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San Francisco ELEVATE: Inside the Industry - Agents of Innovation

6 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. Feb. 05, 2019

Hear from and network with alumni who are shaping the future of technology and innovation in San Francisco. Panelists represent Google, Apple and tech startups. The $10 ticket price includes wine tasting plus a glass of wine and heavy hors d’oeuvres. Register online.

Below are brief bios on the panelists.

Jeffrey Beck (M.S.W.’11/SW) (moderator) is CEO and co-founder of AnswersNow. He is a licensed clinician and entrepreneur who is passionate about helping families work through their unique challenges. In his previous role as a child and family therapist, he recognized that parents of children with special needs were lacking immediate, personalized, reliable and trusted help. That is when AnswersNow, a platform that simplifies on-demand support for caregivers of children with special needs, was born. Prior to AnswersNow, Beck established a behavioral health program while working for Virginia Care Partners, an HCA subsidiary, and was director of community-based services at St. Joseph’s Villa. He received his M.S.W. from Virginia Commonwealth University. He lives in the northside of Richmond, Virginia, with his wife, Amy, their 2-month old son, Sonny, and their dog, Millie.

Allen Calderwood (B.S.’15/H&S; B.S.’15/En) graduated from VCU in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics. Prior to the start of his career with Google that same year, he worked part time for a few startups in the San Francisco Bay area. Calderwood began working at Google on the Android platform and the Pixel experience. He recently moved teams and is now working on Android TV, primarily focusing on the server side. In his free time, he enjoys hanging out with friends, playing games and working on side projects. 

Melissa Nierle (B.S.’16/En) is a software engineer at Apple where she works on the device management team, whose mission is to ensure that Apple devices work seamlessly in group or distributed settings, such as classrooms, hospitals and businesses. She graduated in 2016 from VCU with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. In 2014, she became the first VCU student to earn an internship at BMW. She spent two years in a co-op on the mobility solutions team at BMW in Greenville, South Carolina, where she learned the craft of iOS app development. She credits this opportunity for not only teaching her this skill, but also for introducing her to lifelong mentors and friends in the iOS community. She began working at Apple in 2017 and has enjoyed the switch from building iOS apps to building iOS itself (along with watchOS, tvOS and macOS). In her free time, she loves to gallivant around San Francisco, keep in touch with fellow Theta Tau Kappa Gamma alumni, crush her siblings in Mario Kart, engage in deep meaningful conversations with her cat, Gus, and watch VCU basketball.

Vern Howard Jr. (B.S.’12/B) grew up in Rochester, New York, and graduated from high school at 16. He enrolled at VCU where he earned a bachelor’s degree in information systems from the VCU School of Business in 2012. During his undergraduate studies, he was recruited by Capital One to join the financial company at its McLean, Virginia-based headquarters. His first position was quality automation engineer in the Technology Development Program where he developed the C1 Mobile Banking Application. After working at Capital One for a year, Howard shifted career tracks and focused on application security where he taught himself how to trade stocks through a vigorous reading program. The shift from security to financial tech eventually led him to being placed in Capital One’s capital markets division, where he supported derivative trading and helped with VCU recruiting efforts. Howard currently serves as CEO and co-founder of Hallo, a tech startup building a solution to help early-stage job seekers find actionable information about companies in their search process. Hallo is a Expa Labs company currently based out of Silicon Valley and working directly with the co-founder of Uber Garrett Camp as well as Hooman Radfar (founder of AddThis) to build this platform.

This event is part of the VCU Alumni ELEVATE Tour


Los Altos Tasting Room, 366 Main St., Los Altos, California 94022


VCU Office of Alumni Relations
(804) 828-2586