Sourcing speaking talent from across the state, Valley TechCon.23 brings together entrepreneurs, academics, and developers to present the latest on a diverse tech industry.

TechCon.23 speakers will be announced soon. Below is the lineup from TechCon.19.

Jared Burden

Partner, GreeneHurlocker PLC

Jared Burden practices corporate and commercial real estate law. As a business lawyer, his focus includes emerging-growth companies and established small and medium-sized businesses. His commercial real estate practice spans all real property types, with a special focus on retail and investment properties. Jared counsels businesses and business owners across all industries in corporate law, employment law, technology law, contract law, venture capital financing, and real estate investment and development. He provides strategic advice to companies looking to develop branding strategies, understand copyright issues, protect trade secrets, and monetize intellectual property.

In 2016, Jared launched the OPENgc service, which provides flat fee general counsel services on an outsourced basis to small and medium-sized businesses which do not have full-time “in-house” counsel. Jared began his legal practice in California almost three decades ago, serving clients from large law firms in San Francisco, Washington, DC, and Tysons Corner, including Pillsbury and Williams Mullen. A veteran of the technology scene in NoVA during Internet 1.0, he relocated to the Shenandoah Valley in 2002, where he was General Counsel to a diversified corporation based in Harrisonburg. Jared earned his undergraduate degree (magna cum laude) at Duke University and his J. D. at the University of Virginia School of Law.

Ideas Are Just That @ 9:15am

Michael Szul

Principal Software Engineer, University of Virginia School of Medicine

Michael Szul has spent two decades in software engineering in industries as diverse as insurance, energy, travel, and higher education, including consulting with companies such as AIG and Conde Naste. He has worked in both application and product development, as well as framework creation, code generation, API building, and machine learning. Szul is a speaker, blogger, podcaster, Microsoft MVP in AI and Developer Technologies, and author of Building Chatbots in TypeScript with the Microsoft Bot Framework. Currently, he is the manager of undergraduate medical education applications for the University of Virginia’s Health System.

Conversational Software and What it Means for the User Interface @ 9:15am

Renée M. P. Teate

Data Scientist, HelioCampus

Renee M. P. Teate is a Data Scientist at HelioCampus and the creator of the Becoming a Data Scientist Podcast and @becomingdatasci twitter account. She has worked with data for her entire career – designing relational databases, creating reports and analyses, and most recently developing predictive models & dashboards at Higher Ed startup HelioCampus. Renee graduated from James Madison University and the University of Virginia, and lives in Harrisonburg, VA.

SQL for Data Science @ 9:15am

Dr. Morgan Benton

Mike Forster

COO, Chiedo Labs

Mike is the COO of Chiedo Labs, an agency that drives innovation in organizations by building them custom applications, websites, and software.  He has his undergrad degree in Computer Science from JMU (’03) and his Masters in Business Administration from Regent University.  He gets excited about leadership, helping others succeed, and developing processes to streamline workflows.  He volunteers with On the Road Collaborative and teaches once a week at a local homeschool co-op where his children attend.

How to Launch a Software Startup without a Tech Co-founder @ 10:15am

Tom Stiehm

CTO, Coveros, Inc.

Tom has been developing applications and managing software development teams for over twenty years. As CTO of Coveros, he is responsible for the oversight of all technical projects and integrating new technologies and testing practices into software development projects. Recently, Tom has been focusing on how to incorporate DevSecOps and agile best practices into projects and how to achieve a balance between team productivity and cost while mitigating project risks. One of the best risk mitigation techniques Tom has found is leveraging DevSecOps and agile testing practices into all aspects of projects. Previously, as a managing architect at Digital Focus, Tom was involved in agile development and found that agile is the only methodology that makes the business reality of constant change central to the process.

Shifting Security Left – The Innovation of DevSecOps @ 10:15am

Chris O’Brien

UX Team Lead & Senior Designer, Jenzabar

Chris O’Brien has been with higher education software company Jenzabar since 2001, serving as an application architect, product manager, UX/UI designer, and now as the UX team founder and lead. His user-centered approach drives his work with web accessibility and design systems and he’s excited to see where his passion will take him next.

Innovate, Enhance Brand & Avoid Lawsuits by Embracing Web Accessibility (a11y) @ 10:15am

Dr. Morgan C. Benton

Associate Professor, ISAT, James Madison University

Mentor to 100’s of young programmers, Dr. Benton is an 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.

