At SourceLink®, we understand that developing a truly effective entrepreneurial ecosystem requires an expertly tailored mix of technology, community engagement, and measurement. Since our launch in 2003, we have helped over 100 communities develop their own unique recipe from SourceLink base components and consulting services to identify and connect entrepreneurial resources, engaging them and their constituent entrepreneurs in a process of continuous improvement to drive desired economic impact. Over time, we have built a successful roadmap that communities of all sizes have put to successful use.

Meet Our Team

Meet our amazing team

Johanna Cook SourceLink

Johanna Cook, Communication Specialist

Johanna Cook joins SourceLink as our communication specialist. She supports the expansion of entrepreneurial ecosystems nationally by connecting economic developers and entrepreneur support organizations to SourceLink’s sustainable solutions and sharing those success stories with our affiliate network and beyond.

With a diverse background in operations management, corporate communications, marketing, event planning and customer service, Johanna has learned that effective communication is central to all business goals. Genuine connections are important to Johanna, and she believes that none of us can do life alone, which is why she is enthusiastic about SourceLink’s mission to connect people to the tools and resources they need to be successful.

Born and raised in Kansas City, Johanna has experienced firsthand the inherent value small businesses bring to a community. Off the clock, she loves to explore all of the amazing local restaurants, breweries and retail shops the city has to offer —especially the dog friendly ones!

Pola Firestone of SourceLink

Pola Firestone, Relationship Manager and Affiliate Liaison

Pola Firestone is relationship manager and affiliate liaison providing customer service and training to existing SourceLink affiliates and assists with project implementations of new SourceLink networks across the country.

Through her outreach, she provides a window into the challenges of building entrepreneurial ecosystems, and uses that knowledge to help inform new products and new solutions. Pola is the first line of contact for customer relations and provides ongoing support for new affiliate implementations. Successful projects she has been instrumental with include Baltimore SourceLink, BizLink Orange, Colmena66, Klamath IDEA, New Bedford SourceLink, Nexus i90, NWI BizHub, SEEN Startups, Sparkyard, Start in Wisconsin and the National Urban League Entrepreneurship Centers.

As a previous business owner, publisher and consultant, Pola brings a wide range of skills and experience to the SourceLink team, including marketing communications and business development.

SourceLink Dara Macan

Dara Macan, Director of Global Partnerships and Engagement

Dara Macan is the director of global partnerships and engagement for SourceLink. Dara and is responsible for identifying market opportunities and building relationships with academic, business, government and nonprofit leaders to increase the SourceLink landscape. 

Before joining SourceLink, Dara was involved in leading a multi-state publishing company where she consulted with community and business leaders, economic development organizations, and others, helping them to identify and tap into new markets for their offerings. As a result, Dara’s sales team of experts was able to grow revenue over $4.5 million.

Dara also has firsthand experience starting, and selling, her family-owned commercial cleaning business. In addition to cleaning offices at night, she and her co-owner brother learned how to handle sales to secure new customers, manage accounting and run point on purchasing for equipment and supplies. Whether it is out of financial necessity, the desire to build something successful, or simply to make a difference, she appreciates entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart and has a keen understanding of the risks associated with making the entrepreneurial jump. She leverages this understanding every day in her outreach with economic developers and leaders in how to support their entrepreneurial communities.

SourceLink Rob Williams

Rob Williams, Director

Rob Williams is director at SourceLink. In this role, Rob helps a variety of communities—from mid-sized cities to entire states—build and improve their entrepreneurial infrastructure. He has extensive experience in project management, including the successful implementations of SourceLink consulting and technologies in the City of Baltimore, commonwealth of Puerto Rico, as well as Denver, Seattle, Phoenix, Tampa Bay and Dallas/Fort Worth.

Before joining SourceLink, Rob spent nearly a decade at the University of Northern Iowa Center for Business Growth and Innovation where he led and expanded statewide several different entrepreneurship support programs. Preeminent examples include the Iowa Business Concierge, Dream Big Grow Here business grant program and an EDA-funded Entrepreneurial Regions Project, where he trained rural economic developers in how to create and facilitate entrepreneurially-supportive ecosystems.

In collaboration with the Iowa Economic Development Authority, Rob was the University of Northern Iowa co-manager of the IASourceLink initiative, a statewide affiliate of SourceLink launched in 2012.  In this role, he helped advance its mission of connecting Iowa entrepreneurs and small businesses to more than 360 resource providers across the state.

Prior to his work with IASourceLink, Rob served as a small business development center business consultant for the University of Northern Iowa helping diverse entrepreneurs start and grow their firms in the urban core of Waterloo, Iowa and in surrounding rural communities.

Maria Meyers, founder of SourceLink

Maria Meyers, Executive Director and Founder

Maria Meyers, like the organization she leads, is entrepreneurial about supporting entrepreneurs. She has more than 20 years of experience in creating successful companies in the high technology, biotechnology, manufacturing and museum industries. She has lived through the struggles of launching a startup, turning it into a small business and sustaining its growth. 

