What Is Iowa Elevate?

Every year, Iowa MBAs and professionals gather for a day-long Elevate experience -- a chance for curious and progressive minds to share, discover, and explore today's most pressing business issues. The Iowa Elevate Forum connects experts, scholars, and teachers with innovative content and groundbreaking ideas to foster the next generation of business leaders.

2016 Forum: "Resiliency: Reinforcing Success"

Most successful people in any field will tell you that resiliency and persistence in the face of adversity is the only true measure of success. Resiliency is easy to preach but very hard to put into practice. So what motivates people in bad times to keep at it? What distinguishes those who turn weakness into opportunity from those who give up? The 2016 Iowa Elevate Forum features several distinguished speakers who faced overwhelming odds and overcame them to create their own respective brands of success. The Forum brings together more than 200 students, professionals, and faculty at the University of Iowa to share fresh perspectives on what motivates people in difficult times, professionally and personally.

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Nicole Johnston

Nicole Johnston is Vice President of Sales for Kimberly Clark in Neenah, Wisconsin, leading their $3.5B Family Care business for the United States. She brings two decades of sales and management experience to Kimberly Clark, after a 20 year career with Procter & Gamble and The Hershey Company. During those years, Nicole held both US and global positions of increasing responsibility, including living in Geneva, Switzerland for over 4 years. Her experience and leadership was instrumental in both P&G and Hershey attaining several significant milestones, including launching new categories (Febreze Air Care), entering new markets (Africa for Feminine Care) and developing key partner relationships (Global Costco for Hershey). Nicole attended the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business where she received a B.B.A. business degree with an emphasis in Marketing, a certificate in International Business, a French Minor and a focus on Spanish.


Barbara Knapp

Barbara Knapp holds a BSN from Hood College, Frederick, Maryland, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, and an M.A. from the University of Iowa. She has worked in Nursing Administration and faculty at Aga Kahn Hospital, Nairobi, Kenya, the University of Chicago, and the University of Iowa. She then became CEO and Chairman of SCI Financial Group in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She married John Knapp. After his death, she took over managing the family company SCI Financial Group, and then sold it to Wells Fargo in 2001. Barbara retired in 2002. She is married to Jim Nikrant. She has three children, Dr. Linda Knapp McDermott, David Knapp, and Diana Knapp Ledford. She also has eight grandchildren. Barbara is presently a board member of Mount Mercy University, Orchestra Iowa Foundation and Mercy Medical Center. She is a trustee of United Way and Junior Achievement.

Linda Farkas

Linda Farkas began her career in Treasury Management Sales in 1984 at Merchants National Bank in Cedar Rapids. When the Bank was purchased by FIRSTAR (now US BANK) in 1991, she moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she was responsible for treasury management sales throughout the United States. In 1995, she was asked to join M&I Bank (now Bank of Montreal) to develop and manage their treasury management sales team. From 1995-2009 her sales team grew from 7 to 90 sales representatives throughout the United States. She moved back to Iowa City in 2007 to start another chapter of life and is currently working on a consulting project. Since coming back to Iowa City, she has served on the Board of Directors of the Iowa City Library Foundation, Coralville Library Foundation, Riverside Theatre and Noon Rotary. When not busy with those activities, she and her husband Ed, travel extensively. Linda received her Bachelors in Business Administration in 1983, and MBA in 1993, both from the Tippie College of Business

Nate Kaeding

Nate Kaeding

An Iowa native, Nate was a standout student-athlete at both Iowa City West and the University of Iowa before being drafted 65th overall in the 2004 NFL Draft. He played nine seasons for the San Diego Charges and was twice selected to the Pro Bowl. Upon retirement from the NFL in 2013, Nate returned to Iowa City and completed his MBA from the University of Iowa. While pursuing his degree, Nate and his business partner launched two businesses (Tailgate Clothing Store and Pullman Bar & DIner). He is also a founding partner in Short's Burger & Shine. In April of 2015, Nate accepted a position with the Iowa City Downtown District, the economic development organization which supports Iowa City's Downtown SSMID (Self Supporting Municipal Improvement District). Nate is actively involved in the Iowa City area and when not busy with his professional endeavors, he spends time with his wife Samantha and their four children: Jack (8), Wyatt (7), Tess (3) and Harper (1).

Kshipra Pitre

Bio coming soon

Scott Sanborn

A veteran broadcaster with nearly four decades of experience in television and radio, Scott has been a staple of Eastern Iowa news for several years and has earned numerous awards for his news reporting. He has covered such events as the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 and the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, in addition to exclusive and in-depth coverage of presidential elections. His "Created in the Corridor" is weekly series featuring success stories of home-grown businesses and other local entrepreneurial initiatives. Active in the community, Scott is a member of the Hope Lutheran Church, serves on the Advisory Board for the Cedar Rapids Salvation Army and has been a volunteer with numerous local organizations. Scott and his wife, Beckie, are blessed with six grown children, sixteen grandchildren and are proud to call Cedar Rapids home.



12:00 - 12:30 pm - IMU -Second Floor Ballroom

12:30 - 1:00 pm - IMU

1:00 - 1:30 pm - IMU
Ice Breaker

1:35 - 1:55 pm - - IMU
Linda Farkas Kickoff

1:55 - 2:05 pm - IMU

2:05 - 3:15 pm - IMU
Fireside chat w/Barbara Knapp, Kshipra Pitre and Nate Kaeding. Moderated by Scott Sanborn.

3:15 - 3:30 pm - IMU

3:30 - 4:15 pm - IMU
Afternoon Address - Nicole Johnston

4:15 - 4:30 pm - IMU

4:30 - 5:30 pm - IMU
Tippie Table Talks/Networking


Deadline for registration: Thursday, November 4




Knapp Family Foundation

Tippie College of Business

Thank you to our partners who support the Iowa Elevate Forum.