University of Northern Iowa


In 1996, John Pappajohn, president of Equity Dynamics, Inc. in Des Moines, Iowa, established five entrepreneurial centers throughout Iowa. Although each center defines its own mission and serves the state in a manner consistent with its particular strengths, each center has the same ultimate purpose: to enhance the effectiveness of Iowa’s entrepreneurs. The primary mission of the UNI JPEC is two-fold: (1) student/faculty/staff entrepreneurship, and (2) technology transfer.

JPEC staff make numerous public appearances annually. These include speaking engagements on entrepreneurship, the programs of the Center, and specialized workshops/classes. If you are interested in having a JPEC staff member speak to your class or group, please contact Katherine at 319-273-JPEC (5732) or e-mail

Randy Pilkington
Director – John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center
Executive Director – UNI Business and Community Services
Phone:(319) 273-6941

Randy Pilkington is the director of the JPEC. He also serves as the Executive Director of UNI’s Business and Community Services (BCS) division. He leads the technology transfer program at UNI and is actively involved in intellectual property development and licensing efforts. BCS is the outreach and service division of the College of Business and consists of outreach programs that provide an integrated approach to meeting the needs of businesses, entrepreneurs, and communities throughout Iowa and beyond.

Pilkington currently serves as UNI’s deputy on the Iowa Business Council. He previously served as a member of Governor Vilsack’s Council of Economic Advisors, the Iowa Department of Economic Development Board, the 21st Century Workforce Council, and is past president of Professional Developers of Iowa.

Pilkington has helped establish a community-based equity fund for Northeast Iowa, assisted with student entrepreneurship curricula, and facilitated public and private funding for a student-based business incubator. Pilkington has helped launch new business ventures, served on the board of a start-up bio-based lubricants company, and is involved with angel investment funds in the state of Iowa.

Katherine Cota-Uyar
Associate Director – John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center
Intellectual Property Officer – UNI
Instructor of Entrepreneurship – UNI
Phone:(319) 273-5732

Katherine Cota-Uyar is the Associate Director for the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center at the University of Northern Iowa, the UNI Intellectural Property Officer, and an Instructor of Entrepreneurship (housed in the Marketing Department). She serves on UNI’s Intellectual Property Committee, its Copyright sub-committee, and is the chair of the Trademarks sub-committee. She also serves on UNI’s Reaching for Higher Ground committee. She is currently a member of the Iowa Network of Women in Higher Education and a member of the National Business Incubation Association. She designs, develops, and manages the programs of the JPEC including: venture capital programs, entrepreneurial education and student business incubation programs, and various conferences and competitions. She conducted the original feasibility study and developed the original plan for the UNI JPEC’s Student Business Incubator. She became an entrepreneur at 12 years old with various small businesses and had a small venture in college. She has worked in various industries including manufacturing, marketing, publishing, technology, law, and the arts. She has a B.A. in anthropology, a M.A. in Communication Studies with an emphasis in organizational communication and an internest in non-verbal communications from the University of Northern Iowa and a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from St. Ambrose University. Her final research paper for the MA was entitled: An Examination of the Self Perceptions of the Leadership, Teambuilding, and Organizational Cultures of the Small Businesses of Iowa Male and Female Entrepreneurs. Her final MBA project was a planning and operations manual for the Build Our Ballpark Organization. She is certified as both a Kauffman Foundation FastTrac facilitator and administrator. She has served in executive and managing editor positions for both general and academic publications including The Northern Iowan and The Business Case Journal. She has also published in literary publications and academic journals. She previously hosted a radio show on small business on KBBG-FM and was presented with a Special Recognition Award for Facilitating Entrepreneurship in the African American Community by Afro American Community Broadcasting, Inc. She was selected by In Business magazine as one of its “20 Under 40” leaders in the Cedar Valley. In 2012, 2013, and 2014 she was selected as a finalist for the Technology Association of Iowa’s Iowa Women of Innovation awards. She teaches MKTG 3586 Entrepreneurship Strategy each spring and MGMT 6280 Professional Consulting for the MBA. Her philanthropic activities have included assisting many local non-profits with their business or strategic planning.

