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.

Angela Laville
Vice President 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.

Patty Markley
Vice President of Policy and Strategic Development

Patty Markley joined the ECJC team in March, 2019 as Vice President of Policy and Strategic Development.  She is the Principal at Markley Strategies LLC, a public affairs and advocacy consulting firm. Patty served District 8 in the Kansas House of Representatives from 2017-2018.

Prior to serving in the legislature, she was a full-time parent, community volunteer, and member of the Prairie Village City Council. Her previous experience includes work as a not-for-profit executive, and as a staff member for a United States Senator. 

She received an undergraduate degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Patty lives in Overland Park, KS with her husband Brian and two daughters.

Rick Vaughn
Vice President of 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.

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.

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.

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. She 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.

Women’s Business Center (a program of the ECJC) and the OneKC for Women partnership

Established in 2000, the Women’s Business Center (WBC) operates as a program of the Enterprise Center of Johnson County. This program was initiated to foster the participation of women entrepreneurs in the economy, especially those who have been historically underserved or excluded, however, the WBC serves the entire metropolitan area. In any given year the WBC touches over 1,000 individuals seeking to start or grow businesses. The WBC is one of 100 such organizations in the U.S. partially funded by the Small Business Administration. 

Also, in 2008, The Women’s Capital Connection (WCC) officially launched. Committed to investing in women-led ventures, WCC is a regional network of accredited angel investors dedicated to identifying and funding the most promising start-up business opportunities in the region.

The WBC and WCC are both proud partners of the OneKC for Women Alliance.

Sherry Turner

Founder of OneKC for Women and Executive Director, Women’s Business Center 

With a variety of experiences from corporate management to business development to entrepreneurship, Sherry Turner now serves the Kansas City metropolitan area in a leadership role with the Women’s Employment Network, the Women’s Business Center, the Women’s Capital Connection. and the WE-Lend Micro loan Initiative.  Mission alignment of these organizations creates financial independence for women in our community through sustained employment, the advancement of women business owners in all stages of their businesses and access to capital through angel investments. Branding this new alliance of non-profits focusing on women was launched in June, 2009 as OneKC for Women. 

Previously, Sherry was Director of Small Business and Entrepreneurship with the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. She believes Kansas City is a great place to grow a business and she is committed to making the Kansas City bi-state region a stronger entrepreneurial economy with a talented workforce. 

Entrepreneurial ventures include management consulting in the corporate sector and enhancing applied academic programs through promoting work-based learning opportunities for academic institutions throughout the Midwest.

Sherry holds a B.S. from Northwest Missouri State University and is a native of Kansas City. In 2015, she was the recipient of the Legacy Award by Thinking Bigger Business Media and was awarded the Missouri Women’s Council Award of Distinction. She is a KC Business Journal’s Women Who Means Business honoree, joining the class of 2017.

Kelly Sievers

Managing Director, Women’s Capital Connection

Kelly Sievers spent 18 years in the trenches of retail entrepreneurship. She has purchased, grown and sold four different retail businesses. She was owner and CEO of Scandia Down on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, a business she sold in 2003.

Kelly then spent five years as the Client Services Manager of the Women’s Business Center, where she consulted with entrepreneurs and helped develop programming. She began her current role as the Managing Director of the Women’s Capital Connection, an angel investment group of more than 40 women who invest in women-led companies in 2009. She is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the angel network including managing deal flow, application screening and presentations, due diligence, investment coordination and post-investment management and reporting. In 2010 and 2011, she also acted as Managing Director of The Show Me Angels, a group of accredited investors that invest in companies in the Eastern Jackson County area of Kansas City.

Currently, Kelly serves as a network mentor for Pipeline Entrepreneurs, is a certified Kauffman FastTrac facilitator, is a St. Louis Prosper Startup Accelerator Advisor, and is a mentor for the Sprint Accelerator. She also assists Digital Sandbox in company selection and advises students involved in the Blue Valley School CAPS program.

Kelly has a BS degree in Communications and Business from Iowa State University. She was awarded the Kansas Women Business Advocate of the Year in 2007 and made the Kansas City Techweek 100 list in 2015 and 2016.

Brande Stitt
Program Director, Women’s Business Center

Brande Stitt currently serves as Program Director for the Women’s Business Center in Fairway, Kansas. The WBC helps develop, mentor and fund women led businesses. In her new role, Brande provides counseling services for women entrepreneurs and plans training classes to assist starting and growing businesses. She is also responsible for the implementation of the WBC’s WE-Lend microloan fund.

Brande previously served as the Network Builder for KCSourceLink, an organization connecting small businesses to the right resource at the right time. Prior to her time at KCSourceLink, she served as the Director of Small Business & Entrepreneurship for the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. She began with The Chamber in June 2002 after completing her M.Ed. in community/agency counseling at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She also received a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Drury University in Springfield, Mo.

Her responsibilities with KCSourceLink included partner recruitment and outreach, marketing to the small business community and coordinating grant-related events. Past experience with The Chamber included planning and implementing a weekly educational series, Small Business Celebration awards program, an annual Innovation Conference and managing volunteer committees for small business members.

Her passion includes event planning and marketing for her alma mater, Drury University. She previously served on the Board of Directors for Nonprofit Connect. She currently serves as a volunteer for the Ottawa Main Street Association in Ottawa, Kansas.

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

Rudolf Beese

Chairman

Dentons US LLP

Wayne Morgan

Growth Mentoring Service

Mary Birch

Lathrop & Gage LLP

Jay Meschke

CBIZ Human Capital Services

Board (continued)

Angela Hurt

Veracity Consulting

Ryan Sprott

Great Range Capital

Mike Maddox

CrossFirst Bank

 

Chairman Ed Eilert

Ex Officio

Johnson County Commission