Ilene Frankel, Executive Director
Ilene is passionate about giving young people the chance to learn about and experience entrepreneurship. In the fall of 2021, she became Executive Director for Young Entrepreneur Institute, as YEI’s founder, Greg Malkin, shifted to an emeritus role. In her new position, Ilene leads the entrepreneurial programming and ecosystem building teams at YEI, working with educators, schools, networks and entrepreneurial education program providers in Northeast Ohio and beyond. She also serves as the head of K-12 entrepreneurial programming at University School.
Ilene joined Young Entrepreneur Institute in 2012 to focus on helping high school educators build engagement with entrepreneurship education activities. Since 2015, she has led the development and growth of Enspire, the annual professional development conference for educators that’s organized in partnership with Burton D. Morgan Foundation.
Ilene has more than twenty years of business and marketing experience – most notably as Marketing Director at Cole Vision Corporation, and also advising start-ups in the Cleveland area. Ilene is a former Trustee of the Rainbow Babies & Children’s Foundation, where she served on the board for nine years. She holds an Economics degree from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Jessie Jones, Afterschool Program Director
Jessie is enthusiastic about entrepreneurship education as a way to empower students to make positive change in their lives and their communities. As Young Entrepreneur Institute Afterschool Program Director, Jessie develops and curates entrepreneurship education content; leads workshops for students and educators; and cultivates and nurtures relationships with organizations and individuals serving youth across the nation. Prior to YEI, Jessie spent ten years as a technology and business consultant. She holds an MS in Civil Engineering from The Ohio State University and a BA in English from Guilford College.
Kelly Biggar, Afterschool Programs Manager
Kelly believes in entrepreneurial experiences for youth as a way to develop life skills, gain real world experience, and connect with other students. As Program Manager for Afterschool, she works to share entrepreneurial programming with afterschool and out-of-school organizations nationwide. Through our signature Young Entrepreneur Pitch Challenge program, 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.
Kelly holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Consumer Economics from the University of Vermont.
Nicole Canitano, Program Manager for Pitch Challenge and High School Relationships in NEO
Nicole leads all aspects of the Young Entrepreneur Pitch Challenge program in Northeast Ohio, in addition to providing support for high school educators and program managers in Northeast Ohio. Nicole also leads the US Entrepreneur Cup and the US Pitch Cup competitions at University School.
Nicole’s past experience includes eight years at Destination Cleveland, where she created and implemented programs to improve the experience for visitors to Cleveland. She worked with businesses to add innovative experiential elements; trained and supervised volunteers; and she forged a partnership with the Cleveland Leadership Center to enhance the Accelerate competition. Nicole has a B.S. in Elementary Education from Miami University, and she spent five years teaching fifth grade in the Brecksville-Broadview Heights schools.
Jessica Dragar, Program Manager, K-8 Programs and Lemonade Day
Jessica’s passion for engaging the community and supporting youth programming, is her driving force to connect students and educators to entrepreneurial resources. The Young Entrepreneur Market provides K-12 students with real-world selling opportunities at community events and area farmers markets. This unique program, with hands-on experience, helps to develop critical hard and soft skills that are needed for future success.
Prior to joining the Young Entrepreneur Institute, Jessica was an integral part of the Ohio Treasurer’s Office. During this time, she held numerous regional and statewide roles in Economic Development, Financial Education and Public Affairs. She is an experienced community connector, educator and program manager. Jessica earned her Bachelor of Science in Human Ecology from The Ohio State University.
Ariana Smith, Program Coordinator
Ariana is joining our YEI team as a Program Coordinator. She has a passion for motivating and encouraging youth and has dedicated the past decade actively serving as a mentor, educator, and advocate for others. For the last six years, Ariana has taught Entrepreneurship and Leadership Development to 6th-grade boys through the Reaching MAGIS program at St. Ignatius High School.
In addition, Ariana has been immersed in the world of Entrepreneurship since she was 12 years old and competed in several business plan competitions. As a Progam Coordinator, Ariana will be involved with our Young Entrepreneur Market, Financial Literacy Club, Stock Market Challenge, E-Club, and more! She is excited to be a part of our team and helping students to understand and experience entrepreneurship.
