has not looked back since.

Siobhan's education began at the City College of New York and continued at the University of the Virgin Islands, working towards a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management.


Sydney Paul, Manager of Business Intelligence and Marketing 

Sydney supports the RTPark’s business attraction and entrepreneurship activities through detailed research on tech market trends, fostering prospect relations, and a myriad of other organizational affairs.  In addition, she manages the communications and public relations activities for the RTPark.

In previous lives, she has worked as a digital media editor, freelance journalist, communications director, documentary producer and multimedia broadcaster. She is a proud graduate of the University of Chicago (AB ’12), the Philip Merrill College of Journalism (MJ ’13) at the University of Maryland, College Park, and The Documentary Center at the George Washington University.  

Sydney decided to return home to St. Croix to not only help foster a progressive community for Young Virgin Islanders to live, work and play in at home, but preserve and creatively tell the story of Virgin Islands history through art and culture.

 Naisha R. Monelle-Joseph, Operations Manager 

Naisha supports and helps execute all aspects of financial reporting and management of core administrative functions of the RTPark. She also ensures the smooth running of RTP’s day-to-day functions, including providing the administrative support necessary to advance the organization’s mission. Naisha is a graduate of the University of the Virgin Islands with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She also has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and an Associate of Science in Accounting from Colorado Technical University. Due to Naisha’s organizational skills, attention to detail, people skills and ability to adapt to everchanging situations the RTPark can save time and through team work continue to excel.

Naisha is a mother of three who enjoys reading & listening to books, watching movies and listening to music.

eph

Ephithimios "Ephi" Doliotis, Administrative Specialist

Ephi is an alumnus of the University of the Virgin Islands and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration 2015.

Ephi supports the day-to-day functions of the RTPark, including business attraction research and administrative organization activities.

Yihan Wang, Business Development Advisor Sustainability & FDI

Yihan leads sustainability and foreign direct investment programs and initiatives at the RTPark.

Prior to joining the RTPark, Yihan worked  as an energy market consultant at a leading consulting company on energy financial modeling and market structure. She also has extensive experience working with the state and city governments on business attraction and foreign direct investments, especially in the field of sustainable enterprise attraction and sustainability policy development. Yihan received her Master of Science degree in Environmental Policy and Planning from the University of Michigan, and Bachelor of Arts degree in Global Affairs from both George Mason University and Beijing Language and Culture University.

Born and raised in China, Yihan is very passionate about bridging the gaps of communication and facilitating culture and economic relations between China and the U.S. In her free time, she plays the piano with chamber music groups and orchestra.

Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., Entrepreneurship Associate

 

Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. plays a leading role in the day-to-day management of many of the RTPark’s newly launched programs, with the goal of strengthening the brand of the RTPark. 

Prior to joining the RTPark, Alfonso consulted in healthcare operations as a Lean Six Sigma practitioner for about 10 years at International Capital and Management Company (ICMC).  In his time at ICMC, he delivered an array of work for healthcare clients, which include facilitating rapid improvement events, delivering lean six sigma workforce training, implementing lean daily management systems, and new business development.  He also designed an internal talent development program for local USVI college graduate talent at ICMC.  Alfonso is a native of St. Croix, USVI and graduated from the University of the Virgin Islands with a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Mathematics.


Interns

 

Rex Cazaubon III, IT Intern

Rex is a freshman at the University of the Virgin Islands who has an interest in Information Technology.

Rex is the RTPark’s resident IT specialist and supports the team in business attraction research, as well.

 

Fellows

 

Alison Christiansen

Alison Christiansen is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Policy from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. Alison previously earned a Bachelor of Science and Engineering in Computer Science from the University of Michigan in 2014. She then worked as a software engineer in California at a startup and then at Google. Alison is interested in the intersection of technology and public policy, especially how government needs to evolve to address the unique challenges of an increasingly technical world. 

Mariatu Santiago

Mariatu Santiago is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Policy from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. Mariatu previously earned a BA in International Relations from American University in December 2015. After that, she worked at a think tank in Washington, DC where she wrote articles on numerous topics, her writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Slate, New America's weekly publication, and the Pacific Standard. She hopes to continue her work studying the implications of information and technology on public policy. 

Mengqing Kan

Mengqing Kan is a graduate student at the University of Michigan, School for Environment and Sustainability. She studies Environmental Policy and Sustainable System. Her interests are in Circular Economy, Climate Economics, and Sustainable Business.

Mengqing Kan is a Sustainability Fellow at RTPark and supports the team in sustainable technology transformation and commercialization program development.

Bryan Redden

Bryan Redden is a Sustainability Fellow at the RTPark; working on research related to sustainability sectors such as sustainable agriculture.

He is a recent graduate of the University of Michigan with a Master’s Degree in Environment & Sustainability, his concentration being Environmental Justice. He is interested in involving marginalized populations in decision-making processes to ensure that all parties benefit from sustainable development. He enjoys ultimate frisbee, documentaries, and traveling  throughout the U.S.

 

Client Testimonials

There are many unique treasures to living here. I’ve discovered a passion for mountain biking. My children have learned to sail. With a small community, you get to know people quickly. We found they went out of their way to make us feel welcome. When considering the move, a top concern was the children’s education. We found a quality school our kids love, with a dedicated faculty. In fairness there is an adjustment period. You learn to navigate island life, master shipping logistics, get to know a new culture, and take in some of the most beautiful ocean views in the world.

David Thompson, Exigo

In January 2012 my business was underway as a Tech Park entity. It has been a wonderful seven years. The Tech Park has always been supportive, easy to do business with, and is making a positive impact on the islands. The Tech Park organization is professional and efficient. They have created a friendly business environment that has been a pleasure to work within and a great experience overall. I would encourage any eligible entity to consider joining us in the Tech Park.

Louise Stapleton, LNL Publishing

Our firm, The RainTree Group, came into the UVI RT Park program in 2018.  We didn't have much experience in the USVI and followed the advice of the wonderful RT Park staff and other RT Park tenants.  The application process was transparent and straightforward.   The simple concept of the Park is mutual benefit - your company gets some tax incentives that allows you to grow your business more quickly and the USVI and UVI gets additional tax base, employment opportunities, and scholarships for deserving students.  The business environment and life in the USVI is slower paces and less stressful as the mainland, and without question the biggest business hurdle is communications, so find an office location where you have investigated the broadband options. Come and join us, you won't regret it!

James Salter, VosCom dba The RainTree Group

We have been part of the RT-Park program for almost three years now.  The application process was straight forward and we had plenty of dialogue and feedback prior to our approval.  My only regret is we didn’t do this sooner.  It is satisfying  knowing that we are partners with UVI and enabling the education of the next generation .  We also love living in the USVI.  People are warm and welcoming and the pace of life is amazing healthy.  Most days it feels like a working vacation.

Andy Hemmert, President , HRMT, LLC