Meet our team!
Our team has a passion for small business, and we are driven by your success. We’re here to help bring your business idea to life! We’re proud to be part of your entrepreneurial journey and provide the best resources available to help make your startup successful.
Paul is passionate about public service and believes in the power of community. As Executive Director of Business Link, he is dedicated to promoting and developing entrepreneurship and small business in Alberta.
His eclectic career covers a 15-year stint on Bay Street as a corporate banker and a venture capital and private equity investor, 5 years leading a technology transfer office and creating an early-stage company creation incubator at the University of Calgary, and a 11 year spell co-founding and leading a medical device product development and manufacturing company in Calgary. Prior to joining Business Link, Paul served as Interim President and CEO of a public-listed medical device company, where he also currently serves as Board Chairman. In addition to all this, Paul has also been an independent corporate director on the boards of directors of over 35 companies and organizations for more than 25 years, including public-listed (NASDAQ, TSX, TSVX) companies, private companies, a crown corporation, and several not-for profits and associations.
Paul was born and raised in Toronto. He completed his undergraduate degree in engineering at Queen’s University, followed by his MBA in finance and strategy at Schulich School of Business. Paul also holds the ICD.D designation from Rotman School of Management, specializing in corporate governance. Paul moved to Calgary in 2004 to be closer to family and the Rocky Mountains, where he enjoys hiking, mountain and road biking, downhill and cross-country skiing, golf, canoeing & (most recently) building things out of wood.
Director, Operations & Client Services
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.
Kolby is a Digital Analyst who has a passion for helping other entrepreneurs achieve their own business goals. While completing his Bachelor of Business Degree in Kamloops, Kolby launched his first crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter.com which was successfully backed by over 100 people from 8 different countries. Since then, Kolby has continued to apply his interest in business. From creating multiple online stores, to working on his own fitness programs to sell online, Kolby constantly embraces an entrepreneurial spirit.
When Kolby is not working on business, you will probably find him hiking somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. He also enjoys mountain biking, snowboarding, and being outdoors.
Jean Jacques Mitakaro
Team Lead, Business Strategist
Jean Jacques brings to Business Link team a wide array of expertise in for-profit businesses, non-profits, charities, faith-based (religious) organizations, social enterprises, 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, charity status registration, policies and procedures, strategic planning, volunteer engagement, event planning, fund development, grant seeking, corporate sponsorship, and translation.
Jean Jacques is a networking geeky nerd and a volunteer enthusiast! When he is not networking, you will find him volunteering his time to local and international causes, and spending time with family and friends.
If there’s time left over, you will find him playing and coaching kids or watching or playing his favourite sports, soccer, basketball, and cycling.
Special interests: Not-for-Profits & Charities | Faith-based organizations | Cooperatives | Social Enterprise | Immigrant Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses
Team Lead, Business Strategist
Norma Jean Wolf Child has over 10 years experience assisting and guiding entrepreneurs in all stages of entrepreneurship and is excited to join Business Link to continue to serve indigenous entrepreneurs in Southern Alberta. Norma is a member of the Blood Tribe, which is part of the Treaty 7 territory and Blackfoot Confederacy. Norma Jean is a very enthusiastic individual and enjoys life’s adventures. Part of her spare time is spent on her Blackfoot Hills Honey and Crafts business, gardening, beekeeping, keeping chickens and now goats. She mostly enjoys spending time with her husband and three children as well as her mom, siblings, nieces, nephews, family and friends who are dear to her.
Team Lead, 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!
Special interests: Innovation | Intellectual Property | Design/Art
Frank El Baraqouni
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.
Special interests: Online Business | Financing | Food Services
Trina has moved to the Business Strategist team from our provincial Digital Services Squad. With a Bachelor of Fine Arts in New Media from the University of Lethbridge, Trina has a wealth of knowledge in digital communications across various industries from home building to professional organizing and everything in between. Her specialty lies in translating personalities to the digital space and loves working with dedicated small business owners who are ready to grow and thrive.
Jenny is passionate about entrepreneurship and helping small businesses in every stage of their journey by providing business expertise and valuable resources. She is happy to connect one-on-one with small business owners to help them grow their businesses. She specializes in digital marketing and online presence and offers one-on-one guidance to help entrepreneurs learn the necessary skills and knowledge when it comes to building a successful online business.
Jenny believes in making connections with everyone she meets. Her motto is to leave a little sparkle wherever she goes. When she isn’t thinking about new business ideas, you can find her working on her next creative project, designing, keeping her coding skills sharp, or creating new recipes in her kitchen.
