2012 Steering Committee

Jeremy Azurin
Student, Geography
Class of 2014
Nancy Brittle
VT Alumni Career Center
Mauricio Castro
Student, Business Info. Tech.
Class of 2013
Candice Clemenz
Associate Dean
Pamplin School of Business
While he is formally studying geography and economics, Jeremy Azurin's genuine passion is the simple act of learning itself. Whether it's through reading, composing, traveling, or designing, his fascination in knowledge lie within the discovery of what it means to be a true scholar, the empowerment of pure curiosity, and the creation of a unique academic experience here at Virginia Tech. In addition to TED, he likes playing the piano and blogging. Jeremy is from Washington, D.C.
Nancy joined the Virginia Tech Alumni Association in September 2010 as the Director of the Alumni Career Resources Program, assisting alumni who are changing careers or job searching. Nancy is a 1972 graduate of Virginia Tech where she received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Mathematics. Following graduation, she taught math at a Junior High School in Virginia Beach for six years. In 1978 she began working for IBM Corporation in Norfolk, VA and just recently retired after 31 years. While at IBM, she held various positions including sales representative, systems engineer, marketing manager, Large Systems Education Programs Manager, University Programs and SE300 Program Manager, Worldwide Program Director for Linux in Higher Education, Emerging Technologies Sales Executive, and retired as IT Optimization Client Solutions Executive for the East Region. Nancy comes from a family of Hokies. Her father graduated from Tech in 1949, her husband, Coleman, ('71), her brother('67), her two sons (2004 & 2006), and her two stepsons ('97 and 2000).
Mauricio is a senior majoring in Business Information Technology and minoring in Political Science. His interests include traveling, volunteer service, photography, playing guitar, and learning about the latest developments in the technology world. He is currently the president of Omicron Delta Kappa, a national honorary leadership organization. Previously, he has been the secretary and webmaster of Circle K International at Virginia Tech, a staff member for The Big Event, and the secretary of Omicron Delta Kappa. He wants to bring everyone within the school together for an event that students, faculty, staff, and alumni alike can discuss and enjoy together. He hopes that this is the first of many TEDx events to come for the Virginia Tech and Blacksburg community.
Dr. Clemenz currently serves as the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs in the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech, and she is also on the faculty of the Hospitality and Tourism Management department. Prior to academia, she worked for fifteen years in the private club industry with her last industry position being Vice-President of Development for ClubCorp, the world leader in non-equity private club management. When the demands of her administrative position allow, Dr. Clemenz assumes the role of a hospitality speaker, consultant, author, and award-winning teacher. Her research interests include service training, computer-based training, and membership/marketing issues specific to private clubs.
Peter Doolittle
Monica Fikes
Student, Material Science
Class of 2015
Matt Haugen
Student, International Studies/Spanish
Class of 2013
Ben Knapp
Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology
Peter Doolittle grew up in Maryland, on the shores of Cattail Creek, just off the Chesapeake Bay. His skills of inquiry and investigation were honed during long days of exploring the mud banks and open waters of the Magothy River. Dr. Doolittle teaches Cognition and Instruction. Constructivism and Education, Multimedia Cognition, and College Teaching as a professor of educational psychology in the Department of Learning Sciences and Technologies. He is the recipient of the Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2010 and Certificate of Teaching Excellence from the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences in 2009. He has also had the opportunity to teach educational psychology in Mexico, Ireland and Malawi. His research is focused on learning in multimedia environments, with specific emphasis on the role of working memory, and he has been published in the Journal on Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, British Journal of Educational Technology, Theory and Research in Social Education, Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, and the Journal on Excellence in College Teaching. He is also currently the Executive Editor of the International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and the Associate Editor of the International Journal of Research on Cyber Behavior, Psychology, and Learning.
Monica is in hot pursuit of a bachelors degree in Materials Science and Engineering. She is an active member of the National Society of Black Engineers(NSBE) and the Impact Movement chapters at Virginia Tech. She is inspired to consistently encourage herself and the world to know better, do better, and be better. Her dedication to making TEDxVirginiaTech a huge success aligns with her spirit of inspiration and she is ready for the masses to be rocked by the ideas shared during TEDxVirginiaTech.
