The Team


Carrie Henderson

President and Sr. Director of Entrepreneur Services

(317) 464-2229

Carrie Henderson, a native Hoosier, serves as a dual role as the Senior Director of Entrepreneur Services for the Indy Chamber and President of Business Ownership Initiative, LLC. 

In 2009, Carrie was the founding partner of Red Leaf Group, LLC, which acted as an advisor to its clients to help develop valuable opportunities for economic development, growth and profitability.  Prior to the formation of Red Leaf Group, Henderson spent 27 years working in venture capital, microenterprise lending, government, public finance, corporate finance and economic development.  Carrie specializes in government procurement, public/private partnerships, contract negotiations, debt/equity structuring, and project management.

Jacqueline Troy

Director, Central Indiana Women’s Business Center

Email (317)464-2245

Jacqueline Troy is the Director of the Central Indiana Women’s Business Center, which is part of Business Ownership Initiative. She is an accomplished, versatile professional with over ten years of experience and a demonstrated track record in strategic planning, grants and program administration, financial management, program development, inter-agency coordination, relationship management and partnership development.

Before joining BOI, Jackie worked for the State of Indiana as the Savings & Financial Capabilities Manager for Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority. In that role, her primary responsibilities included managing an annual portfolio in excess $5 million and overseeing several asset development and microenterprise programs, including: Indiana’s Individual Development Account (IDA); Refugee IDA Program; and Educational Development Account program.

Tonya Varvel

Operations Coordinator

Email (317)464-2258

Tonya started off her professional career right out of High School.   She was given the chance of a lifetime to work in the Administrative Offices of the Indiana Blood Center in December  following her High School Graduation. While working there for nine years, she gained the training and skills needed to fulfill the duties in any administrative office.” 

Taking a sabbatical to start her family with husband Terry, they have two children,-Alec and Alivia.  She was a stay-at-home Mom until her oldest, Alec, started Kindergarten.  She then eased her way back  by working part time and then full-time at their school, Bethesda Christian.

Tonya loves working with BOI and being able to help the clients by providing the best customer service possible.

Charlie Mercer


Email (317)464-2270

Charles (Charlie) Mercer was in the banking industry since 1999.  He began his career with First Indiana Bank as an operations specialist, and later became a commercial lender focusing on construction lending and land development.  He has also worked in the risk management and credit administration areas for M&I Bank and BMO Harris Bank.  He is a graduate of Southport H.S. and Indiana University (Indpls.).  Charlie and his wife, Holly; make their home on the south side of Indianapolis with their three children.

Sarah MacInnis

Business Coach

Email (317)464-2274

Sarah MacInnis is a business coach for Business Ownership Initiative.  She has over 12 years of experience working for national and local non-profit organizations.  Her expertise in personal and professional coaching, training and assessment; strategic planning; financial management; program administration; networking; stakeholder consensus building, staff supervision, and employee development have established Sarah as strategic thinker focused on interdisciplinary solutions.

Sarah comes to BOI after an 11-year tenure at the National Collegiate Athletic Association where she served as full time employee and independent contractor.  Sarah supports her community by volunteering with the Children’s Museum where she designs and teaches enrichment programs for the museum preschool.

Gustavo Escalante

Business Coach and Manager, Hispanic Business Council

Email (317)464-2254

Gustavo A Escalante is the Hispanic Business Council Manager of the Indy Chamber, a business advocacy organization representing over 2,500 businesses in central Indiana. Escalante joined the Chamber in April 2008 as The Hispanic Business Advocacy Manager.

Escalante serves as a business coach for the Business Ownership initiative and also on a number of community boards including: CPA Young Latino Professional Task Force, HBC Mentorship Program, International Center of Indianapolis, also belongs to the Brownsburg Baseball Little League Program.
A native of Caracas, Venezuela, Escalante is a graduate of the Metropolitan University in Caracas in Business Administration, Major in Management. In 1996 Gustavo moved to Indianapolis and currently resides there.

Escalante is married to Erica, a Spanish teacher in Indianapolis, and has two sons, Luis 13 and Diego 5.  His passion besides his family is Baseball and Auto Racing.

James Officer

Business Coach


For 20 years James Officer has been coaching, motivating, and teaching others to maximize their potential in their personal and professional lives. James’s experience has been primarily in the financial services and proprietary education industries. James received a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautic Technology and a Masters of Public Administration from Indiana State University. 

