Alumni Speaker Series
Inspire Peacock Students with Your Story!
Bill Proctor '96 - February 19, 2024 - 6pm
Biology - Fayette
Presentation: Real Talk
Bill Proctor is a 1996 alum from the Fayette campus and serves as an educator, administrator, coach, mentor, and commentator, among many other roles. While completing his biology degree at UIU, he was a student athlete in football and basketball and went on to teach biology, chemistry, and physics for 13 years at the high school level before switching to physical education. He was instrumental in the creation and success of the first mentoring program at Des Moines Public Schools called Brother2Brother. While doing so, also opened several local businesses around Des Moines to generate additional revenue. He now serves as the Brother2Brother District Coordinator for Des Moines Public Schools and the Director of Player Development for Sports Plex West, a training facility for basketball players all while continuing to teach physical education at McCombs Middle School. His goal in life is to use his knowledge, experience, and resources to move others forward towards the road to success in whatever capacity he can.
Dr. Michael Le '08, '13, '19 - January 24, 2024
Technology Information Management, MBA & MED Programs - Online
Presentation: A Long Journey
Born and raised in Vietnam, Dr. Le’s family came to the United States to make a better life. Settling in Iowa in 1989, Dr. Le attended high school in Des Moines unable to speak English. Flash forward to 2024 and Dr. Le has 3 master’s degrees and two doctoral degrees with 20 years of experience in the IT profession and 13 years serving as an adjunct instructor for DMACC and Upper Iowa. While the journey was long, Dr. Le was motivated, determined, and committed to making a difference in his life and the lives of those around him. We all face long journeys but it is how we rise to the occasion to overcome adversity that help us succeed. Tune in while Dr. Le discusses his journey to where he is today and the impact we all can make.
Jenna Klos '15 - November 9, 2023
Exercise/Sport Studies, Fayette
Presentation: Getting Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Graduating from Upper Iowa in 2015, Jenna currently works as a school-based occupational therapist in Wisconsin and also has her own nature-based pediatric private practice with experiences in outpatient pediatrics and home health. While at Upper Iowa, Jenna was very active in athletics as well as clubs and organizations. She was an integral part of bringing Dance Marathon to UIU, a member of both the softball and volleyball teams, student ambassador and phone-a-thon caller as well as an active member of FCA, to name a few. Taking on leadership roles and building relationships while in Fayette helped her to explore all her options and continue on with her master’s degree in occupational therapy at Saint Louis University. Her dream of owning her own business one day became a reality by making connections and continuing to explore all the field had to offer her. Tune in while Jenna talks about how being involved and getting out of her comfort zone helped prepare her for grad school as well as opening her own private practice.
Anna Winter '20 - September 14, 2023
Chemistry, Mathematics, Biology, Fayette
Presentation: Saying Yes to Life's Path
Currently pursuing her PhD studying atmospheric chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, Anna was guided on the path to her career through the opportunities, connections, and faculty at UIU. While on campus, Anna was a member of the volleyball team and was involved in a number of organizations. She was awarded the Willis R. Kelly Award for the top female student-athlete in the NSIC Conference and the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship for graduate school. Heading into the summer of her junior year unsure of what career she wanted to pursue, she was selected for an internship in the NASA Student Airborne Research Program to conduct hands-on atmospheric chemistry research. She loved the interdisciplinary nature of atmospheric chemistry and was able to apply skills from each of her 3 majors at UIU. Following that summer, she participated in 2 more internships with NASA. Anna will talk about how she ended up at Berkeley, the benefits of attending a small school, and how sometimes the most unexpected opportunities can have the biggest impact.
Jim Mazziotti '75 - May 17, 2023
Presentation: Three Tenets of Meeting Your Challenges
A graduate of Upper Iowa with a bachelor degree in music performance, Jim performed professionally for many years and owned a successful family retail music business in Northeast Iowa for more than 20 years before obtaining his real estate license in 1992. He served in many positions as a community leader, visionary and communicator ranging from city councilman, president of his cities’ economic development partnership and president of the Chamber of Commerce. As the former principal managing broker and owner for EXIT Realty in Bend, Oregon and currently a realtor and leadership coach for EXIT Realty Elite in Frisco, Texas, Jim holds several certificates and designations in the real estate field and focuses primarily on real estate training and management. He is a founding partner with the John Maxwell Organization as a trainer, coach, and speaks across the nation on topics of real estate, leadership, and business. When faced with major life changes in 2007, he wrote a book about the challenges facing his family and how the letters that prompted that book changed everything. Hear about ways to meet your challenges head on and overcome them with life-changing results.
