Driven to succeed by our passion for the region.
Team NEO’s highly experienced staff and results-oriented culture drive us to find solutions that help businesses expand and create jobs in the Northeast Ohio Region.
William (Bill) KoehlerChief Executive Officer Email William (Bill) Koehler 216-363-5420
As Chief Executive Officer of Team NEO, Bill Koehler is focused on seeing the Northeast Ohio Region grow and thrive. He’s a collaborative economic development advocate and business leader working to create economic vibrancy in Northeast Ohio by advancing understanding of the talent gap, enhancing site preparedness, building supply chain resilience, accelerating the impact of innovation, and promoting the region as a business destination.
Leveraging more than 25 years’ experience in corporate financial services, for-profit board and private company investor roles, and education-focused not-for-profit boards and committees, Bill engages the economic development network to create coordinated, regional business development strategies to attract new business and help current Northeast Ohio companies grow.
Under Bill’s leadership, Team NEO has a track record of exceeding performance metrics for completed business investment projects in the Northeast Ohio Region. Team NEO has worked on 627 projects that will generate more than 46,000 new jobs, $2.4B in annual payroll and $11.6B in capital investments, related to JobsOhio’s financial incentive programs, since 2015.
Prior to joining Team NEO, Bill served as President of Key Community Bank, where he led 9,000 employees across 14 states. During his banking career, Bill worked with private and public middle market companies. He earned a Master of Business Administration in Accounting and Finance from Columbia University’s Business School and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Harvard University.
Bill serves on a number of education-related, non-profit boards and committees including College Now of Greater Cleveland, Friends of Breakthrough Charter Schools, Urban Community School, and is the former Board Chair of St. Ignatius High School. His accolades include the Northeast Ohio Smart Business Smart 50 Awards and Crain’s Power 150, recognizing the most influential leaders positioned to move the Northeast Ohio Region forward.
Industry and Innovation
Steve FritschVice President, Industry Advancement and Engagement Email Steve Fritsch 330-414-4676
Steve Fritsch leads the deployment of Team NEO’s industry strategy, which includes business development, cluster advancement & network engagement. In his more than 15 years at Team NEO, he has been a key part of standing up a network engagement system towards greater collaboration and interdependence among economic development partners across our 18-county region; leading an inclusive, research-driven regional brand building process while honoring the uniqueness of the communities that call Northeast Ohio home; and being part of a small team that developed the Vibrant Economy Index – a tool that helps us measure our performance across a number of variables in talent, equity, innovation and resilience.
Steve brings a network system orientation to his work by engaging partners and stakeholders early, leveraging each’s unique capabilities to lift the collective effort. He is a strategic relator, able to connect and unite to achieve greater impact. His greatest interest is in understand what success looks like, then equipping his team with the tools to accomplish it. Through his efforts, Team NEO’s Business Development Council emerged as a venue for economic development and business leaders to share insights, build alignment, drive performance, and advance inclusion – manifesting into Northeast Ohio winning a record number of job creation investments by companies in 2021.
Steve has served on the Board of Directors of the Ohio Economic Development Association and the Industrial Asset Management Council Demographics Committee. Steve graduated from Kent State University with a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences. He is actively involved in the United Methodist Church of Kent. Steve and his family reside in Hudson, Ohio.
Paul BoulierVice President, Industry and Innovation Email Paul Boulier 216-363-5402
Paul is responsible for developing and executing direct-to-company business attraction for the region’s core industries, including metal fabrication and machinery; polymers, chemicals and coatings; energy, oil & gas; as well as packaging and transportation.
Previously, Paul held senior management roles at A. Schulman, a global thermoplastics compounder serving the packaging, transportation, consumer products, industrial and agricultural markets; Core Molding Technologies, designer/molder of reinforced composite products for the transportation, electronics, industrial, automotive aftermarket and alternative energy markets; Avery Dennison, a manufacturer of high-performance adhesives and consumer products; and Nova Chemicals, a global manufacturer of Styrenics polymers, polyethylene and petrochemicals.
