Home>What We Do>Our Staff

We’re a small but mighty team that has a passion for small business. Our team is driven by your success. Nothing gives us greater pleasure than seeing your business idea come to life. We’re proud to be part of your entrepreneurial journey and provide the best resources available to help make your startup successful.

Barbara McKenzie

Barbara McKenzie

Chief Executive Officer

Barbara is our Chief Executive Officer and brings over 30 years of experience as an entrepreneur, innovator, and leader to the team in non-profit, corporate, and government environments. She has a background in marketing, communications, business development, fund development, and international business. At Business Link, her goal is to lead a team of professionals who provide client service excellence and support Alberta entrepreneurs in growing and diversifying our economy both locally and globally. Barbara is passionate about work/life balance and uses her “life” time to enjoy her time with her husband, step-kids and furry children at their lake cabin, camping and time spent outdoors in summer and winter, as well as reading, photography, and volunteering in her community to support organizations like the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton.

Meagan Oyejide

Administrative Coordinator

Meagan brings her lifelong love of administration and passion for small businesses to the Administrative Coordinator role. She handles the day to day office tasks like supply orders event bookings, and a little bit of everything in between to keep things running smoothly. She has also won multiple Administrator of the Year Awards!

Meagan is a new mom and wife, and grew up all over Canada. In her spare time, Meagan enjoys spending time with her family by going to the park, mall or other fun events!

Kari Morton

Director, Business Support Services

As Director, Business Support Services, Kari leads a team in building and providing services and resources that will help Albertan entrepreneurs and small business owners build, run and grow their business. This includes market research services and educational programs. One of her main passions is market research and helping clients to discover new sources of information. She also enjoys working on projects to help Business Link run like a well-oiled machine.

When Kari isn’t out enjoying live theatre or exploring the world, you’ll find her with her nose in a novel or volunteering with Village Goods. Her dream business would be a bookstore!

Barry Yewchuk

Market Research Coordinator

Barry is part of our research team, always with his eyes on the ball, finding tidbits of small business information to help clients succeed.

When he steps away from a computer (depending on the season), you will find him chasing small objects like golf balls and pucks. Barry also looks forward to finding new beaches, beers, Malbecs, and music.

Linda Griffioen

Education Programs Coordinator

Linda is a lifelong entrepreneur with a passion for helping people start and grow their business ventures. Her passion for “all things small business” shines through whether she’s facilitating a workshop or coaching a client. Throughout her career she has acted as a consultant, mentor and advisor to thousands of entrepreneurs in her roles as Entrepreneur in Residence for Futurpreneur Canada and Business Advisor with BDC.

Her passions include golf, skiing and volunteering as a Company Program advisor with Junior Achievement of Southern Alberta.

Yoyin Familusi

Director, Small Business Strategists

Yoyin loves listening to creative entrepreneurial ideas and is passionate about helping bring those ideas to life. She never wants any entrepreneur to feel alone in their journey. With over 15 years’ experience in business development, client services, and business planning, she brings diverse and invaluable experience to the team.

She thoroughly enjoys facilitating workshops and watching eyes light up when new knowledge hits home.

She is an avid reader who loves the smell of new books!

Audrey Allotey

Team Lead, Small Business Strategist

Audrey is a champion for entrepreneurs in Alberta. She is passionate about providing the necessary guidance and assistance to see entrepreneurs and businesses move from one stage of their business development to the next. She is experienced in business development processes, international business, economic development in social and natural resources, and Agri-food business. She successfully launched and operated a line of food products in her home country of Ghana that gave her valuable insights into the entrepreneurial world. With her experience combined with her education MBA – International business, she provides expert advice and guidance into the business world.

Audrey believes strongly in building meaningful relationships on every level and encourages other entrepreneurs to keep learning and remain persistent. She says, “persistence is the key to unlocking our potential.”

When Audrey isn’t out globetrotting, you can find her snuggled on the couch unwinding from her day with a cup of tea and a slice of cake watching Friends.

David Bayda

Small Business Strategist

David provides exceptional client service leadership, collaborates with an amazing team, and offers one-on-one guidance and advice to entrepreneurs. He has extensive business knowledge covering areas like startup planning, trend research, Business Model Canvas, marketing, crowdfunding, event planning, and strategic growth. David also loves innovation and has experience in product design, intellectual property and tech. If you need creative ideas, he can brainstorm with you!

David’s past startup experience includes running his own handyman business. He is also actively involved in various community initiatives, social causes, and always has an invention on the go!

