Wendi Fowler, President
Wendi Fowler, President/CEO Beacon Life Tech
Wendi Fowler is an accomplished entrepreneur and leader for more than 25 years in the local technology field as past CEO and owner of The Client Server, Inc. Most recently Wendi has integrated her technology background with a her passion for improving the lives of Seniors with innovations and tech in Continuous Life Care Communities throughout the U.S. As founder of Beacon Life Tech, Wendi leads Low Voltage projects with developers and executive management to reach the most effective technology for every area of the community. She is known for her professionalism and dedicated community service, as well as her highest level of leadership by empowering others to achieve their goals. Wendi is the 2017 SWFRTP Woman of the Year in Technology, and most recently nominated for 2019 APEX Award. Wendi has been appointed various community honors and industry certifications. She is a board member and officer of several corporate and non-profit organizations.
Colleen Jorgensen, Vice President
Colleen Jorgensen, Area Mobility Manager AT&T
Colleen Jorgensen is the Southwest Florida Mobility Manager for AT&T. Colleen supports AT&T on the Nation Business Team, providing small to large businesses the relationships they need to help their business grow, automate and gain profits. After a 15 year career in Sales Training and going back to school for a Network Administration Degree, she has been working in the technology sector leading and training sales teams. In addition to her career, SWFLTech, her family, including five children, she also volunteers for the SWFL Dress for Success program as a mentor and internet job search educator.
Edward Fritz, Treasurer
Edward Fritz, IT Director CareerSource Southwest Florida
Edward Fritz is currently the I.T. Director for Southwest Florida Workforce Development Board (dba CareerSource Southwest Florida). He is a Florida Certified Workforce Professional with over 8 years of experience in Workforce Development and Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act funded Program Management. He has served in the roles of Out-of-School Youth Program Coordinator and Quality Assurance Program Manager for Wagner-Peyser, Veterans, and WIOA Out-of-School Youth programs at CareerSource Southwest Florida. Edward served as a youth Career Coach and then Program Manager for youth programs with Henkel’s & McCoy. Prior to moving to Florida in 2011, he worked as a Customer Quality Assurance Engineer and Quality Assurance Manager in Bloomington and Peoria Illinois. Edward retired from the United States Navy in 2004, after serving 23 years working in the Advanced Electronics and Computer Field and Career Recruiting. He is a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Healthcare Management and a Master of Science in Management with a concentration in Human Resources.
Terry Dirr, Secretary
Terry Dirr, CIO Beacon Data2Logistics, LLC
Terry has worked in the technology field for 30+ years spanning multiple industries including manufacturing, freight and logistics services, telecommunications, shared services, managed services, and higher education. She is a technology and business leader who leverages technology and processes to build value, drive growth and enhance an environment of continuous improvement. She formulates and executes strategies to deliver on customer commitments, drive out waste, and improve organizational productivity. She has a proven record of delivery, customer satisfaction, and ROI by aligning technology and IT initiatives with corporate vision, mission, and goals. Throughout her career, Terry has held numerous technical roles ranging from software developer, system engineer, system tester, release manager, development manager, director of application development, director of global shared services quality assurance, director of IT, VP of Technology, and CIO. She has created, led multiple global teams, and managed budgets in excess of $32M.Terry has a BS in Management Information Systems from the University of Dayton, an MBA from Xavier University; is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), has a Master’s Certificate in Project Management, is a Six Sigma Green Belt, is a Certified Leader’s Coach, and a Certified Business Consultant.
Board of Directors
Warren Baucom, Director, Partnerships and Entrepreneurial Activities, Economic Development Office
Warren Baucom is Director of Partnerships and Entrepreneurial Activities with the Economic Development Office of Lee County. In this role, Warren facilitates programs and connections, filling in gaps along the spectrum of economic opportunity in Southwest Florida, with a special emphasis on Veteran’s entrepreneurship and access to capital. Warren joined the Economic Development Office in 2004 working in business retention and expansion outreach. He has managed local expansions and corporate locations projects including eMaint Enterprises, Ace Hardware, Newcastle Aviation, and Crown Linen. In his role with the EDO, he also provides support to the Horizon Council and the Lee County Industrial Development Authority. Warren serves on the board for the Florida Economic Development Council as the Southwest Regional Director. He is a founding member of the Board of Directors for SWFLTech, former President of the SWFL Small Business Resource Network, and served as Administrator of the Lee County Enterprise Zone. Prior to joining the Economic Development Office, Warren held a variety of management roles within the hospitality industry and served in the United States Air Force as an intelligence analyst stationed in Okinawa, Japan and at RAF Mildenhall, United Kingdom. He is a graduate of the Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State University.
