BioIn his role as CodeVA’s chief policy advocate, Chris has worked with state policymakers to redefine Virginia as a leader in computer science education. He has co-authored various laws around computer science education innovation, including 2016 legislation that made Virginia the first state in the country to mandate computer science as a core, integrated subject for all students from kindergarten to 12th grade. The proud son of a NASA engineer (a real-live rocket scientist), his career prior to CodeVA was as a journalist with a focus on policy and politics, particularly around issues of K-12 education. Chris has his B.S. in mass communications from Virginia Commonwealth University, where he occasionally serves as an adjunct professor.
Christie Bieber Deputy Director
BioChristie joined the staff at CodeVA in early 2020 after serving 6 years on its Board of Directors, the last 5 as its Chair. Prior to CodeVA, Christie worked at the American Civil War Museum in positions of progressing responsibility, completing her 10-year tenure after serving as its Interim CEO. Christie earned her Masters of Business Administration from VCU in 2019. Her first experience with Computer Science education was a Visual Basics class while pursuing her undergraduate degree in International Studies from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, long before there were internet tutorials.
Rebecca Dovi Director of Education
BioA master teacher with more than 15 years of classroom experience and a decade of experience doing professional development and curriculum development at the state and national level. Rebecca serves on the Education Advisory Council for Code.org and is a Google Fellow Trailblazer. In 2013, she was selected by Amplify Education Inc. to become the first K-12 teacher to deliver a MOOC (Massively Open On Line) class. In 2010, she was selected for the development team creating and implementing the new Computer Science Principles course for the College Board and was one of the first four pilots of the course in the nation. She also was a recipient of the Aspirations in Computing award from the National Council of Women in Information Technology and is a frequent presenter at state and national conferences on computer science and on women in technology. She is a graduate of the College of William & Mary with a BS in mathematics.
Maggie Smith Director of Children’s Programming
BioMaggie Smith is our Director of Children’s Programs and has been with CodeVA’s Eureka Workshop since day one. She is an art educator with interest in child-centered education and play-based curricula. Her background is in gallery and museum education. Maggie uses the classrooms at CodeVA’s Eureka Workshop to combine craft and computer science. She loves learning with the Eureka staff as they create arts-integrated programs for kiddos.
Perry Shank Curriculum Manager
BioPerry Shank is the Curriculum Manager for CodeVA facilitating learning experiences through training curriculum for statewide professional development participants. He has taught all at all levels of K-12 public education and has worked with the Virginia Department of Education to review the VA State Computer Science K-12 Standards and has co-written the new VA Computer Science 9-12 Curriculum Frameworks. Perry received his M.A. and Ph.D from the University of Denver in Curriculum and Instruction. He holds a Professional VA teaching certification with endorsements in PreK-12th Music, Bus/IT, and Computer Science.
Anita Crowder Research and Evaluation Manager
BioA former engineer turned high school mathematics, engineering, and computer science teacher, Anita served as the Chair of the Technology Focus Area of the Appomattox Regional Governor’s School for the Arts and Technology. She has teaching endorsements in Computer Science, Gifted Education, English (6-12), and Mathematics (6-12) and has a passion for integrating technology and computer science into the arts in ways that challenge norms and student perceptions about STEM. She has been an AP Computer Science Principles (AP CSP) Facilitator for CodeVA and Code.org for the last four years and an AP Reader and Table Lead for the AP CSP exam for the past three years. After earning her doctorate from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Educational Psychology, she turned her focus to research on increasing the number of students from underrepresented populations in STEM and computer science, which she has presented educational research at national and international conferences.
