Who We Are & What We Do
Our Mission Statement
The Talent Business Alliance supports local businesses at every stage of development. We foster a thriving and equitable business environment. We offer technical assistance, networking, marketing, and advocacy to create social and economic opportunities that expand the vitality of the community of Talent.
Vision for the Future
The Talent Business Alliance envisions a healthy and livable community where residents and stakeholders are empowered to build sustainable family wealth through small business ownership and a local supportive network.
“El Mercadito has been a success so far and we are grateful for the sponsorship and support of Talent Business Alliance that has allowed us to fund cultural events that center Latinx and BIPOC community."
Erica Ledesma, Coalicion Fortaleza
The Talent Business Alliance (TBA) of Talent, Oregon has been active since 2005 (formerly the Talent Chamber of Commerce). After a period of volunteer inactivity due to COVID-19, a new board reactivated TBA in the spring of 2022 and is working to support the small business and nonprofit community in Talent, Oregon.
Talent lost 60% of our businesses in the Almeda Fire, and the remaining 40% (mostly small businesses) are struggling in the wake of incredible losses from the fire and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Talent Business Alliance is building connections among local business owners, supporting their access to financial aid and business grants, increasing the customer base, and providing technical assistance to support the recovery of the business community.
Board of Directors
Darby Ayers-Flood, President
Darby Ayers-Flood serves as the volunteer Board President for the Talent Business Alliance. Darby has been a board member since March of 2022. Her passion for small scale manufacturing, micro-enterprise and emerging entrepreneurship drives her interest in business and business ownership. Darby was formerly a Regional Operations Manager for a hotel and commercial development company, and is currently a Business Development Specialist. Darby has also been a small business owner. Her recent business burned in the fire but the platform was sold post fire and still operates today. Darby’s experience with business at all levels and her lived experience losing a business in the fire, brings focus for the Talent Business Alliance, and helps lead TBA’s mission to provide support for economic revitalization.
Celines Garcia [she/her] is a first-generation Xicana whose parents have contributed to maintaining the largest local economic industries in the Rogue Valley such as agriculture and forestry. She is bilingual and bicultural and graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in General Social Science with a focus in crime, law and society and two minors in legal studies and business administration. She comes to Coalición Fortaleza with a fierce passion to lead the recovery and advocacy efforts as well as is equipped to advocate for her community and push forward our communities needs, priorities and demands. Prior to doing community organizing, Celines served as a Social Worker for the State of Oregon and understands the intricacies of policies at the state, we know will fortify her efforts to advance our mission. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with loved ones, exploring the outdoors, and taking care of her houseplants.
Kimber is owner / brewer of Talent’s First Brewery: Art Bop Beer Co. She has a Philosophy Degree in Business Ethics. She takes moral responsibility in business and sustainable practices very seriously as it cares first for the people and the planet.
Kimber moved to Southern Oregon in 2009 and started managing a custom jewelry and bead store on Main Street in Ashland. She spent 12 years on Main Street helping multiple businesses excel. She joined an Art Collective in Talent the week she arrived in Southern Oregon and always hoped to form a business there. Being a business owner in Talent is a dream come true!
Kimber coordinates the Art Residencies at Art Bop, is lead artist, lead gardener and co-brews with her partner/husband Dave.
She enjoys volunteering for the Talent Public Arts Committee and raising money for the local Animal Shelter, “F.O.T.A.S.”
In her free time, she is a singer/ songwriter, swimmer, and hiker. Her favorite days off are hitting the trails with her husband and two chihuahuas. Kimber looks forward to her future as board member with the TBA.
Eleanor Ponomareff, Secretary
Eleanor (she/her) is currently serving her second term on the Talent City Council, and was Council President from 2021 through 2022. She also serves on the Rogue Valley Council of Governments’ Senior Advisory Council (RVCOG-SAC), the Rogue Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization (RVMPO) Policy Committee, and the Rogue Valley Area Commission on Transportation (RVACT). A software engineer by profession, Eleanor’s volunteer interests include environmental justice, affordable housing, and transportation solutions that support safer and healthier communities for folks of all ages and abilities. Eleanor joined the TBA board in 2022.
Awna Zegzdryn, Treasurer
Awna is the owner of Sweet Beet Station, a thriving breakfast/lunch restaurant in Talent, Oregon. She has lived in Southern Oregon since 1998, when she moved from Alaska to pursue her degree in Technical Writing at Southern Oregon University. Prior to owning the restaurant, she was the owner of AZ Catering & Event Planning, and has worked with numerous non-profits in the area on large-scale events. She is dedicated to helping Talent's business community thrive and is the proud co-coordinator of the Talent Craft Crawl. Because she always enjoys a challenge, she is also the co-owner of Black Lab Co. Soaps & Sundries, a micro-enterprise also based in Talent, Oregon. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and camping with her partner and two black labs and exploring all that Southern Oregon has to offer.
Meet the Staff Team
Colette Pare-Miller serves as the Administrative Coordinator for the Talent Business Alliance. After graduating from college, Colette moved back to the Rogue Valley and began her work in the nonprofit sector, beginning at the Family Nurturing Center in Medford. Colette joined the Talent Business Alliance in 2022, and has been working to support Talent's small businesses community since then. Colette's education includes a BA in Research Psychology from Mills College. Colette also serves on the city council for the City of Talent and as the vice-chair for the Talent Urban Renewal Agency.
Outreach Network Specialist
Nica Vano has over 20 years of experience specializing in marketing, advertising, web development, data analytics, and business strategy. With a graduate school GPA of 3.87, she successfully elevated a local business's annual revenue to $22 million from under $10 million through innovative and effective business strategies with a tight marketing budget. Currently, she has transitioned to the nonprofit sector, where she is bringing her expertise to the table to drive impact.