The Geek Within: Interview Series

This series focuses on how people came to be in an Information Technology career, why they decided to get into IT, and what does the future look like from their perspective. Direct links to most popular platforms: Apple, YouTube, and Spotify

The Geek Within – Episode 54: JoRob

JoRob and I met on the back deck of a mutual friend as we all came over to hang out and interact during this time of COVID. While he also does some work in the IT space, I was fascinated to learn about his music business and all the effort he puts in, BESIDES making…

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The Geek Within – Episode 53: Mark Wavle

Mark is someone I met through my wife. They were participating in an online class and as she got to know Mark, she mentioned to us both that we should meet. Eventually we had a call and immediately found we have a lot of things in common and had an enjoyable conversation on the mentorship…

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The Geek Within – Episode 52: Susan Hanley

Susan and I have bumped into each other at conferences over the years and her sessions are always MUST ATTEND for me. Not only does she cover important topics related to SharePoint and information architecture, her sessions are entertaining and full of new information. I have enjoyed getting to know Susan and bumping into her…

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The Geek Within – Episode 51: David Cassidy

David and I met as his company had a contract with my organization, but then we realized we both had an interest in the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR). For those we don’t know, it is the law that governs how we do contracting in the federal government. David is a bit of a FAR junkie,…

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The Geek Within – Episode 50: Joy Apple

Joy is an amazing speaker and I have had the chance to attend a few of her user group and conference sessions. If you do work in SharePoint, especially around information architecture, these must attend sessions need to be on your list. Over the last couple of years, I have had the privilege to speak…

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The Geek Within – Episode 49: David Hernandez

David and I met through our work with ACT-IAC on DevOps. He is highly energetic and had just volunteered to help with several working groups for the Emerging Technology Community of Interest, to include our flailing DevOps working group. As we interacted, I am struck by how David can work a room and get other…

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The Geek Within – Episode 48: Becca Andersen

I met Becca at my first in person networking event as COVID was going down and vaccines were readily available. When I asked her about herself she had such a facinating story about what she had planned to do with her life, which was linguistics, and how COVID had derailed that plan and now she…

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The Geek Within – Episode 47: Tracy Van der Schyff

Tracy is that person you want to hang out with and just discuss all the cool things you have both heard about. I have interacted with Tracy a few times at the big Microsoft conferences over the years and have found her to be willing to engage in conversation with anyone. Her passion for teaching…

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The Geek Within – Episode 46: Elijah Biggs

Elijah is someone else that I met when volunteering to help with the ACT-IAC Associates 2020 leadership development program. From that program he has begun volunteering with the ACT-IAC Health Community of Interest and is quickly becoming a leader and organizer to follow. Episode 46 on YouTube You can engage Elijah here:Elijah Biggs | LinkedIn…

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The Geek Within – Episode 45: Shak McCants

Shak is an amazing, dynamic leader who I met when she volunteered to help with the ACT-IAC Associates 2021 leadership development program. While I don’t know her well, this interview really highlights her personality and drive and I am looking forward to everything else we accomplish together for the Associates. Episode 45 on YouTube You…

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The Geek Within – Episode 44: Nica De Leos

I met Nica when she was a participant in the ACT-IAC Associates 2020 leadership development program. She is direct, engaging, capable, and continues to drive success for herself in ways I never could consider when I was in my early career. Looking forward to seeing what she can accomplish. Episode 44 on YouTube You can…

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The Geek Within – Episode 43: Frederic De Vaulx

Fred and I have been working together for the last five years as volunteers within the ACT-IAC Emerging Technology Community of Interest. I have enjoyed getting to know Fred and his passion for Blockchain and AI and how they can be leveraged to make things better for government, and then for everyone. Episode 43 on…

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The Geek Within – Episode 42: Tony McGovern

Tony and I met when he submitted to be a speaker at the Microsoft 365 for Government DC user group. We had a great presentation on leveraging some of the analytics and AI capabilities of Microsoft Azure. Since then, Tony and I have kept in touch as he continues to drive important conversations about ethics…

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The Geek Within – Episode 41: Joseph Dunn