James is a member of Class 30 Stanley K. Lacy Leadership Series.  He was voted the “Highest Award Winner” by the Dale Carnegie Personal Development Institute and was named among the “Who’s Who 2009” in Indianapolis. James was born and raised on the eastside of Indianapolis and is proud graduate of Arlington Highschool.

Stephanie Sellers

REgional business coach


Stephanie Sellers is the Regional Business Coach for Business Ownership Initiative focusing on the eight outlying counties of the Greater Indianapolis region.  She has over seven years of experience working to support Women’s Business Centers in various capacities with expertise in professional coaching, training, project management, supply chain/logistics management, operations and capacity planning, and networking. Stephanie’s 25 plus years of varied experience has afforded her the opportunity to excel in the hospitality, retail, and supply chain industries, as well as the non-profit sector.

Stephanie is a Veteran of the U.S. Air Force which is a driving force for her in her civilian careers.  Born in Oklahoma, she has lived all over the United States and the world, recently returning to Indiana after over two years living abroad with her husband and two youngest sons.

From The BlogView All

1. Fail spectacularly

2. Success spectacularly

3. Change the economic climate of their neighborhood, city, country or world

4. Dream and act outrageously

5. As Teddy Roosevelt would say: "..knows great enthusiasms, great devotions"

6. Rise every morning with a belief that today can be the day. (See the Entrepreneur's Christmas Pony Story.)


Kim Brand


Written by Kelly Young, president, Baise Communications


Earlier this month, I found myself sitting around the table with some very smart, creative and talented women as part of the Central Indiana Women’s Business Center (CIWBC) Support Circles. This yearlong program is designed to serve as a forum for women to discuss issues that affect women in business – a program for women, led by women. The Indy Chamber best describes it as “a year-long program of women supporting women for leadership and growth.” I’ve offered to write about our monthly sessions because I believe the information is going to be worth sharing.


Friday’s topic was “authentic communication and getting/receiving feedback.” Some of us in the group are business owners, some are managers and directors, so our approach and examples varied, but what remained the same was our need to communicate effectively and efficiently whether it’s with other employees or clients.


My three top takeaways worth sharing:


1.     Build relationships: Develop a relationship first with the person/people you are communicating with so you understand and respect their communication styles. Men and women are different, yes; but no matter our gender, we all want to be seen, heard and valued.

2.     Gain awareness: Keep in mind, there’s always something bigger going on. Before communicating, first understand and be aware of what’s going on around you and around the person you’re communicating with, receiving feedback from, or giving feedback to.

3.     Show up: Ask the question “how do I want to show up today?” to help you be a better communicator. It sounds like a simple question to ask, but it may be harder to answer.


Our 90 minutes went too fast – and next month seems too long to wait to get together again. Until then though, I look forward to putting into practice what we discussed. Most importantly, I look forward to finding the best way for me to be a more authentic and present communicator – personally and professionally.



One of the questions we get most often from BOI/CIWBC clients is "What is the best way to fund my idea?"  This is the age old question that has been the challenge of all entrepreneurs since time immemorial.  There are many options:  traditional bank funding, microloans, angel investors, venture capital, and "bootstrapping" your business through slow growth without debt.  In addition, crowdfunding has become an increasingly popular way to get the money you need to take your business to the next level.

The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act) was signed into law in 2012 and changed the rules regarding crowdfunding.  Crowdfunding is defined as "the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet."  Before the law was passed, investors had a long list of rules and regulations that they needed to adhere to in order to protect them from bad investments.  The JOBS Act loosened those regulations so that anyone can invest in the small business or idea that they believe in.

This recently published story from PBS NewsHour answers a lot of questions about crowdfunding.


In addition, this blog post from of the Huffington Post asks the important question "Will the JOBS Act Actually Create Any Jobs?" by outlining some of the potential risks of crowdfunding.

What this means to you, the entrepreneur, is this:  Do ALL your homework.  Look at all your options and explore your funding needs from all angles.  The old adage "if something is too good to be true, it probably is" tends to hit home more often than not.  You may be able to get started with less money than you anticipated.  Always seek the advice of someone who is not emotionally or financially invested in your business - like one of BOI's Business Coaches - to help you make these life/business altering decisions.

For help with your business, call: 317.464.2258

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