Matt is a senior majoring in International Studies and Spanish with an emphasis on global development and world politics. He shares his passion for bringing innovative and enlightening events to Virginia Tech students by serving on the largest student programming board, the Virginia Tech Union, as their organization's president. In his spare time, Matt enjoys music, friends, soccer, and attempting to learn banjo.
R. Benjamin Knapp is the Director of the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT) and Professor of Computer Science at Virginia Tech. ICAT seeks to promote research and education at the boundaries between art, design, engineering, and science. Knapp also leads the Music, Sensors, and Emotion research group, with researchers in the UK and the US. For more than 20 years, Knapp has been working to create meaningful links between human-computer interaction, universal design, and various forms of creativity. His research on human-computer interaction has focused on the development and design of user-interfaces and software that allow both composers and performers to augment the physical control of a musical instrument with direct sensory interaction. He holds twelve patents and is the co-inventor of the BioMuse system, which enables artists to use gesture, cognition, and emotional state to interact with audio and video media. In previous positions, Knapp has served as a Fulbright Senior Specialist at University College, Dublin, and Chief Technology Officer of the Technology Research for Independent Living Centre. As the Director of Technology at MOTO Development Group in San Francisco, Calif., he managed teams of engineers and designers developing human-computer interaction systems for companies such as Sony, Microsoft, and Logitech. He co-founded BioControl Systems, a company that develops mobile bioelectric measurement devices for artistic interaction. Knapp has also served as Professor and Chair of the Department of Computer, Information, and Systems Engineering at San Jose State University. He earned a doctorate and master's degrees in electrical engineering from Stanford University and a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from North Carolina State University.
Patsy Lavender
Assistant Dept. Head
Dept. of Theatre and Cinema
Jennifer Lawrence
ASPECT PhD Program
Steve Mackay
College Communications Coordinator
College of Engineering
Amy McPherson
Interim Director
Virginia Tech Career Services
Patsy Lavender is an Associate Professor in the Department of Theatre and Cinema in the School of Performing Arts and Cinema. She currently serves as the Assistant Department Head and teaches in the areas of arts management, arts marketing, and audience development. She has long been interested in the ways technology can enhance and improve arts organizations and endeavors. Having been at Virginia Tech for nearly 30 years, she has been active in numerous university and college committees on campus.
Jennifer Lawrence is currently a doctoral student in the ASPECT (Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical and Cultural Thought) program. ASPECT is an innovative new interdisciplinary PhD program at Virginia Tech in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences in collaboration with the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and the Pamplin College of Business. http://www.aspect.vt.edu/ Her academic background is in International Political Economy, International Relations, Political Science, and Modern Languages and Literature. Her current research is of an interdisciplinary nature and is conducted from a problem-centered, theory driven methodology. Issues that she is currently focused on are at the intersection of economic systems, environmental concerns, and social justice considerations.
Steven Mackay helps spearhead communication projects for the College of Engineering, enhancing the reputation of and to build support for the college and its programs. He has helped promote the College of Engineering on the pages of Popular Science magazine, The Washington Post, The New York Times, "The Today Show" and "CBS This Morning." Steven previously was managing editor of Tuscaloosa, Ala.-based Overdrive magazine, a 100,000-circulation business trade publication targeting owner-operator truck drivers. At the Birmingham (Ala.) Business Journal, he served as web editor from 2002 until 2003 before being promoted to special sections editor in 2004. From 2001 to 2002, he worked as managing editor of the Smyth County News & Messenger in Marion, Va., and from 1996 until 2001, he worked as a reporter for the Hickory (N.C.) Daily Record.