Frank El Baraqouni

Small Business Strategist

Frank has extensive knowledge and experience working in the financial and banking industry. He provided consultancy services from large companies to mid/small sized businesses.

Frank is always excited to listen to new business ideas and support entrepreneurs to get their businesses started. He enjoys guiding customers and offering them all the support needed to see them succeed with their businesses.

In his free time, he enjoys watching sports and learning about other cultures. He also loves travelling to warm destinations whenever he gets the chance to explore the world.

Mark Shields

Small Business Strategist

Mark is a Business Strategist who approaches issues with a diverse background and wealth of experience. His business pursuits have included yoga instruction and event creation and promotion. He has studied accounting and history academically, and sits as the treasurer for both the Major Minor Music Project and Calgary Can. Prior to joining Business Link he helped plan, execute and operate the emergeHUB economic development project in east Calgary where he worked directly with growing businesses and was drawn to the problem-solving inherent in entrepreneurship. Mark is fundamentally motivated by the opportunity to build communities by facilitating interactions, which is an action at the heart of any business.

Matt Hill

Small Business Strategist

Matt Hill is our Business Strategist covering Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, and all the rural communities of Southern Alberta. Based in Brooks, he is perfectly placed to reach entrepreneurs throughout the region. Matt trained as a theatre teacher in the UK and he worked in London schools for seven years before making the leap into entrepreneurship. Matt started a specialist cleaning business in London, growing from a one-man business to become a trusted partner of universities and real estate companies. He is passionate about helping entrepreneurs looking to start small and test ideas before scaling up their business operations.

Matt moved to Canada in September 2017 and enjoys living in Southern Alberta. He has loved becoming part of the community in Brooks. He’s a season ticket holder for the National Junior A Champions Brooks Bandits, although he admits that most of the time he doesn’t really understand what is happening! As a volunteer he enjoys organizing the Brooks Food Trucks community events, he loves the fact that it brings so many people downtown to share food, company, and fun.

Maureen Easton

Small Business Strategist 

Maureen Easton is a Small Business Strategist that supports business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs in the Central Alberta region. Currently living in Red Deer, she is a support and resource to the rural communities and entrepreneurs in the central region. Maureen’s background has focused on economic and business development, entrepreneur assistance and support, and incubator management. Supporting ideas, strategies, workplans, and projects are just a few of her top skills. As a passionate and intuitive people person, her ability to connect people is an asset to the clients and communities she serves. Maureen delivers a personalized approach to supporting, guiding, coaching, and loves seeing the passion and drive come to life in entrepreneurs.

Outside of worktime, Maureen enjoys time at the lake, connecting with friends or just hanging out with her husband, children and grandson for some quality family time.

Jean-Jacques Mitakaro

Coordinator, Immigrant Entrepreneurship Program & Small Business Strategist (Bilingual English-French)

Jean-Jacques brings to our team a wide array of expertise in for-profit business, non-profit/charity, social enterprise, and immigrant entrepreneurship to help entrepreneurs of all backgrounds successfully start and take their ventures to the next level.

His other areas of interest include nonprofit board governance and engagement, charity status registration, strategic planning, volunteer management, event planning, fund development, and translation.

Jean-Jacques is a networking geeky nerd and a volunteer enthusiast! When he’s not networking, you’ll find him volunteering his time to local and international causes, and spending time with family.

If there’s time left over, you’ll find him playing and coaching kids or watching or playing his favorite sports, soccer, basketball, and cycling.

April McHardy

April-Marie McHardy

Business Support Officer

April-Marie brings to the team a passion for digital marketing, social entrepreneurship, and the desire to help others. As a recent Bachelor of Commerce graduate from MacEwan University, she loves everything about marketing, which is why she made it her major. In the past, she has worked heavily with others in the community through youth-lead organizations or collaborated with locals to make business ideas come to fruition.

When she is not in the office helping clients, she is probably online over-analyzing some musical artist’s marketing strategy, rock climbing, or most often annoying others with updates on her houseplants.

Hassan Mulji

Hassan Mulji

Business Support Officer

Hassan Mulji is a recent graduate from the University of Alberta with a background in Accounting. He strives to empower entrepreneurs by challenging them to think creatively about their situations. He enjoys the opportunity to help entrepreneurs succeed and is a firm believer in Alberta’s entrepreneurship ecosystem. Hassan is always willing to take the time and ensure each individual feels comfortable and confident throughout their journey.