The “Offline First” Approach to Cross-platform App Development @ 11:15am

Dr. Eric Korn

Director of Sales and Business Dev, Innovative Refrigeration Systems
Other speakers: Jared Mullenax and Parker Dell

Dr. Eric Korn (MBA, PhD) is a serial problem solver whose research interests include the study of the entrepreneurial pursuit with an eye toward how best to support the entrepreneur. He has launched a successful e-learning company which is approaching 10 years in business, and is currently building the sales apparatus for SafetyAmp, a tech startup headquartered in Waynesboro, VA. Dr. Korn is a passionate JMU football fan, and lives in Harrisonburg with his two sons and his better half, Priscilla.
David Cafaro
Jared Mullenax is a full stack web developer, working mainly in PHP and Javascript, who grew up in the Shenandoah Valley. With a background in customer service, project management, and almost 10 years of experience in software engineering, he specializes in working closely with the client to develop solutions quickly and efficiently. When not building software that clients love, catch Jared entering the Konami code to power up or traveling the country checking out music festivals.
David Cafaro
Parker Dell, a Bridgewater College graduate, is a software engineer at SafetyAmp. Parker has been with the company for the last three and a half years. Prior to working on SafetyAmp, Parker lead the development of the Osha compliance and process safety management software called ePSM. In addition, he built an asset management and work-order program called eService.

Can Software Change a Corporate Culture? @ 11:15am

Precious Williams

CEO, Perfect Pitches by Precious, LLC

Precious L. Williams, also known as the #KillerPitchMaster, is a world class master communicator who works with successful entrepreneurs and helps them take their professional speaking skills to the next level. With over 24 years of experience conceptualizing unique branding, speaking, and marketing techniques, Williams trains individuals and companies how to remain authentic while presenting concepts and visions to distinctive audiences. As a 13-time national business elevator pitch champion, Williams has been on top television shows and publications for her pitching and branding skills. She was featured on Season 8 of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” CNN, MSNBC, Wall Street Journal, as well as several others.

The philosophy of her “killer” pitch is evident in the strategic and personalized creative communications and presentations solutions Williams puts forth. As serial entrepreneur, international professional speaker, and coach, Williams is equipped to bring life, authenticity, strategy, and boldness to all your oral and written communication needs.

Williams is a graduate of Spelman College and Rutgers School of Law. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.

The Art of the “Killer” Pitch @ 11:15am

Bud Ritchie

Cybersecurity Instructor, Massanutten Technical Center

Bud Ritchie has been teaching Info Technology/Networking/Cybersecurity at Massanutten Technical Center for the last nine years. Prior to that he taught night classes and served the local community as a Deputy Sheriff in Rockingham County. Currently, he is developing cybersecurity curriculum to enhance the ESOC project at Massanutten Technical Center.

Lunch Keynote Speaker @ 12:15pm

Dan OBrien

GO VA Cyber Security Program Manager, Blue Ridge Community College

Dan OBrien is the current GO Virginia cyber security program manager and instructor at Blue Ridge Community College. With over 20 years of experience in the computer networking and cyber security industry, Dan’s background includes work with the US Departments of Treasury and Justice, private industry, and higher education. During his career, he has been fortunate enough to design and install secure networks in such diverse places as Australia, New Zealand, Nepal, Peru, and Switzerland. Dan is focused on assisting businesses of all types in the Shenandoah Valley with their cyber security awareness.

Lunch Keynote Speaker @ 12:15pm

Evan Pettrey

Founder, Converge Local

Evan is a serial entrepreneur whose passion for marketing was sparked out of necessity when he invented a baby product after the birth of his daughter. Having invested his savings in the product launch, he was faced with a harsh reality – he’d created an amazing product new parents loved…but nobody knew it existed.

Flush out of cash after bringing the product to market he only had two choices: fail or learn everything he possibly could about digital marketing and grow it himself.

Armed with everything he’d learned making Snuggin a success, Evan launched Converge Local, a full-service print and marketing agency. He’s grown Converge from a solo operation to a team of 10 passionate and driven professionals who provide service to more a hundred clients across the Shenandoah Valley and beyond, including Augusta Health, SHD Airport, the Shenandoah Valley Partnership, Sigora Solar, 3xF Fitness, and Consumers Auto Warehouse.

