Aaron Horn, Jill Wilkins to assume leadership as Engelmann shifts focus to ISA Ventures in 2021
CEDAR RAPIDS (Nov. 5, 2020) – The growth of ISA Ventures has required changes to NewBoCo’s leadership, with founder Eric Engelmann transitioning into a new role.
Engelmann will step down from his role as NewBoCo’s Executive Director on Dec. 1 to focus exclusively on ISA Ventures. His role will be filled by Aaron Horn, who currently serves as NewBoCo’s Chief Operating Officer.
Horn’s COO role will be assumed by Jill Wilkins, who currently serves as NewBoCo’s Events Director.
Engelmann stresses that the new leadership structure will make NewBoCo stronger and more flexible as the nonprofit heads into 2021.
“With the huge opportunities facing us in 2021, having two people responsible for working together across the entirety of this complex organization is critical,” he says. “To keep our teams aligned, and to foster communication and support HR and talent across the company, is even more important now. And Aaron and Jill are the ideal people to fill those roles.”
Horn joined the NewBoCo Board of Directors in 2014, serving as its chair in 2016. He then came on board with NewBoCo full-time as COO in 2017. A graduate of Iowa State University Horn worked for 12 years as the Global IT Manager for Becker Underwood before serving as Director of IT for the Iowa Interstate Railroad. Horn also serves on the Board of Directors for nonprofits Miracle Travel Works in Des Moines, Candlelighters NYC in New York City, and Beat Cancer Today in Cedar Rapids.
Horn calls Engelmann “an incredible mentor” and says he wants to continue Engelmann’s work of making the community more resilient to a changing economy.
“I’m really excited to work with our amazing team on expanding our programs across Iowa,” Horn says. “NewBoCo’s impact is growing, and it is really encouraging to work with talented people who are so passionate about making a difference.”
Before her time with NewBoCo, Jill Wilkins spent 10 years with the Cedar Rapids Downtown District and the Metro Economic Alliance, where she led the newly established Downtown Farmers’ Market. She grew the market from 50 to over 200 vendors, created Market After Dark and ran numerous other large scale events and conferences. In 2016, she joined NewBoCo as Events Director.
“While working on EntreFEST these past four years, I’ve had the opportunity to see how all of the many pieces of NewBoCo fit together to make a really impactful organization,” Wilkins says. “I’m excited to now be able to expand my role to support all of the different areas of the organization, as well as the awesome staff that lead these important efforts.”
Engelmann founded NewBoCo with a vision of making Iowa known, around the world, for making big things happen. The nonprofit aims to help businesses thrive in the state by supporting startups; providing tech training through its K-12 education and DeltaV programs; offering a coworking space through Vault; innovation training; and more.
As part of that mission, Engelmann turned his focus to ISA Ventures, successfully raising almost $20 million – so far – for Iowa’s first multi-stage venture capital studio. Viewing ISA Ventures as the natural evolution of the accelerator model within NewBoCo, Engelmann aims to see the new project support founders during their entire journey, with fundraising support, mentoring, product development, marketing and more.
In addition to founding NewBoCo, Engelmann founded and grew Geonetric in Cedar Rapids from 1999 until 2015. An experienced angel investor, he has invested in more than 40 companies through Iowa Startup Accelerator Fund I and he actively mentors many of our region’s entrepreneurs. Engelmann also serves on the Board of Directors for Scrum Alliance
After spending the past year focusing on ISA Ventures, Engelmann realized that the growing program would require his full-time attention, which is why he began discussions about a transition with Horn and Wilkins. He says he’ll still be available to the team in an advisory role.
“It’s been an honor working closely with this NewBoCo team for the past six years,” he says. “Congratulations to Aaron and Jill for formally stepping up into these roles. We’re excited to see what the future holds for this organization, and the even greater impact it will have on the state of Iowa in the future.”
The New Bohemian Innovation Collaborative, Inc. (NewBoCo) is a 501(c)(3) organization located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. NewBoCo’s programming supports entrepreneurship, innovation, and tech education to help Iowans become more resilient and thrive in a changing economy.