Our Team

Find out who is behind helping your small business dreams get off the ground. The Institute staff has the network and expertise to help entrepreneurs and innovators at any stage of their journey with any problem.

Bon Wikenheiser

Executive Director – Institute for Business & Entrepreneurship

Bon most enjoys empowering others to realize their best work. When the right people have a common goal at the right time, truly remarkable progress happens. Creating these teams based on the needs of others and the talent of the professionals involved is the driving motivation for what she does. Bon values these relationships and the commitments colleagues have to their clients and communities.


Colleen Merrill

Strategic Projects Director – Institute for Business & Entrepreneurship

Colleen specializes in creative financial packages, strategy planning, startups and connecting to resources. She maintains a workplace that is fast paced, fun, collaborative and always looking for ways to innovate and improve. Watching clients achieve their dreams through hard work and dedication is one of her favorite aspects of the job.

Ken Little

SBDC State Director – Small Business Development Center

Ken creates a rewarding and steady professional environment, which makes it easy for him to come to work every day. He enjoys anything that adds value to the small business community and improves the quality of life for entrepreneurs across the state.

Gina Ferraro

Business Affairs Director – Institute for Business & Entrepreneurship
Financial Officer – Small Business Development Center

One aspect of Gina’s job that she really enjoys is working with a great team because she feels you can accomplish so much more when you work together. Projects become especially meaningful to Gina when they help translate abstract numbers into a concrete value.

Jason Geissler

Data Manager – Institute for Business & Entrepreneurship

People who have worked with Jason describe him as easygoing and always keeping the big picture in mind. He feels the best aspect of his job so far has been the amazing colleagues at IBE. He firmly believes that anything can be a good experience if you do it with the right people around you and IBE is full of the right people.

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Paula Gilbeck

Strategic Communications and Outreach Manager – Institute for Business & Entrepreneurship

Paula’s favorite aspect of her job is figuring out how to be more impactful, how to best “tell our story,” and how to find the best channels to deliver those pieces of good news. She loves the fact that a solid communications plan can result in impacts and have reverberations from local audiences to elected officials and beyond. Those who work with Paula enjoy the positive and creative energy she brings to a team atmosphere.

James Wegener

Network Accountant – Institute for Business & Entrepreneurship
State Network Accountant
Small Business Development Center

Areas of expertise for James include numbers and budgets. Designing and managing spreadsheets and pivot tables are especially important to him. His co-workers value his ability to interpret and explain policy and say James is always a pleasure to be around. Those who work with James enjoy his patience, positive attitude and efficiency.

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Kody Ova

Marketing & Communications Specialist – Institute for Business & Entrepreneurship

Kody’s favorite aspect of his job is the ability to access every part of entrepreneurship in Wisconsin. As the marketing and communications specialist for the Institute, he is able to touch and promote every part of the programming, from the high-tech CTC to food businesses in FFI and everything in-between with the SBDC. Helping to tell client stories in creative ways is meaningful to him.

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Stephanie Robey

Outreach Program Coordinator – Institute for Business & Entrepreneurship

Stephanie’s areas of expertise include writing, proofreading, event planning and organization. Others say of working with Stephanie that she always “gets things done with a smile.” One of her favorite parts of the job is interviewing clients and then compiling the information to write their business success stories.

Cayla Leikin

Grant Administrator – Institute for Business & Entrepreneurship

One favorite aspect of her job is working with her IBE co-workers and program stakeholders. She also enjoys the opportunity to collaborate and innovate across units on pre- and post-award administration and management.

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Melissa Meschke

Economic Development Outreach Manager – Institute for Business & Entrepreneurship

Melissa’s favorite part of her role is to be able to make connections and explore possibilities. Working with data, research and knowledge of communities all across the state, she looks for potential ways the Institute of Business & Entrepreneurship can serve Wisconsin’s economic developers and businesses.

Meet Our Program Teams

The Institute is strong due to the dedicated, collaborative teams assembled across our program units. Learn more about them and the work they do.