Shelby Kobliska '15 - April 26, 2023
Exercise/Sport Studies, Fayette
Presentation: The Importance of Being Involved
Shelby graduated in May 2015 with a bachelor of science degree in exercise/sports studies with a concentration in fitness and wellness. Being involved in many campus organizations as well as a student athlete opened her mind to the many volunteer and leadership opportunities that can be available. Currently the Development Director with the American Heart Association’s Eastern Iowa Team, Shelby is actively involved in health and wellness initiatives and prides herself in giving back to her community and other non-profits any way she can. Regardless of your passion, hobbies, background, or experiences, there are always volunteer and leadership opportunities waiting for you. Shelby will talk about her involvement on campus and after graduation and how those experiences helped shape her to the professional she is today.
Bridget Saffold '20 - March 22, 2023
Presentation: The Value of Community Engagement
Presented in collaboration with Women’s History Month
Bridget earned her BSN from Upper Iowa in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. She currently serves as a trustee at Hawkeye Community College and is a member of the State of Iowa’s Volunteer Hall of Fame, the most prestigious state-level honor volunteers can receive. In addition to working as a nurse, Bridget helps to fill essential gaps in patient care through Focus on Diabetes promoting health education and disease prevention. Recognizing that diabetes is a public health crisis, she also realized the critical shortage in health care workers to provide care for those affected by the disease. Through community service and career guided pathways, Focus on Diabetes is playing a major role in training the next generation of health care workers. Bridget will discuss how Focus on Diabetes became a reality and how her role in community involvement and patient education has led to other projects aimed to improve health outcomes.
Rebecca Francis '19 & '22 - February 15, 2023
Business Administration & MPA Program, Rockford Center & Online
Presentation: Purpose on Accident
Presented in collaboration with Black History Month
Rebecca is a supporter and bold advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion. As a practitioner for DEI efforts across business, government, non-profit, and education, she helps organizations assess barriers and prepare to integrate seamless DEI efforts into their business frameworks. Over her 9+ years of leadership, Rebecca has worked with local and corporate, educational, and non-profit brands, supporting the transformational efforts of companies at all stages. Her support brings a mixture of expertise, passion, vision, and creative style to make an organic connection for the ultimate takeaways.
Facing many obstacles as a young college student where she had to push through and find the next opportunity for success, Rebecca knows first hand that our mistakes are not always considered mistakes and that sometimes they happen on purpose. She will talk about how each of us can embrace our “mistakes” and turn them into accomplishments.
Daniel Cuadra '03 - January 26, 2023
Athletic Training, Fayette
Presentation: Life of an Athletic Trainer
Daniel B. Cuadra is a licensed Athletic Trainer for Baptist Health Orthopedics with 20 years of experience as an Athletic Trainer. While at UIU, Daniel was a member of the wrestling team, involved in many campus groups, and crowned homecoming king before graduating in 2003. After graduating, he interned with the Florida Marlins during their 2003 World Series run. He now works with Baptist Health Orthopedic outreach and is assigned to a secondary high school. Through his 20 years he has encountered situations that are not always found inside the classroom or textbooks that have made him a better trainer, professional, and colleague. Hear about what can be expected in the field after graduation such as budgets, handling criticism, the importance of communication, and many external factors.
Dominic Hillesheim '18 - November 16, 2022
Marketing & Communications, Fayette
Presentation: Leveraging UIU Experiences For Your Future
Currently working in the NFL for the Chicago Bears, Dom found great support in the experiences, opportunities, and connections he made while at UIU. His experience as a founding member of the AZP fraternity and its community involvement led toward the launch of Chi Town Blankets, a non-profit organization in Illinois which Dom serves as the President and CEO. The opportunities he found while in Fayette translated immediately to the workforce and allowed him the space to grow quickly in his career. Learn why Dom believes ones time at UIU can be as big or as small as you make it and how the connections you make will reach far beyond your education.