Hassan is always in the market for hiking, book, and restaurant recommendations!

Holly Atjecoutay

Director, Indigenous Business Services

Holly is Cree and Saulteaux from Cowessess First Nation in Treaty 4 Saskatchewan, but calls Treaty 7 and Mohkinstsis (Calgary) her home. As the Director, Indigenous Business Services at Business Link Alberta, she relies heavily on her fabulous team to provide assistance to Indigenous entrepreneurs in Alberta regarding the startup and expansion of their small businesses, connecting them to helpful resources while also providing guidance.

The Indigenous Services team facilitates workshops, hosts Indigenous-focused events, provides specific programming for Indigenous entrepreneurs and small businesses, and builds meaningful relationships in both rural and urban Indigenous communities. Holly guides the team to success, maintains important relationships and collaboration with partners, and ensures that every First Nations and Metis community in Alberta is aware of the services that we offer.

In her spare time Holly enjoys reading, writing, and collecting books, watching murder mysteries and going to the movie theater, is a fashion enthusiast, and also authors a blog on the Indigenous Woman’s Identity. Holly believes the art of storytelling and communication is one of the key factors in building a strong business. Holly is a mother to a young daughter, and reinforces the importance of pride and resilience in her First Nations heritage and culture.

Jenine Campbell-Cove

Indigenous Business Strategist

Representing the Treaty 8 territory Jenine is proudly Indigenous and extremely passionate about her culture. Her goal with Business Link Indigenous Services, is to establish a network of internal business strategists within each community via our business training programs (ask us about it).

Being born and raised in the Grande Prairie area, Jenine is familiar with the resources available to rural areas, and the challenges that entrepreneurs face when they are not near urban centers. She takes pride in being a main point of contact for Indigenous entrepreneurs and connecting them with the available resources to overcome fears and challenges to accomplish their goals.

“My work is incredibly rewarding, to actually contribute positive impact within Indigenous Communities, while building long-lasting meaningful relationships, is actually what I do it for.”

Piinaakoyim Tailfeathers

Indigenous Business Strategist

Piinaakoyim is our Indigenous Business Strategist for southern Alberta and Treaty 7 south. He is passionate about providing Indigenous entrepreneurs with the resources and support they need to be successful. In such a fast-paced industry new challenges are likely to arise, however, he believes with new challenges come new opportunities!

He earned his Bachelor’s degree from the Dhillon School of Business and also attained a postgraduate certificate from Harvard Business School. He is a member of The Blood Tribe, which is one of the four tribes in the Blackfoot Confederacy and also the largest tribe in Canada. His family has always believed in the value of hard work, and determination, he believes through hard work anything is possible.

When he is not at the office you might find Piinaakoyim playing sports or spending quality time with his beautiful little family.

April Massie

Indigenous Business Strategist

Representing the Treaty 6 territory April, was born and raised in Red Deer, Alberta and earned her Bachelor of Business Degree from Mount Royal University. She is a proud member of the Metis Nation of Alberta, and her objective is to connect Indigenous entrepreneurs to valuable resources to aid in their overall success. She is caring and passionate about her work and hopes to help as many people as possible.

In her spare time, she can be found spending time with her family and enjoying the outdoors picking rocks and collecting herbs. April is eager to learn new things and is excited to be joining the Business Link AB team.

Perry Kocis

Indigenous Procurement Program Coordinator

Perry is our Indigenous Procurement Program Coordinator who supports an increase in successful participation of Indigenous businesses in the Government of Canada’s procurement processes. While building awareness of this program with information sessions, Perry is the first point of contact with Indigenous businesses seeking business support, identifying those that are ‘procurement ready’ and connecting them with opportunities for Federal contracts.

Perry has worked in the oil and gas sector for 27 years as an Aboriginal Supply Chain Specialist with 10+ years’ experience in supply chain management systems and contract management. While working for industry, Perry has worked closely building relationships with approximately 130 First Nations and Métis communities across Canada.

Perry is a proud member of the Hollow Water First Nation located in Manitoba and presently makes his home in Airdrie, AB. Perry is married with 3 boys and while not traveling, he enjoys playing golf and spending time with his 2 granddaughters.

Shay Bachelet

Director, Marketing & Communications

Shay Bachelet believes in what Business Link does in supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs and is excited about being able to communicate that with the world. She attended the University of Alberta, graduating with a BSc in nutrition. Since graduation, she’s worked in research, started her own wellness consulting business, managed an interactive marketing team, and eventually found herself on the marketing team at Business Link after utilizing some of the resources and services that the organization had to offer while running her business.