Paul earned a master’s degree in Plastics Engineering from UMASS Lowell and a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He also completed advanced studies in Global Marketing and Business Strategy at the Katz Graduate School at the University of Pittsburgh. Paul actively volunteers and mentors entrepreneurs in business strategy/planning at Mercy Corps International, as well as contributing to venture groups through the Akron (OH) ARCHAngels, WPI Business School (MA), and Fusion Pointe, a Naples (FL) West Coast Venture Group.
Mindy McLaughlinManaging Director, Global Business Development Email Mindy McLaughlin 216-363-5415
As the Managing Director of Global Business Development, Mindy is focused on the recruitment of new business investment to Northeast Ohio, with a dedicated focus on international businesses.
McLaughlin joined Team NEO from JobsOhio where she served as Senior Manager, Global Sales Operations. Previously, she served as Director of Scheduling in the Office of the Governor, as a Foreign Service Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria, and as Associate Director at The White House.
McLaughlin is a graduate of Ashland University with a degree in Political Science with minors in Economics and French.
Sylvio MeconeSenior Director, Business Development Email Sylvio Mecone 216-363-5430
As the Senior Director of Business Development, Sylvio Mecone supports the core mission of business attraction and expansion by researching and analyzing economic data and trends in Northeast Ohio and competing markets. Sylvio builds Northeast Ohio’s business case for companies and site selectors nationwide. He works closely with the region’s cities, counties, chambers of commerce and economic development organizations to ensure that client needs, confidentiality and timelines are met in an efficient and effective manner.
Sylvio holds a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies and a Master’s of Public Administration from Cleveland State University. Sylvio is also is an alumnus of the Cleveland Bridge Builders program, class of 2014.
Sylvio currently serves on the Greater Cleveland Regional Transportation Authority Citizen’s Advisory Board, the Little Italy Redevelopment Corporation Board, and the Master of Public Administration Advisory Board at Cleveland State University.
Keri ZipayDirector, Business Development Email Keri Zipay 216-363-5409
As Director of Business Development, Keri engages with companies to help them explore growth opportunities. Keri enjoys sharing resources with businesses, particularly in the areas of workforce challenges and JobsOhio programs.
Most recently Keri served as Economic Development Manager for the City of Beachwood where she created the city’s first Community Reinvestment Area, developed a partnership with SCORE and the library to host an annual “Starting a business” series, and designed a “Pop Up Park” with the use of NOACA’s Street Supplies program at the city’s vacant fire station, which ultimately led to its redevelopment as a Food Truck Park. She also served the City of Hudson’s Community Development department as Planning Technician, where she issued zoning permits and helped facilitate Architectural and Historic Review Board meetings.
She holds a Bachelor’s of Science from Gannon University and a Masters of Science from Cleveland State University in Urban Planning, Design & Development. Keri serves on the Business Advisory Committee for The Employment Collaborative of Cuyahoga County and was a member of The Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio’s LeadDiversity class of 2021. She resides in Hudson with her husband and three children.
Project Management, Site Strategies, and Talent
Christine NelsonVice President, Project Management, Site Strategies and Talent Email Christine Nelson 216-363-5414
Christine Nelson leads Projects, Sites and Talent at Team NEO, and believes in the unlimited potential of Northeast Ohio. Her group works with over 300 companies annually to assist with growth and job creation. Ms. Nelson brings over 20 years of economic and community development expertise at the city, county and regional levels. She joined Team NEO in 2008, most recently served as vice president, business attraction and aided in the attraction of over 40 companies to the region.
A graduate of Hiram College, Ms. Nelson also received a Master of Public Administration degree from Cleveland State University and is a Certified Economic Developer by The National Development Council. In addition to her responsibilities with Team NEO, Ms. Nelson is the President of the Board of Trustees for the Greater Cleveland Community Improvement Corporation and serves as the Vice-Chair of Arts Cleveland. She resides in Lakewood with her husband and twin sons.
