Bigger Brains is highly selective in the teachers and subject matter experts we use for our courses. On average, Bigger Brains teachers have over 17 years of experience in their area of expertise, plus experience teaching in a college or corporate environment.
Geoff Blake is an award-winning veteran software trainer, author, and designer. A professional public speaker since 1997, Geoff has taught desktop publishing, web design and graphics courses for a wide range of clients and organizations, from Fortune 500 companies and colleges, to small and medium-sized businesses; and to individuals just like you. In 2009 he launched his video-based training site, Ten Ton Online, allowing him to reach learners worldwide. With his humorous, non-jargonny approach, Geoff’s style of teaching revolves around dissolving learner’s anxiety, and presenting otherwise technical subjects in a relaxed, easily understandable way. He regularly contributes to top industry magazines and web sites, and continues sharing his knowledge in his casual, off-beat style through his website, tentononline.com.
In addition to his work as a Bigger Brains Creative Consultant & Learner, Harrison is the Executive Producer and Artistic Director of Alchemy Comedy Theater in Greenville, South Carolina. Harrison started improv with Clemson University’s comedy improv group, Mock Turtle Soup, in 2004. For the next four years, he performed improv in Clemson, along with Atlanta, Nashville, Orlando and Chicago. He has attended the Black Box, Implosion, Charleston, Richmond, Del Close, Spontaneous Combustion and North Carolina Comedy Arts Festivals, training under a variety of instructors from The Annoyance, iO, Comedy Sportz, SAK and Second City theaters. In 2008, he moved to North Carolina and performed, coached and taught weekly as a resident instructor at the DSI Comedy Theater. Harrison has recently moved back to the Greenville with his wife to continue teaching high school social studies. www.alchemycomedy.com
Rayanne Buchianico, EA is the owner of ABC Solutions, LLC in Clearwater, Florida providing complete accounting, business, and tax consulting services to IT Professionals in the United States and abroad. She is a Certified QuickBooks Professional Advisor in QuickBooks Desktop and Online versions and offers courses and blogs tips on QuickBooks regularly. She holds a degree in Accounting and is enrolled to practice before the Internal Revenue Service.
Her commitment to her profession takes her out of the office, too. Rayanne currently sits on the Executive Council for Advancing Women in IT at CompTIA and is the Treasurer of the Tampa Bay Diversity Chamber of Commerce. She founded the Tampa Bay IT Pro Group in 2004, served as treasurer of the Global IT Community Association for both the North American and Global boards of directors, and contributes articles to various publications.
Ben Burris works as an electrical engineer for a safety automation company in Greenville, South Carolina. He is also the Artistic Director of Alchemy Comedy Theater and has over 10 years of improv experience working with performers around the world. Ben has worked with Bigger Brains since the beginning as a learner, a teacher, an actor, and a writer.
Ben Cothran (Workplace Safety: Active Shooter) Ben Cothran has over thirteen years of Law Enforcement experience to include time at Greenville Police Department, Anderson Police Department,and currently at Anderson County Sheriff’s Office. During his tenure, he has worked on uniform patrol, school resource officer, Crime Response Team,and Investigations. He has worked on Greenville Police Department Dignitary Protection Team, and has served over seven years on SWAT teams as a sniper. His education began with a Bachelors in Science of Business Management from Lander University and continues through a Masters in Criminal Justice from Anderson University. In addition to teaching part time for programs at Anderson University, Tri-County Technical College, and Brown Mackie College, he also teaches firearm fundamentals and South Carolina Concealed Weapons Permits classes. He has obtained instructor certifications in Driving Instructor and Sniper Field craft Instructor. He has been married for 25 years, and has two children that are in College.
Dr. Christopher Craft is an award-winning educator and speaker based in South Carolina. As a classroom teacher, he has been recognized both locally and nationally for innovative teaching with technology. Most recently he was named to the National School Board Association’s “20 to Watch”list for 2013. He has a B.A. in Spanish, a M.Ed in Educational Technology, and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and Research from the University of South Carolina. Chris is a Google Certified Teacher, and a Google Certified Trainer, and was recently accepted to be an Apple Distinguished Educator. Find out more about Dr. Craft at www.christophercraft.com or follow him on Twitter (@crafty184).
