Meet Our Board Of Directors
Christy Barwick has worked in finance and treasury for top multinational companies across multiple industries. She is an intellectually curious and proven finance leader with extensive experience in capital markets, Christy is a pioneer in the securitization of technology-related patent receivables. Christy is dedicated to supporting the women and girls in her community. For several years, Christy has been a leader in a professional women’s mentor circle, a volunteer for the Girl Scouts of Western Washington, and Expanding Your Horizons. Christy has been recognized by the finance community, most recently the Adam Smith Award as the highly commended winner of Treasury Today’s Woman of the Year.
Erica Beckstrom is a seasoned and strategic Executive Sales Leader who is delivering deep experience and broad background in small and medium businesses. Erica is recognized for trailblazing and rational risk-taking that has accelerated innovative solution offerings that provide stronger business alignment internally and externally. Her unyielding advocacy for customers and partners speaks to her belief that relationships drive every form of success.
Eric Harris is a Vice President of Warehouse Operations and Facilities at Costco Wholesale, overseeing several departments such as Procedures & Training, Warehouse Audit, Facilities, and Security/Loss Prevention. He has been with Costco since 1985 and has earned a reputation for driving process improvements and seeking out operational efficiencies. Eric graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration with an Accounting specialization. He has also received an Executive Leadership Certificate from Seattle University through his involvement in their Executive Leadership Program. Eric also served from 2006-2010 on the Greater Maple Valley Area Council, an elected position that serves in an advisory capacity to the King County Council, representing constituents in unincorporated King County.
Mark Hofer is the founder of Your College Matters, an educational and college consulting firm helping teens develop personal and social skills for success in academics and life. In addition, he teaches leadership, develops curriculum and provides college counseling for the Bezos Scholars Program. He received his doctorate in Educational Leadership and Organizational Development and a master’s degree in Teaching from Seattle University. With other degrees in the sciences, Mark has worked in psychology, physiology, biology, chemistry, physics, and aerospace engineering and rocket research labs and taught high school science and psychology for eight years
John Hotta is a retired technology leader, who co-founded a small professional-services firm, Capital Expert Services, LLC. His roots and professional experiences are in technology. He has over 20 years in technology leadership roles at Microsoft, Accenture, AT&T, and the RAND Corporation. John speaks to Fortune 500 and SME audiences on technology issues. He has a passion to implement automation and productivity tools; and an equal concern for workplace and employee impacts.
As Senior Vice President of Product Development at F5 Networks, Patrick Jenny’s responsibilities include overseeing sustaining and test engineering for local and global traffic management, and web acceleration. He is also responsible for system security technologies and security certifications, global development and delivery operations, development infrastructure, and technical communications. Jenny joined F5 in 2000, focusing on management and content delivery technologies. He holds a B.S. in Computer Science and a B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Washington.
Christy Johnson is an entrepreneur and educator. She is currently building her third start-up, Artemis Connection, and facilitating a course on designing organizations for Creativity/Innovation at the Standford Graduate School of Business. Ultimately, she believes people are an organization’s most important asset and by having a diverse workforce, organizations will have the most innovative solutions. She has seven years of experience working in corporate strategy, including three and a half years at McKinsey & Co. Before this, Christy was an award-winning economics and mathematics teacher. In 2005, Junior Achievement recognized Christy as its National Teacher of the year.
Janis Machala is an experienced corporate director, CEO, and senior business executive. With over 30 years of diverse experience, she brings the best strategic thinking from myriad industries to infuse systems thinking and innovation across all levels of a company.
Kevin Ross is changing the lives of K-12 students across our state. While working as a senior design engineer at Microsoft, Kevin became concerned that enthusiasm seemed to be declining among entry-level engineers that are fresh out of college. While book-smart, they lacked passion. Around the same time, he began volunteering as a mentor for a high school robotics team as part of the nationwide FIRST program. In 2002 he founded FIRST Washington, which focuses on inspiring K-12 students to become science and technology leaders.
Susan is a seasoned general manager and leader who has lead businesses for global enterprises like Amazon, Mars, Campbell Soup and PepsiCo. Most recently, she led Amazon’s European fashion business based in London before coming back to Seattle. Susan joined FIRST Washington to pursue her passion for encouraging more girls and underrepresented minorities to pursue technology educations and careers. Volunteering for FIRST Washington, she hopes to inspire the next generations to embrace careers in technology and to create a more diverse environment.
Bruce Schafer is the Board Chair of Oregon Robotics Tournament & Outreach Program (ORTOP) which he co-founded as a university program 2001. He led ORTOP’s spin-out as an independent nonprofit corporation in 2014. Bruce has served as Executive Director of the Engineering & Technology Industry Council for the Oregon University system. Before retirement, Bruce founded a software company which licensed software to many of the top personal computer manufacturers. Bruce holds an MSEE with a computer science emphasis from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Rob Short is an effective and strategic volunteer who works closely with organizations that have bold visions and ideas to bring effective change. His passion for STEM education and getting industry and educators working together for Washington State students is what motivates Rob in giving of his time to FIRST Washington. Prior to becoming a volunteer and social and startup investor, Rob was a Corporate Vice President with Microsoft for 19 years where he leads the Windows Core Technology Team. In addition to FIRST Washington, Rob is active with the University of Washington, Equal Opportunity Schools, and Woodland Park Zoo.
Graham Smith is a twenty-year technology professional working primarily in the telecommunication and utility industries. Graham has spent the last few years actively involved in the project management practice building a Project Management Office within Avista Utilities. He has experience designing and managing large scale technology projects such as Customer Facing websites, Enterprise Voice Portal and Customer Information System replacements. Graham is a graduate of Central Washington University and has an MBA from Webster University. Graham is also an avid cyclist and electric vehicle enthusiast.