Joseph is a fellow in-the-government-cloud worker and we met at a variety of DC area user groups. In fact, Joseph is one of the leads for the local SharePoint user group and consistently attends the user group I manage targeted at government users of Microsoft technology. Joe is a great guy and loves to build…

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The Geek Within – Episode 40: Melissa Sassi

Melissa is someone I met by chance when my daughter and I were speaking at Microsoft Ignite the Tour DC. While grabbing lunch we sat across from Melissa and she immediately recognized my daughter’s nervousness at speaking at a conference for the first time. We also got to hear all about the great work she…

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The Geek Within – Episode 39: Erica Toelle

I have been a long-time Twitter follower of Erica as she is one of only a few people I know focused on Microsoft Compliance. Recently she published a book that I purchased, which is fantastic (link below), and while I was reading it I got a LinkedIn message from her! She was looking for someone…

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The Geek Within – Episode 38: Jon Levesque

I learned about Jon as I learned about the Power Platform, especially Microsoft Flow. Yeah. I said it, FLOW. Anyway, Jon was an evangelist for the product and the automation it could provide and I saw a ton of opportunities with this product (now called Power Automate). In 2019, I got to hang with Jon…

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The Geek Within – Episode 37: Rupal Lamorena

Rupal and I met in the trenches at USDA as we worked hard to architect a solution to help the food safety compliance office track their investigations and activities. Thirteen years ago, but sometimes the friends you make in the trenches are ones you can keep in touch with, meet for coffee, or send an…

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The Geek Within – Episode 36: Pete Tseronis

Pete is the guy to know in Washington DC. As a previous CTO for the Department of Education as well as the CTO and Deputy CIO at the Department of Energy, not to mention countless boards he sits on, it is a wonder he has time for his own company, Dots and Bridges. Pete and…

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The Geek Within – Episode 35: My Le

My and I met when she started working at the Millennium Challenge Corporation four years ago. Her expertise in product management is amazing and her ability to jump in and learn our agencies most critical application. She is also a Managing Partner for Like Family, which is a whole job in additional to her full…

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The Geek Within – Episode 34: Todd Hager

Todd and I met five years ago as volunteers with ACT-IAC in the Emerging Technology Community of Interest. We had both took on a role as vice-chair, Todd as industry and I am government. Shortly after getting involved, the rest of the leadership team quit and we found ourselves in charge of a community that…

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The Geek Within – Episode 33: April Dunnam

April is the Power Apps QUEEN. That’s right, I said it. If you are learning Power Apps, or even trying to do new things, her YouTube channel is the place to go. She is a prolific speaker who is at EVERY conference and user group I can think of, and in spite of all that,…

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The Geek Within – Episode 32: David Gutierrez

David and I never met before, but I have had a great time getting to know him, to hear about his role at Texas Instruments, and how he was interested in technology right from the start. Episode 32 on YouTube You can engage David here:David Gutierrez | LinkedInFoxtrotsDen – Twitch List of previous episodes in…

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The Geek Within – Episode 31: Ron Thompson

I met Ron when I attended the ACT-IAC Partners leadership development program in 2018 as he was the government chair. At the time he was the CIO for one of the Department of Agriculture sub-agencies, which immediately attracted my attention since I had worked for two different USDA sub-agencies in my career. Ron is engaging,…

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The Geek Within – Episode 30: Sheena Burrell

Sheena and I met during the ACT-IAC Partners leadership development program in 2018 and continue to keep up with each other. She is a dynamic personality and an amazing leader, who is currently the Deputy CIO at NARA. Beyond her work, she also gives back working with Young AFCEA and ACT-IAC in various volunteer roles.…

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The Geek Within – Episode 29: Grace MacJones

Grace is someone I did not know before this interview but was introduced to her by Shona Bang. Now, I can’t get enough of her Tech Unlocked podcast. You definitely need to check it out! Episode 29 on YouTube You can engage Grace here:☀️Grace (@GraceMacjones) / TwitterGrace MacJones | LinkedInTech Unlocked – YouTube List of…

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The Geek Within – Episode 28: Ryen Mac