Amy McPherson currently serves as the Interim Director for Career Services at Virginia Tech. In addition to providing direction for a staff of 28 who serve students and employers in the Smith Career Center, she advises students on general career decision making and job search related issues and serves as the Career Services liaison to the Virginia Tech Graduate School. She has designed and taught workshops on career decision making for college students and adults, and has presented on the same topic at Virginia Counselors Association and Virginia Career Development Association annual conferences. She is experienced with presentations regarding preparing for and conducting a job search, how to succeed in a new job, and business/dining etiquette. One of her current passions at Virginia Tech involves helping spread the word about the Division of Student Affairs' Aspirations for Student Learning which are that our students will: Commit to unwavering curiosity, Pursue self-understanding and integrity, Practice civility, Prepare for a life of courageous leadership, and Embrace Ut Prosim as a way of life.
Alex Obenauer
Alumnus, Computer Science
Class of 2012
Kelly Parkes
Assistant Professor
Department of Music
Katie Pritchard
Technical Assistant
Department of Geography
Melissa Richards
Director of Marketing
University Relations
Alexander is an alumnus who graduated with a degree in Computer Science in 2012. He is currently the CEO of Mindsense, whose first product, Mail Pilot, was the result of a successful Kickstarter project that received coverage from Wired Magazine and the New York Times. He is passionate about "ideas worth sharing," and, during his undergraduate career, worked with the ACM Student Chapter of Virginia Tech to grow a series of student-given talks around this concept. He also spent two years on the council of the Newman Community, two years as a transfer orientation guide and leader, one year as the president of the ACM, two years growing the BT-Tracker project, and one year working to implement BT-Tracker and Hungry Hokie toolsets in introductory-level Computer Science courses. He is ecstatic about working with other Hokies to put on a series of TEDxVirginiaTech events, and about bringing such a natural extension to the Tech tagline to a new level.
Kelly A. Parkes, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 2006, where she teaches graduate level music education methods classes, class applied brass, and supervises interns. She is developing the music education graduate studies program and is currently the Program Area Leader for Music Education within the Department of Teaching and Learning. Dr. Parkes, has focused her research efforts on the pedagogy of teaching pre-service educators. She focuses on the motivation and self-efficacy of pre-service teachers, and the impact of these on teachers' performance. She has also made efforts to increase the use of research-based assessment strategies in higher education music education settings. In 2010 she was recognized by the university for her teaching and research, winning the XCaliber Award for teaching with technology and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award for her research about pedagogy in higher education.
Katie Pritchard is a technical assistant in the Department of Geography at Virginia Tech. She specializes in research, incorporation, and implementation of new educational technologies and social media/networking into large and ultra-large classroom formats, with a specific focus on creating teacher-student and student-student interaction opportunities.
As director of marketing and publications, Melissa Richards manages Virginia Tech brand marketing and advertising, oversees licensing and trademarks, heads the university's visitor center, directs the editing and design staff for University Relations publications, and serves as executive editor for Virginia Tech Magazine and Virginia Issues & Answers. She is a frequent presenter at national, regional, and local events. She has 19 years of global experience in communications, public relations, integrated marketing strategy, and strategic alliances. Prior to joining the university, she held senior positions at start-up and global IT organizations and founded two small businesses. Melissa earned a bachelor of arts at the University of Virginia, and she is currently pursuing a masters of public administration at Virginia Tech. She sits on the boards for Blacksburg Children's Museum, Montgomery County Tourism Development Council, and College Communicators Association of Virginia and D.C.
Mandy Roth
Student, Communications
Class of 2013
Adam Soccolich
Operations Manager
Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology
Edward F. D. Spencer
Vice President Emeritus for Student Affairs
Virginia Tech
Tanner Upthegrove
Audiovisual Technician
University Registrar
Mandy is a senior majoring in communication, with an emphasis on public relations. She is the Public Relations Director at Virginia Tech's radio station, WUVT, and is a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. Mandy is passionate about creativity, and her interests include sports, music, crafting, writing, and playing the ukulele. She is very excited about TEDxVirginiaTech and can't wait to see how it impacts the Hokie community.
