BioAffia Pollok, is a Richmond native and a graduate of VCU with a BS in Urban Planning. She is deeply integrated in Richmond’s art community. Affia joined CodeVA in 2017 as a Eureka instructor, and now serves as CodeVa’s Volunteer Coordinator and is this year’s Project Lead on Full STEAM Ahead. She enjoys traveling, cycling, and being outside in her free time.
Alan Ireland Marketing and Communications Manager
BioAlan Ireland (he/him/they) joined CodeVA as Marketing & Communications Manager in Fall of 2023. Before that, he held the role of Director of Business Development and Workshops Coordinator at Coalition Theater. He holds a MPI degree and a BFA from VCU and he is glad to call Richmond home. Working for CodeVA is a delight for him, as he finds coding a wonderful tool for accessibility. Storytelling is his passion, but comedy is a close second.
Arielle Adens Social Media Intern
BioArielle is a current student at Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter, pursing a Master’s degree in Strategy. She enjoys finding patterns and connecting the dots: be it ideas from different industries, people from different cultures and backgrounds, or applications from different industries. Arielle is a lover of all things creative, fashion and pop culture. Outside of work, she play the Sims and collects magazines.
Angelo Natale Eureka Classroom Hardware Tech and Instructor
BioAngelo is a professional with a background in architecture and structural design. He was born in Italy and moved to Richmond a few years ago. He has a broad knowledge in 3d modeling and graphic design. He always loved to code since he was a child and is joining CodeVA as a new Part-Time Instructor.
Beth Kappus Part-time Instructor
BioBeth switched careers from a Scientist at The Johns Hopkins Hospital to Educator in Virginia with over 15 years in K-8 education. Helping teachers integrate technology and robotics in New Kent County Public Schools to teaching classroom science lessons for The MathScience Innovation Center. Beth is a wife, mom, and life-long learner now teaching for CodeVa
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.
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.
Carlton Nivens Part-Time Instructor
BioCarlton Nivens is currently a senior at VCU, double majoring in computer science and philosophy. He is interested in the cross sections of art, computer science, music, and philosophy. He is looking forward to sharing the insights and fun that come from exploring these paths as a part-time instructor.
In his down time he enjoys being outdoors with his dog!
Christopher Custalow Tribal Community Program Coordinator
BioOsiyo, I have spent my life living across the country from the midwest, Alaska, and the commonwealth absorbing indigenous knowledge during my travels. It has always been a passion of mine to embrace my culture and bring it to the forefront of everything I do. I have shared my knowledge with people from all over the world from being in panel discussions, stage performances, to teaching classes. I focus my efforts in educating both native and non-native communities to address the lack of education being driven from our own perspectives and with our own voices. This has been and always will be a passion of mine to educate our future community members and leaders.
Chris Dovi Executive Director
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.
CJ Carnahan Advancement Project Manager
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.
Courtney Thomas Instructor
Jennifer Hicks Community Partnerships Coordinator
BioJennifer recently retired from Hanover County Public Schools. She spent 9 years as a K, 1st, and 4th grade teacher in Richmond Public Schools and Henrico County Schools. For the past 21 years, she has been an Instructional Technology Resource Teacher in both Henrico and Hanover. In this role, she provided professional development for teachers and helped integrate instructional technology at the elementary level. She loves helping students learn how to code and likes to create coding and STEAM activities. She also enjoys spending time with her family and dogs. Jennifer is excited to join CodeVA as a part-time Instructor.
Jessica Lawson Program Specialist
BioJessica Lawson joined CodeVA in August 2022 after 15 years as a Virginia public school educator. In those years, she taught in the elementary classroom, worked collaboratively developing and piloting a program based on K-5 Computer Science SOLs, and trained teachers on integrating technology into their classrooms. She earned her B.A. in Sociology and her teaching certification in Elementary Education plus a Gifted Education endorsement from W&M, holds a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from UVA, and received her Ed.S. degree in Educational Leadership from ODU. Jessica is eager to support schools across the state in realizing the positive impact computer science offers learners of all ages.
Jessica Newsome Curriculum Writer (Grants)
BioJessica Newsome is a former educator who now works as a curriculum writer at CodeVA. Originally from Queens, New York, she currently resides in Richmond, VA. Jessica holds a B.A. in History and M.S. in Adolescence Education from St. John’s University, as well as an Ed.S. degree in Educational Leadership (PK-12) from Old Dominion University. With 12 years of experience working in schools as a secondary teacher and school administrator, Jessica has always been enthusiastic about incorporating technology in the classroom and making computer science accessible to all students. Her work focuses on designing inclusive and standards-aligned materials to assist teachers in integrating computer science into their classrooms.
