Sourcing speaking talent from across the state, Valley TechCon.19 brings together entrepreneurs, academics, and developers to present the latest on a diverse tech industry.

The speakers listed below were the presenters for Valley TechCon 2018. Stay tuned for the list of 2019 speakers.

Karen Jackson

Former Secretary of Technology, State of Virginia & President of Apogee Strategic Partners

Karen Jackson is the president of Apogee Strategic Partners, a Virginia consultancy helping companies and organizations address their most daunting challenges in cyber security, autonomous systems, and smart communities. Additionally, she serves as a Senior Fellow with the Center for Digital Government. Ms. Jackson formerly served as the Secretary of Technology for the Commonwealth. She also served as the Commonwealth’s Deputy Secretary of Technology.

In her official capacities she served as a senior advisor to Governors Kaine, McDonnell and McAuliffe on technology matters including innovation, data analytics, telecommunications, cybersecurity, unmanned systems (autonomy) and smart communities.

As Secretary, she was responsible for overseeing and advancing the Commonwealth’s IT infrastructure, developing and advancing policy, programs, and legislative to facilitate innovation, entrepreneurship, technology development, and adoption. She also served as a Senior Advisor to the National Governors Association for their “Meet the Threat, States Confront the Cyber Challenge” initiative.

Ms. Jackson has been actively engaged in the federal policy initiatives including the development of the National Broadband Plan. She received a 2009 IP3 award from Public Knowledge for her work in information policy, and was named to Government Technology’s 2010 list of the top 25 Doers, Dreamers, and Drivers. In 2015, she was named to The Governing Institute Women in Government Leadership Program Class, and in 2016 was named as one of State Scoops’ GoldenGov State Executives of the Year. In 2017, Ms. Jackson was named as one of State Scoop’s Top Women in Technology and she and Governor Terry McAuliffe were jointly recognized as 2017 Difference Makers in Cyber Security by the SANS Institute. Her office also received an excellence in Government award from the Southwestern Virginia Technology Council.

Ms. Jackson serves on a number of Boards including the Advisory Board of the Apex Systems Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Virginia Tech, the Advisory Board of Sera Brynn (cyber audit and assessment firm located in Suffolk, VA), and the Board of Directors for Sweet Briar College.

She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Christopher Newport University and a masters of business administration from The College of William and Mary.

Opening Speaker @ 8:45am

Renée Teate

Data Scientist, HelioCampus

Creator of Becoming a Data Scientist Blog & Podcast

Renée Teate is a Data Scientist at higher ed analytics start-up HelioCampus. She is a graduate of James Madison University’s Integrated Science and Technology (ISAT) program, and has a masters in Systems Engineering from UVA. She lives in Harrisonburg and has worked with data for her entire career, from starting a local database design and web development business to working in data analysis roles at both JMU and Rosetta Stone.

Renée is the creator and host of the Becoming a Data Scientist Podcast and the popular @becomingdatasci Twitter account. She enjoys encouraging people from a variety of career backgrounds to learn about data science and machine learning, and is happy to chat with you about how to transition into a data science career path yourself!

What You Should Already Know About Data Science –  Becoming A Data Scientist @ 9:15am

Dr. Morgan Benton

Associate Professor, ISAT, James Madison University

Mentor to 100’s of young programmers, Dr. Benton is expert in full-stack web, mobile, and hybrid app development. A devotee of TDD/BDD, agile and lean processes, his recent work focuses on blockchain, IoT prototype development (including electronics design and 3D printing), assessment, and “quantified self” tools. Most of his recent work is built upon the Ionic Framework (Angular+Cordova) and VueJs, but he has deep knowledge of MERN, MEAN, and micro-services, and an extensive history with WordPress and PHP. Morgan has been a professor in the Integrated Science and Technology Program at JMU for the past 12 years, and is currently part of the leadership in the Hyperledger Teaching and Education Working Group.

Blockchain Technology and Hyperledger @ 9:15am

Prof. Barry M. Horowitz

Munster Professor of Systems and Information Engineering, University of Virginia, Former President & CEO, The MITRE Corporation

Dr. Horowitz is the Munster Professor of Systems Engineering at the University of Virginia. Over the past 8 years he has focused his research efforts on design techniques related to cyber attack resilient physical systems. Before joining UVA in 2001, he was President and CEO of the MITRE Corporation. While at MITRE, he led a collision avoidance system prototyping activity that served as the basis for the internationally adopted capability currently implemented on-board passenger-carrying commercial aircraft (TCAS). During Desert Storm he conceived of and led the integration efforts for a system for tracking and destroying SCUD missile carriers. He received the Air Force’s highest award for a civilian as a result of this effort. In 1996 was elected as a member of the National Academy of Engineering. In 2014 he was appointed by the Governor of Virginia to serve for a 2-year period as a Cyber Security Commissioner.