Ryen and I actually met at Microsoft Ignite 2019, although it was a brief encounter where I approached her after a panel on veterans working for Microsoft and thanked her for her service and for speaking out for veterans. As I developed this podcast, she was on my list to interview in order to here…

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The Geek Within – Episode 27: Rima Reyes

Rima is an amazing person who has done more to change how Microsoft engages government than anyone I know. I first met Rima at Microsoft Ignite 2019 when I attended the government focused session she led. As we talked it was refreshing to hear someone tell it like it was regarding the compliance process and…

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The Geek Within – Episode 26: Sarah Patrick

I met Sarah and her dad David at the Microsoft Ignite the Tour DC in 2020 when they presented on TechGirlz and my daughter and I presented as well. Sarah has been an amazing presenter and a great example to my daughter. She continues to include my daughter in TechGirlz activities and to influence many…

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The Geek Within – Episode 25: Heather Newman

I have known of Heather for a number of years as I have been a fan of her podcast and have attended a number of her speaking sessions at various events. In May of 2019 I attended a SharePoint conference and had a chance to ask her some questions about writing up an abstract for…

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The Geek Within – Episode 24: Jay Leask

Jay and I have known each other for a few years now and I have to say it – he is amazing. The energy Jay has, and all of the volunteering he does, is worthy of an award. Not only does he co-host two of his own podcasts (Buzzkill IT Podcast and This Week in…

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The Geek Within – Episode 23: David Yang

David and I met while both volunteering for the Mobile Applications Working Group about eight years ago. While that working group ended some time ago, David and I continue to run into each other as we volunteer for ACT-IAC and other organizations in the DC area. He is a thoughtful leader who cares about people…

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The Geek Within – Episode 22: iAsia Brown

iAsia is someone I had actually never met, but when I learned of her alternate path into an IT career, I was eager to hear her story. Through her I learned about the awesome program Microsoft has for military who are transitioning to the private sector – US Military and Veterans | Microsoft Careers. I…

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The Geek Within – Episode 21: Jeff Shen

I met Jeff during my ACT-IAC Partners program as he was in a leadership position helping run that program year. He is down to earth and easy to get to know, and very willing to share his experience both in leadership and around government/industry interactions. While he doesn’t work at a technical level today, he…

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The Geek Within – Episode 20: Dawn Winters

Dawn and I go back some time (10 years!) when I was tasked to fix a software development project that was not going well. Her company at the time was awarded a contract to help me get the system back on track. The year we worked on that project was one of the hardest in…

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The Geek Within – Episode 19: Jamie Willis-Rose

Jamie is someone I first got to know through his blog, YouTube, and speaking engagements. Then I learned he also helped with a PowerApps User Group in the Washington DC area, fantastic. Jamie has had quite a journey and he gives back the knowledge he has learned as often as he can. Episode 19 on…

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The Geek Within – Episode 18: Sharad Gumaste

Sharad and I go back many years to when I worked at USDA Food Safety Inspection Service. He was on a contract providing expertise on enterprise architecture and application design. I was impressed and have continued to follow his career as he moved up the ranks and then nine years ago he took the leap…

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The Geek Within – Episode 17: Shona Bang

Shona has had a significant impact on me, especially when it came to getting my daughter involved in the larger IT community. She created the HumansOfIT community within the broader Microsoft Tech Community, but it was how she made it so inclusive of everyone that has pulled so many of us together to interact, listen,…

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The Geek Within – Episode 16: Sarah Carpenter

Sarah and I met through working at the same federal agency. I noticed right away that she had great confidence in herself and her ability to get things done, which is a trait sorely needed in many federal agencies I have worked at. One day, I noticed her posting on LinkedIn about a company she…

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The Geek Within – Episode 15: Peter Anih

Peter is someone else that I met through the ACT-IAC Partners Program (2018!). What I didn’t fully realize at the time was that he was new to his role as a CTO. I was struck by his vision and confidence, to the point that I even called him to better understand the role of the…

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The Geek Within – Episode 14: Francisco Salguero

I met Francisco while working at the Food Safety Inspection Service at USDA. He was the director for the infrastructure division and I worked as a branch chief for our software development activity. My boss at the time, Chuck Riddle, was good friends with Francisco and through him I got to know him and work…

