Our staff

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 providing the best resources available to help make your startup successful. Meet our small, but mighty team.

Our Senior Business Advisors help you with regulations

Contact our Senior Business Advisors for help making sure your business complies with regulations. Toll free in Canada 1-844-422-7705

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Leadership

Headshot of Gord Sawatzky

Gord Sawatzky

Executive Director

780-422-7774

Gord provides his team with solid leadership having held management roles in a number of private, public and non-profit organizations. He recently returned to Business Link with the vision of becoming Alberta’s hub for small business and entrepreneurs.

In his spare time Gord enjoys reading, traveling and chasing his two kids around the soccer field.

David Bayda

David Bayda

Business Services Manager

david@businesslink.ca

780-422-7767

David leads and coaches an amazing team of front line staff who work with him to deliver the best possible service to entrepreneurs. After making sure operations are running smoothly, he turns his attention to other priority things like planning, marketing, and outreach for Business Link.

You’ll usually find David with his head up in the clouds trying to come up with "the next" million dollar idea, like the blue jean poncho or sneeze catcher – neither of which saw the light of day.

Aaron Poirier

Aaron Poirier

Projects Services Manager

aaron@businesslink.ca

780-996-6405

Aaron oversees a variety of different economic development projects including Aboriginal Business Development Services (ABDS).  In this role, he is responsible for many of the aspects of these projects from inception to strategic planning and operations.

One of Aaron’s passions is international travel, he has been to 18 different countries and has seen a majority of the Seven Wonders of the World. 

Cherie Klassen

Cherie Klassen

Marketing and Online Resources Manager

cherie@businesslink.ca

780-422-7713

Cherie leads the Marketing and Online Resources team who are responsible for developing creative ways of engaging entrepreneurs. Cherie has a true appreciation for small business, having managed a health clinic with her brother for several years. That means she understands the difference between ideological marketing strategy and real marketing practices.

When she’s not catching up on the latest digital marketing trends, she enjoys gardening and listening to her kids play their musical instruments. She’s also a bit of a coffee and craft beer aficionado, so she’s your gal to critique tastes!

Lori Todd

Lori Todd

Controller

lori@businesslink.ca

780-415-2582

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.

Bev DeSantis

Beverley DeSantis

Director, Calgary & Southern Alberta

bev@businesslink.ca

403-475-7466

Bev’s role at Business Link is to create awareness, build strategic alliances and ensure entrepreneurs have access to the resources necessary to kick start their new business venture. Drawing upon her experience in her own business, government and education, she’s our key connection for Calgary and all of southern Alberta.

When Bev is away from the office, she can be found on her Harley, hanging out at the family cabin and spoiling her grandson.

Business Services

Jim Coulson

Jim Coulson

Business Services Specialist

jim@businesslink.ca

780-422-7776

Jim’s background is in library science and has a reputation for finding anything (just not your missing keys). Curiosity about the world and history are what make him tick.

Jim has been a vital component of the Business Link for over 10 years which does not make him ancient, but "experienced". The most satisfying part of his position is when he is looking for statistics and finding the answers his clients need.

Jean-Jacques Mitakaro

Jean-Jacques Mitakaro

Business Services Specialist (Bilingual)

jean-jacques@businesslink.ca

780-644-1700

Jean-Jacques brings his strong business and non-profit startup and development expertise to our team, helping entrepreneurs successfully start and take their businesses to the next level.

When he’s not networking, you’ll find him volunteering his time to local and international causes, and spending time with his wife and four young sons. If there’s time left over, you’ll find him playing and coaching kids or watching his favorite sports, soccer and basketball.

Kari Morton

Kari Morton

Business Services Specialist

kari@businesslink.ca

780-638-1105

As a Business Services Specialist, Kari helps clients find answers to their burning business and market research questions. She enjoys putting her broad range of interests and experience to work for Alberta’s entrepreneurs.

When Kari isn’t out enjoying theatre arts or exploring the world, you’ll find her with her nose in the latest novel, or volunteering at the local Ten Thousand Villages fair trade store and teaching ESL.

Ricardo Flores

Ricardo Flores

Business Services Specialist

ricardo@businesslink.ca

780-422-4935

Ricardo helps entrepreneurs make their business ideas come to life by providing guidance, resources and connections. He has great admiration for those with the courage to start their own venture. He believes small business owners are the lifeblood of Alberta and some of the hardest working people out there.

