Confirmed speaker bios

  • Sharon Balke, Minnesota Online High School
  • BIO: Over the past nine years, Sharon Balke, Director of Student and Parent Services, has worked with hundreds of high school students online, and developed new models of orientation and student services for an Internet-based learning environment. She is responsible for serving students and their families from enrollment through graduation, including individualized learning plans, academic advising, testing and assessment, college planning, career exploration, and student records management.

    Prior to working in a high school setting, Ms. Balke served in several roles at Dakota County Technical College (DCTC). These included directing the weekly Campus Visit program for prospective students, administering and interpreting the admissions tests for new students, career counseling, Coordinator of the Career Assessment Center, A.A.S. Degree Advisor, and DISCOVER Coordinator. Some of the goals of the DISCOVER program were to encourage women to consider non-traditional careers, and to prepare students for the rigors of college study.

    Ms. Balke has a B.A. degree from St. Olaf College, and an M.A. degree in Counseling and Student Personnel Psychology from the University of Minnesota. She is a member of the eStudent Services Workgroup, sponsored by Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MNSCU), and a founding member of the Minnesota K-12 Online Alliance, a consortium of online charter schools and alternative programs.

  • Assaf Biderman, SENSEable City Laboratory
  • BIO: Assaf Biderman is the Assistant Director of the SENSEable City Laboratory at MIT. The Lab focuses primarily on studying and predicting the changes that cities undergo as interconnected computational elements become available almost everywhere (whether it is people's mobile devices or digital chips that are embedded at various points in the city). Following his early education in physics, Assaf became involved in research and development of human computer interaction schemes. He spent several years at the MIT Media Lab and has been a researcher at the SENSEable City Lab since its establishment in 2004. Assaf authored several papers in HCI, registered 3 patents, and won design awards. His work was featured in museums and exhibitions such as the 2006 Venice Biennale of Architecture, Centre Pompidou — Paris, and Ars Electronica Center — Austria. In addition to his direct involvement in research, Assaf is also in charge of technology transfer and commercialization at the SENSEable City Lab.

  • Gregory Daigle, Digital Watershed
  • BIO: Greg Daigle is the Executive Director of Digital Watershed, a sponsor of this and past Wireless Cities conferences. Digital Watershed is a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to building strong communities through leveraging new wireless technologies. He is an educator and digital media consultant with twenty-one years experience managing software development including e-learning and science education software for kids.

  • Steve Dietz YProductions
  • BIO: Steve Dietz is Artistic Director of ZeroOne: the Art and Technology Network. He was the Director of ZeroOne San Jose: A Global Festival of Art on the Edge and the ISEA2006 Symposium and ZeroOne San Jose: A Global Festival of Art on the Edge, which took place in San Jose, California, August 7–13, 2006. He is the former Curator of New Media at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, where he founded the New Media Initiatives department in 1996, the online art Gallery 9 and digital art study collection. He also co-founded, with the Minneapolis Instite of Arts the award-winning educational site ArtsConnectEd, and the artist community site with the McKnight Foundation.

  • Robert Dixon, The Ohio State University and Ohio Academic Resources Network (OARnet)
  • BIO: Bob Dixon, Chief Research Engineer, Office of the CIO of Ohio State University and OARnet (, is a recognized mentor, resource provider, motivator, and “evangelist” in advancing the state of H.323 video conferencing technology and its value throughout the Research and Education community. He is the organizer of the annual MegaConference, the largest international videoconferencing event, the participants of which span the globe and number in the thousands. He is a developer of the “Internet To Go” small mobile Internet satellite system, which provides high-speed Internet connectivity anywhere. He developed wireless video cameras, which allow live video to be originated from anywhere. He directed the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence at the Big Ear radio telescope of Ohio State University, and is now involved in development of the next generation of radio telescopes, called Argus. He is part of the team that is providing community wireless systems to small towns in Appalachian Ohio. He is the author of two books and many scientific publications and presentations.

  • Aaron Doering, Learning Technologies, University of Minnesota
  • BIO: Aaron Doeringis an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota in the Learning Technologies program within the Department of Curriculum and Instruction where he teaches courses related to how technology can be used to enhance learning. He has extensive experience in the development and delivery of educational content via the Internet. With a Ph.D. in instructional systems and technology and a M.S. in Geography, Aaron's latest research and publications focus on the theoretical foundation and pedagogical models of using adventure learning in K-12 classrooms, how teachers' teaching styles are influenced by their experiences with online learning environments, the design and development of multi-scaffolding environments, and how geospatial technologies can be used to enhance learning within science and social studies curricula.