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The Geek Within – Episode 13: Sarah Gilbert

I met Sarah through the Microsoft Tech Community after Microsoft Ignite 2019. She is the Community Manager for the Public Sector and we began interacting as I tried to engage more as a public sector employee. She has done an amazing job at getting content from Microsoft employees and others who work in the government…

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The Geek Within – Episode 12: Anna Chu

I met Anna in person at Microsoft Ignite once, but that is NOT the time to have a conversation with her since she leads community at the conference, but she has had an impact on me through the awesome community she created – the Microsoft Tech Community. While I have particpated in a number of…

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The Geek Within – Episode 11: Matt Wade

I met Matt at Microsoft Ignite 2019 as he was part of the #FlowFam who graciously welcomed me hanging out with them. Since then I have been impressed with the amount of content he puts out around Teams and the Power Platform. If you haven’t seen his content, check out jumpto365 for his blog posts…

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The Geek Within – Episode 10: Dona Sarkar

I have known who Dona is for quite a few years as I participate in the Windows Insider program and she was the Chief Ninja Cat running the program. Since then she has become the Dev Manager for Power Platform & Fusion Devs Advocacy, which is a REALLY cool job. Dona had a hand in…

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The Geek Within – Episode 9: Sean Bugler

As a fellow public sector employee, Sean and I have opportunities to interact around the shared experience of Microsoft 365 public sector platforms. I was honored to meet him at Microsoft Ignite 2019 when the #FlowFam welcomed me into their hangouts and I got to know them all a bit. I continue to be thankful…

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The Geek Within – Episode 8: Michael Drescher

Michael, who is a Business Development Executive at TCG, and I met when we were both part of the ACT-IAC Partners program in 2018. While I was familar with TCG as they are on a contract at my agency, I had not interacted with Michael. Immediately, I was impressed with his way of carrying himself.…

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The Geek Within – Episode 7: Dux Raymond Sy

When my daughter and I attended Microsoft Ignite the Tour DC 2019, one of the sessions I made sure she attended was with Dux. He is such a dynamic speaker and has a unique way of connecting with attendees so I wanted her to experience his session. When we approached Dux afterwards to let him…

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The Geek Within – Episode 6: Justin Herman

Let me tell you about Justin. We met when he was running the Emerging Citizen Technology office, which he started, at the General Services Adminnistration (GSA). He hit me as an amazingly dynamic, and charismatic, individual who was excited about how emerging technology could impact how government does business. Off and on through his tenure…

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The Geek Within – Episode 5: Roxy Ndebumadu

This week I want to share with you all my good friend Roxy. This AMAZING woman not only works for Microsoft as a Customer Success Lead (which she is really good at!), she is also a Councilwoman for the City of Bowie, and sits on the board for the Maryland State Board of Waterworks and…

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The Geek Within – Episode 4: Darryl Peek

Darryl and I met when I joined a DevOps working group at ACT-IAC. He was the government lead and worked at DHS at the time. I was impresed with a number of things about him, especially how sharp he dressed for a government bureaucrat. He also has a presence that makes you pay attention. Since…

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The Geek Within – Episode 3: Sudha Venkateswaran

Sudha and I met while participating in the ACT-IAC Partners Program (2018) and I was immediately struck by her confident and direct way of looking at you while in a conversation. I also realized that we were both engaged in the Emerging Technology community of interest regarding blockchain, which kicked off a long series of…

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The Geek Within – Episode 2: Amie Seisay

Amie was someone I followed on Twitter for her posts regarding SharePoint and the Power Platform. As I was preparing to attend Microsoft Ignite 2019, I learned that she was attending and reached out to interact while at the conference. This led to a broader introduction to the #flowfam, changed my normal conference attendance in…

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The Geek Within – Episode 1: Raza Latif

Raza is someone I met through our participation in the ACT-IAC Partners Program (2018!). I was impresed that he had decided to pay for a leadership development program even after he was in an executive leadership position. Quickly I realized he was an innovative thinker and always ready to engage in conversation about the technology…

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