Cyber Attack Resilience Applied to Autonomous Vehicles @ 9:15am

Chiedo John

CEO, Chiedo Labs

Chiedo is a speaker on entrepreneurship and tech and the CEO of Chiedo Labs, an agency hired to build websites and custom online platforms. Chiedo loves church, family, friends, and working on all things entrepreneurship and tech. He graduated from James Madison University in 2013 with a Computer Science degree. Not only is he a big dreamer, he is also a big dream initiator. If it sounds challenging and exciting, you’ve got his attention.

Extending a Ruby on Rails Application with Phoenix and Elixir @ 10:15am

David Cafaro

Information Security Officer, Capital One

David Cafaro has been working in Information Technology for over two decades with a heavy focus on information security. Currently he is an Information Security Officer at Capital One where he leads a team providing security and risk management expertise on application, cloud, and on-prem technologies. Though currently working in the financial sector, his career has brought him through a variety of industries including environmental lab testing, government, telecommunications, and cancer research. Beyond his formal career, he enjoys sharing his security experience though his professional development course work with JMU and his volunteer work with BSidesDC helping organize the KidsCon sub-con, with the goal of inspiring the next generation of information technology experts.

Driving Security Through Technology @ 10:15am

Fred Briggs

Founder and CEO, Teq Strategy

Fred Briggs is the founder and CEO of Teq Strategy, a team of experts that develop prototype drone, robotics and IOT technology. Fred uses his professional skills to serve social entrepreneurs by running programs that unlock talents and grow social impact. He was a team leader for a group that crowdsourced solutions to create low cost drone technology to help stop Rhino Poaching in South Africa and he helped run a make-a-thon to develop solutions for people with disabilities. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the DC area Drone User Group, he is an adjunct professor for James Madison University and you can often find him contributing at Nova Labs, his local makerspace.

Internet of Things @ 10:15am

Captain Paul J. Tortora

United States Navy (ret.)

Captain Paul Tortora is the Director of the Center for Cyber Security Studies and was the first Chair of the new Cyber Science Department at the United States Naval Academy. Paul recently retired from the Navy following a 26-year active duty career as both a Nuclear Submarine Officer and a Naval Intelligence Officer. During his active service he served and deployed on two nuclear fast attack submarines, two amphibious assault ships, and a nuclear aircraft carrier, conducting peacetime and combat operations across the globe. His ashore assignments included Director of Training at the Navy and Marine Corps Intelligence Training Center, on the staff of the Director of Naval Intelligence, as the Intelligence Officer and Naval Aide to the Secretary of the Navy, and on the staff of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Paul is a 1989 graduate of the Naval Academy, where he majored in Mathematics, minoring in Spanish. He holds a Masters of Science in Management from the University of Maryland, and a Masters of Arts in National Security Strategy from the Naval War College. His personal awards include the Legion of Merit, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, and the Meritorious Service Medal. He is a recipient of both the National Military Intelligence Association’s Vice Admiral Rufus Taylor Award for Intelligence Leadership and the Rear Admiral Edwin T. Layton Award for outstanding leadership in Naval Intelligence.

Critical Cyber Skills for Students and Companies Serving the US government @ 11:15am

Michael Raschid

CLO & VP of Operations, Perrone Robotics

Mike Raschid is the Chief Legal Officer and VP – Operations of Perrone Robotics, Inc., a developer of a robotics software platform for autonomous cars and other autonomous vehicles. Mike is in charge of legal and operational matters at the company. He has participated in autonomous vehicle industry conferences, and has been a speaker and participant in a working group advising on autonomous vehicle policies at the state level. Prior to his tenure at Perrone Robotics, he was a partner at a Washington, DC law firm and a leading Silicon Valley law firm. Mike is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law and the University of Pennsylvania.

Eric Jardine

Assistant Prof. Political Science at Virginia Tech

Eric Jardine is an assistant professor of political science at Virginia Tech and a fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), a Canadian think tank focusing on governance challenges in the 21st century. His research focuses on various aspects of our new digital life, including the uses and abuses of the Dark Web, measuring trends in cybersecurity, how people adapt to changing risk perceptions when using new security technologies and the inherent politics surrounding both anonymity-granting technologies and encryption.

