University of Northern Iowa



Advance Iowa Team

The Advance Iowa team has the proven capabilities and experience to deliver value to your firm. We have owned midsized businesses of our own and have firsthand experience of what it takes to continually navigate a dynamic business environment.

Paul Kinghorn

Paul Kinghorn is the Director of ADVANCE IOWA at the University of Northern Iowa. He has over twenty year’s consulting with businesses in all aspects of their operations with a special emphasis on ideation, startup, strategy, process efficiency, and change management necessary for each client to achieve their desired objectives. He has held many management positions within public and private organizations and has been involved in several startups and early-stage small business ventures.


Paul continues to work closely with ownership and management teams to leverage the resources necessary to achieve desired results and to successfully grow and transform underperforming businesses into profitable ventures through targeted strategies. Paul received his Bachelor of Science in finance from Franklin University and his Master of Business Administration from Ohio University.


Contact Paul Kinghorn at

Paul Kinghorn, Director of Advance Iowa

Todd Hutcheson

Todd Hutcheson is an Executive In Residence for ADVANCE IOWA. His primary job is to lead programs that promote business growth and innovation within small to medium-sized businesses. For the last six years, he has been building a consulting firm, and his primary focus is on strategic leadership, continuous improvement, and project management.


Todd holds an MBA from the University of Iowa and received his undergraduate degree from Western Illinois University. He has been teaching as a professor at Mount Mercy University in Business & Leadership programs and continues to teach as an adjunct at UNI, as he has been doing for over 13 years. Education is his "family business," with parents, siblings, and children pursuing and understanding the importance of life-long learning. He states his purpose simply as "helping others become (even more) successful."


Before retirement, Todd spent 32 years engaged in a wide variety of functional departments and roles, focused on continuous improvement, system implementation and strategic management for Rockwell Collins, a premier aerospace and defense company.


Contact Todd Hutcheson at

Todd Hutcheson

Deb Giarusso

Deb Giarusso is serving as senior program manager for ADVANCE IOWA, dealing specifically with business ownership transition. She is a wealth strategist with a focus and specialty in serving business owners and their family’s financial resources. Deb has spent 35 years building her expertise in both corporate and investment finance. Her professional experiences include preparing capital budgeting analyses for Oscar Mayer Foods in the early 1990s, managing a multi-million-dollar family real estate and investment portfolio for over 30 years, and being a founding principal of an RIA firm during the financial crisis of 2008. Additionally, she taught both graduate and undergraduate finance courses at the University of Northern Iowa for twenty years.
Deb’s commitment to the local community, families, and building long-term relationships is reflected in her devoting valuable time to serve on multiple non-profit boards as a financial expert for the past decade. Deb used her skills to lead financial projects, collaborate with board members to develop investment policies, monitor investment advisors, and forecast models by identifying key variables resulting in improved cash flow management and cost optimization, amongst other various roles. Deb proudly holds the designation of CFA® charter holder, CFA Institute, and earned her MBA from the University of Iowa. 

Contact Deb Giarusso at

Deb Giarusso, Senior Program Manager

Janell Crow

Janell is a UNI graduate with a degree in Business Management. She is a lifetime resident of the Cedar Valley and has a passion for the community. Before starting her career at UNI, she worked in finance and also as a small business owner. This is a unique aspect that she brings to our team, she knows what these businesses go through and understands a lot of their struggles. She is currently serving as a program manager and is responsible for the development, scheduling, and implementation of program events. She also assists with program marketing and business development.



Contact Janell Crow at

Janell Crow, Program Manager

Stacy Mullinex

Stacy is a Program Manager for ADVANCE IOWA, bringing over twenty years of small business experience to the team. Her career has included owning her own company as well as consultation work for various trades which range from small family shops to multi-million-dollar operations. Her role at Advance Iowa follows a similar path assisting companies in identifying value drivers for business growth, providing strategic/financial valuation assessments, and offering customized succession planning.

Stacy holds an undergraduate degree in both Business Administration and Accounting and is currently working on her Master of Business Administration.

Contact Stacy Mullinex at

Stacy Mullinex, Program Manager

Annette Stevenson

Annette joined the team in January 2022. Part of her job at ADVANCE IOWA is to develop multi-channel communication strategies and create printed publications and digital and social media marketing. She gained most of her professional experience in graphic design, marketing, and public relations while living and working in Southern Germany, where she operated an agency for many years. This fact substantiates her connectedness and attraction to entrepreneurship and family businesses, which have always been a prevalent part of her daily life.


Annette is excited and motivated to promote businesses by placing their needs and concerns first. She is a UNI graduate with a BFA in Art. In her free time, she continues her work as an art instructor at the Hearst Center for the Arts in Cedar Falls.


Contact Annette Stevenson at

Annette stevenson, program associate at UNI

Gary Nesteby

Gary is the CEO Peer Group Facilitator at ADVANCE IOWA. He has spent 43 years in the field of continual improvement, Quality, and Performance Excellence. As the Founder and Executive Director of the Iowa Quality Center for 21 years, Gary was the leader in the development and implementation of the Iowa Recognition of Performance Excellence (IRPE.) He was a Director of the Alliance for Performance Excellence, which includes all state programs that feed the applicants into the National Baldrige Performance Excellence program.

Gary has spent the last 20 years assessing organizations in manufacturing, education, healthcare, nonprofit, and government. His experience in systems thinking and the assessment tools of the Baldrige framework have given him opportunities to lead groups and address organizational gaps. Gary’s alignment with the CEO Peer Groups is a natural fit for business leaders needing to share best practices and learn from each other.

Contact Gary Nesteby at

Gary Nesteby, CEO Peer Group Facilitator