Ilene Frankel, Executive Director

Joined: 2012

Named Executive Director: 2021

ILENE-sIlene is passionate about giving young people the chance to learn about and experience entrepreneurship. She leads the entrepreneurial programming, professional development, and ecosystem-building teams at YEI, working with K-12 educators, schools, programs, networks, and entrepreneurial education providers throughout the country. In 2023, Ilene was named the W. Robert Simpson ‘48 Chair in Entrepreneurship at University School where she leads the curricular and extracurricular entrepreneurial programming for the school.

Throughout her tenure at YEI, Ilene has worked on all of YEI’s programs and initiatives, including Young Entrepreneur Pitch Challenge, Young Entrepreneur Market and the annual Enspire Conference. 

Prior to joining YEI, Ilene spent more than twenty years working in businesses of all sizes. Ilene is a board member of the Rekindle Fellowship, an organization devoted to driving social change through collaboration between the Black and Jewish communities in Cleveland. She is an Emeritus Trustee of the Rainbow Babies & Children’s Foundation, where she served on the board for nine years. Ilene holds an Economics degree from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. 

Ilene lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her husband and two elderly pugs. Her three grown children live on the West Coast.

Jessica Dragar, Senior Outreach and Engagement Manager

Joined: 2018

As Senior Outreach and Engagement Manager, Jessica’s focus is to forge relationships with educators, administrators, and community partners. She leads educator support strategy and execution in Northeast Ohio and in out-of-school time markets throughout the country.

Jessica’s passion for engaging the community and supporting youth programming is her driving force to connect students and educators to entrepreneurial resources. 

Prior to joining Young Entrepreneur Institute, Jessica was an integral part of the Ohio Treasurer’s Office. During this time, she held regional and statewide roles in Economic Development, Financial Education and Public Affairs. She is an experienced community connector, educator and program manager. Jessica holds a BS in Human Ecology from The Ohio State University.

Jessica lives in Northeast Ohio. She enjoys spending time with her husband and two children, traveling, and attending Ohio State football games!

Katy Nozar, Director of Development

Joined: 2022

Katy joined the YEI team in Spring 2022 as Director of Development. In her newly created role, she is responsible for cultivating and stewarding relationships with community members, funders, and potential partners to support the mission of Young Entrepreneur Institute.

Katy enjoys using her passion for relationship-building to enhance the work of YEI. She believes wholeheartedly in the impact entrepreneurial programming can have on a child’s learning, development, and future.

Her career in development has allowed Katy to have fulfilling experiences fundraising for impactful organizations such as EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute, Michigan Medicine at the University of Michigan, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She holds a BS in Education from Bowling Green State University.

In her free time, Katy enjoys spending time with friends and family, reading, spoiling her pets, and taking hikes in the Cleveland Metroparks.

Dr. Marion Dunagan, Program Director, Northwest Arkansas

Joined: 2023

Marion’s passion for service and education has led to a career dedicated to bringing access and opportunity to students of all ages. With experience in K-12, community college, regional institutions, and a Research 1 university, Marion has worked with many students, from 7th graders learning to shake hands to Ph.D. students studying entrepreneurship. Most notably, Marion served as Assistant Dean for Graduate Programs at the Sam M. Walton College of Business for over a decade, honing her interest in entrepreneurship and business plan competitions and allowing her to develop a large network focused on the Northwest Arkansas start-up community.

A native of Fayetteville, Marion leads Young Entrepreneur Institute’s work in Northwest Arkansas, cultivating the region’s K-12 entrepreneurship education ecosystem of educators, curriculum providers, entrepreneurial advisors, and start-up founders. Marion consults with educators looking for the perfect entrepreneurship curriculum for their classroom, curriculum providers who would like to join YEI’s effort, and community partners focused on improving K-12 education in Northwest Arkansas.

Marion holds an earned doctorate in Workforce Education, a master’s degree in English Literature, and a bachelors in forensic anthropology, all from the University of Arkansas.

Hilola Tuychieva, Assistant Director, Northwest Arkansas

Joined: 2024

Hilola is deeply passionate about helping students access resources and opportunities in the entrepreneurial sphere, empowering them to succeed in their future careers. Hilola believes that cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset is essential for all students, regardless of whether they plan to start or grow their own businesses. Passionate about entrepreneurship education, Hilola is dedicated to promoting innovative programs within the NWA community and fostering entrepreneurial skills in K-12 students.

