Rhonda Ladig named to Make Startups Executive Fellowship

Make Startups Executive Fellowship (MSEF) Program: Celebrating Northeast Indiana Innovation Center’s (NIIC) Excellence in Entrepreneurial Leadership

Rhonda Ladig

Fort Wayne, IND — March 15, 2024 — The Northeast Indiana Innovation Center (NIIC) proudly unveils Rhonda Ladig as part of the inaugural cohort of the Make Startups Executive Fellowship (MSEF) Program. This exclusive initiative, aimed at elevating the impact potential and operational capacity of entrepreneurship support, ecosystem building, and economic development organizations, welcomes Rhonda Ladig as an entrepreneurial ecosystem-builder from the NIIC.

Charting a Course for Excellence: MSEF Executive Fellowship Program Overview

Seeded with a $50,000 grant from the Ecosystem Builder Leadership Network (EBLN) Field Advancement Fund awarded in November 2023, The Make Startups Executive Fellowship is a meticulously crafted six-month intensive program. It is designed to empower executives in their respective fields through two in-person immersions, bi-weekly online training sessions, one-on-one advising, peer coaching, and local field-building initiatives.

Fellows will gain expertise in accessing Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funding to support entrepreneurs in their ecosystems. Make Startups will provide training, technical resources, and access to their proprietary CoFounderOS technology platform, enabling leaders to integrate measurement and evaluation plans into their programs. This will showcase the impact of entrepreneurial training on the local economy. The fellowship will also equip participants to advocate for policies supporting entrepreneurial pursuits at local, state, and national levels.

“I’m honored to have been chosen, along with many other extraordinary ecosystem builders, for this fellowship opportunity. This educational and network-enhancing experience will benefit, not only NIIC’s clients, but also our entire northeast Indiana entrepreneur and small business ecosystem,” says Fellowship member Rhonda Ladig, NIIC Director of Strategic Initiatives.

Grace Belangia, co-founder of Make Startups, expressed her enthusiasm for the program launch, saying, “We are confident this initiative will equip leaders in our field with the tools and resources they need to make a lasting impact for entrepreneurs and their local ecosystems. We are truly excited to launch the Make Startups Executive Fellowship (MSEF) program this spring with plans to scale in the fall of 2024, and we are deeply grateful to both EBLN and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation for their generous support.”


About Make Startups Executive Fellowship Program

Celebrating Vision and Diversity: Meet the Inaugural Cohort

Make Startups selected 18 visionaries for the inaugural MSEF Executive Fellowship Program. Each participant, with a minimum of five years of entrepreneurship development experience, embodies a commitment to inclusive entrepreneurship and a dedication to lasting economic impact. The Fellowship’s inaugural cohort includes:

  • Naila Jackson (Alabama)
  • Lloyd Reshard (Florida)
  • Tricia Teague (Illinois)
  • Jared Ell, Nikeshia Fomby, Rhonda Ladig, and Marty Mechtenberg (Indiana)
  • Larry Horn (Kentucky)
  • Cuong Quy Huynh (Michigan)
  • Arsh Haque (Oregon)
  • Tanya Morris, Tiffany Spraggins, Thomas Webster, and Neferteri Strickland (Pennsylvania)
  • Holly Burrow, Darlisa Diltz, and Ren Mitchell (Texas)
  • Scott Mosley (Wisconsin)

Fellowship Pillars: A Blueprint for Success

  1. Sustainable Ecosystem Building: The program focuses on enabling increased funding and better measurement of outcomes by entrepreneurial support programs at the local, state, and national levels.
  2. Inclusive Entrepreneurial Training, Support, & Connections: Emphasis is placed on the role of ecosystem builders and economic developers in creating opportunities for disadvantaged and underrepresented groups in entrepreneurship.
  3. Long-Term Economic Impact: The program centers on the potential for job creation, inclusive growth, and generational wealth through entrepreneurship training programs that lead to business success.


About Make Startups

Make Startups is a dynamic organization committed to fostering entrepreneurship and innovation. Through a range of programs and initiatives, Make Startups empowers startups, entrepreneurs, and ecosystem builders to succeed, innovate, and contribute to economic growth.


About NIIC

NIIC was created to solve a problem. Aspiring innovators and entrepreneurs needed somewhere to go in Northeast Indiana to incubate their businesses. Visionary leaders imagined a place where innovation and economic development intersect for a COMMUNITY. Entrepreneurs and innovators have launched hundreds of new products and patents, created thousands of jobs, and infused hundreds of millions in grants and capital into our economy. NIIC pulls down barriers (geographic, racial, socio-economic,

interest-based). We work with our regional Community of Communities™ to create an ecosystem of Entrepreneurship for ALL. We focus on collaboration and maximizing the impact of our regional partners. Together, we thrive—Entrepreneurship for ALL.


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