John LaFreniere is the CIO of Verge Information Technology, LLC, currently on assignment at Tenet Healthcare, Dallas, TX as the Chief IT Architect. With VergeIT John works as a leader within the company and with large clients to deliver IT transformation, technology, innovation and cost savings across all aspects of IT. Previously he was the Global Vice President of Architecture for the Hertz Corporation in Estero, FL. Along with traditional IT architectural responsibilities, John was the technology transformation executive with Hertz; focused on positioning Hertz for the future through cloud and data initiatives, and application transformation. A sought after speaker in technology forums, John has also served in multiple board and advisory positions through the years and brings these experiences and his personal enthusiasm for technology to the SWFLTech. Throughout his 30-year career, John has held IT leadership positions for Ally Financial, Vanguard Car Rental, GMAC, Cisco, AT&T and variety of technology service companies. He has a broad spectrum of experience in architecture, data management, application delivery, business integration and application migration, and infrastructure design.
Brian A Wallace
Brian A. Wallace has spent more than 18 years in the computer technology industry. He is a Linux enthusiast. In a typical week he is designing and managing servers and networking systems. His IT career began as a Sony help desk technician, and later worked in medical IT, and eventually in education as a university instructor in technology, in Florida. Brian enjoys learning more about building containers using the various tools: OpenShift, Kubernetes, GIT, Docker, Red Hat. As a college instructor, he has taught for several years in all aspects of computer information technology. Brian has extensive experience in building out network infrastructure; network design concepts, planning & implementations; and also, with cloud computing offerings. He holds several Windows and Linux certifications, and a master’s degree in Management Information Systems from Hodges University. He was instrumental in implementing the first IT program for Red Hat Linux Computing at Keiser University in Fort Myers, Florida. He was also a champion of the push to bring students into the awareness of the programs of SWFLTech.
Dr. Huzefa Kagdi
Dr. Huzefa Kagdi, Interm Dean U.A. Whitaker College of Engineering F.G.C.U., President/CEO Beacon Life Tech
Dr. Huzefa Kagdi is currently the interim dean of U.A. Whitaker College of Engineering at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU). Previously, he was a department chair and full professor of Software Engineering. Prior to joining FGCU, he was an associate professor with tenure and graduate coordinator at Wichita State University in Kansas. His experience includes faculty positions at Missouri S&T and Winston-Salem State University, and software engineering roles in industry. He earned his PhD and MS in Computer Science, and BE in Computer Engineering. He has researched software engineering with emphasis on software data science, software analytics, mining software repositories, empirical software engineering, program comprehension, source code analysis, and software visualization. The results of his research have been published in top-tier ACM/IEEE software engineering venues, such as TSE, ESE, ICSE, ICSME, ICSE, ASE, and MSR. He has secured extramural funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and industry. He is a recipient of the IEEE ICPC 2013 Most Influential Paper (MIP) and the 2016 WSU Excellence in Teaching Award. He is a senior member of IEEE.
Debbie Peterson, VP & Chief of Staff, CallMiner
Debbie Peterson is the Vice President and Chief of Staff at CallMiner, a high growth venture backed technology company that enables customers across the globe to convert customer interaction insights into transformative business performance improvements. In this role, Debbie reports to the CEO and works closely with the entire executive team to drive the development and execution of business strategy across the company. Debbie spearheads operational excellence by combining a deep understanding of organizational design, process and systems improvement and human capital development. Debbie is a Southwest Florida native and a lifelong learner with a deep interest in how technology, business and education intersect to create growth and opportunity. She has held a variety of operational and leadership roles in companies ranging from early-stage startups to established healthcare companies to large publicly traded multinationals. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a Marketing concentration from Jacksonville State University, an MBA from Nova Southeastern University’s School of Business and a Master’s Certificate in IT/IS Project Management from Villanova University.
