NetWork Kansas Team
Steve Radley, President & CEO
Steve Radley is the President and CEO of NetWork Kansas. A resident of Wichita, Steve began his career in the private sector as the 28th employee of a business startup technology company, Brite Voice Systems in Wichita. The company grew from $6 million to more than $175 million during the nine years Steve worked for Kansas entrepreneur Stan Brannan. Since then, Steve has co-owned two businesses including a manufactured housing dealership that was sold to the largest manufacturer in the country, Champion Enterprises. Steve’s work experience centers on business development and taking products and businesses from startup to maturity. Steve has an MBA from the W. Frank Barton School of Business at Wichita State University, an MA in Christian Ministry from Friends University, and a BA in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma.
Phone: (316) 425-7572
Erik Pedersen, Vice President of Entrepreneurship
Erik is the Vice President of Entrepreneurship for the Kansas Center for Entrepreneurship DBA NetWork Kansas. Erik’s initial task was the development and growth of the NetWork Kansas referral center. Erik’s responsibilities have grown to oversee the Entrepreneurship (E-) Community partnership. This partnership, which has grown to 66 E-Communities, includes an injection of capital raised locally through the NetWork Kansas Entrepreneurship Tax Credit Program to help start and grow businesses in rural Kansas communities. Erik graduated from Friends University in 1988 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. Erik began his career in 1990 when he went to work for a Wichita-based technology startup company, Brite Voice Systems, owned by Stan Brannan. At Brite Voice, Erik worked in marketing and business development. In 1997, Erik left Brite Voice to start a manufactured housing dealership with Steve Radley, President of the Kansas Center for Entrepreneurship. The business was later sold to the largest manufacturer in the country, Champion Enterprises, and Erik remained with Champion as General Manager until May 2005. Erik’s work experience centers on the overall operation and management of fast growing businesses and organizations.
Phone: (316) 425-8841
P.O. Box 877
Andover, KS 67002-0877
Fax (316) 425-7596
Don Macke, Vice President, e2 Entrepreneurial Ecosystems
Don Macke leads e2 Entrepreneurial Ecosystems (formerly the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship), a new initiative with NetWork Kansas to build sustainable Entrepreneurial Ecosystems across North America. Don has over 40 years of community economic development and policy experience. He was most recently the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the national Center for Rural Entrepreneurship. Through this work, Don helps communities and regions throughout North America grow entrepreneur-focused economic development strategies and ecosystems. Don calls Nebraska home and he is a proud resident of America’s Great Plains Region.
Phone: (402) 323-7336
Tiffany Nixon, Manager, Referral Center Operations
While attending Wichita State University, Tiffany took part in the Cooperative Education program and obtained a job with NetWork Kansas as a part-time referral coordinator. When she graduated from Wichita State University in December of 2014 with a Bachelor's in Business Administration in Management she was hired on Full-time with NetWork Kansas as a Product Manager. As a Product Manager, Tiffany works with entrepreneurs in providing resources and capturing key metrics on various state-wide programs. She has now been with NetWork Kansas for about five years and loves being able to work one-on-one with entrepreneurs, business owners, and resource partners. Her passion was always to be able to help others in any way.
Phone: (316) 425-6025
Amara Kniep, Manager, E-Community Programs
Amara Kniep grew up in Wichita, KS and holds a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing, with a minor in Management, from Wichita State University. Her professional experience includes both Workforce Development, while working at the Kansas Department of Commerce, and Economic Development, having worked at NetWork Kansas for a total of seven years. In her current role, Amara oversees statewide programming, including the growth of the Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge (YEC) Series and the development of VentureDash.
Phone: (316) 425-8832
Ciara Thyfault, Senior Product Manager, Rural Entrepreneurship, Central Region
For over three years, Ciara was a staff member in the NetWork Kansas referral center. At the end of 2015, she was hired to be the primary point person for the central region E-Communities. Ciara graduated from Wichita State University with a BS in Business Administration in Marketing and a minor in Entrepreneurship. She grew up outside of Towanda, KS but now resides in Wichita. Because she grew up in a rural community and has family members throughout the state in other rural communities, Ciara loves fostering relationships and working with her E-Communities to cultivate an entrepreneurial culture.
Phone: (316) 425-0083
Sarah LaRosh, Manager, Rural Entrepreneurship, Western Kansas
Sarah eagerly joined NetWork Kansas in 2017 as a Product Manager of Rural Entrepreneurship, Western Region. She comes to NetWork Kansas with a degree from Tabor College in Business Administration and a concentration in Accounting and Finance. Her top strengths are Achiever, Positivity, Responsibility, Learner and Belief. Sarah is based out of rural Osborne County where the LaRosh family homesteaded in 1871 and is still deeply entrenched in agriculture. She currently serves as the board chair of the Osborne County Community Foundation and has a tremendous passion for rural Kansas, is “Rural by Choice” and a Kansas Explorer. With three young children Sarah has devoted countless time, talent and treasure to ensuring the betterment of Kansas.
Phone: (785) 346-4978
Imagene Harris, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Impact Investment
Imagene serves as the Director of Strategic Partnerships and Impact Investment and oversees NetWork Kansas's statewide funding programs. Imagene joined NetWork Kansas in December 2013 after working in compliance for the Kansas Department of Healthy and Environment (KDHE). She is a lifelong Kansan, hailing from Ottawa and now calling Lawrence home, where she also earned a BS in Environmental Studies from the University of Kansas. Most recently she completed her Masters of Business Administration from Fort Hays State University. Imagene especially appreciates the opportunity to work for an organization whose resources not only help Kansas businesses and entrepreneurs but also improve the quality of life in Kansas.
