Instructors Announced for Baton Rouge Area Young Entrepreneurs Academy

Application Deadline for High School Students: Aug. 31

July 25, 2018

BATON ROUGEYoung Entrepreneurs Academy of Baton Rouge (YEA BR) announces three lead instructors for the coming academic year. These accomplished professors and business leaders will adopt a proven national curriculum to guide select students as they generate business ideas, write business plans, pitch to an investor panel, and launch companies.

This year’s core instructors include:

  • Franz Lohrke, a professor in the Stephenson Department of Entrepreneurship & Information Systems in the LSU E. J. Ourso College of Business. Lohrke holds the Alvin C. Copeland Professorship of Franchising and Entrepreneurship. He has helped aspiring entrepreneurs for more than 20 years. He co-founded a consulting firm, and he manages social media platforms for two other organizations. His professional experience includes banquet services and restaurant management for Walt Disney World Resort’s Epcot Theme Park.

    With his help as a department chairman at Alabama’s Samford University, its entrepreneurship program was selected by the U.S. Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship as best new program in the U.S. in 2010.

  • Sonja D. Wiley, an associate professor in the Stephenson Department of Entrepreneurship & Information Systems. Wiley holds the Donald Lindley and Ruby Wright Phillips Developing Scholar Professorship. Her experience includes working with musician Stevie Wonder to publish “Little Stevie Wonder in Places Under the Sun,” a multicultural and multi-sensory children’s book.

    Wiley brings expertise in information technology, health care analytics and diversity and inclusion analytics. She previously served as director of education for Athletes and Entertainers for Kids in Los Angeles, where she helped develop multicultural and life-skills curricula for at-risk and urban youth.

  • Kevin Lyle, chief technology officer for health care software provider Naveon, president of nonprofit PolitiCraft and board member of the Atlantic Theater Co. in New York City. In June, Lyle won a Tony Award as co-producer of the Broadway musical revival of “Once on This Island.”

    Lyle served as CFO and CIO of LCR-M Corp., a wholesale plumbing distribution business and as board chair for several nonprofits, including the Baton Rouge Area Foundation.

LSU Innovation Park team members, including student incubator manager Kenny Anderson and business consultant Jason Boudreaux, will also lend their expertise. They will provide coaching, counseling, prototype supervision in the Protostripes Center, and will guide students on their innovations and pitches.

“These accomplished, high-caliber instructors are powerful role models and mentors. Learning from them is a unique opportunity for students who have an eye for entrepreneurship,” says Deborah Sternberg, chair of the YEA BR Steering Committee. “They will create a dynamic environment for students who are ready to turn their talents into real businesses and distinguish themselves from their peers.”

Applications are open to students entering grades 9-12 in Ascension, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberville, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, St. Helena, West Baton Rouge and West Feliciana parishes. Tuition is $995 with needs-based scholarships available. Applications are due Aug. 31; apply at

About Young Entrepreneurs Academy of Baton Rouge
Young Entrepreneurs Academy of Baton Rouge (YEA BR) is a program of the Greater Baton Rouge Economic Partnership, a 501(c)3 initiative of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber. This program is an affiliate of the national YEA program founded in 2004 at the University of Rochester. Since then, thousands of students in communities across the country have launched businesses and graduated from the Academy. In 2011, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Campaign for Free Enterprise became national sponsor and partner of YEA to promote and celebrate the spirit of entrepreneurship among today’s youth and tomorrow’s leaders. 

YEA BR is made possible through partnerships with the LSU E. J. Ourso College of Business, LSU Innovation Park, and the Baton Rouge Area Chamber. For more information, visit

About the Stephenson Department of Entrepreneurship and Information Systems
The Stephenson Department of Entrepreneurship and Information Systems at LSU’s E. J. Ourso College of Business combines teaching and research to create a rich learning experience for its students. Relationships with industry and state agencies enable the department to assist organizations with issues related to entrepreneurship, information systems, analytics and business intelligence, as well as innovation and technological change and offer enhanced career opportunities for its graduates. Collaborative research efforts of its diverse faculty have resulted in major grants from the National Science Foundation and the state of Louisiana. For more, visit

About the LSU Innovation Park
LSU Innovation Park is a technology-based university research complex that offers a community for businesses to develop, foster and enhance innovation in Louisiana utilizing LSU’s vast network of resources. The park is located on more than 200 acres four miles south of LSU on Nicholson Drive and is the home of the Louisiana National Guard, the Emerge Center, New Schools BR and the Louisiana Business & Technology Center. For more information, visit

About the Baton Rouge Area Chamber
The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) leads economic development in the nine-parish Baton Rouge Area, working to grow jobs and wealth and to improve the business climate and competitiveness in the region. Today, BRAC investors include more than 1,500 small businesses, mid-sized firms, large industry and entrepreneurial startups, as well as individuals and organizations that support business and economic development. In this capacity, BRAC serves as the voice of the business community, providing knowledge, access, services and advocacy. More information is available at


Gina Short, YEA BR
(225) 325-3558


Angela McBride
E. J. Ourso College of Business
(225) 578-7833