WATERVILLE — Pardon the Innovation is set for 5-8 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, at Thomas College in the Spann Student Commons Summit Room, 180 West River Road. This event, hosted by Thomas College’s Harold Alfond Institute for Business Innovation, KV Connect and Cynergy, is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be provided, according to a news release from MacKenzie Riley, assistant director of media relations at the college.

Five entrepreneur panelists will provide a 15 to 20 minute “Ted Talk Style” presentation on innovative ways their businesses are facing challenges in today’s market, i.e. developing online communities, adapting to new ways to connect with consumers, product development, and thinking for tomorrow and not just today in brand/business development.

Attendees can visit with the entrepreneurs at the end of the event to ask more directed questions.

Featured entrepreneurs include Hoa Hoang, Hoang Realty founder and broker; Alex Serra, Serra Public Affairs founder and principal; Kyle Poissonnier, Catalyst for Change founder; Tobias Parkhurst, co-founder of Cushnoc Brewing; and James Morin, COO of FlowFold.

Hoang has been a full-time realtor for 14 years. She is originally from Saigon, South Vietnam, and is fluent in Vietnamese. Hoang is the youngest of six children; her family immigrated to Sidney in 1975 with the help of Charles Priest, an Augusta attorney, and his wife Peggy. She has lived and worked in the central Maine area for most of her life. She also spent approximately 10 years in Northport, where she worked for MBNA Bank after graduating from the University of Maine with a bachelor of science degree in business management. In 1978, her family purchased a home on Chapel Street in Augusta from Charles and Peggy Priest. She believes this was a pivotal point in her life because her family was able to establish some roots”and obtain their American dream. She still owns that home today, and she is passionate about assisting others in obtaining their own American dream.

Over the last 20 years, Serra has gained expertise in all areas of public affairs. In her time as director of public affairs and government relations in the Northern New England region for a Fortune 50 company, she coordinated numerous initiatives ranging from targeted nonprofit giving programs to local governmental outreach initiatives, to state legislative efforts. Serra began as a registered lobbyist in Maine in 2006, has worked on a variety of successful campaigns in Maine and New York and is a former television news reporter and assignment desk editor. In her time at a PR firm, she gained experience in multi-media messaging and strategic campaign management.


Poissonnier grew up in Smithfield and attended Husson University, where he graduated with a degree in business. In fact, Poissonnier is the youngest person to be inducted into the Husson Hall of Fame.

Morin, a Maine native and 2010 UMaine alum, started his sales career at a fortune 500 medical device company. From there, he joined a Portland-based startup specialty pharmaceutical company that raised $60M in fundraising and sold for $200M in 2016. Following the acquisition, Morin joined Flowfold full time, a company he’s been affiliated with since college, as COO and President of Sales. Flowfold is a startup retail company making lifestyle bags, packs, and accessories for the outdoor industry and is based out of Portland.

Parkhurst earned his bachelor of arts degree at the University of Hartford and for 10 years traveled the world as a professional skateboarder. He returned to Maine in 2008 and is now the president of Oakes & Parkhurst Glass. Since 2009 he has bought and refurbished three Water Street historical buildings and enticed two successful restaurants downtown. He is also the landlord and a partner in Cushnoc Brewing Co., which opened in late 2017.

For more information, visit thomas.edu or contact Riley at [email protected] or 859-1313.

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