Bryan Wallace Community Education Manager
BioBryan is a native of Birmingham, AL. A recent transplant to Richmond, he earned his undergraduate degree from Morehouse College in Computer Science. He worked in the private industry as a software engineer at IBM before returning to the University of Massachusetts Boston (UMASS Boston) to earn his master’s degree in education – math-based curriculum and instruction through the Boston Teacher Residency program. He has over 10 years experience in education, formal and informal, as a classroom teacher, technology integrator/coach, teacher developer, and curriculum developer. He served with the several education projects including the SERP Institute at Harvard University as a teacher practitioner helping develop Word Generation, a program to use student discourse for interdisciplinary learning. He has a passion to see computer science education made available to all students. As Education Communities Manager, he helps to build and support education communities of practice around the computer science K12 education and implementation of Virginia CS standards statewide. He can easily be replaced by a volunteer and a roomba…its complicated!
Blythe Samuels AP CSP Lead Facilitator
BioI have spent the last 22 years teaching math and computer science at Powhatan High School in Powhatan Virginia. I currently teach Algebra 2 Honors, AP Computer Science – Principles, and AP Computer Science – A. I am the lead facilitator for CodeVA’s Computer Science Principles Educator Training. My biggest goal is to share best practices in teaching computer science, create an inclusive community to promote diversity in our classrooms and outreach programs and to collaborate together to maintain an active teaching community.
Sonia Vanhook Hub Manager and Facilitator
BioSonia Vanhook is employed by the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon where she is the Director of Educational Outreach as well as the Code Virginia Hub Manager. Mrs. Vanhook holds a Master of Science from ODU, a Graduate Certificate in eMarketing from UVA, her MBA with a Concentration in Executive Management, and a BS in Secondary Education with a Proficiency in Business. Sonia is certified by the Commonwealth of Virginia to teach Business and Information Technology, by the Virginia Community College System to teach online programs, and by Quality Matters as a Peer Reviewer for online courses. She is a Board Member of the American Advertising Federation, a Steering Committee Member of SWVHEC College for Older Adults, Vice-President of Public Relations for Wolf Hills Toastmasters, and a member of the Virginia Society for Technology in Education.
Natalie Rhodes Faculty Administrator
BioNatalie Rhodes has been with Code VA for the last 6 years as a Middle School Facilitator, Curriculum Writer, and more recently as the Logistics Coordinator. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Shenandoah University and her Master’s degree from Eastern Mennonite University in Curriculum and Instruction and Instructional Technology. Over the last 15 years, Natalie has taught middle school science and served as an Instructional Technology Resource Coach in Shenandoah County. She is passionate about student learning and teacher education and continues to support her love of computer science.
Jessie Vernon Southside Tobacco Commission Region Coordinator; Danville Hub Manager
BioJessie works as a Program Coordinator at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville, VA, where she serves as CodeVA’s hub manager. Jessie was thrilled to join CodeVA and further support computer science education opportunities throughout southern Virginia. As a very detail-oriented person, Jessie is extremely proud of her role in handling all the logistics and planning for the annual Career ChoICE Youth Expo (link to www.sovacareerchoice.org) which sees over 4,000 students over two days. Her work at IALR and with CodeVA align with her passion for helping prepare our youth for the jobs of tomorrow. Jessie lives for quality time with friends and family, musicals, good food, and books (even if most of the ones she’s reading these days are children’s books).
Pamela Crook Outreach Coordinator
BioPamela worked as a project manager and recruiter in the corporate arena for over 10 years and transitioned into education where she has worked for the past 15 years. During those years, Pamela has taken on various roles including Exceptional Education Teacher, Exceptional Education Case Manager, and Coordinator of Assessment and Remediation. Currently, she works for Code VA as an Outreach Coordinator and is an advocate for ensuring computer science education is available to every student in Virginia by increasing Code VA’s presence across the state.
Betsy Seymour Project Lead
BioBetsy Seymour (she/her) works as the Project Lead on the National Science Foundation CS for All grant. She spent the last 10 years working in public and nonprofit education including teaching writing and photography at an all-girls’ secondary school in southeast Virginia and at a men’s correctional facility in rural Alabama. Most recently, she oversaw youth outreach programs at HandsOn Greater Richmond and served as an associate director of first-year advising at VCU. She’s passionate about creating a more equitable learning environment for all students.