For the past 15 years, Hilola has dedicated her career to higher education at the University of Arkansas. She has held various positions, from Admission Analyst to Program Manager, across multiple departments. In her most recent role as Program Manager at the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Hilola managed several student programs, including the NSF I-Corps Regional Program, Arkansas Commercialization Retreat, New Venture Development Mentor Weekend and Heartland Challenge Competition, all of which fostered student entrepreneurship. 

Hilola holds bachelor’s degrees in foreign Languages from Central Asia, and Supply Chain Management/Retail from the Walton School of Business, University of Arkansas.

Kelly Biggar, Senior Program Manager

Joined: 2018

Kelly believes in entrepreneurial experiences for youth as a way to develop life skills, gain real world experience, and connect with other students. As Senior Program Manager, Kelly supports the Northwest Arkansas Initiative and YEI’s work in out-of-school time organizations. Kelly teaches, coaches, and consults with educators to bring the entrepreneurial mindset to K-12 students.

Prior to joining Young Entrepreneur Institute, Kelly worked as an administrator in University School’s Athletic Department. She has extensive experience working in the Cleveland real estate market, in both property management and sales. Kelly started her career in customer service management with Progressive Insurance. She holds a BS in Consumer Economics from the University of Vermont.

Elizabeth Chois, Senior Manager, Education

Joined: 2024

Elizabeth’s passion as an educator combines with her entrepreneurial spirit and desire to look outside of the box for new and different opportunities and challenges. She is adamant that students should learn how to solve problems by following their interests to new and different avenues.

Elizabeth is a seasoned educator with 22 years of elementary school and Spanish education experience. She joined the YEI team in 2024 following 17 years as part of the University School faculty. Before her tenure at University School, she lived and worked in Cali, Colombia teaching at Colegio Bolivar, and in Dayton, Ohio teaching at The Dayton Academy.

Elizabeth leads the development of educational curriculum, activities, workshops, and toolkits to build entrepreneurial skills and works with teachers to bring entrepreneurship into their classrooms and out-of-school programs.

Elizabeth holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in French and Spanish from Miami University, a Master of Science in Education from the University of Dayton, and a Master of Arts in Spanish from Cleveland State University. Outside of the classroom, she is a triathlete who enjoys swimming, running, and cycling.

Marissa Wilson, Senior Program Manager, Pitch Challenge

Joined: 2024

Understanding that entrepreneurship is becoming a more and more popular path for the next generation of leaders, Marissa is passionate about exposing students to the skillsets and mindsets that can prepare them for the journey.

Marissa leads the Young Entrepreneur Pitch Challenge (YEPC) program, overseeing annual planning, contest design, workshop development and execution, and other program logistics for this foundational program in all formats and markets.

Marissa is an entrepreneur herself as the founder and CEO of Capsoul, and has professional experience as an early employee at a venture-backed startup. She is a graduate of Ohio University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

Evan Yule, Marketing and Technology Assistant

Joined: 2021

In his role, Evan has a hand in a wide variety of projects, with a focus on the organization’s data management, newsletter, and other marketing communications. He strives to make a meaningful difference both individually and within the community by actively supporting each of YEI’s initiatives.

Evan’s drive for spreading the entrepreneurial mindset is rooted in personal experience. As a young participant in multiple entrepreneurship workshops, he gained an appreciation for the impact that early exposure can have. His experience selling at local farmers markets helped to solidify his passion for building relationships with local merchants and customers.

Evan holds a BA in Strategic Communications from The Ohio State University. Outside of YEI, Evan enjoys cooking, traveling, and outdoor adventures.

Liz Nusken, OST Program Manager

Joined: 2023

Liz Nusken is a passionate advocate for out-of-school time learning. Children, youth, and teens spend more time out of school than in school, and she knows how experiences that take place outside of the traditional school day can be transformative for young people. Liz connected with Young Entrepreneur Institute through her role at the  Ohio Afterschool Network, and works directly with YEI to help out-of-school time educators and partners to help bring entrepreneurship to their K-12 participants.

Liz’s previous professional experiences include being a Technical Advisor for the YMCA of the USA’s Evidence-Based Youth Development initiative, directing the Ohio Afterschool Network and the Ohio Child Care Resource and Referral Association’s Afterschool Initiative, fundraising and volunteer management in corporate community relations, healthcare, and education. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Miami University.