Walt GoodManaging Director, Project Management Email Walt Good 330-519-7205
As Managing Director of Project Management, Walt leads Team NEO’s project management group which is focused on growing jobs and investments across our 18 county region.
Walt brings 17 years of economic development experience from the Youngstown/ Warren Regional Chamber, most recently as vice president, economic development, business retention and expansion. He was instrumental in leading local development efforts there from 2004 – 2011 that resulted in 156 projects with almost $2 billion in new investment, 9,200 new jobs and 15,600 retained/maintained positions. Prior to that, Walt worked for the Cafaro Company, one of the nation’s most prominent and successful retail real-estate developers.
Walt is a graduate of Youngstown State University, former vice president and board member of the Ohio Economic Development Association, board member of CASTLO Community Improvement Corporation, president of the Mahoning County Community Improvement Corporation and liaison to the Western Reserve Port Authority.
Camille BillupsSenior Director, Project Management Email Camille Billups 216-363-5434
Camille Billups, Senior Director, is responsible for closing large complex projects that lead to the attraction of domestic and international companies to Northeast Ohio. Camille manages client relationships and executes projects by connecting prospective businesses with a variety of financial and non-financial resources. Camille leads Team NEO’s professional service engagement strategy. She works with firms and demonstrates the value the economic development network can bring to their clients.
Camille joined Team NEO with 8 years of deal execution experience in investment banking. While at Bank One (now JPMorgan Chase) and Societe Generale, she structured and helped to sell over $600M in Asset Backed Securitization bonds in a variety of industries.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Management from Albion College and a Master of Public Administration degree from Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University. Camille is civically engaged with a focus on helping children.
Shawn StarlinSenior Director, Project Management Email Shawn Starlin 330-988-2248
As a seasoned economic development professional, Shawn Starlin serves as Team NEO’s Senior Director of Project Management and Site Selection. In coordination with JobsOhio and community partners, Shawn assists companies seeking to locate and expand in Northeast Ohio with the goal of facilitating and supporting job creation and capital investment throughout the region.
Prior to joining Team NEO, Shawn spent six years with the Wayne Economic Development Council where he assisted in projects totaling more than one billion in capital investment, adding 4,600 new jobs to the region. Shawn also served as the first Executive Director of the Holmes County Economic Development Council.
Shawn holds his bachelor’s degree in urban studies from Ohio Wesleyan University.
Stephen CavinessDirector, Project Management Email Stephen Caviness 216-363-5410
Stephen works closely with local economic development partners to attract and retain businesses in Northeast Ohio, resulting in job creation and an increase in capital investment. He provides insight into the business case for growing in the Northeast Ohio Region and recommends solutions to help drive investment decisions and location options.
Most recently Stephen served as Program Officer, Workforce & Social Investments for the Cleveland Foundation where he helped develop strategies for its $150 million social impact investment initiative and oversaw an annual $5 million grantmaking budget supporting grantee partners across the workforce development, entrepreneurship, innovation landscape as well as investing in urban, semi-rural and rural geographies.
He holds a Masters of Business Administration Degree in System Management from Baldwin Wallace University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Ecology from The Ohio State University. Stephen is civically engaged through various volunteer roles. He resides in Mayfield Heights with his wife and 2 children.
Bryce SylvesterSenior Director, Site Strategies Email Bryce Sylvester 440-570-1916
As the Senior Director of Site Strategies, Bryce Sylvester works with JobsOhio and community partners to sell the competitiveness of Northeast Ohio for business investment, resulting in job creation and an increase in capital investment in the region. He focuses on leading development and management of real estate projects for competitive investment. Bryce also supports Job Hub pilot projects and the site programs of JobsOhio and Team NEO.