As founder of KCSourceLink, Maria created a network that connects entrepreneurs with hundreds of business-building organizations throughout the Kansas City region. She later scaled that network model nationally as founder of SourceLink®, creating America’s first R&D platform for economic developers and e-community champions.

Maria is frequently requested to keynote and facilitate discussions on topics like entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship economic development, and entrepreneurial infrastructure and ecosystem building for leading international organizations, including the Kauffman Foundation, International Economic Development Council, as well as regional economic development organizations, and the Federal Reserve Bank.

In addition to her SourceLink accomplishments, Maria is executive director for the University of Missouri–Kansas City Innovation Center, connecting university researchers with the community to ignite collaborative partnerships leading to innovations. The center supports thousands of community members every year in starting and growing businesses, delivering jobs and creating wealth for the Kansas City region.

Maria has a strong project management background, successfully leading a variety of large projects and has a solid background in information technology. At UMKC, she was instrumental in the creation of the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, establishing entrepreneurship as a mainstream field of study that now offers BBA, MBA and PhD degree concentrations in entrepreneurship.

Mark Galeassi of SourceLink

Mark Galeassi, Web Application Developer

Mark Galeassi is senior programmer for SourceLink.  He is highly experienced with the creation of new, and expansion of existing web application technologies, particularly systems designed to support entrepreneurs and the network that they operate in. 

Mark oversees dozens of websites, regularly interacts and implements new technology developments for over 50 clients, and frequently is called on to translate complex real-world issues into practical technology solutions for both staff and clients, alike.

A programming expert, Mark’s role goes beyond the technical as he seeks to develop and understand how web solutions can empower entrepreneurial support organizations to be as effective as possible. For the technologists, Mark has no shortcoming of coding experience; everything from C#, PHP, SQL, JavaScript, HTML to CSS, with a keen eye for SEO and user experience.

Several of Mark’s most impressive technology solutions include multiple custom-built, database-driven technologies for SourceLink affiliates. Examples include a business license smart-search engine, an event campaign manager for week-long entrepreneur celebrations, and a robust mentoring module for young firms to connect with advisors and boards.

SourceLink Ananya Padhiari

Ananya Padhiari, Web Application Developer

Ananya Padhiari is highly skilled with the creation and enhancement of web application technologies, particularly systems designed to support entrepreneurs and their networks. She brings a high level of API experience to the team with her well-rounded skills and experience in front-end and back-end development. 

Ananya, a certified Microsoft Solution Developer, develops web solutions that can help entrepreneurial support organizations be as effective as possible. She has coding experience in C#, Java, JavaScript, Angular JS, SQL, jQuery, HTML and CSS.

SourceLink Sarah Mote

Sarah Mote, Marketing Director

Sarah Mote is first, last and always a story teller.

Master of messages and social media whiz, Sarah brings her considerable talent to bear on telling the SourceLink story and that of our affiliate communities. She drives strategic outcomes through creative communications, always on point and engaging. No wonder SourceLink web traffic has soared under her watch.

Joey Medellin of SourceLink

Joey Medellin, Network Coordinator

As one of the longest-tenured associates of SourceLink, Joey Medellin has helped the organization grow from its modest roots into the central hub for entrepreneurship that it is today. Joey juggles multiple balls and never lets one drop. She manages all the administrative details for the organization, from financials to human resources to grant reporting to everything in between, creating a seamless work environment.

Thought Leadership

Put our expertise to work

For your next conference, strategic planning session or workshop, take advantage of our experience and expertise in building entrepreneurial ecosystems.

How we can help

  • Guest contributors to traditional media – quotes, columns, on-air appearances
  • Social media contributor – blogging and tweeting
  • Moderator / Lecturer
  • Event speaker & panelist
  • Educational workshops, seminars and webinars

What we know

  • Building Successful Entrepreneurial Ecosystems, One Collaboration at a Time
  • Not all Entrepreneurs are Alike: The 4 Quadrants of Entrepreneurship
  • Best Practices in Spurring Entrepreneurial Growth: What’s Hot Across America
  • How to Assess the Gaps in Your Entrepreneurial Ecosystem
  • The Entrepreneurial Dashboard: Is Your Community Hitting on All Cylinders?

Awards and Recognition

Check out our accomplishments below

IEDC SourceLink Award

International Economic Development Council

2019 Silver Excellence in Economic Development Internet and Digital Media for KCSourceLink website redesign

2018 Bronze Excellence in Economic Development for We Create Jobs Report

2017 Gold Excellence in Economic Development for We Create Annual Report

Southern Economic Development Council

2018 Merit Award for We Create Jobs Report

2017 Communications Award for We Create Annual Report

Northeast Economic Development Association

2017 Visual Marketing Business Resource Guide - Resource Rail

University Economic Development Association

2011 Excellence in Innovation and Entrepreneurship

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