Business & Market Research Strategist
In middle school, Carol had dreams of becoming a teacher, however; life decided to change her path and set her up on the road to self-employment. At 21, Carol was given the opportunity to purchase her hometown newspaper, where she had been employed for just under 6 months. “Taking that first step was terrifying” she said, “but life’s biggest regrets come from the opportunities we do not take.” Since then, Carol has owned and operated a gift store/flower shop, taxi service, and online import business; all in her hometown of Swan Hills, Alberta where she still resides with her husband Robyn and son Aaron. Carol is an avid volunteer in her community and loves reading and gardening. She looks forward to meeting and working with the many Alberta businesses and budding entrepreneurs who take advantage of the amazing small business resources provided by Business Link.
Robyn Soulier-Ritchot is a First Nations Oji-Cree Women from Treaty 1 Territory – Winnipeg, MB. Her band is Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation. Now residing on Treaty 7 Territory – Mohkinstsis (Calgary, AB). She comes to Business Link with an academic background in Indigenous Social Entrepreneurship and Health and Humans Services Management. She is also the creator and founder of Eagle Medicine.
Robyn is innovative, driven, and passionate about working in the community, and she believe helping entrepreneurs serves a bigger purpose than herself. She possesses a wealth of knowledge and understanding of Indigenous ways of knowing. She wants to create a space for people to feel welcomed and appreciated for their ideas and experiences. Her main focus is economic development for social good and uplifting entrepreneurs to strive and flourish within their business model.
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.
Manager, Canada Digital Adoption Program
Pat Guist is the Program Manager for the Canadian Digital Adoption Program (CDAP). Pat brings over 30 years’ experience in the banking industry and prior to starting with Business Link was a Business Coach and Mentor for start-up entrepreneurs with Community Futures Entre-Corp. During her time at Community Futures Entre-Corp, Pat managed self-employment training for start-up entrepreneurs and acted as training facilitator, social media manager, and funding manager for the Medicine Hat Business Innovation Grant. Pat has a strong understanding of supports available for Alberta entrepreneurs and is passionate about working with small businesses and entrepreneurs in Alberta.
When Pat is not working you’ll find her travelling to B.C. or Ontario to visit with her children and grandchildren. Family is her #1 priority.
Program Coordinator, Canada Digital Adoption Program
Jordan Hanna is a results-driven Métis business professional in Edmonton, Treaty 6 Territory and Métis Region 4. He has spent the last ten years of his career in business development in a variety of industries, both large and small, as well as non-profits.
Jordan holds a degree in commerce, international business, diplomas in management and marketing. He is a candidate for masters in global studies; however, has decided to pursue further career development and the immediate opportunity to help other businesses, in particular with the adoption of digital technology. He is specialized in consultive sales of digital services. Strategic and e-commerce applications, including Chinese digital marketing. Jordan particularly enjoys the process of collaborating with others (in person or virtually). As a leader of teams developing digital marketing, he also organizes strategies for approaching the Western and Chinese markets, resulting in a more enjoyable user experience, maximum sales opportunities and profits.
Program Coordinator, Canada Digital Adoption Program
Chandler Berardi is an entrepreneur with over 10 years of experience running her own music business. Graduating from Journalism and Digital Media, she has immersed herself in a variety of roles ranging from social/digital media marketing, academic administration, content creation and hospitality. Each of these experiences allowed Chandler to hone her storytelling and communication skills and resulted in a true passion for helping people. Being able to relate to fellow small business owners and having the opportunity to help them reach their goals, made accepting her role at Business Link a very easy decision. Chandler is beyond excited to be a part of a team that helps change people’s lives.
Outside of work, you can find Chandler singing (everywhere always), playing the guitar, writing music, reading thrillers, dancing (not well), obsessing over the Calgary food scene, and spending as much time outside as possible.
Digital Service Squad Member, Digital Economy Program
Tamona is from the Siksika Nation Reserve which is located on the Treaty 7 Territory which is also located on the Blackfoot Confederacy Territory. They currently have their Legal Assistant Diploma and have experience working in the courts with business law, civil law, and family law. However, Tamona also has experience with working with entrepreneurs across Southern Alberta and is currently obtaining a Law Degree.
Tamona is thrilled to be a part of Business Link Alberta and to learn new skills. Tamona is also passionate about their work and helping others succeed. They love to create new meaningful friendships with Alberta business owners, to help understand their needs better and to encourage them to keep going.
In Tamona’s spare time, they enjoy being active which includes running, working out and playing competitive hockey. Tamona also has 2 young children who are their world and when Tamona is not at work or at school they are with their kids all the time.
Digital Service Squad Member, Digital Economy Program
Diana’s entrepreneurial spirit runs deep, and she is thrilled to be able to share that passion for freedom with her clients through the Digital Service Squad at Business Link. Though Diana’s background is in Kinesiology, she operated a successful mobile dog grooming business in Grande Prairie, AB and is currently operating a new multi-disciplinary clinic.