Brittany McIntyre '15 - October 26, 2022
Psychology & Human Services, Online
Presentation: A Passion for Helping
Presented in collaboration with Domestic Violence Awareness Month
As a native to Northeast Iowa and wanting to be close to family, Brittany utilized UIU’s online program to pursue her dream of working in the helping professions. Working full time, newly married, and expecting her first child, the online program allowed her the flexibility to juggle all of life’s demands, while simultaneously double majoring in Human Services and Psychology. Since the completion of her degree in 2015, Brittany has been working for local non-profit Helping Services for Youth & Families Domestic Abuse Resource Center. As the Dating Violence and Stalking Advocacy Coordinator, she is passionate about assisting survivors, educating students on dating and domestic violence, and providing outreach to the community. Brittany is fortunate enough to still have a connection to UIU and is now a community partner on the Fayette campus, providing prevention education to students and working with survivors of dating violence and stalking.
Jake Barron '15 - September 28, 2022
Communication Studies & MBA Program, Fayette
Presentation: The Making of MBA Link
Born and raised in San Francisco, CA, Jake came to Fayette as a baseball player and Communications undergrad. He left being UIU’s very first MBA Link program participant while he completed his undergrad degree. He’s now the Director of Marketing for Washington DC – based Koons Automotive, one of the country’s largest automotive groups. As a nominee for Automotive News’ 40 under 40 in 2022, Jake enjoys the challenges of evolving the way that consumers buy and service cars. Tune in while he discusses his experience moving from California to small town Fayette, life as a college athlete, completing coursework toward his MBA and undergraduate degree simultaneously, and his career post-UIU.
Jessica Goltz '21 - May 25, 2022
Psychology, Self-Paced Program
Presentation: Rise to the Journey
As the owner and founder of Seva Health: Center for Wellbeing, Jessica is all too familiar with the struggles of mental health and its affect on oneself and their family. Knowing that the resources in Northeast Iowa are limited, she set out to make a difference by starting her own nonprofit with a mission to do more than just talk about mental health.
Jessica will share her unique journey to her degree from UIU as a non-traditional student, how the adversity we all face can help us grow, and while our journeys sometimes take us down unknown paths – both personally and professionally – those paths still help us rise to the occasion.
Jeremy Masterson '09 - April 20, 2022
Finance, Des Moines Center
Presentation: A Nontraditional Path
A native of Des Moines, Iowa, Jeremy took night classes at the UIU-Des Moines Center while working full-time following his Iowa Army National Guard deployment to Kosovo. While graduating with a degree in finance, deep down he always had an interest for law. Jeremy enrolled in Drake Law School where he was co-founder of the Drake Business Law Society and helped provide support toward the creation of a Business Law Certificate. He was a founding partner in MB Law prior to joining Ahlers & Cooney in 2020.
Jeremy’s nontraditional path to becoming a UIU alum and lawyer provides a wealth of knowledge in relationship building, employee development, time management, business development, ongoing professional development, and other keys pieces to career exploration and advancement. Tune in while Jeremy discusses how his non-traditional path at UIU helped prepare him for law school and the success he’s seen since.
Lisa Richards '93 - March 23, 2022
Marketing & Psychology, Fayette
Presentation: Be The Person They Are Looking For
Lisa was a champion in the field of hearing healthcare for over 25 years and served as Chief Experience Officer for Starkey Hearing Technologies, in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, before retiring in 2019. In her role, she was responsible for protecting and growing the company’s mission “to serve our customers better than anyone else.” In addition to creating and leading organizational excellence, Lisa provided the strategic direction for a team of over 140 members. She demonstrated exceptional leadership through cross-departmental process improvement, coaching and developing team members, and ensuring that teams across the organization deliver exceptional customer experiences that create customers for life. Through her valuable work, Lisa influenced Customer Experience in 28 facilities.
As part of her presentation, Lisa will talk about the importance of a person’s own mindset, taking action, and knowing oneself in order to make an impact in your chosen career field.
EJ Smith '97 - February 23, 2022
Liberal Arts, Fayette
Presentation: The Proof is in the 'PUDN'
Born and raised in Gardena, CA, EJ Smith never thought he could make a living from his favorite childhood dessert, banana ‘pudn’. Through a fundraising event for a youth football team, EJ’s community fell in love with the dessert as well, allowing him to chase the dream of opening his own business. A family health emergency caused them to shut the business down and move out of state where EJ pursued another endeavor with Red Ventures in North Carolina. But like any passion, they have their ways of drawing us back in and in 2021 EJ and his son re-opened Famous PUDN back home. Tune in while EJ talks about what it means to be a Peacock, being a business owner, working in the corporate world, and key turning points in his career that proved that the ‘proof is in the pudn’ – when you put the hard work in, you will reap the reward.