Outside of work, Shay volunteers for the Momentum Walk-In Counselling society on the events committee – helping them with marketing, volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters, and organizes and facilitates community mindfulness classes to promote mental wellness and reduce urban isolation.

Joette Forcier

Marketing & Events Coordinator

Joette is passionate about events, relationship building, creating an extraordinary guest experience, warm hospitality and attention to detail. She brings many years of experience in customer service, hospitality, fundraising, business development and event planning to the team.

When Joette is out of the office she enjoys a few quiet moments to unplug while teaching meditation, practicing yoga or simply taking the time to get outside for a walk. And when the quiet time is over, you will find Joette and her husband at local festivals and events, enjoying time with their nieces, sharing a unique dining experience with friends or spending time with their rowdy chocolate lab Buster.

Kari Pedersen

Marketing Coordinator

Kari is passionate about the #YYCLocal community, helping clients transform their dreams into realities and creating successful collaborative relationships. She comes to Business Link with a background in public relations and event management. Working with Business Link sparks a drive in Kari because of her love for local business and supporting entrepreneurs with a dream. Kari completed her Bachelor of Communications majoring in Journalism at Mount Royal University in 2016 and holds a Fashion Marketing diploma from Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Vancouver, BC. After graduating, Kari started her own marketing and branding consulting business where her passion and knowledge of supporting entrepreneurs continued to grow.

While out of the office, she enjoys binging TV shows with her partner and their pup, Koko. Kari also enjoys shopping in East Village and exploring the Calgary coffee scene with friends, and Koko, along for the ride. Keep an eye out for her exploring other cities as she loves to travel as often as possible.

Sarah Parrotta

Sarah Parrotta

Marketing Coordinator

Sarah has worked closely with many local businesses in Edmonton over the years, and is excited to bring those experiences to the Business Link team. A graduate of the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing, Sarah is passionate about community and connection building and supporting entrepreneurs and small business owners in her community.

Sarah’s weekends are spent discovering Edmonton’s best coffee shops and food spots, finding a new podcast to binge, teaching a cycle class or rock climbing. You’ll find her taking a drive out to the mountains for some fresh air or traveling somewhere new whenever she can.

Marissa Schmidt

Partnerships and Sponsorships Manager

Marissa is a strong advocate for the small business community and understands the tremendous importance of small business to our economy. She believes that supporting the entrepreneurs in our communities is the key to seeing our province through difficult economic times. Marissa has a bachelor’s degree in marketing and has had the opportunity to work in a few different roles on our marketing team, including Marketing Coordinator, Marketing Manager, and her current position.

Outside of work, Marissa spends as much of her time as possible with her family, including her young daughter, her dog Kona, and her husband. She also enjoys movies, reading, sewing, and frequenting Edmonton’s amazing small shops, local restaurants, and outdoor festivals.

Madison Zayak

Web Designer

Madison is the Designer on our Business Link team who is passionate about all things design including UX/UI, graphic, interior, and landscape design. With a Design education from MacEwan University and a vast array of experience from working with small local businesses to a large financial institution, Madison is always ready to jump into any project she is given. As a strong believer in the power of diversity, inclusion and empathy, Madison hopes to find a connection with everyone she meets and would love to chat with you about your ideas, ongoing projects or future plans.

Outside of the office, you can find Madison planning a new DIY project, taking photos for friends and family, or relaxing at home with her partner and 2 dogs.

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Aaron Sun

Digital Analyst

Aaron joined our team at Business Link as a summer student. He is currently finishing up his diploma in IT Business Analyst, Digital Media and IT at NAIT. With his current position as a Database Administrator on the market research team, Aaron is able to provide valuable resources and information that entrepreneurs need to be successful in their start-up venture.

If you recognize him at dog parks, in the mountains, or on a soccer field, feel free to strike a conversation with him about your business ideas, he would be more than happy to connect you with the right person!

Lori Todd

Controller

Lori has a firm grip on our company’s finance, administration, facilities, and information technology (hence the title!). Lori has extensive experience in payroll, accounting, operations, human resources and facility management, after spending 12 years as the Northern Alberta Administration Manager for an International Company based here in Edmonton.

In her home life, when she’s not collecting eggs and chasing chickens, she loves to garden, and enjoys putting her creative spin on renovation projects!

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