Laurie Watje


Student Business Incubator Manager
John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center
Phone:(319) 273-5732

Laurie Watje is the Student Business Incubator Manager for the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center at the University of Northern Iowa. She provides direct, one-on-one and group small business/entrepreneurial technical assistance to student business incubator tenants and other student businesses utilizing the services of the JPEC. Laurie’s areas of expertise include accounting, finance, marketing and leadership. She conducts initial selection of student incubator tenants, develops and drafts educational materials, performance matrixes and programs to benefit student entrepreneurs. Her duties also include assisting student entrepreneurs in the development of business plans for various business plan competitions and serves as a round I and round II judge for the Iowa Business Plan competition for non-students. She is the faculty advisor for the student clubs, Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO) and Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE). Laurie is a Certified Public Accountant who received a Bachelor’s Degree in 1993 from Upper Iowa University. In 2007, she received certification as a Kauffman Foundation FastTrac facilitator for the FastTrac New Venture and FastTrac Growth Venture Programs. In 2009, she completed a course of study in Leadership Development conducted by the University of Northern Iowa Executive Development Center and also fulfilled the requirements of the National Business Incubation Association’s Incubator Management Certificate Program. In 2010, she completed a course of study in Business Valuation conducted by the National Association of Certified Valuation Analysts. She currently teaches BUSINESS 1010 Financial Fundamentals for Entrepreneurs which is part of the Certificate of Entrepreneurship and serves as an on-site advisor for the annual Okoboji Entrepreneurial Institute. Laurie also presents a two-part workshop on small business accounting. She is currently a member of the Iowa Society of Certified Public Accountants, the National Association of Certified Valuation Analysts and the National Business Incubation Association. Prior to her job at the UNI, Laurie has worked as a staff accountant and her areas of expertise include: tax, year-end compilation, financial statement preparation, HUD audit compliance and accounting software. She has also managed a number of start-up companies – including one owned with her husband, with experience in bookkeeping, accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll, inventory control, purchasing, customer service, sales management, marketing, scheduling, forecasting, and federal and state government compliance. Laurie was also an adjunct instructor at DMACC – Carroll Campus for several years teaching Accounting I and II and Income Tax. She was actively involved in her former community serving as treasurer for several volunteer and community service groups.

Bart Schmitz

Bart Schmitz

Program Associate
John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center
Phone: 319-273-5732

Bart Schmitz is the Program Associate of the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center. He is also the advisor for UNIEntrepreneurs, the JPEC’s student organization of students interested in entrepreneurship. Bart provdies technical assistance to new student entrepreneurs to the JPEC’s entrepreneurship programs. He teaches several K-12 Junior Achievement classes. Bart has a AA from Hawkeye Community College and a BA from UNI. He currently owns his own business in property management. He has extensive experience in retail, hospitality, events, and working with student populations. In his free time he is active in his church and is a 4-H leader.

David Deeds
T. Wayne Davis Entrepreneur-in-Residence
John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center
UNI College of Business Administration
Email :


Education: M.B.A. University of Kansas 1996; B.A. (Accounting) University of Northern Iowa 1990.
Certifications: CPA 1991; CMA 1993.

Responsibilities: Founder and CEO of the development and general contracting firm, Cedar Valley Restoration and Development. The firm develops and constructs new architecturally appropriate housing and mixed-use structures as well as renovates existing homes preserving the historically significant architecture.

Professional Accomplishments: Mr. Deeds is an accounting, property management, and construction professional with more than fifteen years of experience progressing from big five public accounting to management for a Fortune 200 transportation company to CFO for a $250 million private real estate firm. He most recently founded and serves as CEO for a real estate development and general contracting firm. He has extensive experience in real estate finance, accounting, and information systems. He directed the turn-around of a failing accounting and information services function while working in the senior housing industry. He also has extensive experience in Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and internal reporting and staff recruitment and management in addition to a solid background in employee benefit plan issues, accounting guidance evaluation and integration of merging companies’ financial information.