Robin Eisen, Special Projects Manager
As Special Projects Manager at Young Entrepreneur Institute, Robin is the go-to person for development of new programs and activities. In 2018, she created the framework and operations for the Enspire Mini-Grant program which awarded small grants to more than 350 educators for entrepreneurial education support. In addition, Robin leads all YEI monthly Power Hours for educators, trains educators and students on the art of elevator pitching, and is our resident entrepreneurial game master.
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.
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.
Evan Yule, Marketing and Technology Assistant
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 recent time selling at local farmers markets helped to solidify the passion he has for building relationships with local merchants and customers.
As our Marketing and Technology Assistant, Evan will have a hand in a wide variety of YEI projects, including a focus on our newsletter and social media. He hopes to make a positive impact on an individual and community level by providing support for each of YEI’s endeavors.
Before starting his career with the YEI team, Evan graduated from The Ohio State University with a B.A. in Strategic Communications.
Greg Malkin, Founder and Advisor
Greg is a serial entrepreneur who began his entrepreneurial journey in high school. In 1983, he founded Technical Software, Inc. and served as its president until selling the business to a public company in 2000. Greg was an Inc. Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist and for seven years in a row his company was a Weatherhead School of Management Top 100 Growth Company.
In 2005, Greg founded the Young Entrepreneur Institute to focus on K-12 entrepreneurship education. Greg has won numerous awards for his work with entrepreneurship education including the Teacher of the Year by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship; Outstanding Entrepreneurship Educator by the Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education; Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year finalist; National Federation of Small Business (NFIB) Entrepreneur Educator of the Year; and the Leavey Award for Excellence in Private Enterprise Education by the Freedoms Foundation.
He retired as Executive Director of YEI in 2021 and continues to act as an advisor to the organization while running his latest entrepreneurial venture, Model Landmarks.
Greg holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a Masters Degree in Education from Ursuline College.
Nicole Lawrence, US Teacher, Economics & Entrepreneurship
Nicole loves inspiring students to dream big and reach their full potential. Nicole manages the University School Community Engagement Program, national and international trips, the exchange programs with partner schools in China and Kenya, summer internships, and the Anderson Scholars Program where students pursue a concentration in entrepreneurship or science. She also teaches Economics and Entrepreneurship at University School.
Nicole earned her undergraduate degree at Oberlin College and her MBA from The Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University. Prior to US, she was a founding staff member and the Director of Programs and Alumni Relations at E CITY, or Entrepreneurship: Connecting, Inspiring and Teaching Youth. E CITY teaches entrepreneurship, business and life skills to over 1,300 youth from low-income areas in Cleveland.
George Heath, US Teacher, Economics & Entrepreneurship
George translates his diverse business experiences into stories that educate and inspire students in the classroom, not only at University School, but at Miami University, the State University of New York, Clemson University, and elsewhere. George retired from Sherwin-Williams where he was a Group President with over 7,000 employees in North and South America, Europe, and Asia. As President, he helped grow the business from $1.6 billion to over $3 billion in just 5 years. Before becoming a President, George led sales and marketing teams at Sherwin-Williams, PPG Industries in Pittsburgh, Axeda, a venture-funded startup in Boston, and at Thermovation Engineering, an equipment manufacturer in Cleveland that grew more than 1,900 percent during George’s tenure, winning five consecutive Weatherhead 100 Awards. George holds a MBA from Miami University and a BFA from Bowling Green State University.
Stacey Banks Houston, US Teacher, History of American Capitalism
Stacey is a business owner who has committed herself to the launch and growth of entrepreneurs for the past 15 years. She served as Director of the SBA’s Small Business Development Center where she was awarded the SBA Minority Small Business Champion Award. She also served as Director of the Women’s Business Centre in Tampa, Florida.
Stacey has passionately energized students to pursue entrepreneurship during her work at Yale University, Kent State University and Hiram College. While at Kent State University, Stacey created the Mentor and Protégé Program (MAPP) which matched minority students interested in entrepreneurship to be mentored by Kent State Minority Alumni business owners. MAPP was recognized during the first ever White House Entrepreneurship Demo Day in 2015.
Stacey holds a BA from Ursuline College and MBA from Cleveland State University.