Unpacking the Dark Web @ 11:15am

Travis Fox

CEO, Raincrow Studios

Travis Fox has more than 21 years of experience in the publishing and entertainment industries. With a proven history of product development, narrative design, monetization, and marketing, he is a pioneer of the fast emerging augmented reality game category. Raincrow brings together his passion for technology and storytelling. “The first time I saw a Google map on a smartphone, I saw a field of play for millions of gamers.” Prior to co-founding Raincrow Studios, he was the Managing Partner of Fox Creative Group.

Lunch Keynote @ 12:15pm

Dan Hanlon

Co-Founder and Creative Director, Raincrow Studios

After serving in the US Marine Corps, Dan spent more than 25 years in community service and law enforcement. He is a co-founder of Raincrow Studios and serves as Chief Creative Officer, acting as an artistic leader and spokesman for the company. He has been evangelizing real-world game models since the first map appeared on a smart device, pitching Raincrow products to a global audience at GDC in San Francisco as well at Google during the 2017 Google Indie Festival where Covens was named a top 10 title of 2017. He is passionate about bringing old-world storytelling into modern day tech to create games with uncommon depth.

Lunch Keynote @ 12:15pm

Bob Smith

Director, Innovation Commercialization Assistance Program at George Mason University

Bob Smith is currently the Director of the Innovation Commercialization Assistance Program (ICAP), a program of George Mason University and the Virginia Small Business Development Center Network. Here he helps researchers, inventors and technology startups develop their commercialization paths and business plans. He’s also an instructor with the NSF’s DC I-Corp Node, and co-director of the Fed Tech program, which uses Lean Startup methods to assist inventors from government labs to explore the commercial viability of their inventions.

Bob has 30+ years of experience in innovation and entrepreneurship. He is the Chairman of CollegeFactual.com, a leading college rankings website. He’s held senior management positions at Congressional Quarterly and America Online in sales, marketing and new product development and was the founder and CEO of the first nation-wide online city guide, Digital City. As an executive, angel investor and advisor he has helped companies in e-commerce, e-government, identity management, publishing, geospatial analytics, data science and local media move from an idea to a favorable exit.

He received a BA from USC and his MBA from GWU. He is a veteran of the US Navy.

Resources for building a tech company in the Valley(s) @ 1:30pm

Keith May

Owner, Cottonwood Commercial

Keith May is the owner of Cottonwood Commercial and Kline May Realty and co-owns Priority Property Management and Cottonwood Auctions. Keith has served as Chair of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham County Chamber of Commerce and was honored with the group’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” award. Keith is currently Chair of the Shenandoah Valley Partnership, an entity devoted to strategic economic development in the region. Keith was an honors graduate of Virginia Tech and previously served as a commercial lender at a local bank. Keith was Chair of a local Retirement Community Board and was President of a local mutual aid insurance company. Keith is a founding member of the Shenandoah Valley Innovation Coalition, the Shenandoah Valley Angel Network, the Harrisonburg Rotary Club, the Shenandoah Valley Home Builders Association, and is a board member of Shenandoah University in Winchester.

Resources for building a tech company in the Valley(s) @ 1:30pm

Brian Shull

Executive Director, Harrisonburg Economic Development

Brian Shull has served as Director of Economic Development for the City of Harrisonburg since 1998. A native of Virginia’s beautiful Shenandoah Valley, he has had the pleasure of directing local and regional economic development initiatives in this thriving area of the Commonwealth for nearly 30 years. Significant projects that he has worked on include multiple expansions for Rosetta Stone, serving on the recruitment team for SRI International’s Center for Advanced Drug Research, and serving as lead development manager for Harrisonburg Technology Park.

Shull has an Economics degree from the College of William & Mary and he is a graduate of the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma. Shull is a past President of the Virginia Economic Developers Association and received VEDA’s prestigious Cardinal Award in 2014. He currently serves as Secretary-Treasurer for the Shenandoah Valley Partnership, the lead economic development agency for the Shenandoah Valley region.

Resources for building a tech company in the Valley(s) @ 1:30pm

Mary Lou Bourne

Executive Director of Technology Innovation and Economic Development at James Madison University, and Executive Director of James Madison Innovations

As Executive Director of Technology Innovation and Economic Development at JMU and Executive Director of James Madison Innovations, she provides leadership over all aspects of moving university initiated innovations into the marketplace, including developing strategies for marketing, licensing and commercialization of intellectual property. She facilitates economic development collaborations across the region and the state by making connections for innovators and entrepreneurs. Mary Lou worked with local business investors to create the Shenandoah Valley Angel Investors in 2015, a network of private investors that help fund technology startup companies in the Valley. Mary Lou leads and connects the Valley as Chair of the regional innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem Shenandoah Valley Innovation Coalition and several statewide organizations: Chair of Virginia’s University-Based Economic Development group, Chair of Virginia Innovation Alliance, and board member of Virginia is for Entrepreneurs.