Patty Owens, Young Entrepreneur Market Coordinator

Joined: 2022

As a parent of a young entrepreneur, Patty knows first-hand the positive impact YEI programming can have on students. In her role, she supports students as they start and develop their first businesses, preparing them to sell at Young Entrepreneur Market locations throughout Northeast Ohio. 

In addition to her passion for youth entrepreneurship, Patty is also an entrepreneur herself, having started her own marketing and events business seven years ago. Prior to starting her own business, she spent 15 years in various marketing communication roles with PricewaterhouseCoopers and Complient Corporation, a Solon-based health and safety solutions start-up. Patty is a Trustee of the Rainbow Babies & Children’s Foundation and a former Trustee of the Aurora Schools Foundation. She holds a BS in Business Administration from John Carroll University.

Dr. Celena Roebuck, Entrepreneurship Teacher, YEI Faculty Liaison

Joined: 2023

Celena has more than 30 years of teaching and leadership experience, primarily in public school career and technical education. She is passionate about helping students make informed choices about career pathways – a devoted career influencer!

As an entrepreneurship teacher at University School, Celena serves as an educational advisor to the Young Entrepreneur Institute team. 

Before coming to University School, Celena was Superintendent at Cuyahoga Valley Career Center (CVCC) in Brecksville, Ohio. In recent years she has been the Manager, MBA Programs for Cleveland State University, Manager of Educational Content at Ideastream, and the Statewide Project Lead for the nationwide American Graduate Getting to Work initiative. 

Celena holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Ashland University, an MBA from Cleveland State University, and a BS in Secondary Education, Career and Technical Business Education from Kent State University.

Matthew Podl, Special Projects

Joined: 2018, Rejoined: 2023

Matthew returned to the Young Entrepreneur Institute in 2023, bringing with him a wealth of experience in marketing and technology. His role focuses on enhancing social media engagement and collaborating with educators to incorporate entrepreneurial games into classroom settings. Matthew’s efforts aim to provide innovative resources that inspire and educate young entrepreneurs.

During his earlier tenure at YEI from 2018 to 2021, Matthew played a pivotal role in developing marketing strategies that significantly increased program participation and social media followership. His successful initiatives have left a lasting impact on the institute’s outreach and educational offerings.

Prior to his return, Matthew explored other ventures, enhancing his skills and gaining diverse experiences that now benefit the YEI community. He holds a degree in Human and Organizational Development from Vanderbilt University.

Matthew is driven by his commitment to educational innovation and the potential to positively influence the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Robin Eisen, Special Projects Manager

Joined: 2018

As YEI Special Projects Manager, Robin is the go-to person for the development of new programs and activities. In 2018, she created the framework and operations for the Enspire Mini-Grant program, the model for which helped develop YIPPEE Exchange. 

Robin has more than 20 years of experience in community building, fundraising, and marketing in the commercial and non-profit sectors. She has a passion for social justice and created TeenUp CLE, a camp for middle and high school students focused on social entrepreneurship..

Robin has been a board member of Youth Challenge for more than ten years, and a board member of Champions for Charity for the past five years. She holds an MBA from Northeastern University and a BA from Indiana University.

Mary Schoen, Project Manager

Joined: 2014, Rejoined: 2022

Mary initially joined the Young Entrepreneur Institute in 2014 as a Coordinator and later served as Associate Director until 2018. She returned to YEI in 2022 to support special projects and act as a liaison to the YIPPEE Exchange team. With her extensive experience in project management, Mary excels in streamlining complex processes and ensuring project success.

In addition to her responsibilities at YEI, Mary enjoys teaching yoga and mindfulness. She also invests time in supporting other entrepreneurial ventures, drawing on her deep understanding of organizational dynamics and personal wellness.

Mary holds a dual BA in Psychology & Sociology from Hunter College, City University of New York.

Advisory Council

Greg Malkin – Chair, YEI Advisory Council;

Retired Founder of YEI

Justin Lepley – Entrepreneur-in-Residence, YEI

Owner and Founder, Lepley Holdings (Lepley & Co, Solidago Business Advisors) and Director of Northside Marketplace

Steven Shin

Executive in Residence, Altos Ventures

Megan Moran

Owner/Founder, Mompreneur Co.

Ethan Holmes

Founder/CEO, Homes Applesauce

Anne Johnson 

Founder/CEO, Anne Cate