Robert has a degree in Electrical Engineering as well as Masters of Business Administration. He is also a Small Business Specialist and Microsoft Certified SharePoint Professional. Robert has over 15 years of IT experience in a variety of fields and positions, including working on Wall St in New York. He continues his involvement with information technology as the Principal of the Computer Information Agency. Apart from resolving client technical issues, Robert continues to present at seminars locally and internationally, as well as write on a number for topics for the Computer Information Agency. Since 2012 Robert has been awarded a Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award from Microsoft for his contributions around the Office 365 product. He also develops and presents technology courses on a regular basis at various locations. Robert is committed to a process of ongoing business and technical education to continue developing the skills required to assist clients with their business challenges.
Ken Dwight has been a computer professional for more than 50 years and is still active in the industry today. He began his career in 1966 as a Programmer Trainee on Univac mainframe computers. Working his way upward through the ranks, he moved onto General Electric and ultimately IBM System/360 and System/370 computers.
When IBM introduced their Personal Computer in 1981, Ken made the transition to that new and exciting environment. From the early days of MS-DOS and monochrome monitors, with all programs and data stored on 5¼” floppy disks, he has watched the evolution of PCs from 8-bit to 64-bit CPUs, and data storage go from Kilobytes to Megabytes, Gigabytes, and Terabytes.He was an active participant in the early versions of Microsoft Windows, multimedia on PCs, and the introduction of the Internet and e-mail.
He has also been a witness to the unfortunate side-effect of cyber-security threats that have become more prevalent, more costly, and more destructive in recent years. In 2002 he developed a specialty in malicious software and Trademarked the name The Virus Doctor™.
Over the past 20+ years, Ken has spent most of his time writing and teaching computer-related topics to his fellow IT Support techs and to non-technical end users. He has graduates of his training in most of the United States + 8 foreign countries. When he’s not teaching, he is working with computer users to help resolve the myriad of issues that arise on a regular basis.
Idaho Edokpayi is a SharePoint Architect working in the DC Metro area. He has worked with every version of SharePoint dating back to SharePoint 2003 and has worked with clients in multiple industry verticals including non-profits, public utilities, energy extraction, and government contracting as a consultant, contractor, and employee. Idaho regularly leads development work on a variety of SharePoint projects, including custom SharePoint based applications, SharePoint intranets, and public websites.
Barbara V. Evers is a trainer, writer, and speaker with over twenty-five years’ experience. She received a BA in Zoology and an MA in Professional Communication from Clemson University and is an active member of the Association for Type International. She excels in teaching participants the skills and techniques that will advance their careers, and her educational and career pursuits have provided a diverse background for her to use in instructional design and in the classroom. Areas of expertise include Business Writing, Communication, Customer Service, Leadership, and Myers Briggs Type Indicator as well as Microsoft Office training. Barbara lives in Greer, SC andis a published writer with several writing awards, including a Pushcart Prize nomination. She writes for several blogs including two of her own and is an active member of South Carolina Writers Association and HubCity Writers. For more information, visit her website, http://eversworks.com/and her writing blog, https://aneclecticmuse.blogspot.com.
Chuck Gallagher is an American entrepreneur, speaker and author. He is the author of Second Chances and has been featured in media outlets including Life & Health, Small Business Opportunities, Business Week, CBS, CNN, Lifetime, and National Public Radio. As a business ethics speaker and author his clients include Medtronic, the FBI, U.S. Navy, University of Florida, Skanska, University of North Georgia, Barclays, and United Healthcare.
Jamie Gillenwater is a communications consultant who specializes in information design, editing, and technical communication. She is the co-founder of www.CPTCtraining.com. As a consultant, she has led effective communication courses for individuals, private, and public organizations. She excels in using tools, such as Microsoft Office and the Adobe Creative Suite to create documentation that is easy for readers to navigate.
Jamie is a Certified Professional Technical Communicator, CompTIA Certified Technical Trainer, and Six Sigma Green Belt. She has served on multiple committees for the Society for Technical Communicator and her local Toastmasters Club.
Donna Grindle is a speaker, podcaster, consultant, and advisor who helps businesses of all shapes and sizes build and manage effective information privacy and security programs. Before starting her company, Kardon, in 1999, Donna was Vice President of a medical practice management software firm where she got her start in the late 80s writing software for electronic claims submissions. After a successful career helping develop and support a wide variety of software for clients, she also ran her own Managed IT Service and Consulting company that specialized in healthcare IT. Donna now uses her over 30 years of experience to help businesses protect the privacy and security of their confidential information. She also shares that knowledge in her weekly podcast,Help Me With HIPAA, where HIPAA and humor collide to make learning fun.
