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.

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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.

Kate Valenti

Chief Operating Officer

Since 2003

Kate has over 20 years of consulting experience in enterprise application integration and deployment across the education ecosystem. As Chief Operating Officer, Kate leads the execution of strategies developed by our top management team and drives consistency and efficiency between and among departments. As an operational leader, she works at the intersection of client experience and employee engagement and places an emphasis on process clarity and data-driven decision-making. Previously, Kate held senior leader positions at Unicon including VP of Operations and Senior Director of Integrations and Analytics. Prior to joining Unicon, Kate worked at Cap Gemini Ernst & Young as a management consultant with a focus on enterprise application integration.  
 
Kate is passionate about the impact that well-designed and well-integrated technology can have on the learning experience. During her career in education, Kate has designed and developed integration strategies, programs, and technical services teams, and has delivered dozens of integrated solutions to the market. Kate has both participated in and facilitated industry panel conversations and holds the EDUCAUSE Review Author microcredential.

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Dan McCallum

Vice President Technology

Since 2006

Dan is VP Technology at Unicon, with over 21 years of professional software development and design experience focusing on systems integration and Web-based educational and student success/advising applications. Dan’s leadership helps equip Unicon technical delivery teams with the skills and cultural support that make Unicon both a great place to work and a uniquely capable and satisfying partner to our customers. Prior to joining Unicon, Dan developed software for the hospitality industry, including online transaction processing integrations with Internet-scale and legacy mainframe distribution systems. Dan is an ISC2 Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP).

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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 20 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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Jason Lacy

Vice President Strategic Partnerships

Since 2001

Jason has over 25 years of experience in information technology focused sales, application and system design, and the management of large software implementation projects. In his role of Vice President of Partnerships, Jason collaborates and forms strategic partnerships supporting the education ecosystem and the growing technology needs of Unicon clients. 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.

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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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Kenna Ose

Vice President Market Development

Since 2020

Kenna has over 25 years experience in the education technology market, with a focus on teaching, learning, and workforce readiness. Kenna recently joined Unicon's leadership team and oversees the strategic planning and implementation of all business development and marketing strategies. Prior to joining Unicon, Kenna played a strategic leadership role at several education technology companies focused on K12, higher education, and workforce readiness..

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