Diana has been in Grande Prairie for 10 years and is absolutely in love with the wild boreal forest surrounding this remote, northern city. When she’s not in the forest or at the office(s), you can find her playing Dungeons and Dragons, planning her next overseas adventure, or crocheting.
Program Coordinator, ANZA
Emi is passionate about assisting or helping people in their social interactions. That’s why she spares no effort to re-establishing broken ties or connections through entrepreneurship, English/French mediation, or translation. She thinks that people are amazing and she enjoys meeting new ones, learning their stories and culture, and having the opportunity to share hers with them. Her motto is: always see the brightness of the day even when it’s dull.
When she is not connecting with people at events, running to discover a new cultural park or place, or just hanging out with a senior, she likes rewarding her senses with a good glass of red wine for Friday chill!
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.
Director, Finance and Administration
Lori has a firm grip on Business Link’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.
At home, Lori and her husband Dave own a piece of land where they have loads of animals, including horses, African geese, pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, and the very popular “fainting” goats. Lori also loves to garden and enjoys putting her creative spin on renovation projects.
Brittany has experience in extensive experience with Administrative and Operations roles, starting in 2012. Being relatively new at Business Link, Brittany is excited to expand her knowledge with Human Resources, Finance, and the day to day operations of Business Link.
Outside of work, Brittany can be found spending time with her Husband, Son, and dogs on her acreage. If you ever can’t find her, she is typically at a Book Store or a Library on weekends. She has a passion for cooking and baking, and is always trying out new recipes for her family and friends to enjoy.
Sheldon joined Business Link in April 2022. Before becoming an integral part of Business Link, he held the position of Finance and Administration Manager for thirteen years with a non-profit charitable organization that had national and international affiliations. He was responsible for all the organization’s financial operations; including but not limited to all aspects of accounting, grant administration, benefits and payroll administrator, tax reporting, and development of financial policies and procedures.
Sheldon attended post-secondary studies in Lethbridge, graduating with honours and earning a Business Management Accounting Major designation. Prior to receiving his post-secondary education, he worked for twenty years as an adolescent counsellor/supervisor in a provincially-funded social services youth treatment facility. In addition to his employment history, he also created and enjoyed several small business ventures including personal tax and bookkeeping services, residential and commercial window washing services, and yard maintenance and landscaping.
In his leisure, Sheldon eagerly spends quality time with his wife, children, and grandchildren. When not with his family, his passions include music, drawing, painting, and training his German Shepard dog named Blue Belle.
Team Lead, Funding Administrator
Eman is a trilingual funding Administrator that comes from the medical industry. She speak Arabic, French, and English fluently and is currently working on learning Italian. Eman has a passion to help people and motivating them to reach for their dreams. Based out of Calgary, Eman spends her spare time traveling and spend as much time as she can outdoors.
Danielle is part of our Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP) team. She is a firm believer that entrepreneurship is the foundation of our community and is looking forward to helping businesses thrive. Being passionate about helping others, she finds her position a perfect opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to someone’s life. Her experience as an administrative analyst and CRM administrator in the B2B sector gave her extensive finance, research, and data management knowledge.
When not enjoying her spare time with her family or baking something yummy, Danielle is usually looking for a good book to read or searching for a new hobby.
Jennifer brings extensive experience from the banking industry and is a Funding Administrator with the Canada Digital Adoption Program. She is passionate about supporting local and small businesses.
When she isn’t busy cuddling with her cats, you can find her tending to her plants, shopping at a farmers’ market, or spending time outdoors enjoying nature.
Accounts Payable Coordinator
Pamela grew up in Saskatchewan but joined us here in Alberta in the mid-1990s. She has tried on a few communities across the province but found a home in Medicine Hat. She’s been doing remote work before it was cool, with experience in bookkeeping, accounting, and entrepreneurship. While she loves working at Business Link, her passion is raising goats. Her least favourite thing is probably talking about herself, so we’ll let her hard work speak instead of writing a longer biography.
April is a huge champion of social connection in the digital age. Therefore it should not come as a surprise she would dedicate her career to marketing after graduating from MacEwan University in 2020. Before returning to Business Link, she worked in the hospitality industry, where she was the master of all trades. From coordinating photoshoots and events, managing all social media platforms, or executing marketing plans for eight restaurant openings across Canada and the USA, there was never a dull moment. Now April loves diving deep into the world of small business at Business Link and finding ways to foster the connections between business and the online community.
After hours you can find April fervently scrolling TikTok, playing recreational kickball, or bouldering. As of recently, you can also find her leading social events for her local cohort of The Shy Girl Club – an organization uniting female friendships one meetup at a time.