Our Board

Michele J. Gaines

Board Member

Prior to owning and operating Jackson Gaines, Michele’s professional work experience included grant writing, negotiating federal contracts, preparation of individual and business taxes and preparing clients for that IRS tax audit. Michele also operated federally funded employment and training programs as Executive Director and CEO for Federal Training Agencies with OIC, the Urban League and the Broward Economic Development Corporation.

Lateshya Ellis


Lateshya is a serial entrepreneur and a well-respected Business and Relationship coach. She and her husband James own multiple businesses in Western PA. She is committed to providing mentorship and development support to entrepreneurs and small businesses in the Pittsburgh area.

Ben Contrucci

Board Treasurer

Ben is the Chief Financial Officer of SSB Bank in McCandless, PA. He is an experienced professional with over a decade of service in the financial industry. He is committed to providing development support to small businesses in the Pittsburgh area.

Rhonda Carson Leach

Board Member & Chair of Finance Committee

Rhonda is the Senior Program Director of the University Pittsburgh's Entrepreneurial Fellows Center, Membership and the Urban & Community Entrepreneurship Program. Her professional experience makes her an asset to the Axiom board and to its mission.