Connect With Us

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

Executive Director

Barbara is our executive director and brings over 30 years 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.

Kari Morton

Business Advisor Team Lead

As Business Advisor Team Lead, Kari leads our advisors in pursuing client service excellence. On a daily basis she helps clients find answers to their burning business questions. One of her main passions is market research and she greatly enjoys jumping down rabbit holes to help clients find information. As if that wasn’t enough, she also heads up projects to ensure that Business Link runs like a well-oiled machine.

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

David Bayda

Senior Business Advisor

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!

Audrey Allotey

Business Advisor

Audrey is very experienced in many different fields of work including business development, international development in social and natural resources, agroprocessing, and packaging. She also successfully launched and operated a line of food products in her home country of Ghana. Combined with her business degree, this experience gave her valuable insight into the business and entrepreneurial 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.

Angela St-Jean

Business Advisor

Angela loves working with entrepreneurs, finding it a refreshing change from years of government bureaucracy writing policy and legislation for the energy sector. Originally from Nova Scotia, Ange has made Alberta her home without losing that special East Coast charm.

In her free time, she enjoys kayaking, mountain biking and hiking up mountains in the Rockies. She also has a passion for traveling to exotic destinations. You can always count on Ange to be wearing great shoes.

Frank El Baraqouni

Business Advisor

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.

Yoyin Familusi

Team Lead Business Facilitators

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!

Dale Schaub

Business Facilitator

Dale Schaub is one of the team’s road warriors covering central Alberta. He builds essential relationships with urban and rural communities as well as delivers presentations and workshops to aspiring and existing entrepreneurs. Having worked in a variety of industries and environments, Dale has a diverse knowledge of sales, marketing, new product launches, new business development, and training. At Business Link, he counts regulations, independent contracting, e-commerce, and cannabis as areas of expertise. His past startup experience includes running a modest delivery business.

When he’s not working, you can most likely find Dale out camping anytime it’s not winter. He’ll be happily playing cards or board games with his friends and family while discussing grand ideas and wondering when the rain is going to stop.

Matt Hill

Business Facilitator

Matt Hill is our Business Facilitator 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.

Mark Shields

Business Facilitator

Mark has had a career of exploration. He’s studied history and accounting (not specifically the history of accounting, but he’s picked up a bit). He has a passion for organizing to build communities, from social entrepreneurship to charity. He has worked previously as the Program Director for CJSW Community Radio in Calgary and sits on the board of the Major Minor Music Project as treasurer. Mark has also dabbled in entrepreneurship with his yoga instruction business, Minima Yoga. Prior to joining Business Link, he helped to design, launch and operate the emergeHUB economic development project in east Calgary.

Barry Yewchuk

Research Advisor

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.

Jean-Jacques Mitakaro

Coordinator, Immigrant Entrepreneur Program and Trusted Business & Non-Profit Advisor (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.

Holly Atjecoutay

Team Lead, Indigenous 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 Team Lead for Indigenous 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.

Sammy Zoerb

Indigenous Business Support Facilitator

Sammy enjoys being the “quarterback” of the Indigenous Services team by handling administrative & marketing activities and loves to take the lead on many different projects to help the team move forward. Wearing a few different hats, she also continues to build relationships with Indigenous entrepreneurs by providing support and resources to ensure their success.

Aside from her amazing career, she is a proud hockey mamma who lives in an arena during the season. In her downtime, you can find her studying or listening to all types of music.

Mary-Ann Spearing

Indigenous Business Facilitator

Mary-Ann is Inuit from the Nunatsiavut homeland in Labrador. She is a passionate lifelong learner, helper and adventurer. Mary-Ann has a Bachelor Arts Degree with a major in Sociology and a minor in Indigenous Studies and a Bachelor of Social Work degree. She has ten years’ work experience in varying capacities in the nonprofit and government sectors. She is a warm and energetic person who excels in engaging with people, communication, relationship building, and collaboration. A critical and creative thinker, Mary-Ann will assist Indigenous entrepreneurs in Edmonton and the Treaty 6 area to gain business knowledge and excel in business. Mary-Ann enjoys spending quality time with friends and family, outdoor activities, art, poetry, running, swimming, dancing and travel.  

Jenine Campbell-Cove

Indigenous Business Facilitator

Jenine was born and raised in the Grande Prairie area. She brings her knowledge and experience from the oil and gas sector to the table. She is passionate about her culture and has an extreme desire to help entrepreneurs reach their goals by being the trusted link of outreach for the indigenous communities in the Treaty 8 region.

Piinaakoyim Tailfeathers

Indigenous Business Facilitator

Piinaakoyim is our Indigenous Business Facilitator 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.

Perry Kocis

Indigenous Procurement 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.

Rebecca Calder

Interim Marketing Manager

Rebecca likes bears, beets, and Battlestar Galactica, though while completing her MA in Communications and Technology at the University of Alberta, she wrote two papers on Star Trek. Rebecca’s interesting take on communications stems in part from her background in education. She worked as a substitute teacher for two years after completing her BEd, then realised that the classroom is not the optimal environment for an introvert. Today, she relishes the power she holds sitting behind a computer, able to talk with people all over the world. For now, she’s using that power for good at her role in Business Link and as a volunteer with Edmonton’s Next Gen.

Joette Forcier

Events and Programs 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.

Shay Bachelet

Marketing Coordinator

Shay believes in what Business Link does in supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs and is excited about being able to communicate that with the world. Her journey to marketing was unexpected. After graduating from University with a BSc in nutrition, she started working in research, then left to travel the world, then came back to do some further study in nutrition before starting her own nutrition consulting gig. She quickly found she enjoyed the branding and marketing aspect of having her own business more than the nutrition part. Slowly, she got pulled into the world of interactive marketing and events through a part-time job that turned into a full-time job and fell in love.

Outside of work she teaches and practices meditation and mindfulness, tends to her houseplants, travels, and seeks out new restaurants in YEG – she strongly believes we’re punching above our weight class when it comes to the food scene.

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!

Conan Wong

IT Specialist

Conan is our computer guy. He fixes and manages all the computer hardware and software at Business Link. Conan also develops new functionality for the CRM system and provides technical support for our webinars.

In his spare time Conan can be found throwing rocks down a sheet of ice or skating on frozen water, preferably outdoors. Conan enjoys keeping up with current events and monitoring the stock markets.

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