Kim Karr '01 - January 19, 2022
Physical Education, Fayette
Presentation: Failing Forward
Leveraging mistakes and taking realistic risks to involve ourselves in new experiences toward success is the main priority for the #ICANHELP Executive Director and Co-Founder. Hear how a small-town Iowa girl took the risk to move to California, without ever visiting there, after a phone interview for a teaching position that eventually led to starting a national non-profit that is now a partner with major tech companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Supercell and MLB player Aaron Judge. Everyone fails at something in life but it’s how we can start failing forward more that is the key to one’s success.
La Cena Jones '05 - November 17, 2021
Criminology, Sociology, English, Fayette
Presentation: Your Foundation is Key
A dual doctoral student who is a licensed marriage family therapist in both Texas and California, La Cena credits much of her perseverance and success on remaining well in a time of growth and change while continuing to have core relationships that support her endeavors.
Being able to operate in purpose and positively impact the world are goals she strives to achieve. Having a good foundation will help other things fall in place and lay the framework for success in a chosen field. The spectrum of mental health is constantly changing and she will provide insights into the impact it has had on the day to day of her work.
Kathleen Davis '99 - October 13, 2021
Public Administration, Self-Paced Program
Presentation: Domestic Violence Can Happen Anywhere
Presented in collaboration with Domestic Violence Awareness Month
A resident of Northeast Iowa since 1992, Kathleen is a proud Peacock serving as the Director of the Domestic Abuse Resource Center through Helping Services. Assisting survivors of violence is close to her heart and while the work can be very hard at times, she feels fortunate that she’s been able to help the bravest individuals through her calling for the last 22 years.
Her time at Upper Iowa was very impactful and provided her with many connections. She is a community partner on campus providing Upper Iowa students with the resources needed to reach out. Her rewarding role as an advocate for survivors can connect with many career paths.
Luke Wickham ‘00 - September 15, 2021
Presentation: Keys to Success
Since UIU, this alum has spent his time working in real estate operating his own real estate holding company. He is now part of one of the most successful multi-family teams in the country with experience in closing multi-million dollar deals, acquisitions, and mergers.
Originally from Epworth, Iowa, Luke was an athlete while at UIU and credits some of the motivation he received to push forward and pursue his dreams from the faculty connections he made in Fayette.
R.J. Montes ‘02 - May 26, 2021
Presentation: Race Your Race
A leader with Dupaco Community Credit Union in Dubuque, R.J. relishes in helping team members realize their full potential through engagement, education, and empowerment to help members meet their financial goals. With a mission to motivate and inspire, he is a self-proclaimed lifelong learner encouraging others to race their best race and to never underestimate their true potential and capabilities.
Tom Petsche ‘75 - April 21, 2021
Presentation: There is Not an I in TEAM
With over 40 years of experience in the insurance industry, Tom is passionate about leadership, mentoring and the obligation to help others succeed. As the President of Brokerage Solutions, he is a frequent speaker for agency and industry groups throughout the U.S. and Canada and actively involved in professional organizations. Helping others develop their leadership skills allows Tom to continuously give back to his industry and community.
Mark Griffith ‘15 & ‘17 - March 24, 2021
Emergency/Disaster Management & MPA Program, Online
Presentation: COVID’s Silver Lining to Volunteer EMS
Working his way from a volunteer with the St. Charles (MN) ambulance in 2002, Mark’s desire for service in the emergency management field took off and he’s now serving as the Executive Director of the South Central Minnesota EMS Regional System. With years of emergency management experience and the challenges EMS have faced through the pandemic, his presence provides an important bridge between his community and his career.
Royce Hix ‘13 - February 24, 2021
Accounting, Wausau Center
Presentation: The Importance of Volunteerism & Leadership
Experienced accounting professional who worked his way up from a temp-to-hire role and is now a controller and acting CFO for multiple organizations. With years of leadership, volunteer, and networking experience, his life lessons can create a lasting impact.
Jesse Rawley ’02 - January 27, 2021
Financial Management, Fayette
Presentation: Overcoming Adversity
The people met and experiences obtained through his time at UIU have had a remarkable impact on Jesse’s life. Overcoming adversity, persevering, and having a positive attitude to push through to the next adventure are themes to his career and accomplishments that have helped shape him personally and professionally.