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.

Monica Logothetis

Senior Advisor for Innovation, Office of the Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Education

Monica is an education entrepreneur deeply committed to the future of career-connected learning with a focus on equitable economic advancement for underrepresented populations. An early pioneer in integrating classroom learning and work skills, she founded an award-winning K-12 national edtech nonprofit, has been a leading ideator and voice for career-connected criminal justice reform, and now focuses on education innovation in the Biden-Harris administration at the U.S. Department of Education.

Born and raised in Staunton, Virginia, Monica is a proud product of the Virginia public school system. Her work has been recognized in outlets such as Education Next, Edutopia, Forbes, Google for Education, The New York Times, and Vogue. She hosted the “Jail to Jobs” podcast on Apple Podcasts, and has been named a Toyota ‘Mother of Invention,’ a Glamour ‘Hero Among Us,’ and a L’Oréal Paris ‘Woman of Worth.’ In a volunteer capacity, Monica serves on the boards of DreamWakers, Harlem Academy, Madison House, and Social Innovation at the University of Virginia.

Breakfast Speaker @ 8:40am

Aram DiGennaro

Consultant and Fractional Executive, MSL Consulting

Aram DiGennaro started his first business when he was six, and still hasn’t been able to kick the habit. After college, he went to seminary and moved to Nairobi, Kenya as a missionary, training church leaders and managing various non-profit programs. While in Africa, he ended up getting an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management, and expanding or starting a boutique hotel, a real estate development, a craft brewery, an agricultural inputs manufacturer, and a fitness equipment company. In 2019, he moved back to Harrisonburg with his family and works as a fractional CFO/COO and business advisor. He is passionate about growing companies, complex problems, and the power of business to produce a positive impact on employees, customers and communities.

The Right People in the Right Seats: What every tech leader needs to know about organizational design @ 9:15am, Breakout 1A

Alford D. Carter, IV

Owner / Operator, Retail VR LLC.

Alford D. Carter IV is a U.S. Navy veteran, entrepreneur, and business leader with over 15 years of experience in property restoration and insurance claims. After serving in the Navy as a DC2, Alford pursued his education and earned an Associates degree from NOVA Community College and a Bachelor’s degree in International Business from Strayer University.

Alford’s career began in insurance claims, working for Nationwide Insurance for four years, including adjusting claims in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. He then worked for a restoration company for 11 years, honing his skills and expertise in understanding property restoration and collaborating with teams around the world.

Alford’s passion for collaboration and technology led him to start Retail VR LLC in the summer of 2021. Since then, he has been delving into the world of VR for Utility, Marketing, and Modeling, using the latest virtual reality technology to help businesses better connect with their customers and improve their overall experience.

Bridging the Chasm between Main Street and the World of Business in Virtual Reality @ 9:15am, Breakout 1B

Bud Ritchie

Cybersecurity and Compliance Specialist, City of Harrisonburg

Bud Ritchie is a security practitioner with the City of Harrisonburg. He holds several industry credentials from both Comptia and GIAC. Before working at the city, Bud designed and ran the ESOC Cybersecurity training program at Massanutten Technical Center..

Securing the Enterprise: Managing Human RIsk and Creating Security Culture @ 9:15am, Breakout 1C

Will Swann

Chief Business Development Officer, Capture Management Expert, LLC

Will Swann is a startup entrepreneur with Capture Management Expert, LLC. He has over 30 years of experience in Government Contracting (#GovCON). He has worked for varying sized companies in his career, such as Information Systems Support, Inc. that sold to CACI in 2006 after growing the company from 40 employees to over 1,200 within 10 years. His expertise in forming teams to pursue #GovCON is a strength and he has a passion for growing small businesses in the Shenandoah Valley through #GovCON.

Grow Your Business Through #GovCON @ 10:15am, Breakout 2A

Greg Ward

Chief Development Officer, SmartLedger.Solutions

Gregory Ward is an accomplished IT professional with many years of experience in the development of scalable enterprise blockchain applications. He is a subject matter expert in utility blockchain application development, which makes him an invaluable asset to any organization seeking to leverage blockchain technology to meet their business needs.

After attending BRCC Cybersecurity and Application development certification programs and having gained knowledge and skills in core security functions; threats, attacks, and vulnerabilities, identity and access management, risk management, cryptography, and software development; Greg was able to pursue his career goal(s) in Blockchain Application development and the Cybersecurity industry. As the co-founder of SmartLedger Solutions, a blockchain distribution channel, and Certihash, a blockchain-powered cybersecurity platform – Greg has demonstrated his entrepreneurial skills and ability to lead innovative projects. In his role as Chief Development Officer at SmartLedger, Greg, and the senior project manager, led the IBM team to develop ‘Sentinel Node’ a detection platform, the first application from the Certihash suite of applications based on the NIST Cybersecurity Framework.

In addition, Greg has coordinated partnerships with local companies, Pure Shenandoah Hemp and Smart Grow Agritech, to use blockchain technology to record IoT sensor data from hemp fields, as well as lab data to show authentic carbon sequestration. This innovative technological solution solves the ESG transparency issue as well as provides new sources of revenue for local farmers.

Securing the Nation’s Digital Infrastructure through Blockchain Technology @ 10:15am, Breakout 2B

Chris Gullickson

Director, Development and Transportation Policy, The Port of Virginia

Chris Gullickson joined The Port of Virginia in August of 2013. He currently serves as Director, Development and Transportation Policy, with the responsibility of engaging the Commonwealth, regions, and cities to promote and secure industrial land zoning and transportation freight planning to establish the land bank needed for developers and the road and highway improvements for freight growth. In addition, Chris played an active role in repositioning Portsmouth Marine Terminal as the premier East Coast Offshore Wind staging and load-out port; he also leads the efforts at the Port to promote outside-the-gate development of the Offshore Wind supply chain.

Chris is a graduate of Old Dominion University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management with a concentration in Finance. Chris is also a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, Economic Developers Institute, having earned a certificate in Economic Development. He is currently a member of the Virginia Wind Offshore Development Authority (VOWDA) and a Board Member of the Virginia Gateway Region. Additionally, Chris is a member of the Southern Economic Development Council, most recently serving as the State Director for the Virginia Delegation. Chris is also an active member of The Virginia Economic Developers Association and The Virginia Maritime Association.

Renewables Transforming Business in the Commonwealth @ 10:15am, Breakout 2C

Erich J. Fritz

Manager – Business Development, Dominion Energy Virginia

Erich Fritz is the Manager of Business Development at Dominion Energy. He is responsible for leading a part of the company’s regulated power generation development efforts in Virginia focusing on utility-scale solar facilities and advanced nuclear.

Prior to his current role, he spent seven years at the company leading solar acquisitions, originating corporate renewable power purchase agreements, and developing renewable energy projects for both the regulated utility in Virginia as well as the company’s non-regulated affiliated. He started with the company in 2011 in the nuclear fuels group concentrating on nuclear safety analysis engineering.

A native of Virginia, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in nuclear engineering from Penn State University in 2010.

Renewables Transforming Business in the Commonwealth @ 10:15am, Breakout 2C

Kevin Longenecker

Chief Financial Officer, InterChange Group, Inc.

Kevin serves as the CFO of InterChange Group, a warehousing, logistics and real estate development firm in the Valley. His current areas of supervision include Accounting & Finance, Human Resources, Information Technology, Safety and ERP Implementation. Kevin previously served as the Director of Finance for Eastern Mennonite University. Prior to that, he had accounting roles with Rocco, and Brown-Edwards, LLP.

Renewables Transforming Business in the Commonwealth @ 10:15am, Breakout 2C

Jonathan Miles serves as Professor of Integrated Science and Technology (ISAT) and Executive Director of the Center for the Advancement of Sustainable Energy (CASE) at James Madison University. Dr. Miles has served as a research fellow at NASA Langley Research Center, on an intergovernmental personnel agreement (IPA) at the U.S. Department of Energy, and consults and directs contracts sponsored by a range of federal and state agencies and industry. He co-founded, in partnership with the University of Malta, JMU’s original dual-degree Master’s program in sustainability that is re-launching in Fall 2023, co-developed and currently team-teaches a two-course sequence entitled Holistic Problem Solving Workshop I & II in the context of the Virginia Energy Transition, and co-directs the JMU student team that participates in U.S. DOE’s Collegiate Wind Competition. Dr. Miles sits on the board of the Virginia Renewable Energy Alliance (VA-REA). He holds a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a B.A. in physics from Clark University.

Renewables Transforming Business in the Commonwealth @ 10:15am, Breakout 2C

Christopher George

CEO, Sproutly

Christopher George is a seasoned entrepreneur and technologist with over two decades of expertise in software engineering. His passion for systems, both technical and human, was ignited at the age of thirteen when he taught himself how to code. After completing his engineering degree from Virginia Commonwealth University, Christopher delved into various projects, gaining valuable experience in software engineering and project management. He is the founder of Sproutly, a dynamic software engineering firm that has transformed businesses across multiple industries.

Christopher is known for his innovative solutions that enable businesses to overcome unique challenges and achieve their objectives. As CEO of Sproutly, he leads a team of highly skilled software engineers, designers, and project managers who are committed to delivering excellent solutions to clients. Christopher’s visionary leadership and focus on cutting-edge technology have earned him a respected position in the tech industry.

The Art of Effective Outsourcing: Best Practices for Success @ 11:15am, Breakout 3A

Dr. Jeff Schatten

Associate Professor of Business Administration, Washington and Lee University

Jeff Schatten is an associate professor of business administration at Washington and Lee University. His research spans a wide range of business topics including negotiations, leadership and artificial intelligence.

ChatGPT, AI and Exponential Change @ 11:15am, Breakout 3B

Kirsten Moore

Owner, The Perch at Magpie

Kirsten Moore opened The Hub Coworking in downtown Harrisonburg in 2015. That space put her in the good company of other entrepreneurs and innovators, deepening her love of new ideas and the people that make them happen. A few years later, the chance to renovate an old auto service building inspired her to create a space where the broader community would have more visibility into that work, rather than tucking it away. She created Magpie–a breakfast and lunch diner-inspired restaurant and bakery, and The Perch at Magpie–a move and rebrand of the coworking space intentionally integrated into the daily fabric of the popular diner downstairs and with spaces for art and gathering. After a year of planning, renovations started in September of 2019 and both businesses opened in July 2020 in the middle of the pandemic lockdown. As it turned out, it was perfect timing as working remotely became the norm for so many people. The latest addition to this corner of downtown is Liberty St. Mercantile (slated to open later this summer) with spaces for small retail concepts to test the waters and thrive, as well as a large 300-person event space for even more community engagement, and a wine bar–for, well, more community engagement. She is a trained CoStarters facilitator, frequent guest speaker, published writer, and serves on the board of Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance. If you ask her, there is always another project up her sleeve.

Lunch Keynote @ 12:15pm

Susie Bonvouloir

Chief People Officer, Hera Health

Susie Bonvouloir is a JMU Alum and currently a member of the JMU College of Business Advisory Board. She built her career in IT consulting, first as programmer and project manager then pivoting her career to Human Resources. She led HR for CGI –a large multinational consulting firm – in the US, Europe and Asia for several years. Upon leaving CGI, she worked for various IT organizations from start-up to mid size. She currently serves as the Chief People Officer for Hera Health, a start-up focused on improving healthcare for women in the US.

Lunch Keynote @ 12:15pm

Ann-Marie Johnson

Vice President of Federal Market Engagement, CGI Federal

Ann-Marie Johnson is a Vice President for Federal Market Engagement at CGI Federal in Fairfax, Virginia.  Her role is to elevate CGI’s engagement with professional associations, business technology partners, and universities for mutual benefit by shareholders, clients, colleagues, and communities.  

Ann-Marie serves in leadership roles in several professional associations, including Professional Services Council (PSC) and American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council (ACT IAC).  She chairs the ACT IAC Federal Insights Exchange (FIE) program, growing it to 15 teams producing over 40 events a year, and as many as 3 projects that foster substantive engagement between government and industry. Ann-Marie is also the President and a co-founder of JMU Federal Dukes, an alumni chapter fostering engagement of alumni, faculty and students interested in federal government market.  Association engagement is a preferred place to spread Ann-Marie’s message of “Team USA”, which encapsulates the importance mutually beneficial engagements amongst government, industry, and academia in service to our nation. 

 Ann-Marie is a respected leader with a knack for cultivating exceptional client relationships, bringing over three decades of experience in business development and program management at large and small firms including Ardent Management Consulting, Unisys, ASI Government, and Computer Sciences Corporation.  She started her career in government service with the Government Accountability Office.  

Ann-Marie won the prestigious ACT IAC 2021 Chairs Award.  She also won a Fed100 award in 2017 for acquisition innovation.  

Ann-Marie holds a Master of Science in Information Technology from George Mason University, and a Bachelor of Business Administration from James Madison University.  She has a certificate from the Advanced Management Program at the National Defense University.  

Ann-Marie is the proud mom of two Eagle Scouts and a labradoodle named Luna.

Lunch Keynote @ 12:15pm

Ben Markowitz

Product Design Lead, Rialtic

Ben Markowitz, a Shenandoah Valley native, is a multifaceted designer with a wealth of experience across disciplines such as product, software, and graphic design. His varied portfolio showcases his involvement in numerous sectors including eCommerce, higher-ed marketing, legal consulting, AI, healthcare, and insurance. He has successfully navigated a range of complex and challenging problems with both startups and agencies.

Ben earned degrees in both SMAD (Interactive Multimedia) and Computer Science from James Madison University. Currently, he holds the position of Product Design Lead at Rialtic, an Atlanta, GA-based startup. Embracing remote work since 2010, he has honed his ability to operate effectively from his home base in Rockingham County where he lives with his wife, children, and two dogs. 

Lunch Keynote @ 12:15pm

Dave Urso

Founder, Dynamic Consulting

Dave Urso was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Conflict Resolution and a Master’s of Education in Psychology from James Madison University. He holds a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Colorado State University. Dave’s 18 years in higher education have included multiple appointments in student affairs, service as executive director of a nonprofit foundation, and his current role as dean of academic affairs at Blue Ridge Community College. Dave’s company, Dynamic Consulting, was established in 2012 with the intention of infusing strategic leadership into organizations. Dave lives with his wife (Carrie), twin sons (Chase & Luke), and daughter (Belle) in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Facilitated discussion – creating an action plan to attract the remote tech worker @ 1:45pm, Breakout 4A Facilitator

Dr. Edna Reid

Retired FBI Intelligence Analyst and Adjunct Faculty Member at JMU

Edna retired as an intelligence analyst at the FBI.  She taught at several universities in the U.S. and Singapore such as the University of Arizona, Clarion University, St. Jose State University, and Rutgers University.  At the University of Arizona, she served as a research scientist in the Artificial Intelligence Lab. She was an Associate Professor with Nanyang Business School, NTU, Singapore and the president of the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals Singapore (SCIPSgp). Formerly, she was an entrepreneur with an Internet start-up in Malaysia. In 1990s, she joined the School of Computer Engineering, Division of Information Studies, NTU. Prior to coming to Asia, Edna was at the School of Communications, Library and Information Services, Rutgers University. She was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, where she conducted research in terrorism information services. Before her Silicon Valley experience, Edna was a senior systems analyst and data analyst team leader at private enterprises in Germany and Northern Virginia (US). She has analytical experience in the intelligence community.

Intelligence Analysis to Enhance an Organization’s Situation Awareness @ 1:45pm, Breakout 4B

Dr. Sven A Brueckner

Chief Technology Alchemist at RationalSwarms, LLC 

Dr. Sven A. Brueckner is a seasoned leader in practical AI and ML innovation, currently serving as Chief Technology Alchemist at RationalSwarms, LLC. His expertise spans various domains, from distributed applications and structured data analysis to collaborative decision-making and prediction. With a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Humboldt University of Berlin, Dr. Brueckner has also held positions as Chief Scientist at ConvergentAI, Chief Technology Officer at Axon AI, and Senior Research Scientist at various institutions, including Soar Technology, Inc. and Mercedes-Benz AG.

Maximizing AI’s Potential in Business Operations: A Cross-Sector View @ 1:45pm, Breakout 4C

Asfand Saeed

Director/Founder, Tiber Creek Consulting/IntelliGRC

Asfand Saeed is an experienced Director of Cyber Security with a demonstrated history of working in the computer software and federal government industry. He is skilled in Secure Systems Architecture Design, Cloud Architecture, Information Security, and IT GRC.

The IntelliGRC Cybersecurity Solution @ 2:45pm, Breakout 5A

Chris O’Brien

UX Team Lead & Senior Designer, Jenzabar

Chris has a finance background and has been with higher education technology company Jenzabar since 2001, serving as an application architect, product manager and UX team founder, lead and Director. His user-centered approach drives his work with web accessibility, design systems, UX career development & research. He’s excited to see where his recent passion for automation and RPA will take him next.

Preparing Your Organization For an Automated Future @ 2:45pm, Breakout 5B

Jodi Fox and Dan Hanlon

Raincrow Studios, Inc.

Jodi LIVES TO INSPIRE. Jodi taught in K-12 classrooms for 22 years, and raised three children in the public school system. After her teaching career, Jodi created Flathat by Metaclass, which she exited in late 2022. Jodi has been a champion of practical technology in education, with an emphasis on tech that is hyper focused on the teacher student relationship.

Leveling Up Classrooms With Class Petz @ 2:45pm, Breakout 5C

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