Past Speakers

Gerry Miller

CTO of Cloudticity (

Serial entrepreneur Gerry Miller is Founder & CTO of Cloudticity, the only Amazon Partner focused exclusively on building HIPAA-compliant solutions on AWS. From starting his first company in elementary school to currently improving lives through better healthcare technology, Gerry has always marched to his own drummer. Gerry’s first major company was The Clarity Group, a Boston-based Internet technology firm he founded in 1992. Gerry presided over seven years of 100% aggregate annual growth and sold the company in 1998 when it had reached $10MM in revenue. He was recruited by Microsoft to become their Central US Chief Technology Officer, eventually taking over a global business unit and growing its revenue from $20MM to over $100MM in less than three years. On the heels of that success, Gerry joined ePrize as Chief Operating Officer, where in just over a year he grew sales 38% to nearly $70MM while improving operating efficiency, quality, and both client and employee satisfaction. At Cloudticity, Gerry is marrying his passions for technology and public health to make a meaningful difference in the world.


Celeste Combs

CXO, The Experience Group (

Celeste M. Combs, Founder and Chief Experience Officer, The Experience Group, LLC, entered the design industry at initial boom of 1990s evolutionary technology wave. As an expert in human computer interaction, design and ergonomics, she’s created extraordinary experiences for millions of consumer and business users worldwide and blazed the trail of discipline now known as user experience.

Over a 25 year span, Celeste has helped craft the experience of over 150 products and emerging technologies of online, hardware, mobile, wearable and physical spaces. In 1990s, her acumen for creating breakthrough business practices with a focus on customer and user experience landed her groundbreaking roles. She was an early member of Microsoft’s Hardware Design Team; one of the nation’s first executives accountable for customer experience journey as Vice President, Customer Experience, Infopop, Inc, and led user experience design in early wearable solutions as UX Director, Tangis, a wearable and mobile design firm. In 2002, she founded The Experience Group, a UX consulting company that provides services to leading Seattle companies and startups along with highly touted companies worldwide.

Celeste is passionate about emerging technologies, sustainable solutions, education and motivating teams to create extraordinary experiences. She is active in the professional community having served seven years as Board Member, TAF (Technology Access Foundation), where she helped transform STEM education and raise funds for their headquarters, Bethaday Learning Center, a LEED Gold certified green building and community. She is previous leader of Puget Sound SIGCHI and Human Factors and Puget Sound Ergonomics Society, Founding Board Member for Forum for Women Entrepreneurs and emcee for annual Women’s Business Awards. She is a sought after ‘forward thinking’ speaker, lecturer, coach and consultant. She can be reached at


Erika N. Feldman, Ph.D.

Interdisciplinary Research Scientist

Dr. Erika N. Feldman is an interdisciplinary research scientist who employs a mixed-method approach to examine the impact of designed environments on human activity. She has conducted lab-based experiments and observational research in naturalistic settings including children’s museums, classrooms, and libraries. Her work translates qualitative observations into counts of behavioral indicators that can be analyzed in terms of product, consumer or curricular goals. An expert with metrics, Erika weaves goals with behavioral indicators to create strategic platforms for planning, evaluation and improvement cycles. Her research is currently used in library practice across six states and she has served as the Director of Research and Evaluation for the University of Washington branch of Washington’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS).


Steven Diller

CEO Scansion ,

Steve brings a unique perspective, rooted in marketing, anthropology and cognitive psychology, as well as the time-based arts, such as film and music, that makes it possible to optimize any offering. He’s currently co-writing a book on maximizing value through designing the evolution of customer experience.

Steve’s clients and engagements have spanned the globe, and have ranged from the Fortune 100 to start-ups, including Chrysler, P&G, Microsoft, Aetna, Intel, Cardtronics, Logitech, The Economist, and Electrolux.

Prior to forming Scansion, he was Senior Vice-President of Brand Strategy at Added Value, and before that a Partner and Director of Innovation at Cheskin. While at Cheskin, he co-wrote the book Making Meaning, about meaningful experiences. Prior to this, he owned a film production company and produced and directed several feature films.

Steve is also an Associate Professor and founding member of the Design Strategy MBA program at California College of the Arts, teaching Market Insights and Social Ventures, and is on the faculty of the University of California at Davis.
Steve received a Master’s in Public Policy Studies from the University of Chicago, a Bachelor’s in History from Carleton College, and a Bachelor’s in Film from Columbia College Chicago.