John Schalager, CEO & Co-Founder, Inceptus
Mr. Schlager is the CEO & Co-Founder of Inceptus, trusted advisors providing military grade cyber defenses and high-end consulting services that focus on helping organizations deal with the increasing risk and impact of cyber-attacks. Combining best of breed technologies, advanced data analytics, exclusive threat intelligence and elite analysts with years of digital combat experience Inceptus builds ultimate cyber resilience that aligns with an organizations business strategy. He was the Co-Founder & Chief Cyber Strategist for Skout Secure Intelligence (now Barracuda MSP). Skout is a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) and Consulting Company offering cyber services to clients across numerous verticals including Critical Infrastructure, Financial Services, Information Technology, Healthcare and Retail. He was responsible for development and operations of the Secure Intelligence Center (SIC), the Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT), Skout Labs as well as for the overall selection, design & operations of all services offered by Skout. He was the Chief Information Security Officer of the United States Capitol Police responsible for the overall design and deployment of enterprise cybersecurity program, including its associated technologies and policies. He was an Associate at Booz Allen Hamilton where he investigated malicious activities and designed and developed operational security strategies for the assessment, detection, remediation, and continuous monitoring of large-scale enterprises. He developed strategies for the clandestine detection, containment, eradication and continued monitoring of Foreign Nation States and the Advanced Persistent Threat (APT). Mr. Schlager was an Information Security Officer for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency where he was responsible for the cybersecurity program and posture of the office of criminal enforcement, forensics, and training (OCEFT) and the Criminal Investigation Division (CID). Mr. Schlager graduated with a Bachelor of Science, summa cum laude, majoring in Cybersecurity with a minor in Information Systems Management from the University of Maryland University College. He is an active member in numerous honor and leadership societies including the National Society of Leadership and Success – Sigma Alpha Pi, the National Honor Society for the Computing, and Information Disciplines – Upsilon Pi Epsilon, the Alpha Sigma Lambda Honor Society, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. Throughout John’s career he has also held many IT Certifications including the Certified Information System Security Professional (CISSP), Cisco Certified Networking Professional (CCNP), Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), Cisco Certified Design Associate Checkpoint Certified Security Expert (CCSE), Checkpoint Certified Security Administrator (CCSA) and the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE).
Laura Schmidt, Principal Consultant, Endinas, LLC (Tech Ecosystem Development)
Laura has held leadership roles in corporate technology, K-12 education, higher education, and non-profit organizations. She worked for a Fortune 100 company for 15 years and was responsible for enterprise software, user centered design and testing, and technology research. She then served as Executive Director of an education foundation for nearly 5 years before joining a local school district as a consultant where she provided leadership and support to strategic planning and continuous improvement efforts, developed corporate relations strategies, and represented the District in local, regional, state, and national efforts to support talent pipeline objectives. She later served as the first Director of Corporate Relations for the region's premier engineering university with the primary objective of aligning corporate and university objectives to form mutually beneficial partnerships. Most recently, she served as the Chief Talent Development Officer for a regional tech council where she helped build the foundation for the organization and assumed primary responsibility for tech talent pipeline strategies. Laura holds a degree in the Management of Computer Systems and an MBA with a focus on leadership studies. She has served in a wide variety of volunteer roles and has received awards for her service to the tech community at both a local and national level. She now serves as a consultant for state/regional tech talent initiatives and is a mentor for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's Talent Pipeline Management program.
Randy Mitchelson, APR, Co-Founder & Board Advisor
Randy Mitchelson, APR, is an award winning entrepreneur, writer and community leader. After holding leadership positions at KeyBank, Marketplace Bank and Bank of America, Randy founded National Web Leads and started an internet marketing and public relations career that evolved into becoming vice president of sales and marketing at iPartnerMedia, an award winning digital marketing agency and Google Partner. Randy’s expertise has been featured in Search Engine Journal, RackSpace, Adobe’s CMO.com, Media Leaders, CMSWire, Entrepreneur.com and Website Magazine. He has co-founded five non-profits including the Southwest Florida Regional Technology Partnership (now SWFLTech). Randy is a Golden Image Award recipient from the Florida Public Relations Association where he is also President of the Southwest Florida chapter. He also serves on the board of directors with the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce. Randy earned a Bachelor of Science and MBA at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.
Peg Elmore is the Business Services Director for CareerSource Southwest Florida. Although Peg has been in the workforce development industry since 1995, her previous employment has included work in the private companies within the travel industry and the oil and gas exploration industry. Her unique background with a start-up company as well as a Fortune 100 Company has proven valuable in understanding the needs of the business community. Peg works closely with business and community organizations in Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties. Peg is a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Southwest Florida board member and represents SHRM on the Horizon Council, Lee County’s public-private board which advises the Lee County Board of Commissioners on economic development issues. Peg also serves on numerous committees and advisory boards related to education and workforce development. She is a 2011 graduate of Leadership Lee and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration.