2024 Speakers

Kristina Walter

Director, National Security Agency – Cybersecurity Collaboration Center


Keynote Speaker

Renée M.P. Teate

Senior Director of Data Science, HelioCampus

Renee Teate is the Senior Director of Data Science at HelioCampus, author of SQL for Data Scientists, and known to many as the creator of the Becoming a Data Scientist podcast. She has worked with data and databases for 20 years, becoming a data scientist herself in 2016. She regularly speaks at both higher ed and data science industry conferences, and is always happy to talk to people about navigating data careers or building analytics capabilities at organizations. Renee is a lifelong resident of Virginia. An alum of JMU and UVA, Renee lives with her family in Harrisonburg.

Breakout 1A

Emily Salmon

Assistant Director of Strategic Planning and Policy Studies, State Council of Higher Education for Virginia 


Breakout 1C

Paul Smith, Moderator




Bud Ritchie

Cybersecurity and Compliance Specialist, City of Harrisonburg

Bud Ritchie, currently serving as the Cybersecurity and Compliance Specialist at the City of Harrisonburg, operates at the crucial intersection of Legal and Information Technology sectors within the municipal framework. With a strong background in cybersecurity strategies and legal compliance frameworks, Bud ensures that the city’s information infrastructure is protected against threats, while adhering to stringent regulatory requirements.

Breakout 2A

Dr. Edna Reid headshot

Dr. Edna Reid

Retired FBI Intelligence Analyst and Adjunct Faculty Member at GMU

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.

Breakout 2A

Brueckner headshot

Dr. Sven Brueckner

Chief Technology Alchemist, RationalSwarms, LLC

As Chief Technology Alchemist at RationalSwarms, LLC, Dr. Brueckner pioneers a vision of harnessing self-organizing systems and secure, decentralized architectures to create complex workflows for goal-driven tasks in physical and information environments without centralized control. By providing human participants with necessary interfaces and rewarding their contributions, he aims to engineer a new class of powerful human-machine swarms. With the rise of generative AI like ChatGPT, humanity is on the cusp of exhibiting rational swarming behavior. Dr. Brueckner’s thought leadership and publications work to promote this vision and foster a community around it.

Breakout 2C

Aram DiGennaro

Aram DiGennaro

Consultant, MSL Consulting

Aram DiGennaro is a visionary business strategist and consultant, renowned for his dynamic approach to integrating cutting-edge technology with timeless principles. With a rich background that spans organizational design theory, strategic finance, macroeconomics, and AI’s impact on organizational roles, Aram has become a sought-after consultant and advisor for leaders of mid-sized companies. Drawing on his extensive experience as an entrepreneur, fractional CFO, and business advisor, Aram has a knack for transforming mid-sized companies and organizations into powerhouses of efficiency and innovation. His approach is deeply rooted in a blend of psychology, economics, and management theory, ensuring that every strategy is both empirically sound and philosophically robust.

Aram’s passion for AI and its transformative potential in the workplace is palpable. He offers insights into how AI can reshape economic structures, enhance organizational efficiency, and create new societal paradigms. His work is informed by the Requisite Organization framework, making him a thought leader on the future of AI and its economic, organizational, and societal impacts.

A polymath at heart, Aram seamlessly merges theory with practice. He is not only a fan of thinkers from Aristotle to Daron Acemoglu, but also an advocate for virtues and traditions within a liberal society. His consulting practice emphasizes the integration of truth with impact, virtue with utility, and tradition with technological and business innovation.

When he’s not consulting or speaking, Aram can be found canoeing, playing soccer, or embracing the challenge of keeping sunburn at bay. His high-energy lifestyle is complemented by treasuring deep sleep, deep thought, and investment in family and community.

Aram DiGennaro is not just a speaker; he’s a catalyst for change, a bridge between the theoretical and the practical, and a guiding force for those looking to navigate the complexities of today’s business and tech landscapes.

Breakout 2C

Tammy Bjelland headshot

Tammy Bjelland

Founder, Workplaceless

Tammy is a workplace flexibility specialist who guides individual contributors, leaders, and teams in adopting innovative work methodologies. In 2017 she founded Workplaceless, an award-winning training company that supports organizations worldwide in building the capabilities needed to thrive in flexible, digital-first environments. She holds a BA and MA from the University of Virginia and is a Certified Professional in Talent Development by the Association for Talent Development.

 Breakout 3A

Dr. Hala Nelson

Professor of Mathematics, James Madison University

Author of the best selling book Essential Math for AI (O’Reilly 2023), international speaker, and a university math professor specialized in AI, data, mathematical modeling, and high impact organizational level and mission driven projects, Hala Nelson works to bridge the gap between academia and the industry and to provide STEM students with solid foundations for successful future careers.

Breakout 3C

Judy Marchand Hampton

President, LMH Consulting, LLC

Judy has extensive experience in technology management and governance, having served in executive roles for state agencies, private sector and higher education institutions. Judy has broad experience including technology governance, service delivery, strategic planning, IT investment management, contract management, and enterprise systems. As the leader of the LMH Consulting, LLC team, Judy helps clients advance from vision to value through strategy, planning, and implementation.
Prior to joining LMH, Judy was Executive Director of Virginia’s Information Technology Agency (VITA), where she directed a broad program of customer-related technology delivery offerings and interactions. She headed VITA’s project management office, providing governance over Commonwealth technology projects and procurements and founded VITA’s Innovation Program. Judy also served as Chief Information Officer for several colleges & universities where she directed all aspects of university’s technology services, and systems.
Judy attended Harvard University and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Southern University. She has served on numerous advisory boards and councils, and is a graduate of the Virginia Executive Institute. As a native of Louisiana, Judy enjoys good food and good times with her daughter, family and friends.

Breakout 4A


Peter Benbigh headshot

Peter Denbigh

Entrepreneur & Instigator, Innovation Management, Inc.

Peter Denbigh is an entrepreneur, inventor, and dedicated student of personal growth, passionate about problem-solving and bringing innovative ideas to life. He’s the founder of Skyler Innovations and Skyler Imagination, where he has successfully launched games like Watch Ya’ Mouth and Family Faceoff. Conceiving the idea for and then co-founding the Staunton Innovation Hub, Peter helps create a dynamic workspace homes to over 120 companies, and through Innovation Management Inc, he’s expanding hybrid workspaces across Virginia.

Peter’s entrepreneurial journey, spanning multiple industries, has been marked by resilience, adaptability, and a knack for inspiring teams to envision bigger futures while fostering positive, collaborative thinking. He is an author with a record of success and has served on numerous boards, including Amazon Launchpad’s Board of Advisors.

Recognized as a Distinguished Alumni from James Madison University, Peter brings his background in Integrated Science and Engineering and a Master’s in Business Administration to drive his mission of helping others bring their ideas to life. This mission comes to life in his project work, the creation of innovative facilities, and mentoring.

Breakout 4C

Privacy PolicyTerms Of ServiceCookie Policy