Marcie Walsh Project Lead
BioMarcie is the Project Lead for CodeVA’s NSF DRK-12 grant. Prior to joining CodeVA, she was an Assistant Professor in VCU’s Interdisciplinary Studies program and served as the Administrative Director of VCU’s College Behavioral and Emotional Health Institute (COBE). Marcie also has experience teaching as an elementary Special Education teacher and working in an administrative role at a private middle school for boys. She holds a BA in Speech and Rhetoric from the University of Richmond, and a Master’s in Clinical Social Work and PhD in Educational Psychology – both from Virginia Commonwealth University. Marcie still maintains her affiliation with VCU as a member of the School of Education’s Motivation in Context Research Lab. Outside of work, she enjoys writing, hiking, bicycle trips, and exploring the scenic Pacific Northwest where her son and daughter-in-law live. Her all-time favorite place to visit is Canmore, Alberta, Canada, where she and her husband hope to retire someday.
Jasper Gunn Content Coordinator
BioJasper Gunn is our Content Coordinator, supporting the development of curricula in partnership with the Curriculum Manager and a team of writers. Their background is in Reggio-inspired education, where they spent five years teaching students ranging from 2-years-old to 8th grade. Their educational interests center around an image of the child as capable and curious theorists and artists no matter their age. They believe in the value of play-based learning, social constructivism, inquiry, and blending of science and art. Their educational background focuses on the intersections of computer science, environmental studies, and sociology, in a self-made major, Critical Technology Studies, from the University of Richmond. They are passionate about social and environmental justice. Jasper has previously been a curriculum writer for CodeVA and a summer camp instructor in CodeVA’s Eureka Workshop since 2017.
Zach Mulcahey Deputy Director of Children’s Programming
BioZach Mulcahey is a young professional getting started in the world of computer science education. A former student of Education Director, Rebecca Dovi, Zach got his start with CodeVA during their first summer camp in 2014, and he joined the staff full time in the fall of 2016. During his time at CodeVA, Zach has run a lively robotics program for local students, as well as helped manage the various children’s programs that are offered.
Thomas Brownell Lead Educator
BioThomas (he/they) is a teaching artist, DJ, and has been with the Eureka Workshops team for 2 years. He’s a graduate of VCUarts’ Art Education department and minored in Crafts/Material Studies in 2017. In the Eureka Workshop classrooms he combines two of his biggest passions: music and teaching in classes like “Coding with the DJ” and “Soundscapes in Earsketch”. “It feels so special to be able to incorporate lessons of musical and cultural history in classes about technology and computer science in the classroom” he says. “The skills and experiences students are getting in the classes empower them to be open and creative and experiment with new ideas in the classroom.”
Pepper Blush IT Technician and Instructor
BioPepper Blush (she/her) is Eureka Workshop’s IT Technician and Classroom Instructor. She is a trained artist who specializes in pixel art. Her classes center an approach to game development from an artist’s perspective using free, open, and accessible tools. She is constantly scouting the internet for programs that lower the barrier to entry for game development.
Tavon Watson Office Assistant
BioTavon Watson is the Office Assistant at CodeVA. He enjoys helping kids and others who walk through the door of CodeVA. A former student of CodeVA’s Eureka Workshop, he took interest in learning something new everyday and has been working at CodeVA for three years.
Natasha Blush Community Partnership Coordinator
BioNatasha (she/they) is an artist and educator with a background in performance and fine art. Since 2018 she has been teaching classes with Eureka Workshop that use crafting, storytelling, and movement to explore computer science. Through child-centered education Natasha helps her classroom ask the big questions and find ways that they connect in a big digital world. Lately that has meant hosting tabletop role playing jams online, finding weird new Scratch creators, and bringing back the choose-your-own adventure book trend.