Bob Strasser is a strong senior technical R&D leader with real-world experience in creating and operating highly effective product development teams. Bob has a passion for people development, and for enabling opportunities for people to realize their full potential. He believes being engaged with FIRST Washington is an excellent avenue to give back and provide support, encouragement, visibility, and connection to both help students grow and compete successfully but also to realize a greater vision for their own gifts and ambitions.
Alexander has served as President, Chief Executive Officer and a director of MicroVision since January 2006 and was President and Chief Operating Officer from July 2005 to January 2006. As a former GE executive, he joined MicroVision after a 10-year tenure at GE Healthcare, where he led several global businesses, from 2003 to 2005. Prior to that, between 1995 and 2003, Alexander served in various cross-functional and cross-business leadership roles at GE where he led the definition and commercialization of several medical modalities product segments. As a certified Six Sigma and Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) Black Belt and Master Black Belt and as one of GE’s Six Sigma pioneers, he drove the quality culture change across GE Healthcare in the late 1990s. From November 1989 to March 1995 he served as new technologies programs lead and a head of I&RD office at Tracor Applied Sciences a subsidiary of then Tracor, Inc. Alexander has both an M.S. and B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.
Dee Dee Walsh
Dee Dee Walsh, VP of marketing and business development and Mobilize.net, has spent her entire career in technology and has a long list of business products within Microsoft. Her software community roots run deep. She ran product management and marketing for ButtonWare, the first shareware company. Dee Dee served on the Washington Software Association (now WTIA) Board of Directors for many years.
Christoph Wimmer is a Global Business Development Manager at Omron Microscan, where his expertise is in traceability and machine vision. He graduated from the Technical University in Graz, Austria in 1997 with an MS in electrical engineering. For 10 years, Christoph served as a sales manager for National Instruments in Austria and Germany. In 2008, he transferred to Seattle with National Instruments to assume the position of Business Development Manager for embedded products. He joined National Instruments’ Big Physics group in 2011 with the goal of developing advanced technologies in conjunction with National Labs. He has been involved in FIRST since 2008 in various roles, including judge advisor for FRC and FLL.
Meet Our Staff
Amy has spent the last 23 years working for Fortune 500 companies (telecommunications, coffee manufacturing, engineering/appliance production). She has always been an active volunteer within her community, as well as recruiting and supporting volunteers for local nonprofits, and achieved one of her life goals – establishing her own grassroots nonprofit. Over the years, Amy has helped raise over a million dollars for various organizations that give back to their community.
Allison joined the FIRST community as a FIRST Robotics Competition student in 2013, since then she has volunteered at various FIRST events in various capacities. She is currently attending Central Washington University, majoring in Public Relations and minoring in Psychology and Non-Profit Business Management. She began working with FIRST Washington in 2019 as the Public Relations Intern.
Dani brings over three years of experience in event management and community outreach to FIRST Washington. She is a graduate of the University of North Texas and frequently volunteers with organizations whose mission match her passions. In her spare time, Dani enjoys baking and writing poetry.
Jacque brings over 8 years of volunteer experience to FIRST Washington. As the Team Manager for her children’s hockey team she chaired the annual 2009 auction which helped to raise over $70 thousand for the Sno-King Amateur Hockey Association. She also has been very involved volunteering in FIRST Robotics competitions in a variety of roles like Pit Admin; Lead Queuer; Score Keeper; Referee.
Kathleen has over 20 years of experience in non-profit and for-profit leadership and management consulting. Prior to joining the Valtas Group’s team of interim executives, Kathleen led global operations at Splash. Kathleen enjoys bringing best practices from other industries to mission-based work, particularly during times of significant growth or transition. Her experience includes strategic planning and facilitation, technology, operations, and organizational effectiveness.
Kathleen also served for six years on the board of WithinReach, including two years as Board President. During this time, she partnered with senior leadership to evaluate two merger/acquisition opportunities, ensure a smooth CEO transition, and reexamine cost and grant structures in a multi-year effort to reduce unrecovered costs.
Erin McCallum has spent 25 years successfully raising more than $162 million for a number of high-profile community organizations in this region and is a proven leader in both non-profit and political fundraising communities. Erin is an active volunteer with several nonprofit and community organizations including serving on the Board of Directors for Girl Scouts of Western Washington and troop leader and member of Snoqualmie Valley Rotary. The mentors, coaches, and volunteers are the people who inspire her every day as they work to ignite and excite Washington youth to find their passion for STEM.
Adrienne Rime became involved with FIRST in 2007 when her daughter’s high school started a robotics club. In 2010 she began coaching a FIRST Robotics Competition team where she developed a passion for working with students. In 2011, Adrienne joined the FIRST Washington staff as a part time program coordinator for FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST Robotics Competition. She loves the way that FIRST can help shape young peoples lives in discovering a career pathway.
Robert has been involved with FIRST for over 16 years, starting out in the Midwest and moving to Washington in 2006. He has been the Head Coach for Skunk Works Robotics for the past 11 years. He has done volunteer work for FTC, FLL, and FRC. He has been active in assisting teams across Washington in the areas of sustainability and team structure. Away from FIRST, he enjoys woodworking, gardening, fishing and Star Wars as a member of the 501st Legion.
Eric Van Buren
Eric VanBuren has been engaged with FIRST programs for over a decade starting as a parent and then mentor of his kids’ team and then moving into a FIRST Senior Mentor Role, helping new teams start their journey with FIRST. He is an incredible role model, always willing to help coaches/mentors solve challenges. In addition to managing FIRST Washington’s Fieldhouse equipment, he mentors an all-girls team at Holy Names Academy in Seattle.