    Doering, an educator, author, photographer, and voice for the environment and authentic learning through the effective utilization of the Internet, directs the GoNorth! Arctic adventure learning program at the University of Minnesota. Doering has traveled thousands of miles throughout the Arctic by dogsled delivering adventure learning programs and spending time with the Inuit.

    Prior to teaching at the University of Minnesota, Aaron taught middle and high school social studies in Rochester, MN taking students to more than 17 countries in order to study the physical and cultural geography of these countries. His love for geography stems from his farming roots, as he was raised on a farm in southern Minnesota. Currently a resident of St. Paul (a big city), Aaron misses the solitude and peacefulness of rural living.

    GoNorth! Adventure Learning Series ...

  • Alan Escovitz, Office of the CIO, The Ohio State University
  • BIO: He serves as Director of External Affairs in The Ohio State University Office of the CIO ( with the responsibilities for promoting distance education linkages between Ohio State and business, professional organizations, government, and service agencies; translating technology, campus research, and knowledge to the regional and global distance education markets; assisting the CIO in defining the external outreach agenda for distance education to promote partnerships and collaboration within and beyond the local community; and connecting and extending the university distance education resources to support outreach and engagement initiatives.

    He is a member of the American Distance Education Consortium (ADEC) Program Panel and ADEC Distance Education Policy Collaboratory and served on the Ohio Learning Network Academic Outreach Committee. Dr. Escovitz currently served as Co-PI on Ohio States initiatives under a NSF-Advanced Internet Satellite Extension Project (funded through ADEC), Tri-State Aquaculture Outreach Using Technology grant (funded through the U S Department of Agriculture and the American Distance Education Consortium), a Pew Grant Program in Course Redesign, and an Ohio Board of Regents Technology Initiatives Program grant.

  • James Farstad, rClient
  • BIO: James Farstad is the founder and president of rClient, LLC, and a consultant to the city of Minneapolis’s citywide wireless project. Jim has 24 years experience in strategic telecommunications consulting and business management. Jim is a past-President of the Minnesota Telecommunications Association (MTA) and is a former board member of the Society of Telecommunications Consultants.

    Before founding rClient, Mr. Farstad was the founder and CEO of Epic USA, a telecommunications and technology-consulting firm. When Epic USA was sold to Larson, Allen Weishair and Company (LAWCO) in 1995, Jim became a member of LAWCO’s senior management team and board of directors. He managed Epic USA as a wholly owned subsidiary until he left LAWCO in 2000 to begin the effort to establish rClient.

    Mr. Farstad has 20 years experience in strategic technology consulting and business management. He has gained a strong reputation in the consulting services industry, and is a recognized leader in strategy, vision, and innovation.

  • Peter Fleck, University of Minnesota Cancer Center
    PF Hyper Blog
  • Resume

    BIO: Peter Fleck was a member of the Minneapolis Digital Inclusion Coalition which drafted the original Community Benefits Agreement which served as a base for community benefits in the final contract for wireless network deployment in the City of Minneapolis. The Agreement provides for the funding of initiatives that will bring broadband Internet to low-income households and will provide diverse and localized content. (The final Agreement is available here.) He uses his PF Hyper Blog as a means of reporting on broadband initiatives in the Twin Cities.

    Peter currently serves on the Minneapolis Digital Inclusion Task Force Portal Committee which is deciding on freely available content for the entry pages to the Minneapolis wireless network. He is also a member of the newly-created Digital Inclusion Fund Advisory Board which will oversee and fund digital inclusion proposals in Minneapolis.

    During the day, Peter is the Technical Webmaster for the University of Minnesota Cancer Center. In addition to keeping the web servers happy, he champions collaborative web tools like wikis, social bookmarking, podcasting, and blogs.

    Before coming to the Cancer Center in 2001, Peter was a teacher at Minneapolis Community and Technical College where he established courses in HTML, CSS, and web scripting for the Electronic and Web Publishing Department. He still serves on the Department's advisory board.

    At the University, Peter was a co-founder of the CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) Development work group which is advising University Relations on creating a CSS version of the U of M templates. Peter is also a member of the Enterprise Web Content Management (E-WCM) Advisory Committee which is tasked with replacing the current Filenet system with the Stellent WCM system. Peter is co-chair of the Stellent-Filenet User Network group.