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).
Jon Stapleton Curriculum Lead
BioJon Stapleton is CodeVA’s Elective Curriculum lead, responsible for leading curriculum development serving teachers and students at middle and high school levels. He is passionate about empowering students and teachers to be creative, focusing on rhizomatic learning, computer science, coding, and generative creativity as learning practice. Jon is a co-author of the Virginia Computer Science Curriculum Framework, a curriculum writer with CodeVA, and an advocate of free and open source software for education. Jon holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in music education from James Madison University, a Virginia teaching license for K-12 music education and 6-12 computer science, and has presented at local, state, national, and international conferences on intersections between computer science and music education.
Katrina Smith Eureka Community Administrator
BioKatrina Smith has a background in many different areas of social work. Katrina holds a BSW from James Madison University (Go Dukes!) and has professional experience working in Early Childhood home visiting, community and school based mental health services, foster care and after-school programming. She loves to teach others and facilitate discussions. She also loves to drink iced coffee even when it’s freezing outside.
In her spare time you can find Katrina dreaming of her next Disney vacation, hanging out with her husband and two boys and collecting all cute food themed items.
Kristen Franklin Curriculum Faculty Administrator
BioKristen (Krissy) works with an amazing team of curriculum leads, writers, and facilitators to provide equitable CS learning opportunities. Krissy earned a B.S. in Elem. Ed. and an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from VA Tech. She taught K-5th for 16 years and was an instructional coach. Her passions for equity and leadership led to an ESL endorsement and an Ed. Leadership certification from JMU. She co-authored the CS microcredential stack for the NEA and is a co-PI on an NSF grant. Krissy loves cultivating new curricular materials, facilitating, consulting with educators, and discovering new ways to incorporate and implement CS in today’s classrooms!
Bio(she/her) A “retired” 90’s pop music drummer, Kristin is a lover of storytelling, handmade clothing and the way people’s faces light up when they believe they can do the impossible. She moved to Richmond for love, in 1997, where she found her place as an advocate for low-wealth communities, first as a member of the Richmond Coalition for a Living Wage and later as an adult educator, helping people earn a GED and redefine their futures. She holds a Master of Education degree in Adult Learning from VCU and her Global Career Development Facilitator certification. Kristin’s professional work combines over 20 years of teaching experience as a Virginia Certified Adult Educator and in community-based creative programming. Her work with youth and public school communities aligned in her role as a Virginia Community College system Career Coach and adjunct faculty member. A seasoned professional development facilitator, she has delivered multi-level training in the Virginia Adult Educator Certification Program engaging teachers in diverse counties across the state. As a Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality Certified External Assessor and Youth Work Methods Trainer she has supported Richmond YPQI network’s trainings, data management and youth development program assessments. Kristin has a passion for helping young people and adults find and pursue their passion, and take full advantage of resources and networks to propel them to the next levels of becoming. Special interests include instructional design and assessment, professional development facilitation, and creative, inclusive strategies for equitable engagement.
Laura Hite Director of Advancement
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.
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.
Megan Graybill Educator Program Faculty Administrator
BioHi, I’m Megan Graybill, my passion is connecting students and educators with opportunities to learn about Computer Science. For 11 years I taught K-5th grade in Roanoke City and Roanoke County. After earning my degree in Administration and Policy Studies at Virginia Tech, I pioneered a new position as Computer Science Coordinator at Salem City Schools teaching 8th grade Introduction to Computer Science and coaching K-8 educators through modeling integrated Computers Science. I served on the VDOE’s Computer Science Curriculum Framework writing team, NEA Computer Science Micro-credentials and The Governor’s STEM Education Commission. Facilitating and curriculum writing with CodeVA has been an amazing experience since 2018 and I am proud to support our amazing CodeVA Faculty as CodeVA Educator Programs Faculty Administrator. I love my career and the important work we do, but my favorite roles are being a wife to Mark and mom to Van. I’m looking forward to learning from you too, thank you for your partnership with us to bring CS to ALL!
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.
Molly Rae Pearl Part-Time Instructor
BioMolly Rae (she/her) is an educator with a background in dance and performing arts. She has been an online English teacher for over three years and has been helping out at Eureka Workshop for the past few summers. She enjoys using movement and play to help children connect to ideas, collaborate, and become stronger communicators.
