Fifteenth in a series on this year’s 20 Under 40 winners.
CEDAR FALLS — Every year, on a particular morning before Christmas, Bart Schmitz’s home becomes a gathering space for University of Northern Iowa students to spread cheer.
For nearly a decade, Schmitz and his family have hosted an annual toy drive in which they invite students to their breakfast table, followed by a shopping spree to purchase toys for children in need. Schmitz gives each UNI student a $10 gift card toward the purchase of a toy.
Schmitz also has students over for meals throughout the school year. The students have become an extension of his own large family.
“We love it,” Schmitz said. “It’s neat to see them interact with my kids.”
Schmitz, 39, is program manager of the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center R.J. McElroy Student Business Incubator program. The incubator program is an educational learning laboratory designed to inspire and educate students interested in entrepreneurship and small business, according to JPEC. He is also the adviser for UNIEntrepreneurs, the JPEC’s organization of students interested in entrepreneurship.
“Bart is actively engaged in the regional entrepreneurial community and is always listening and reading books, watching webcasts, attending conferences, talking to peers and local business owners, (and) learning more about small business, finance and the Cedar Valley,” said nominator Laurie Watje. ... “He is a constant example of the delicate balance between hard work and dedication to career, family, community and faith.”
Schmitz and his wife have five children — Martin, 13; Evelyn, 10; Solomon, 8; Oliver, 6; and Irene, 4.
“We grew up here. Our families are from here. We believe the Cedar Valley is a great place to raise a family,” Schmitz said.
Which is why he jumps in to help whenever and wherever he can. Schmitz helped start the Cedar Valley 100 Plus Men’s Group, which contributes to Cedar Valley non-profits. He’s a 4-H leader, volunteers at St. Patrick Catholic Church and for 12 years has been board president of Casa Montessori Preschool. He’s also been involved with Junior Achievement.
“Luckily, I don’t require a lot of sleep,” he said, laughing. “My parents were very involved in the community, always on the go. That really motivated me.”
Schmitz said he’s honored to be named a 2019 20 Under 40 winner.
“There are so many good leaders in the Cedar Valley finding balance between work, family, community and giving back,” he said.
Schmitz earned an associate’s degree from Hawkeye Community College and a bachelor’s degree from UNI. He managed the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center in downtown Waterloo from 2003-2006. From 2006-2016 he managed events at UNI’s Maucker Union.
“He had an ever-changing staff that he selflessly served,” Watje said. “If you went by his office you would often find one of his student workers not just seeking instruction for their work day, but seeking advice on their career and being counseled on how to live an honest, noble life and follow a career path worthy of their strengths. ... Bart is a perfect example of leadership in action.”
Our memorable stories of 2019.
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“My parents were very involved in the community, always on the go. That really motivated me.”
"My parents were very involved in the community, always on the go. That really motivated me."