ISU Pappajohn Center rounds out team to support entrepreneurship at Iowa State

The Pappajohn Center welcomes new team members, announces other appointments within its innovative and impactful programs.

AMES, Iowa (January 22, 2021) – The Iowa State University Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship today announced three new hires and other appointments to its team to help support and drive innovation and entrepreneurship programming at Iowa State.

Judi Eyles, director of ISU Pappajohn Center welcomed new hires: Jean Walsh –program assistant; Julie Lelonek — program specialist; and, Jon Kallen — Iowa Go-to-Market (G2M) Accelerator Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR).

Additionally, Eyles announced other appointments have been made, including new responsibilities within Megan Sweere’s current role as a program specialist, and the renewal of Donna Ramaeker Zahn and Tim Neugent in their appointments as EIRs in the ISU Startup Factory program, which operates under the Pappajohn Center.

This announcement comes shortly after the Centers’ Jan. 20 announcement of the hire of Peter Hong as the new director of the ISU Startup Factory.

“I am extremely pleased to gather this team of seasoned experts to help further drive our programming efforts within the Pappajohn Center,” Eyles said. “As individuals, each brings with them a wealth of experience and a passion for supporting entrepreneurs. Together, with our existing exceptionally skilled and hardworking staff in the Pappajohn Center, I’m confident we have all the right people in place to bring our programming to new heights.”

Iowa State was recently named a 2021 USASBE Model Program, which recognizes colleges and universities that provide comprehensive, bold, high-quality educational programs that train future generations of entrepreneurs.

“Our institution has been recognized nationally for its bold and innovative programs that make an impact in the field of entrepreneurship education,” Eyles said. “I know I’ve said it before, but it truly takes a village working together to support entrepreneurs. Given their strengths, I know this team will do much to bring even more value to Iowa State’s comprehensive and robust innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem.”

More details on the new Pappajohn Center hires follow:

Jean Walsh joined the Pappajohn Center on Jan. 18 as a program assistant. In her new position, Walsh will help facilitate entrepreneurial programming and provide administrative support for the Center and CyBIZ Lab student consulting. She brings with her more than 28 years of experience in meeting and event planning and management and previously facilitated the national Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization program. Most recently, she was a senior program manager with West Des Moines-based ITA Group.

Julie Lelonek has been named as a program specialist for the ISU Startup Factory and G2M Accelerator programs. The Startup Factory is a G2M program partner with BioConnect Iowa and VentureNet Iowa, and will run the accelerator’s daily operations.  Lelonek began in her new role on Jan. 4. Most recently, she served as a communications and business engagement specialist in ISU’s Office of Economic Development and Industry Relations (EDIR) where she was responsible for supporting the internal and external marketing and communications efforts of EDIR and groups within EDIR, which included the ISU Startup Factory program. Prior to that, Lelonek served more than 8 years as the dean’s assistant in the Debbie and Jerry Ivy College of Business at ISU.

Jon Kallen will be joining the program as the EIR for the G2M Accelerator. Kallen is an attorney and engineer with over 15 years of experience working for large diversified energy companies, engineering consulting firms, and early stage private equity renewable energy/infrastructure project developers. He is currently the Managing Partner of Jennings Kallen Advisors, LLC., where he assists companies in identifying growth opportunities and developing projects addressing critical energy, technology and infrastructure needs.

Other appointment announcements include:

Megan Sweere has assumed new responsibilities within her program specialist role. After more than a year with the Pappajohn Center, spent in a variety of programming and administrative roles, Sweere will bring her knowledge and understanding to her new responsibilities supporting entrepreneurial students across campus and in the Student Innovation Center.

Donna Ramaeker Zahn and Tim Neugent will continue their roles as EIRs in the newly-organized Startup Factory.

As an EIR, Ramaeker Zahn focuses on business strategy and funding, establishing valuable connections for cohort members. Ramaeker Zahn’s career has been innovation focused for more than 30 years.  Currently, she is chair of the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s (IEDA’s) Technology Commercialization Committee. She has reviewed Iowa startups through VentureNet since 2008 and as a research director in the private industry, she was involved in assessing collaborations with startups that worked on disruptive genetic technologies.  Passionate about innovation, science and business development, she is also an investor.

In his role as an EIR, Neugent provides cohort members access to expertise in the areas of investment, strategic planning, and marketing. Neugent is a Des Moines-based business development expert, entrepreneur, and consultant, and is the owner of The Neugent Group, Inc., an independent business services firm. Formerly, he was president and CEO of PowerFilm, Inc., a manufacturer of flexible thin-film solar panels, based in Ames.


About ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship

The ISU John Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship, part of the Ivy College of Business and the Office of Economic Development and Industry Relations, offers numerous programs and services that broadly reach and connect students, community entrepreneurs, business professionals, and alumni. The Center has two primary objectives: 1) to create a culture that encourages entrepreneurship and innovation, 2) to provide the tools necessary for building and improving Iowa’s businesses. Outreach efforts are designed to help individuals recognize opportunities, gain skills and experiences to take advantage of opportunities, and connect with the right resources and support to launch a successful business. For more information, visit


Julie Lelonek, ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship, 515-294-1562,
Judi Eyles, ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship, 515-296-6754,
ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship1805 Collaboration Pl, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50010