Rick Turoczy

Cofounder/GM of PIE

Rick Turoczy (@turoczy) has been working with startups in the Portland area for 20 years. As founder of Silicon Florist, he has blogged about the Portland startup scene for more nearly a decade, even though numerous people have begged him to stop. That side project led Rick to cofound PIE (the Portland Incubator Experiment), a startup accelerator formed in partnership with global advertising firm Wieden+Kennedy, creators of “Just Do It,” the Old Spice Guy, and the agency of record for Facebook. Those efforts led him to cofound TechFestNW, a tech event run in collaboration with Willamette Week and MusicFestNW; Oregon Story Board, a startup accelerator focused on the digital storytelling industry in Oregon; and Built Oregon, a digital magazine revealing the stories of founders from around the state.
Rick currently serves on the board of the Technology Association of Oregon; Oregon Smart Labs; and the Oregon Game Organization. In 2014, he was named the “Small Business Advocate of the Year” by the Portland Business Journal.
All because of a blog. Weird.


Adam Sheppard

CEO, 8ninths

As an individual with an insatiable curiosity and a knack for truly creative problem solving, Adam began his career as a developer at IBM’s Hursley Park Research Laboratory in his native homeland of the United Kingdom. In 1995 he joined a small Silicon Valley based start-up named Intersé Corporation, shortly to become Microsoft’s 16th acquisition following Hotmail.
With a passion to shape the emerging internet, Sheppard joined the newly formed MSN with Product & Program Management leadership roles for Hotmail, MSN Mobile, MSN Auto’s, MSN.COM & MSN Spaces and over 10 patent filings.

As technical consultant for the MSN Branded Entertainment and Experiences Team (BEET), Sheppard was charged with finding the ‘secret sauce’ that would exceed an advertisers expectations, delight consumers and show what could be done on the web to meet a brand’s objectives. He actively participated in pitches to Fortune 500 CMO’s and CTO’s gaining unique insights into their businesses and customers.

Until September 2008 Sheppard worked in Former Microsoft CTO, Ray Ozzies’ team as Director of Strategic Business Development for Microsoft Live Labs building external partnerships and driving revenue through licensing programs.
As a founding member of the Lab, he was responsible for establishing the Live Labs brand, identifying, evaluating, and proposing new concepts and opportunities, strategic and tactical product planning, and formulating innovative Go-To-Market strategies for the most cutting edge technology at Microsoft including the revolutionary ‘Photosynth‘, heralded at launch as ‘Demo of the year’.

In September 2008, Sheppard left Microsoft to co-found ‘8ninths’ with long time colleague and friend, William Lai. Focused on incubating new consumer technology businesses and helping marketers reach audiences online, the duo conceive, fund and build innovative web and mobile services. When not in front of a computer, Adam is behind a camera focussing on conceptual, street photography and fine arts.


Zoltan Istvan

US Presidential Candidate

Zoltan Istvan is the 2016 US Presidential candidate of the Transhumanist Party, a political organization dedicated to putting science, health, and technology at the forefront of American politics.

At the age of 21, Zoltan began a solo, multi-year sailing journey around the world. His main cargo was 500 handpicked books, mostly classics. He’s explored over 100 countries-many as a journalist for the National Geographic Channel-writing, filming, and appearing in dozens of television stories, articles, and webcasts. His work has also been featured by The New York Times, BBC Radio, Business Insider, The Daily Beast, Newsweek, CNN, Fox News, RT, the Travel Channel, and in much other media.
Zoltan writes futurist and transhumanist-themed blogs for The Huffington Post, Psychology Today (The Transhumanist Philosopher), and Vice’s Motherboard (Transhumanist Future). He has also written for Slate, Gizmodo, Daily Mail, Wired UK, Singularity Hub, The San Francisco Chronicle, and Outside.

In addition to his award-winning coverage of the war in Kashmir, he gained worldwide attention for inventing the extreme sport of volcano boarding. Zoltan later became a director for the international conservation group WildAid, leading armed patrol units to stop the billion-dollar illegal wildlife trade in Southeast Asia.
Back in America, he started various successful businesses, from real estate development to filmmaking to viticulture, joining them under ZI Ventures. He is a philosophy and religious studies graduate of Columbia University and resides in San Francisco with his two daughters and physician wife.

Zoltan recently published The Transhumanist Wager, an award-winning, #1 bestselling Philosophy book describing philosopher Jethro Knights and his unwavering quest for immortality via science and technology.