Our Mission

The Enterprise Center in Johnson County is a non-profit organization that connects entrepreneurs with the resources they need to grow and scale. 

We select local entrepreneurs in their early stages of development and provide them with support, financial education, mentoring, consulting and affordable work space to position them for venture development and commercialization.

Our mission is to stimulate business creation and employment in the region by providing resources and services to early stage, high-return, high-growth companies.

Meet Our Team

George Hansen
President & CEO

George Hansen joined the ECJC team in June 2013. Most recently, George was CEO of Zave Network, an online commerce company where he led the company through an acquisition by Google. He has also worked as a director of TGP Investments, CEO-level leadership roles at Midwest-based Corporate Lodging and CARSTAR. George has also held senior positions at Thorn EMI, PLC, Denny’s Inc. and Wendy’s International

Mr. Hansen has more than 30 years experience managing businesses in multiple industries in both North America and Europe. In addition to managing for exceptional growth, he has also been principally involved in a variety of transaction types, including acquisitions, de-mergers and exits in both the public and private markets.

A graduate of the University of Maine, George also holds a certificate in Management from Columbia University.

Rick Vaughn
Vice President, Business Development

Rick joined the Enterprise Center in January 2006 as Vice President of Business Development. Before joining ECJC, Rick was co-founder and COO of Inventive Play, LLC, a direct marketer of products for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. Prior to that, he was general manager of Allied Products, Inc., the start-up gift division of a diversified manufacturing company.

Rick also has extensive business development and mergers and acquisitions experience from positions he held at Hallmark.com and Hallmark Cards, Inc.

Rick received his MBA in Finance from Rockhurst University. He lives in Overland Park, KS with his wife and two daughters.

Melissa Roberts
VP of Communications and Outreach

Melissa Roberts is the VP of Communications and Outreach at the Enterprise Center of Johnson County and the President of Free State Strategy Group LLC. She has worked at the nexus of politics, marketing and community organizing for a decade. 

After running political campaigns in Boston, Melissa joined DCI Group, where she advised Fortune 100 clients on public affairs, advocacy and CSR strategies. Most recently, Melissa served as Executive Director of the Partnership for Technology Innovation, where she worked to connect the startup community with policymakers in Kansas City and across the Silicon Prairie. 

Melissa currently serves as a 1 Million Cups Kansas City Community Organizer. Melissa is an alumna of Boston College and a Johnson County native. Though her career has taken her around the country, she has remained a loyal, if often tortured, Kansas City Royals fan.

Jenn Hackett
Administrative Assistant & Office Manager

Jenn joined the Enterprise Center in February 2011 after graduating from Pittsburg State University with a degree in Commercial Graphics.

Jenn completed an internship with a printing company, Spangler Graphics and also was an eCommerce intern at the Kansas City Sports Commission.

Jenn lives in Olathe, KS with her husband Jay. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, Chiefs football, KU basketball, and traveling.

Angela Laville
VP of Finance and Administration

Angela began her career in public accounting at Ernst & Young. Her career has also included corporate roles at Sprint and as Chief Financial Officer for the Casualty Product Line of GE Insurance Solutions Global Finance Division. She also served as Chief Financial Officer and Chief Administrative Officer for TranSystems, a transportation consulting firm headquartered in Kansas City. 

Angela then moved to focus her career on supporting the not-for-profit industry serving as Chief Financial Officer of Community Living Opportunities and ultimately joined Enterprise Center of Johnson County in January of 2016.

She received an undergraduate degree in accounting and a master’s of business degree with a concentration in Finance from Rockhurst University in Kansas City.

Kelsey Hampton
Public Policy Manager

Kelsey Hampton, PhD is the Public Policy Manager for the Enterprise Center of Johnson County. She manages the budding public policy programs and ECJC’s marketing efforts. Before joining the ECJC team in 2018, she worked as a biomedical research scientist studying metastatic melanoma.

Kelsey received her doctorate from the University of Kansas Medical Center and a Bachelors of Science from the University of Northern Iowa. Her passions lie at the intersection of policy and communications, and she has been an active policy advocate and blogger for the past three years. 

In her free time, Kelsey co-hosts a science podcast, Flyover State Science, and develops professional development programs for academics. She lives in Roeland Park, KS with her husband and two cats.

Kathryn Golden
Program Manager

Kathryn Golden joined ECJC in January 2018. She oversees the Growth Mentor Service (GMS) program, Pitch Perfect boot camp, and entrepreneur workshop series while seeking to expand educational and growth programing for entrepreneurs.

