Meet the Geeks
Meet the Geeks is an all-volunteer organization focused on providing a common contact point for the IT industry in North Carolina. Projects range from casual socializing at bi-monthly get-togethers to the development of the Meet the Geeks website which includes the IT Directory and Forums. Our goal is to build a network of professionals across all the IT sectors – from development to recruiting, programming to capital – that promotes relationships and the cross-pollination of ideas that will foster growth in Western North Carolina.
Cheri Torres, Ph.D.
Cofounder and Partner, NextMove. Cheri partners with communities and organizations for whole systems change and strategic planning, bringing all stakeholders together for planning, design and collaborative action. She also understands that relational dynamics inform any group or organization endeavor; therefore, she works with leaders and teams to co-create positive, strength-based relationships capable of achieving extraordinary outcomes. She emphasizes excellence
Appalachian State University Marketing & Management graduate is an independent contractor with Web Tech Czar in WNC; providing technology education and support services for Meet the Geeks, SCORE, OLLI, BRCC and ABTech.
Tracy Schmidt, PMP, CSM, SA
Tracy is a program manager with By Light Professional IT Services and manages IT staff in Asheville and across the country who support the Consolidated Patient Account Centers with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Her career spans from workforce development public policy in Washington, DC; to organizational development and communication; to application project management. Tracy, an Asheville resident since 2004, is interested in growing a strong IT workforce in WNC through business and education partnerships.
Joe Kirkland, M.A.
Joe graduated from University of Southern Mississippi earning a bachelor’s degree in finance. Upon graduation Joe launched into a 25 year career with three major department store companies throughout the United States. In 2000, Joe shifted to Christian higher education; completed a graduate degree in 2004. He joined Montreat College in 2007 as the VP for Advancement; also serving as SVP, Interim President and currently Counselor to the President. His role in partnership development at Montreat College includes the Cybersecurity program, which the college believes will strengthen the WNC technology sector.
Kristy began her career in technology in 2001, fresh out of Indiana University as a Journalism school graduate, doing data input, among other things. She soon began poking around under the hood of the data entry system and fell in love with application design & development. Years later she became a high-producing technology consultant in downtown Chicago; spoke at the 2013 FileMaker Developer’s Conference in San Diego; delved into application project management; and is now the Director of IT at the leading natural herbal products company in the country – Gaia Herbs, located in Brevard, NC. She hopes to build a larger tech talent pool in WNC and to provide greater opportunities in the field of tech for those already living in these beautiful mountains, while at the same time ensuring sustainable growth with minimal ecosystem impact.
Vanessa designs, creates, and delivers marketing programs to support the growth and expansion of company products and services. She develops marketing materials and provides data-driven marketing insights on information collected such as trends, competition, demographics, products, and pricing. In 2013 she joined Misix, a data-driven marketing firm that aims to unite the worlds of information, technology and communication. She proudly calls Asheville home and is passionate about supporting Meet the Geeks and activities for growing the WNC tech sector.
Marcus is the co-founder and principal consultant at the IT consulting firm, Davis Squared Consulting. He is also a certified systems engineer with Marathon Consulting, LLC. Marcus is a graduate of the Per Scholas IT training program. He has been an IT consultant for several small businesses for the past 10 years. He and his lovely wife moved to the Asheville area in 2015 and he is excited to be a part of revitalizing tech sector growth in this beautiful place.
Sara graduated with BS in Biology from Mars Hill University. She has 9 years of experience working in water quality for Madison County and environmental education. In 2016 she joined the Department of Development Services with Madison County as the County Planner. Through this role she has helped bring the TechHire designation to WNC by the White House. She is excited to help bring more technology related jobs and education to our community.
Sashank P. Chennupalli
Sashank is a consummate, passionate technologist. He began his foray into the field while still a teenager in India exploring and configuring any piece of electronics he could find. After college he went to work at Dell India, then moved to the states and graduated from Texas A & M with a Masters in Computer Engineering. Sashank has worked at multiple global organizations such as Wells Fargo and as an IT consultant travelling all over the East Coast. During one of his vacations to Asheville, he fell in love with the mountains and has made it his new home. Sashank is currently the IT Infrastructure and Security Manager for Gaia Herbs; a leading natural herbal products company in the US. He hopes to expand the breadth and depth of the IT sector in Asheville, bringing in top IT firms and big business.
Haiz Oppenheimer is an Asheville based software engineer with Shiny Creek, and facilitator with NextMove. Across Haiz’s work, from the technical to the social, the bottom line is simple: Haiz is committed to helping teams, organizations, and communities hone their capacity to create together, and deliver outstanding results.
Contact the UNITE WNC organizers to get involved and support the IT community of WNC.