Before joining Team NEO, Bryce was the Director of Planning and Development for the city of Lakewood where he led economic, real estate and housing development strategies and projects for the city. In this role, Bryce oversaw development projects across the retail, office, residential, industrial and education sectors citywide, in addition to facilitating over $140M of proposed development in 2019. He played a role in leading key strategies for the city including work on business development, parks redevelopment, land acquisition, facilities planning and resiliency planning.
Bryce holds a Bachelor of Arts in Finance and Marketing from Baldwin-Wallace University. He also holds a Master of Urban Planning and Development from Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, Cleveland State University. Bryce earned a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt in 2014 and is a Lean Ohio Boot Camp instructor at Cleveland State University. Bryce currently serves on the Cleveland State & Case Western Reserve Internet of Things Collaborative (IoTC), Public Sector Advisory Committee.
Peter ZahirskyDirector, Site Strategies Email Peter Zahirsky 216-363-5431
As Director of Site Strategies, Peter Zahirsky works with JobsOhio and community partners to enhance and market the competitive quality of sites and buildings in the region to facilitate business expansion and attraction projects. Peter supports JobsOhio resources and programs to stimulate job growth and new capital investments in the Northeast Ohio Region. He also collaborates with the Fund for Our Economic Future to support Job Hub pilot projects.
Before joining Team NEO, Peter was the Deputy Director for Planning and Development at the Lake County Port Authority. In this role, Peter’s primary focus was the implementation of the Lake County Coastal Development Plan and Landside Communities Plan, both of which provided templates for leveraging private investment along Lake County’s shoreline into catalytic economic development projects with county-wide and regional impact. Peter also handled many of the Port Authority’s regular economic development work including brownfield remediation, site marketing and development, and business outreach.
Peter has a Bachelor of Arts in History from Ohio University. He is a graduate of Cleveland State University’s dual-degree program from which he holds a Master of Public Administration from the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs and Juris Doctor from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. He is a licensed attorney in the State of Ohio and is also certified as an Economic Development Finance Professional by the National Development Council.
Erika Roitblat-BowersManager, Project Management and Site Strategies Email Erika Roitblat-Bowers 216-363-5413
As a Project Manager, Erika Roitblat works with companies, JobsOhio and partners to facilitate the project and site selection process for investment, job growth and job creation in Northeast Ohio.
Most recently, Erika was a Graduate Assistant for Education Abroad at Cleveland State University Center for International Services and Programs. She also was University Relations Coordinator for Eastern Midwest at CISabroad (Center for International Studies). Erika holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Ohio University and a Master of Public Administration from Cleveland State University.
Marketing, Communications, and Network Engagement
Mark OwensVice President of Marketing and Communications Email Mark Owens 216-363-5427
Mark has over fifteen years’ experience within the marketing and public affairs industry in a variety of operational and managerial positions across several sectors including retail, insurance, financial services, and non-profits. Overseeing all elements of the Team NEO’s marketing and communications team, Mark is responsible for creating and accelerating the organization’s marketing strategy and brand recognition across the Northeast Ohio Region and beyond. He is focused on driving the vision of helping promote Northeast Ohio, offering local partners a more powerful platform to share their successes, market their assets, and attract more investment.
Very active in the local community Mark, currently serves as Chair of the Business Advisory Committee at Cuyahoga Community College, President of the Cleveland Irish Business Network and Co-Chairs the Sister Cities Committee at Global Cleveland. He has also served as Chair of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission Associate Board and is a past board member of Ohio City Incorporated.
Born in Derry City, Ireland, Mark moved permanently to the US (Cleveland area) in 2001 having previously studied at John Carroll University as part of a scholarship program. Prior to this he studied at Manchester University, where he graduated with a production management degree, he is also currently completing at Executive MBA at South East Technological University (SETU), Ireland. Married to his wife Maria, they have two wonderful children, along with two crazy dogs and a bird. They reside in Rocky River on Cleveland’s west side.