Originally from northern Missouri, Kathryn has lived on both coasts. She has worked for a number of startup organizations, both locally and in the Bay Area, and managed projects and teams across multiple industries. While in San Francisco, she also owned a small retail business and co-founded a non-profit jazz performance space in Berkeley, CA. Since returning to Kansas City in 2012, she has launched several arts events, notably PorchFestKC, a community music festival, and The Flame, a storytelling series.

Kathryn received her undergraduate degree from Truman State University (Northeast Missouri State) and lives in Kansas City, MO.

Laura McCoolidge Classen
Managing Director, MAA

Serving as the Executive Director of the Nebraska Angels from 2013 – 2018, Laura led the network to significant growth in deal flow, membership and investor participation as well as growing relationships with other angel networks. During Laura’s tenure with the organization, the network invested over $13M in capital across 29 portfolio companies located throughout the United States, although largely focused on the Midwest region.  Dedicated to improved efficiency of deal syndication across Midwest angel groups, Laura served as a founding member of the Midwest Angel syndicate.

As the current Mid-America Angels Managing Director, Laura looks forward to continuing her work with angel investors and early-stage companies and believes this new opportunity will only strengthen the angel syndication relationships already established in the Midwest.

Laura’s background is in private equity, with a focus on manufacturing and bank acquisitions. Prior to her role with Nebraska Angels, Laura founded her own consulting business, collaborating with clients to develop and analyze strategic growth initiatives.

Laura also serves as a Director on the Stone Medical Corporation and NE Enterprises board of directors, as well as the College of Business Alumni Advisory Board for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She has been recognized for her work as a recipient of the 2015 ’40 under 40 Award’ and as a finalist for the 2017 Inspire Awards, honoring women with significant community impact. Laura is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Maggie Kenefake
Managing Director, Midwest Seed Capital Consortium

Maggie most recently directed fund operations for Portfolia, an investment community focused on engaging female investors. At Portfolia, Maggie closed funds I, IV and V, oversaw the investor experience, managed the investment pipeline, closed deals and managed relationships with Portfolia invested companies.

She brings years of experience in operations, strategic partnerships, and program and product management. Maggie was at the Kauffman Foundation for a decade and worked on the Kauffman Fellows Program and Initiatives for Women Entrepreneurs. She was also a program officer in grant-making for collegiate entrepreneurship and women’s entrepreneurship. After exiting the Foundation, Maggie worked in the health-care field, including venture-backed RelayHealth. Maggie holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Kansas and an MBA from the University of Missouri.

Maggie’s goal is to create an enriching and rewarding investing experience for both investors and the companies we back. She is also focused on activating the networks and knowledge in our community to enable the Seed Fund’s portfolio companies to more effectively capture their markets and grow successfully.

Sherry Turner
Executive Director, Women’s Business Center

Kelly Sievers
Managing Director, Women’s Capital Connection

Brande Stitt
Program Director at Women’s Business Center

20 Years of Entrepreneurial Success

For the past 20 years, the Enterprise Center in Resources for Entrepreneurs ImageJohnson County has been a mainstay in Kansas City for entrepreneur resources. By providing affordable office space, consultation, mentoring, education and connections to capital, the ECJC has had a $1.4 billion impact on the regional economy. ECJC-assisted companies have created over 2,000 jobs, leveraged $261 million in debt and equity and generated over $200 million in sales revenues.

 

Johnson County forms an "Incubator Task Force,"
conducts study on startup economic development
1989
Johnson County Business Tech Center opens
1995

Renamed Enterprise Center of Johnson County, 
begins management of early-stage, equity risk
capital in Kansas City 

1999

Bi-State Investment Group and
Kansas Women's Business Center formed

2000

Mid-America Angels investment network
(MAA) created

2006

First successful MAA exit:
Rush Tracking Systems acquired

2009
Graduate company Rhythm Engineering
listed in Inc. 500 | 5000
2011

Second successful MAA exit:
Zave Networks acquired by Google

2011

Another successful MAA exit:
Aratana Therapeutics IPOs

2013

Enterprise Center in Johnson County rebrands,
relocates, begins mentoring program

2015

Our Board

Jay Meschke

Chairman

CBIZ Human Capital Services

Startup Mentors and Startup Programs Leader

Rudolf Beese

Dentons US LLP

Startup Mentors and Startup Programs Leader

Mary Birch

Lathrop & Gage LLP

Wayne Morgan

Growth Mentoring Service

Angela Hurt

Veracity Consulting

Ryan Sprott

Great Range Capital

Mike Maddox

CrossFirst Bank

 

Chairman Ed Eilert

Ex Officio

Johnson County Commission