As Chief staff assistant to the Director of the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT), Adam is responsible for the management of institute projects; coordination of project teams comprised of faculty from multiple departments and worldwide universities, graduate students, and individuals from business, industry, and community organizations; and conduct day-to-day operations. In 2007, he earned two bachelor's degrees (Biological Sciences and Psychology) from Virginia Tech before focusing his career on project management and business development in the biotechnology industry.
Dr. Edward F. D. Spencer retired as Vice President for Student Affairs at Virginia Tech on June 30, 2012, after a 42-year career as a Student Affairs professional, and was awarded the title of Vice President Emeritus for Student Affairs by the Board of Visitors. As Vice President, he provided leadership and oversight for the 15 departments in the Division of Student Affairs: Campus Alcohol Abuse Prevention Center, Career Services, Cook Counseling Center, Corps of Cadets, Cranwell International Center, Dean of Students Office, Dining Services, Fraternity and Sorority Life, Housing and Residence Life, Multicultural Programs and Services, Recreational Sports, Schiffert Health Center, Services for Students with Disabilities, Student Centers and Activities, and Student Conduct. As such, he oversaw a budget of over $100 million and a staff of 2,600 full- and part-time employees.

He received a B.A. in psychology from the University of Rochester, an M.A. in student personnel administration in higher education from Syracuse University, and both an M.A. and Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Delaware. He is also a graduate of Harvard University's Management Development Program.

Dr. Spencer began his professional career in Student Affairs at the University of Delaware in 1970 where he held three different positions. He came to Virginia Tech in 1983 as Director of Housing and Residence Life, became Director of Residential and Dining Programs in 1989, was named Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs in 1996, and, subsequently, Associate Vice President in 2004 and Vice President in 2008. While working in Student Affairs at the University of Delaware and Virginia Tech, he taught several undergraduate courses including the graduate course "The American College Student and the College Environment."

Some of Dr. Spencer's awards include: the Melvene D. Hardee Dissertation of the Year Award and the Pillar of the Profession Award from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators; the first Zenobia Lawrence Hikes Leadership Award and the Don Williams Service Award from the Virginia Tech Student Government Association; Most Outstanding Faculty Advisor, Most Outstanding Chapter Advisor, the Order of Constantine, and Significant Sig from the Sigma Chi International Fraternity; Executive of the Year from the New River Valley Chapter of the International Association of Administrative Professionals, and honorary membership in Virginia Tech's G.E.R.M.A.N . Club. Additionally, Virginia Tech's annual Fraternity Advisor of the Year Award is named the Spencer Award in his honor. Dr. Spencer is known for a variety of professional publications and presentations and has served on many local, regional, and national committees and organizations. In recent years he has concentrated his presentations and consultations on the nature of today's college students, organizational models, and tragedy and recovery at Virginia Tech.
Tanner installs and maintains audiovisual equipment for the Office of the University Registrar at Virginia Tech. He specializes in control systems, audio, and electronic repair. Tanner has taught courses on audio electronics and studied under Grammy Award winning Mastering Engineer Bob Katz.
Eddie Watson
Fmr. Assistant Director
Dr. Eddie Watson was the Associate Director of the Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) at Virginia Tech. Currently, he is the new director of the University of Georgia Center for Teaching and Learning. He taught visual media for the Department of Communication and for the Educational Research and Evaluation program in the School of Education. Dr. Watson delivered a presentation entitled "Our New 'Real' World: Participatory Culture and the Pedagogy of Things" at TEDxYouthGreaterNashville in 2011 and provided a keynote address at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities. He is the co-founding Executive Editor of the International Journal of ePortfolio; the Managing Editor of the International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education; and serves on the Board of Directors for the Association for Authentic, Experiential and Evidence-Based Learning. His research interests include ePortfolios and reflective practice, self-efficacy and social learning theory, the diffusion of innovations in higher education, millennial learners and multitasking, and faculty development. In addition to these professional activities, Dr. Watson is a musician and enjoys photography and songwriting. He also runs and coaches youth sports.