Patrick McQuown

Executive Director, James Madison University Center for Entrepreneurship

A pioneer of the mobile services and online media industry, Patrick McQuown started his first company, Proteus, in 1996, working out of his dorm room at The George Washington University. The company grew into a mobile media industry leader and was first to create an application that allowed users to send short text messages from a website to a handset. Among other accomplishments, Mr. McQuown and Proteus created text-polling for the highly acclaimed television show American Idol.

Mr. McQuown’s second startup, SinglePoint, raised $50 million in venture capital. The company deployed the two largest-ever messaging campaigns: one for the 2008 Summer Olympics, and one for Obama for America. SinglePoint was subsequently sold to the European mobile company Ericsson.

Mr. McQuown has taught at Brown University, Providence College Georgetown University and was Entrepreneur in Residence for the Yale Entrepreneur Institute. He is passionate about guiding budding entrepreneurs to realize their dreams.

Pitching to investors @ 1:30pm

Tom Brock

CEO, ConvergentAI

Tom Brock brings over 30 years experience in the technology space; with a breadth of roles that include P&L operations, strategic planning, M&A, product management, IT and sales. He is adept at helping mid-market companies scale and grow profitably. Tom’s passion is turning great ideas into products.

Tom has a BS degree in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Tech. He is a graduate of GE’s management development course and is a Six Sigma master black belt. Prior to joining ConvergentAI, Tom held leadership positions including COO at a $30M healthcare software and services company, VP of strategy & business development for the $500M healthcare data connectivity and analytics, GM of commercial software for $30M solution at GE Healthcare, and CIO of a $300M sensing solutions business.

Machine Learning and AI: A Practical Introduction and how it is being used to improve Business Outcomes @ 1:30pm

Peter Kant

Vice President, Federal Partnerships SRI International

Peter Kant has been working in public policy and corporate leadership for over two decades including positions in state and federal government, large companies and non-profits. Peter is currently Vice President at SRI International. SRI is a large non-profit research and development institute headquartered in Silicon Valley and provides R&D in multiple science and technology disciplines and focuses on inventing new technologies for the public and private sectors.

Prior to joining SRI in 2014, Peter worked for over 10 years at OSI Systems, Inc, a publicly-traded security and medical technology firm.

Peter’s public sector career included staff positions on Capitol Hill, the Texas Legislature and the White House. He serves on the Boards of multiple technology companies. Peter earned his undergraduate degree from Brandeis University and his masters at Duke University. He lives in Arlington, Virginia with his wife and two children.

Bringing Tech to Market @ 2:30pm

Jeff Cesnik

Founder, Clutch, and Principle, Clutch Labs

Jeff Cesnik has been an entrepreneur for over 18 years as the founder of Clutch (clutch-inc.com), a small government services practice in the Shenandoah Valley. He is also the principal of Clutch Labs (clutch-labs.com) where he pursues various multi-disciplinary engineering efforts spanning software, systems, electrical & mechanical engineering, security, cryptography, robotics, applied science, agriculture and manufacturing. Most recently, Jeff has designed and built Harvest CROO Robotics’ AI-based vision systems, cameras and controllers for their robotic strawberry harvesters in Tampa, FL. Prior to that Jeff was the founder of Lightfactor, a unique mobile identity and authentication security startup that didn’t quite make it – but he did have the pleasure of working with the CTO and co-founder of DUO Security in the process. Jeff is currently designing and building various sensors and robotic system building blocks for a new startup idea of his, including the smallest (soon-to-be) commercially available LIDAR sensor for micro-drone and similar applications.

From BattleBots, to a successful government software development consultancy, to launching a failed mobile security startup and working on groundbreaking robotic systems @ 2:30pm

Osama Malik

Digital Strategy and Management Principal at Booz Allen Hamilton

As part of Booz Allen’s Strategic Innovation Group, Osama works with CIO organizations across multiple commercial and government sectors to develop and execute strategies for enterprise technology transformations and modernizations.
Mr. Malik created the Quick Look Assessment methodology and has led the implementation of the approach for over 22 different organizations. With an emphasis on Cloud Strategies, Mr. Malik focuses on adoption strategies by working with technology and business departments.

Mr. Malik is a Changed Management Advanced Practitioner, Certified Project Management Professional

Closing Speaker @ 3:30pm

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