Phone: (785) 296-0383
Kristi Pedersen, Director, Budget & Administration
As Financial Specialist for NetWork Kansas, Kristi is responsible for all aspects of the accounting process. Her career began in 1990 working in the accounting department for Brite Voice Systems in Wichita, KS. After 7 years experience with Brite Voice, Kristi became a stay-at-home mom. During that time, Kristi continued to work part-time in accounting for a couple of small business ventures. In 2009, she was hired to oversee NetWork Kansas’ accounting. Kristi graduated with a BA in business administration with an emphasis in accounting from Bethany College in 1989.
Phone: (316) 425-8808
Kristan Davis, Product Manager
Kristan is pursuing a Human Resource Management degree from Wichita State University and will be graduating in the spring of 2018. She has obtained an Associate’s degree from Cowley Community College under a music scholarship. She has been surrounded by an entrepreneurial family in both Kansas and Oklahoma and enjoys helping people be successful in operating businesses in Kansas. In her spare time she enjoys taking pictures of friends and family, singing and reading.
Phone: (316) 425-6032
Thomas Papadatos, Product Manager, Resource Network
Thomas is a Wichita native and Wichita State University graduate with degrees in Finance and Management Information Systems. Thomas is interested in learning more about the entrepreneurial ecosystem to best assist entrepreneurs in achieving their goals. With the hopes of pursuing his own entrepreneurial endeavor in the future, Thomas enjoys; listening to, learning and producing music, reading and drinking coffee.
Christy Preston, Product Manager, Rural Entrepreneurship, Western Region
Christy joined NetWork Kansas in 2019 as a Product Manager, Rural Entrepreneurship, Western Region. Christy grew up on a small family farm in the corner of Northwest Kansas. She comes to NetWork Kansas with more than 15 years of real estate sales experience and nearly four years of economic development experience. Christy worked as the Director of the Thomas County Economic Development Alliance in Colby, Kansas. For Christy, it is about building relationships and helping people. She is passionate about promoting rural entrepreneurs and assisting them in finding solutions and opportunities to enhance their success. Christy is an outdoor enthusiast, loves traveling and most of all spoiling her grandchildren! Christy and her husband live in Selden, Kansas.
Nick Poels, Director, Remote Work & Entrepreneurship
Nick joined the NetWork Kansas team in July 2020 as the Director of Remote Work and Entrepreneurship; leading a new initiative to develop tech education and create remote job opportunity throughout the state of Kansas. Nick has over 12 years of Economic Development and Entrepreneurship experience, most recently serving as the Executive Director of economic development for Phillips County (2014-2020) and as the President of wKREDA in 2017. Nick’s professional career began in 2002 as Co-Owner and Director of Sales & Marketing for Poels Trading Ltd; a family operated international design company based in the United Kingdom. His passion for entrepreneurship, regional growth and collaboration across rural Kansas has been demonstrated through the development of multiple initiatives that have been widely recognized and replicated throughout the state. Nick and his family are proud residents of NW Kansas, living in the childhood hometown of his wife, Tami.
Jenn Laird, Manager, Rural Entrepreneurship, Eastern Region
Jenn Laird, a Kansas native and rural by choice advocate, is dedicated to discovering, empowering, and inspiring the unique authenticity of individuals, organizations, and communities. Whether in her award-winning role as editor of the local newspaper, serving as the first Chase County economic development director or in her own entrepreneurial ventures, Jenn’s passion and dedication to identifying, cultivating, and showcasing small business and community strengths is unwavering.
Jenn, who now resides in the beautiful Flint Hills community of Cottonwood Falls, is committed to a “grow your own’ mentality and has fought for quality-of-life improvements in her community and across Kansas with measurable success. Dedicating more than half a dozen years ensuring Chase County was not lost in the digital divide, Jenn helped to coordinate and secure 100 percent funding for a countywide 1GB broadband infrastructure buildout, which was completed in late 2020. As a certified facilitator of the Ice House and Destination Boot Camp-Destination Creation educational programs, she has introduced students of all ages to vital concepts needed to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and essential marketing and branding practices that uniquely increase traffic and generate revenue.
Through her role as Region Manager for NetWork Kansas, she will continue to celebrate, support, and advocate for the growth of sustainable, equitable, and inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystems in both rural and underserved urban communities.
NetWork Kansas Board of Directors
Mr. Anthony Dellasega, President, Community National Bank
Mr. David O'Dell CPA, CGMA, Professor of Accounting, Department of Business, Chair, McPherson College
Ms. Suzan Barnes
Owner, Grand Central Hotel
Mr. Wally Kearns, Founding Partner
Former State Director, Small Business Development Centers
Mr. Corey Mohn, Executive Director of the Blue Valley Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS)
Ms. Clare Gustin, VP of Member Services & External Affairs,
Sunflower Electric Power Corporation
Dr. Robert Weems, Jr.
The Willard W. Garvey Distinguished Professor of Business History, Wichita State University
Mr. Greg Jordan, State Director, Kansas Small Business Development Center
Ms. Michele Weigand, Chief Transformation Officer, Department of Energy’s Kansas City National Security Campus operated by Honeywell