Marlene O'Connell  |  Membership & Development Director

Email: Marlene@retailbakersofamerica.org
Marlene O’Connell joined the Retail Bakers of America as Membership and Development Director in April 2016.  Marlene brings a strong background in data management, development and relationship marketing.  In the recent past, she has worked with the Concordia University Chicago Foundation in Annual Giving and Operations. Prior to that, she was with S&H Citadel/Carlson Marketing Group an incentive marketing company.  While there, Marlene helped develop and manage incentive and loyalty programs for a variety of clients. 

Marissa Sertich Velie  |  Certification Coordinator

Email: Marissa@RetailBakersofAmerica.org
Marissa Sertich Velie is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America in Baking & Pastry Arts. She also earned her Master’s Degree in Food Studies at New York University, where she focused her research on culture and gender in the professional kitchen.  Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Velie began her career working for James Beard Award-Winning Chef Joanne Chang at Flour Bakery in Boston and later served as pastry chef at The Castle on the Hudson in Tarrytown, as well as The Roundhouse at Beacon Falls in Beacon, NY.  Most recently, she worked as both a food writer and adjunct professor. At The Culinary Institute of America she taught Baking Ingredients & Equipment Technology, as well as Gastronomy.  Her food writing can be found in publications such as SeriousEats.com, The Huffington Post, The Oxford Companion to Cheese, and The Valley Table. She was the recipient of the Julia Child Foundation Writing Fellowship with SeriousEats.comand her scholarly work is quoted in NYU Department Chair Krishnendu Ray’s most recent book, The Ethnic Restauranteur, where she discusses the greater importance of women’s clothing in masculine professions and how women perform gender in the professional kitchen.​

Lynn Schurman, CD  |  Education Director

Email: Lynn@retailbakersofamerica.org
Lynn is from Cold Spring, MN and co-owns the Cold Spring Bakery with her husband, Dale, and brother-in-law, Brian. The bakery was established in 1946 by Dale's parents and presently includes one retail location and 4 wholesale routes which focus on serving small supermarkets.  Lynn has always had a passion for education and has served on her local school board for over 28 years. She has an undergraduate degree in psychology and a masters in counseling. Lynn focuses on providing the education program for All Things Baking, IBIE and works with the New York and New Jersey affiliates to provide programing at the Atlantic Bakery Expo. She also coordinates the Creative Decorating Competition. 




Bernadette Shanahan-Haas  |  Director of Operations

Email: bernadette@retailbakersofamerica.org
​Bernadette Shanahan-Haas stepped into the role of Director of Operations for the Retail Bakers of America in February of 2013. Bernadette comes to the RBA with a strong background in organizational management, marketing, and development. Over the past 15 years, she has worked with companies of all sizes including national destinations and regional economic institutions. Most recently, Bernadette has worked as the Fundraising/Marketing Director with the Children’s Museum in Oak Lawn, as well as the Executive Director of the Professional Women’s Network for the Chicago Southland. 

Paul Sapienza  |  Director of Finance

Email: psapienza@retailbakersofamerica.org
Paul is from Elmont, N.Y. and is the second generation in the baking industry. In 1973 he took over a retail bakery from his parents, which also had a wholesale division manufacturing Italian pastries. The retail store is managed by his wife, Roseanne, and son, Andrew. In 2007, Paul merged the wholesale business with the Brooklyn Cannoli Company which continues to manufacture under the Sapienza Pastry label. Paul also served as past president of the New York State Association of Manufacturing Retail Bakers. He holds an undergraduate degree in Accounting.