Ricardo is passionate about practicing sports, especially soccer and taking advantage of the outdoors and cultural activities Edmonton has to offer. His motto is “listen to what everyone has to say, you would be amazed by how much you can learn from others’ experiences and advice.”

Business Advisory Services

Sheila Shand

Sheila Shand

Senior Business Advisor

sheila@businesslink.ca

780-638-2350

For over 20 years Sheila has helped people establish self-employment by assisting them with their business plans, providing them mentoring support, and occasionally offering up creative ideas to help them secure loans to start up their businesses.

When Sheila isn’t catching up on the events involving her two adult daughters, one a professional dancer and the other in social marketing, she enjoys spending time in the great outdoors with her golden-doodle, Coco, or putting her creative talents to use by crafting up something special.

Dart Wooden

Dart Wooden

Business Advisor Team Lead

dart@businesslink.ca

780-644-9873

Dart manages our Senior Business Advisor Services. He builds the talented team that makes our Business Advisor Services great, and helps them get the training and resources they need. With his background in self-employment and small business startups, he knows the information small businesses need, and makes sure his team provides the answers entrepreneurs need, when they need them.

When he's not keeping the office going, Dart is a real estate investor and cigar enthusiast. Ask him what's up with all the spreadsheets.

Heidi Hoover

Heidi Hoover

Senior Business Advisor

heidi@businesslink.ca

780-638-2349

Heidi believes innovation is what keeps the world spinning and entrepreneurship is innovation at work.  Here at Business Link, Heidi is able to fuse her extensive background in small business support programming with her dedication to helping entrepreneurs succeed. 

Heidi's passions include: writing, dancing, traveling, and encouraging those around her to fly (but not literally, she knows that would be irresponsible).  She is currently writing an autobiographical memoir, choreographing a dance series with a female empowerment focus, and working on a collection of short stories centered around her experiences living in Mexico.

Projects and Aboriginal Business Development Services

Krista Burdeyney

Krista Burdeyney

Program Specialist, Aboriginal Business Development Services

krista@businesslink.ca

780-996-8591

As a Program Specialist with ABDS, Krista enjoys working with Alberta’s Aboriginals to help their businesses succeed. With a background in commerce, Krista is happy to assist you with any part of the entrepreneurship process, from working through a business plan to the marketing of your business (her favourite).

Krista loves to travel, whether it be to Aboriginal communities in Alberta or all the way across the world. She once motorbiked across Vietnam with a pet chicken named Moo.

Angela Carifelle

Angela Carifelle

Program Specialist, Aboriginal Business Development Services

angela@businesslink.ca

780-446-5346

As a Program Specialist in Aboriginal Business Development Services, Angela builds upon her positive relationships within the Aboriginal community to assist clients in their planning and business needs. She draws upon her experience in consulting, working with government and education to help people breathe life into their goals in creative and positive ways. There are always new opportunities to explore.

Away from the office, you will find her in “Angela’s Kitchen” making a meal or tasty treat for her daughter or family guests. She also enjoys taking in the sights, sounds and tastes of Edmonton's growing food culture.

Marketing and Online Resources

Brittany Prout

Brittany Prout

Webinar and Marketing Coordinator

brittany@businesslink.ca

780-422-7773

As the Webinar and Marketing Coordinator, Brittany organizes webinar production of training videos that give small businesses the information they need to start up and stay up in a competitive market. Her background in communications and marketing keeps her in the social media scene, and always helping to plan our next special event.

In her downtime, Brittany enjoys writing and performing spoken word poetry and shameless binge-watching Netflix television shows and movies.

Barry Yewchuk

Barry Yewchuk

Website and Marketing Coordinator

barry@businesslink.ca

780-422-7772

As a member of our marketing and online resources team, Barry is involved in website content development, search engine optimization, and social media marketing. 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.

Administration

Amber MacMillan

Amber MacMillan

Finance and Administrative Support

amber@businesslink.ca

780-415-0377

As the Finance and Administrative Assistant, Amber’s role is to help our team stay organized and tie up loose ends. She is the go to girl to get’er done!

When she’s not wrapping up loose ends at work, she’s a hockey mom with a passion for sports (go Esks go), dance, and capturing her family antics on camera!

Conan Wong

Conan Wong

IT Support Specialist

conan@businesslink.ca

780-427-6234

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 BizStart 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.