Senior Leaders

Executive Team

John C. Blakley

Chairman, CEO, and Founder

Since 1993

John C. Blakley, known as Blake, leads the senior executive team and oversees all aspects of corporate operations. He is also responsible for developing business strategies, which include maintaining client, partner, and vendor relationships, in addition to making recommendations to the BOD on the strategic direction of the Company. During his career at Unicon, Blake developed the Cisco Networking Academy® Management System and was the product manager for the Unicon Academus® product suite. Prior to his career at Unicon, Blake was a Systems Engineer with Arizona State University (ASU). Additionally, Blake served on the Industrial Advisory Board of the Department of Electronics and Computer Engineering Technology at ASU East.

Chris Franz

President and Founder

Since 1993

Chris Franz leads the company's systems and network engineering team and has over 25 years of experience as a Systems and Network Engineer supporting enterprise level infrastructure and applications. Franz’s primary areas of interest include building scalable, highly available architectures along with performance testing and improvement. Franz is a former Vice President of Operations for Unicon, where he served in various roles as a Programmer, Consultant, and System Administrator. In addition, Franz was responsible for Unix program consulting with large for-profit organizations and government agencies, during which he led the application support team for one of the largest eLearning production deployments in the world to date. Before joining Unicon, Franz was a System Administrator and Programmer in Engineering Computer Services at Arizona State University.

Marquess Lewis

Chief Technology Officer

Since 2012

Marquess has over 25 years of experience in complex systems development and operations, delivering SaaS platforms and services supporting millions of customers. An accomplished software engineer, Marquess has architected and built systems that deliver millions of assessments and learning experiences per month and serve millions of students per day.  As a technologist with broad-ranging skills, Mr. Lewis has also had responsibilities for SaaS systems architecture, IT Operations, Project Management/PMO, and software quality. Marquess' current role with Unicon, Inc. is CTO, where he is active in learning systems architecture for various clients, cloud strategy, M&A, and security.

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Kate Valenti

Vice President Operations

Since 2003

Kate has over 17 years of consulting experience focused on enterprise application integration and deployment across the education, healthcare, and energy industries. Prior to her role as VP Operations, Kate lead Unicon's integrations and analytics practice as Senior Director.  In recent years she has been engaged in strategic client management roles where she developed and led third-party integration services programs, as well as defined integration delivery strategy, built integration services teams, and delivered dozens of integrated solutions to the market.  
 
Prior to joining Unicon, Kate worked at Cap Gemini Ernst & Young as a management consultant with a focus on enterprise application integration. She holds a Project Management Professional credential (PMP), a Certified Scrum Master certification (CSM), and a Project Management Professional Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) credential.

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Patience Breinholt

Vice President Human Resources

Since 2000

Patience is SPHR certified and responsible for managing Human Resources at Unicon.  As Vice President of HR, she oversees policy and procedure, recruiting and hiring practices, personnel development, retention approaches, benefits administration, conflict resolution, legal compliance issues, and managerial support. In her more than 18 years at Unicon, her achievements include developing a high caliber, peak performing HR department from the ground up that supports business strategy, productivity, and profitability, fostering a company culture in which employees enjoy working in a friendly and collaborative atmosphere, while the company maintains a stellar reputation among clients for superior quality, service, and professionalism.

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Jim Layne

Vice President Marketing

Since 2002

In his role at Unicon, Jim is responsible for developing, implementing, and executing corporate positioning and branding while driving an integrated communication strategy.  On a daily basis, he oversees the company's marketing functions, including advertising, direct marketing, market research, public relations, and web presence. Jim joined Unicon in September 2002 with more than 20 years’ experience in both technical and marketing positions at leading edge, high-technology companies. Before joining Unicon, Jim was President of an online life-skills content development company for the K-12 marketplace.  He was also founder and marketing vice president of one of the first free fantasy sports sites on the Web. 

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Jason Lacy

Vice President Sales

Since 2001

Jason is Unicon’s Vice President of Sales. His team is responsible for the sale of consulting and digital services into the education, publisher, and corporate markets.  In addition, Jason acts as the Account Manager for Unicon’s major Publishing accounts.  Jason joined Unicon in 2001 and has over 20 years’ experience in information technology focused sales, application and system design, and the management of large software implementation projects.  Prior to joining Unicon, Jason worked as a project manager and consultant for Accenture (formerly Andersen Consulting).  His clients were focused on the Financial Services industry, and included American Express, E*TRADE, Pacific Investment Management Company, and Visa.

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