Nina HollidaySenior Director, Public Relations Email Nina Holliday 216-363-5428
Nina Holliday markets the Cleveland Plus region’s collective value to site selectors, real estate consultants and targeted companies to increase awareness of Northeast Ohio’s business assets in order to increase business opportunities for the region. She has more than 15 years of experience in marketing, event planning, and media relations.
Previously, Nina was regional marketing supervisor for Alltel where she managed public relations, events/sponsorships, sports marketing, crisis management, employee communications, community relations and philanthropic giving for a five-state region. Nina was also a senior account executive with Liggett-Stashower, Inc., which at the time was one of the largest communications companies in the Midwest. She worked with clients such as Cole Vision Corp, Forest City Properties and Motorists Insurance.
Nina holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Baldwin-Wallace College. She is on the Board of Trustees for the Substance Abuse Initiative of Greater Cleveland. In addition, she is a marathon runner and member of Women in Sports and Events (WISE) and Friends of the West Side Catholic Center.
Renee LigonDirector, Partnerships and Engagement Email Renee Ligon 216-363-5416
Renee leads Team NEO’s engagement strategy to grow and strengthen a more inclusive coordinated regional economic development network. She utilizes her experience as a 24-year business development and sales expert as she collaborates with elected officials, community agencies, municipalities, nonprofits and small to large for-profit organizations.
Prior to joining Team NEO, Renee was the Regional Director for the Minority Business Assistance Center at the Urban of Greater Cleveland, a program of the Ohio Development Services Agency, where she led a team of professional business advisors in the development of minority, women, disabled, and veteran owned businesses across eight counties in the state of Ohio. Prior to this she served as the Assistant Director of Diversity & Corporate Relations at Case Western Reserve University.
The cornerstone of Renee’s career started in the financial services industry where she was Vice President, Relationship Manager at JP Morgan Chase Bank. During her 8-year career with JP Morgan Chase, she managed the financial portfolios for commercial sector nonprofit and municipal clients.
Her notable and numerous boards of director appointments have included, COMPACT, UNCF of Orlando, and the Citrus Club’s Women’s Executive Exchange. She is currently a member and class officer for Leadership Cleveland Class of 2020.
Renee holds a B.A. in Communications from John Carroll University and a M.S in Human Resources Management from Nova Southeastern University.
Jacob W. DuritskyVice President, Strategy and Research Email Jacob W. Duritsky 216-363-5424
Jacob Duritsky leads research and strategy for the Northeast Ohio Region’s business development efforts to better serve the information requirements and align strategies among Team NEO’s various partners and communities engaged in targeted and sustainable region-wide economic growth. His primary responsibilities include analyzing the regional economy to provide greater perspective on the challenges and opportunities in Northeast Ohio, developing strategic and coordinated actionable insights to encourage economic growth, and providing a perspective on how the Northeast Ohio economy can better perform. This includes his work in leading most elements of Team NEO’s talent strategy, the development of the regional Vibrant Economy Index, and regular updates to the community on how the economy is evolving.
Jacob has been with Team NEO since 2008. Previously, Jacob served as an integral part of the organization’s business attraction efforts in leading our work around site selector engagement and proactive energy development. Jacob holds a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies from Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, Cleveland State University, where he also holds a Master of Science in Urban Studies. He is a member of the Urban Studies Association, American Economic Association and American Planning Association. He leads Team NEO’s Talent Development Council and is an engaged Board member for the Cuyahoga County Workforce Sector Partnership and the Greater Cleveland Career Consortium Leadership Board. He is a resident of the Kamm’s Corners neighborhood of Cleveland, and is married with two daughters.