Laura Hite Development Manager
BioLaura Hite joined Code VA as Development Manager in 2021, and comes to Richmond from Los Angeles, where she worked in Center Theatre Group’s advancement department for over six years. While at CTG she held positions of increasing responsibility in both fundraising and operations. Originally from the Southwest, she has a background in theatre, with a B.A. from Arizona State University and a Master’s degree in Arts & Media Management from Columbia College Chicago, plus a long stint in Chicago doing improv for free. Inspired by the ways art intersects with technology, Laura believes that computer science literacy and creative problem-solving skills can set the stage for a child’s long-term success. If only CodeVA and its Eureka Workshop programs had been available when she was growing up, instead of just typing and Oregon Trail! She is thrilled to help support the mission of CodeVA.
Michelle Heishman Human Resources Manager
BioMichelle was born and raised in Western NY and made the long journey south for college at the University of Richmond. After law school and working for several years as an attorney, Michelle went back to school at the University of Richmond to earn her Graduate Certificate in Human Resources Management in 2012. Michelle joined CodeVA in November, 2020 as Human Resources Manager and is very excited to help the organization continue to grow and succeed in its mission of making computer science accessible to all Virginia’s students.
Affia Pollok Volunteer Coordinator
BioAffia Pollok grew up in Richmond, and graduated from VCU in 2011 with a BS in Urban Planning. Affia currently owns and operates Myers St. Gallery in Scott’s Addition. Affia is integrated in the art community, and is experienced in art restoration. Affia has been involved with Code VA since August 2017. In addition to contributing by teaching through Eureka Workshop, Affia is also responsible for volunteer coordination. She enjoys traveling, cycling and yoga in her free time.
H. Carrie Richburg-Wilson Grants Fiscal Analyst
BioCarrie comes to us from Petersburg Public Schools as the State and Federal Programs Specialist where she was responsible for grants accountability, budget monitoring, reporting, and compliance. Carrie also has worked with the VA DOE and Stafford County Public Schools as a Grants Specialist, with Communities In Schools as an AmeriCorps VISTA Site Coordinator, and a Fiscal Management and Program Accountability Coordinator with the National Alliance of Faith and Justice. For over 10 years, she has worked with youth serving organizations across the country to build capacity and expand programs that provide underserved and at-risk youth with access to academic enrichment, mentors, and service-learning opportunities. Carrie has a passion for expanding opportunities for youth to meet their maximum potential and has worked in support of the cause to close the education achievement gap, increase civic engagement, and dismantling of the school-to-prison pipeline. Carrie is a graduate of Liberty University and holds an Interdisciplinary Bachelor’s of Science with cognates in Social Science, Psychology and Education.
CJ Carnahan Advancement Coordinator
BioCJ Carnahan was raised in Northern Virginia and has lived in Richmond since 2014. He holds a BA from VCUarts’ in Art Education. Starting in 2017, he has helped create, maintain, and support Code VA’s website, state-wide logistics, automated systems, fundraising, and outreach programs. CJ works at CodeVA to support students statewide and in Code VA’s classrooms as they become autonomous and informed young adults with appropriate skillsets for their future.
Megan Graybill Senior Staff Administrator
BioThis is Megan Graybill’s fourth summer with CodeVA as a K5 Facilitator and recently Curriculum Coordinator. Megan graduated from Radford University and earned her master in Educational Leadership from Virginia Tech. Over the past 12 years she has taught Elementary in Roanoke City and Roanoke County, currently with Salem City Schools as an 8th grade Introduction to Computer Science teacher and Computer Science coordinator where she works with students and teachers to support implementation of the VA Computer Science SOLs. She has participated in multiple Computer Science Curriculum Writing teams including the VDOE’s Computer Science Curriculum Framework and NEA Computer Science Micro-credentials and The Governor’s STEM Education Commission. Megan is committed and excited about helping support all teacher’s efforts to bring CS to ALL!
Kathy DeLoria Graphic Designer
BioKathy was born and raised in Charlottesville, VA and fell in love with art and the internet after discovering Dungeons and Dragons groups online and illustrating her groups’ characters. She joined the CodeVA team in the Fall of 2020 after graduating from James Madison University with a BFA in Graphic Design and is excited to work alongside the CodeVA team to create fun and engaging designs to help make computer science more approachable and accessible to Virginia students.