Building a Marketing Machine @ 1:30pm

Sam Johnson

Lead Digital Marketing Specialist, Immerge

Sam works with local businesses to develop online marketing strategies that deliver valuable results. Then implements each element of those strategies from optimizing website for search engines, managing ad campaigns on social media and search engines, and creating beautiful media for their online presence. Sam enjoys finding new ways to take advantage of online platforms for business growth.

Grow Your Search Opportunities with Rich Search Results @ 1:30pm

Lily Maley

Chief Marketing Officer and Head of Brand, Visme

Lily’s story isn’t exactly “tech-typical”: She started her career by teaching herself basic design and code fifteen years ago, and realized that those skills could be a valuable asset. While in college, she went from a broke single mom living on ramen at 21 to running a global brand with an international team for a multi-billion company only a few years later. Lily’s next exciting role is as CMO & Head of Brand at Visme. She is excited to bring the platform to anyone who is looking to create compelling visual content. It’s a robust and growing design platform with millions of users where anyone can create graphics, infographics, cross-compatible cloud-based presentations, animated social media content, and more, allowing design teams to build brand standards and templates to empower their colleagues to become creative collaborators while staying on-brand.

As a CMO, Lily is creating thought leadership, speaking and writing, on brand strategy, remote and global management, design thinking, female leadership, and self-empowerment. Her experiences have included an international rebrand, IPO launch on the New York Stock Exchange, brand-building amidst acquisitions, and unifying under a single master brand while building a world-class, in-house creative agency of “brand warriors”. Lily has been nominated for several awards, including the Forbes 30 Under 30 list.

Brand-Building Online, In-App, and Offline: how marketing, tech, and sales teams can work together to craft and embody a single brand narrative. @ 1:30pm


Bernadette Gagnon

CEO/CTO, Bluemont Technology & Research, Inc.
Other speaker: Dr. Edward Stoker

Bernadette Gagnon is the CEO/CTO of Bluemont Technology & Research, Inc. She has over 25 years of experience with Information Technology. Ms. Gagnon has worked for major corporations (GTE, GE, AstraZeneca), aggressive technology innovators (UUNet, PSINet, Autotote/SG Games), and smaller businesses (ManTech/GrayHawk). Her background is a mix of commercial (medical, gaming, embedded, and back office applications) with a focus on data and computational intensive applications. She has a BS in Computer Science and MS in Software Engineering.

Edward Stoker, PhD, is the V.P. of Innovative Technology of Bluemont Technology & Research, Inc. He has over 35 years of experience with Networking, Data Analysis and Information Technology. Dr. Stoker has worked for major corporations (GTE, Verizon), aggressive network innovators (BBN, Comsat), and smaller businesses (ManTech/GrayHawk). His background is a mix of commercial (retail, embedded, network management and back office applications) with a focus on data and computational intensive applications. He has a PhD in Electrical Engineering and MBA in Accounting and Finance.

The Next Generation of Visualization in the Workplace @ 1:30pm

Michael Raschid

Chief Legal Officer & VP – Operations, Perrone Robotics

Mike Raschid is the Chief Legal Officer and VP – Operations of Perrone Robotics, Inc., the developer of an autonomous vehicle software platform. Mike is responsible for all legal and policy matters for the company, including the structuring of customer agreements and collaboration transactions with autonomous vehicle industry players. He also has responsibility for human resources, recruiting, financing and operations matters. In his career, he has worked on many acquisitions, investment and collaboration transactions, and technology licensing and commercialization matters. Prior to his tenure at Perrone Robotics, he was a partner at several prominent law firms, including the leading law firm in Silicon Valley. Mike is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law and the University of Pennsylvania.

Autonomous Shuttles: Solving Real-World Micro-Transit Problems @ 1:30pm

Elaine Cheng

Chief Information Officer, Shentel

Elaine Cheng is the Vice President & Chief Information Officer at Shentel. Elaine is an accomplished executive with 20+ years of experience in diverse business environments, including for profit and not-for profit, across all areas of business and Information Technology. She has established a reputation of being a trusted leader with the ability to develop award-winning work environments and motivate teams of high-performing professionals.

For the past 8 years, Elaine has served as Chief Information Officer & Managing Director, Global Strategic Design, for CFA Institute in Charlottesville. Prior to her time at CFA Institute, Elaine held a number of different roles over 16 years with M&T Bank in Buffalo, NY including Group Vice President, Technology Business Services, Vice President of Retail Operations and Project Office and Assistant Vice President, Web Product Owner. Elaine is also a founding board member of Charlottesville Women in Tech, a non-profit organization which encourages more women to join and thrive in technology careers. Additionally, Elaine serves as Board Vice Chair for the Virginia Institute of Autism in the Charlottesville area. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Vassar College and her Masters of Business Administration from the University of Rochester.

Design Thinking for Innovation @ 2:30pm

Ian MacRae

President, E-N Computers

Ian MacRae, founder and CEO of E-N Computers, has been nominated for the Dr. Noftsinger Leadership Award. An alum of the Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School and Staunton High School, MacRae began E-N Computers in the spare bedroom of his parents’ house in 1997. The company became so profitable that instead of pursuing a college education, MacRae continued expanding E-N Computers, allowing it to grow into the tech company we know today. MacRae serves on the Rotary Club, as well as the Wayne Theater Board. Most notably, MacRae was awarded the Young Entrepreneur Award from the Chamber of Commerce in 2017.

Since 1997, MacRae has helped over 120 individuals develop their IT education through internship and employment opportunities. Inspired by Ian, six of these individuals have become entrepreneurs founding their own technology companies. Seeing a value in continued education, MacRae instituted a $4,000 training reimbursement program at E-N Computers which has been utilized by dozens to complete their college degree or an advanced certification including Cisco CCSP, CCSP, MCSE, and Project Management Professional (PMP).

Ian MacRae has pursued servicing organizations with 10 to 300 users for 22 years. Small IT teams are spread thin, and E-N Computers allows companies to augment their IT function with a proven team with integrated tools and processes. One of Ian MacRae’s goals is to simplify managing IT, so that the small to mid-sized businesses we are responsible for never have to worry.

8 Roles in IT support you must fill to get business results @ 2:30pm

Tracy Gregorio

President, G2 Ops

As President of G2 Ops, Inc., Ms. Gregorio has expanded the company’s footprint by emphasizing a culture of innovation and creativity, and by never losing sight of the need to develop a high performing workforce that is continuously presented with complex engineering challenges. Her history of working in information technology and service delivery verticals, academia and the federal government has provided her a well-rounded portfolio of experience across a wide spectrum of industries.

Under Ms. Gregorio’s leadership, G2 Ops has grown at a double-digit pace, providing model-based systems engineering (MBSE) and security engineering solutions to the US Navy, US Coast Guard, US Air Force, and numerous small, medium, and large businesses. G2 Ops customer base employs systems within some of the most challenging environments imaginable – relying on G2 Ops for cyber resiliency, systems and data modeling, and risk analysis solutions. G2 Ops has expanded its offices in Virginia Beach, Arlington, and San Diego this past year and is the recipient of numerous awards from the Department of Defense for innovation in engineering and was awarded the Patriotic Employer Award in 2018. G2 Ops was recently notified of its 2nd selection to the Inc. 5000 List of the nation’s fastest growing companies.

Ms. Gregorio is committed to maintaining a strong community presence, serving as Cybersecurity Committee Chair of the Virginia Ship Repair Association and sits on the boards of the Virginia Maritime Association and the Virginia Cyber Alliance. She most recently served on the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative representing industry in Coastal Virginia. Ms. Gregorio holds an M.S. in Computer Science from Old Dominion University and a B.S. in Computer Science from Virginia Tech. She is a recent graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program and received a certificate in Cybersecurity: Technology, Application, and Policy from MIT.

She enjoys golfing, boating, and spending time with her family.

Breakfast Speaker @ 8:45 am

Todd B. Waldo

Founder and Principal Consultant, Hugh Helen, LLC.

Todd Waldo is the Founder and Principal Consultant for Hugh Helen LLC, a team of passionate problem solvers developing solutions for client success and social good. He works closely with Executives, Managing Directors and other leaders to understand current and future needs to develop and champion an enterprise-wide strategy. Todd invests in others as a mentor and adviser to increase diversity, inclusion, mission awareness and engagement. In addition, he provides operational consulting and governance leadership in philanthropic, nonprofit and government sectors.

All of this carries over in his service and advocacy in the Richmond community with his work for various organizations. With passion for social justice, Todd serves on the Board of Directors for Better Housing Coalition, the President of the Board of the Robinson Theater Community Arts Center, Board Chair for Afrikana Independent Film Festival as well as the the Richmond Symphony Community Council. He also serves on the VCU School of Engineering Industrial Advisory Board.

Closing Speaker @ 3:30 PM

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