    He has an entrepreneurial spirit, founding PF Hyper New Media in the early nineties to build Web sites and multimedia CDs. The Hematography series, created for the University of Minnesota Department of Medical Technology, is still popular and has sold 3,500 copies worldwide. Peter continues to provide technical support.

    He graduated in 1989 from Metropolitan State University. He is currently pursuing his Masters of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute.

    After a childhood on northern Minnesota's Iron Range, most of his life has been spent in Minneapolis. He is long-married to lovely wife Mary and fortunate to enjoy his daughter's three beautiful grandsons, ages nine, three, and one.

  • Christine Greenhow, Digital Media Center, OIT, University of Minnesota
  • BIO:

  • Milda K. Hedblom
  • BIO: Professor Hedblom offers services as a consultant, lawyer and policy expert through Dain International Consulting and Legal Services to public and private clients with telecommunications and information services needs.

    As a consultant and lawyer she tends to work in the space where innovation occurs. She works on broadband issues in both fiber and wireless including community broadband development, entry of new services, and multi-party network agreements, among others. As a policy expert, she is Director of the Telecommunications and Information Society Policy Forum (TISP Forum) at the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota.

    Recent policy projects include development of the Regional Broadband Task Force which is a five county collaboration on broadband development. She now serves on the Broadband Advisory Committee for the City of St. Paul. She has considerable experience at the national level including at the FCC as well as at the international level. In 2001 and 2002 she held a position as Executive Coordinator of the World Summit on the Information Society, a UN project based in Geneva.

    She is a professor of politics and communications at Augsburg College, Minneapolis and of telecommunications policy at the University of Minnesota. She has a B.A. from Macalester College, St. Paul, MN, and a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota including study at Oxford University, and a J.D. from the University of Minnesota.

  • Brad Hokanson, College of Design, University of Minnesota
  • BIO:

  • Jeremy Iggers, Twin Cities Daily Planet
  • BIO:

  • Kurt Lange, US Internet
  • BIO:

  • Cristina Lopez, Digital Media Center, OIT, University of Minnesota
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  • Mary McNabb, Learning Gauge, Inc.
  • BIO: As director of Learning Gauge,Dr. McNabb provides assessment research and evaluation services for a variety of educational programs with an emphasis on effective uses of technology within school systems. From 1996 to 2000, she served as senior program associate and then director of research in educational technology for the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory. During her time at NCREL, she coauthored a number of research and development products on planning and evaluating educational uses of technology. She worked closely with the Office of Educational Technology, U.S. Department of Education, on national and regional conferences pertaining to evaluation of educational technology. She also held a one-year term as research scientist for the University of Denver Research Institute where she served on the core group of evaluators at the program level for Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers to Use Technology (PT3), and codirected the PT3 Vision Quest project. In 1996, she earned a doctorate in educational technology and a master of science in educational psychology from Northern Illinois University. She also holds two English degrees from Michigan State University and is a licensed professional counselor in Illinois. While teaching English at several institutions of higher education prior to joining NCREL, she helped infuse technology into the reading, writing, and preservice education curricula.

  • John Miller, Network and Telecommunications Services, OIT, University of Minnesota
  • BIO: John Miller is currently the Director for the University of Minnesota's Networking and Telecommunication Services department. Mr. Miller has been with the University for 19 years and has worked in previous appointments as a software engineer with InteCom, a PBX manufacturer and General Telephone of the Northwest as a Central Office engineer for a combined 29 years in the telecommunications industry.

  • Gabe Moulton, Office of the CIO, The Ohio State University
  • BIO: Gabe Moulton joined Emerging Technologies in June of 2000 as a student employee and was hired full-time in January 2001. He has participated in all but the first Megaconference (8 events as of end of 2006), worked to develop a plan for the deployment of 802.11b wireless on campus, and was an early design team member for the Internet2 Commons initiative. Additionally, he was a key member of the Transportable Satellite Internet System development team and has taught workshops on H.323 videoconferencing, wireless networking, and the use of the Transportable Satellite Internet System.

    Current Wireless projects include two Community Wireless projects in southeastern Ohio, Chesterhill and Vinton. Chesterhill has been on the air for over a year and current work is on a consulting basis. Vinton is the most recent installation, completed March 20th 2007.

    Currently, Gabe is the Systems Administrator for the Internet 2 Commons initiative, an Internet 2 Site Coordinator and a zone administrator in ViDe net. He received his undergraduate degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the end of Autumn quarter 2003 and is on track to receive an MBA from Fisher College of Business in 2009.