Sondra PalivodaManager, Research Email Sondra Palivoda 216-363-5406
As Manager of Research, Sondra procures, analyzes, and consults with internal and external partners using data to advance Team NEO’s mission in strengthening the Northeast Ohio region. Her main focus has been the development of talent documents under the Aligning Opportunities umbrella, a core piece of the Research Department’s talent work. However, she also works daily with staff and partners on data-related questions, goal development, and other requests for information.
Prior to joining Team NEO, Sondra worked in community engagement, event management, and communications. All of these have shaped her work in research in their own way since joining the team in early 2020. A Parma native, Sondra holds a Bachelor’s in Urban Planning from the University of Cincinnati and a Certificate in Geographic Information Systems from Cleveland State University.
Sarah LentzAssociate, Research Email Sarah Lentz 216-363-6893
Meet Sarah, our Research Associate at Team NEO. She not only provides data to our team and our partners, but she helps translate the data to help make the best decisions for our region. Sarah loves the variety of tasks and projects she works on at Team NEO, she enjoys learning more about what our region has to offer!
When Sarah isn’t deciphering data, you can find her making and eating homemade pizza! We’re happy to have Sarah on the team.
Dawn SouthardVice President, Investor Relations Email Dawn Southard 216-363-5425
As Vice President for Investor Relations, Dawn is focused on leading Team NEO’s relationship-oriented efforts to elevate support from the business community.
Previously she was chief strategy officer at One Advocate Group in San Antonio. Her most recent posts in Northeast Ohio were vice president of Marketing at The Adcom Group and vice president of Business Development, Sales and Marketing at Goldfarb Weber Creative Studios.
She is a past honoree of Crain’s Cleveland Business 40 Under 40 and has earned a variety of awards, including the SME Cleveland Distinguished Marketing & Sales Award and SME-International Akron Distinguished Marketing & Sales Award.
Southard earned an MBA at Western Michigan University and a BBA at Davenport University.
Finance and Administration
Laura Koballa HudakVice President, Finance and Administration Email Laura Koballa Hudak 216-363-5404
Laura is responsible for overseeing the financial and business operations of Team NEO and supports special assignments including diversity & inclusion initiatives as well as emerging talent. Previously, Laura was a senior manager at Deloitte where she focused on information systems and internal controls audits and was instrumental in leading regional HIPPA activities for the healthcare industry as well as a national facilitator of Sarbanes-Oxley regulations. Prior to Deloitte, Laura spent 11 years at Ernst & Young, working in the Cleveland, National and London offices where she focused on financial services, manufacturing and health care industries in both Ohio and Michigan. Laura is a Certified Public Accountant. She is chairwoman of Holy Name High School and the Alumni Board of the Cleveland Animal Protective League. Laura is a proud graduate of Kent State University majoring in accounting, computer science and business management.
Jackie FairbanksDirector, Accounting Email Jackie Fairbanks 216-363-5432
Jackie Fairbanks is responsible for Team NEO’s accounting function and supports the VP, Finance and Administration.
For the previous 17 years, Jackie was self-employed as a CPA, specializing in accounting for not-for-profits. The work included bookkeeping, tax and advisory services. Prior to that, Jackie spent 10 years at Ernst & Young, working in the Northeast Ohio offices where she focused on auditing not-for-profits, manufacturing companies and benefit plans.
Jackie is a member of the Ohio Society of CPAs and the AICPA.
Eileen T. McLaughlinExecutive Assistant to CEO Email Eileen T. McLaughlin 216-363-5419
Eileen McLaughlin serves as a trustworthy partner and liaison to Team NEO’s CEO, Bill Koehler. She ensures that operational functions run smoothly and efficiently, providing a full spectrum of administrative support and professional representation to the CEO and his staff.
Eileen has more than 30 years’ experience, with much of her career being spent in the banking industry. Prior to joining Team NEO, Eileen worked for PNC where she provided project management and high-level administrative support to senior-level executives. She has also worked for Charter One Bank (acquired by Citizens Financial Group) and Women’s Federal Savings Bank (acquired by Charter One Bank).