Natalie Rice Director of Educator Programs
BioNatalie Rice is the Director of Educator Programs at CodeVA, where she manages the professional learning programs for K-12 educators. As a dedicated educator with over 15 years of experience in teaching and professional development, Natalie has a keen interest in K-8 computer science integration, curriculum development, and supporting the learning needs of both students and teachers. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Shenandoah University and a Master’s degree from Eastern Mennonite University in Curriculum and Instruction and Instructional Technology. Prior to joining CodeVA, Natalie taught middle school science and served as an Instructional Technology Resource Coach in Shenandoah County. Passionate about student learning and teacher education, Natalie is committed to supporting the growth of computer science education.
Pepper Blush IT Technician
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.
Perry Shank Director of Curriculum
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.
Rebecca Dovi Chief Education Advocate
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.
Rebecca Gibbs Finance Manager
BioRebecca Gibbs works as the Administrative Coordinator in the Education Engagement department here at CodeVA. After several years working in corporate finance and compliance in industries such as telecommunications, gaming and government contracting, Rebecca turned her efforts and dedication toward helping organizations realize their full potential. Most recently, she served Richmond Waldorf School as Director of Administration. Her lifelong passion for learning and desire to build a collaborative environment complement CodeVA’s continued dedication to serve educators and students across Virginia’s schools. Rebecca holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from The College of William and Mary and a Master of Business Administration degree in Management at George Mason University.
Shon Bennett Part-Time Instructor
BioShon is an alumni of John Randolph Tucker’s Advance College Academy; this program enabled him to graduate with both an Associate of Social Science and an advanced studies diploma his senior year of high school. This fall Shon will continue his studies at VCU’s College of Engineering, majoring in computer science. Shon joined the Eureka Workshop team as an intern in May 2021 through the arcHIVE project, and became a student coordinator for the project in June of 2021. Shon looks forward to helping CodeVA bring attention to youth imprisonment through digital spaces, and hopes to equip youth with skills that will better them professionally, personally and socially.
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.
Tabitha Benefield Project Manager
BioMeet Tabitha Benefield, Project Manager, a new role at CodeVA. Tabitha comes to us with over 6 years of experience of project support of data-focused programs and scalable processes in the nonprofit, healthcare, and public health industries. Tabitha has profound and intimate work with vulnerable and marginalized populations, food security, racial equity, health disparities, social determinants, and population health. Tabitha brings her career commitment to equity to the project management role here at CodeVA.
Tavi Berger Part-Time Camp Counselor
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.
Teresa Cole Professional Learning Administrator
BioTeresa brings forth a wealth of experience in the realms of professional development, data analysis and strategic planning from her fourteen years of experience as an educational leader. Her journey is defined by a tireless dedication to equity and excellence. With a keen strategic mind, Teresa crafts blueprints that give life to ambitious visions. Her knack for aligning assessments with objectives ensures a seamless progression towards collective goals. Through the insightful use of data, she illuminates the way forward, turning information into actionable insights. She also makes a mean spreadsheet. When she isn’t working, she is a passionate outdoors person, spending much of her free time traveling to far away places to whitewater kayak, raft, ski, hike, bike, climb, and camp with family and friends.
Thomas Brownell Lead Educator
BioThomas (they/them) is a teaching artist, DJ, and has been an instructor for several years with the Eureka Workshops team. In 2017 they graduated from VCUarts with a BFA in Art Education and has been working at CodeVA since February 2018. A lifelong learner and educator for over 10 years, Thomas is passionate about integrating music and art with computer science in out of school time programs.
Tina Manglicmot Deputy Director
BioTina is an unwavering educational visionary, committed to empowering schools and district leaders to collaborate on groundbreaking solutions that revolutionize student learning. With over two decades of expertise spanning K12 education and state-level government, her zeal lies in forging equitable systems that guarantee every student’s access to genuine learning experiences, high-quality instruction and resources. She has dedicated the majority of her career designing integrated curricula, building partnerships, and ensuring students have opportunities to explore and develop STEM literacy and skillsets. Tina firmly believes in the transformative potential of technology to bolster teaching and learning, and she has taken the helm in guiding districts and state-level government bodies in crafting innovative blended and online instructional models.
Valerie Fawley Curriculum Lead
BioValerie Fawley works as the Integrated Curriculum Lead for CodeVA, where she works to help teachers integrate computer science into their core subjects. She has worked with CodeVA since 2019 as a facilitator and curriculum writer. Her Bachelor’s degree is from Bridgewater College, with Masters’ Degrees from Eastern Mennonite University in Educational Technology and Liberty University in Curriculum and Instruction. Valerie previously worked as an Instructional Technology Resource Coach and second-grade teacher in Shenandoah County Public Schools, where she started the county’s first coding club and began integrating computer science into classrooms in 2013.
Zach Mulcahey Assistant Director of Children’s Programs
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.