  • Leigh Oltmans, Minnesota Online High School
  • BIO: Leigh Oltmans, Co-Director of Curriculum and Teaching, worked as a teacher and curriculum developer for the award winning Mindquest Learning Network from 1995 to 2004. Prior to her work online, she taught in Southwest High Schools Pre-International Baccalaureate and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs in Minneapolis and served as a consultant in the development of Southwests IB Writing Program.

    Ms. Oltmans has been instrumental in developing effective online teaching strategies and assessment tools. She has advised students working on directed research projects in a wide variety of subject areas, and has created, enhanced, and adapted curriculum for both classroom and online environments. She has worked effectively with diverse groups of learners including at risk students, and gifted and talented learners.

    Ms. Oltmans is licensed in Minnesota to teach secondary Language Arts. She holds a B.A. in English and Anthropology from the University of Minnesota and earned Minnesota Certification in English/Language Arts through the Graduate Program in Education from the University of St. Thomas.

  • Craig Rapp, Member Solutions for the International City-County Management Association (ICMA)
  • BIO: As Director of Member Solutions for the International City-County Management Association (ICMA), Mr. Rapp provides a broad range of services to members and their organizations.¬† He is directly engaged in technical assistance, training and member support. In particular, he focuses on consulting projects involving organizational development, strategic planning, and economic development.

    Prior to joining ICMA, Mr. Rapp worked for over twenty-eight years as a senior executive in both the public and private sectors, holding the positions of City Manager in three cities, Community Development Director of the Metropolitan Council of the Twin Cities, and Vice President of a local government consulting firm.

    Mr. Rapp has extensive experience in the area of broadband technology. He was directly responsible for the development and deployment of a fiber-to-the home project in a large master planned community in Minnesota. In addition, he also led the team responsible for the broadband assessment for the City of St. Paul, and was a member of the consulting team that recently completed the evaluation of municipal broadband in the City of Monticello, Minnesota.

    During his tenure at the Metropolitan Council, Mr. Rapp directed the implementation of the Metropolitan Livable Communities Act landmark legislation that created a region-wide response to the issues of polluted land cleanup, affordable housing and innovative development. In addition, Mr. Rapp oversaw development of Metro 2040, the Twin Cities first new growth management plan to incorporate the principles of smart growth and address the costs of growth.

    Mr. Rapp holds an M.A. in Public Administration from Minnesota State University, Mankato.

  • John Richard, Waite House Neighborhood Center, Pillsbury United Communities
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  • Catherine Settanni, Digital Access
  • BIO: Catherine Settanni is founding director of Digital Access and The Community Computer Access Network. Both are Minnesota projects helping to bridge the digital divide through support of community-based technology initiatives. She currently leads the Community Technology Empowerment Project, an AmeriCorps program that supports 25 full-time AmeriCorps members serving in fifteen non-profit agencies throughout the Twin Cities area.

    Board affiliations include the Greater Twin Cities United Way, the Minneapolis Foundations MSNet Fund for Technology, and she is currently an advisor for the Center for Strategic Information Technology and Security within the Minnesota State Colleges and University System (MNSCU).

    In association with the current Wireless Minneapolis initiative, Catherine coordinated initial community engagement efforts, and now leads the city-sponsored Wireless Minneapolis Digital Inclusion Task Force. As a result of these efforts, the City recently agreed to a ten-year vendor contract that includes a strong community benefits agreement.

  • Terri Thao, Payne-Lake Community Partners
  • BIO: Terri Thao currently works as a program associate with Payne-Lake Community Partners, a community development initiative created to accelerate investment in and revitalization in two of the Twin Cities' commercial corridors, the Payne-Arcade and Phalen Corridor area of St. Paul and the Lake Street area in Minneapolis. Her previous professional experience includes working on social justice issues and project management of research projects about after school education and leadership development. She also is the chair of the Asian Council for the Emerging Markets Home Ownership Initiative, a member of the St. Paul Housing Taskforce, and the Broadband Advisory Committee for St. Paul. Her other volunteer experience includes: serving on the board of local non- profit Neighborhood House, a member of the Asian Pacific Endowment Fund, and a volunteer with the Hmong Women's Circle program of the Girl Scouts of St. Croix Valley. She has a B.A. International Relations and Russian and a Master's of Public Policy, both obtained from the University of Minnesota.

  • Garrick Van Buren, President, Working Pathways, Inc.
  • BIO:

    If you have any questions concerning this event, you can send email to


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