Rich Harshaw is the CEO and author of Monopolize Your Marketplace?, and one of the nation’s leading marketing minds and business leaders. At the age of 19, he learned to speak Mandarin Chinese. Two years later he started an import-export business in Taiwan and China. He graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in business and entrepreneurship. In 1994 he founded Marketing Strategies, and over the next several years developed the Monopolize Your Marketplace system. In 2000 he started Y2Marketing, which made the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing privately held companies for three consecutive years (2002, 2003 and 2004). In his professional career, Rich has become one of the nations most sought after marketing consultants and speakers because of his deep understanding of what motivates people to buy. He has written Marketing and Sales materials for over 1,500 companies in virtually every industry. His articles about marketing, sales and advertising have appeared in dozens of magazines and newspapers worldwide. Because the Monopolize Your Marketplace system exposes the inadequacies and questionable business practices of big ad agencies, it has earned Rich the title of the “Most Hated Man in Marketing.” Rich lives near Dallas, TX with his wife Tonia and their six children. He is an active member of his church and serves as a leader and mentor in the Youth program. Rich says, “My passion is teaching young people how to be successful in school, their families, financially, spiritually and in life. www.mymonline.com
After earning her PhD with research designated as “transformative” by the National Science Foundation, Dr. Rebecca Heiss went on to hold multiple appointments in academia, applying her research to solve practical problems in overcoming what she refers to as “biological ghosts” -subconscious behaviors that haunt modern life. She founded Biologic Balance, a stress hormone consultation company and is currently launching a new self-awareness app, called Icueity, to help every individual reach her/his full potential. She has been honored to speak internationally on her work, including a TEDx, and has found her calling in helping others recognize the power of biological applications in the business world. She currently chairs a private advisory board in Greenville, SC to help business leaders empower one another to live happier, more conscious lives while growing their organizations.
Courtney Herda, founder and CEO of Smarter Searches, is an expert in digital marketing, having spent the last twelve years working on SEO, PPC, social, and digital marketing campaigns for clients of all sizes at the agency level and in-house. Her knowledge of search engine strategies, pay per click optimization and auditing, and website user experience has made her a frequent speaker at conferences like Pubcon, ClickZ Live, and Search Engine Strategies, and is a contributor to Marketing Profs and the Online Marketing Institute. She was recently named a top 20 digital marketing strategist by the Online Marketing Institute, one of the top 15 most influential educators in digital marketing, and was a finalist for the Young Entrepreneur of the Year at the Pinnacle Awards. She was also named to 2016’s class of 40 Under 40 by the Greater Knoxville Business Journal.
With a silly putty voice, hilarious heart-filled stories, and amazing mouth noises (arguably, the greatest whistler in the world) one-person-showman, Andy Offutt Irwin is equal parts mischievous schoolboy and the Marx Brothers, peppered with a touch of theSouthern balladeer. One of the most sought after performing storytellers in the United States, Andy is a perennial favorite of the Teller-in-Residence Program at the International Storytelling Centerin Jonesborough, Tennessee, and he has been a Featured Teller at the National Storytelling Festivalnine times (as of 2017). Along with being a vagabond storyteller, Andy works as an arts educator, keynote speaker, theatre director, songwriter, comedian, newspaper columnist, camp counselor, and Shakespearean actor. Among other gigs, Andy has been a Guest Artist at La Guardia High School of Art, Music, and Performing Artsin New York (The “FAME!” School); he has been a Keynote Speaker/Performer at the Library of Congress-Virburnum FoundationConference on FamilyLiteracy; a Guest Writer Performer with the Georgia Tech Glee Club; and a guest composer with the Amherst College Men’s Double Quartet.
Andy has held a few almost-real-jobs that include: Artist-In-Residence in Theatre at Emory University’s Oxford Collegefrom 1991 to 2007. In 2001 he received Oxford’s Sammy Clark Award for Exemplary Teaching and Service. (He continues serving at Oxford from time-to-time as Artist-in-Just-Passing-Through). A very long time ago, Andy spent five years as a performer, writer,and director for SAK Theatreat Walt Disney World.
Andy is the recipient of many awards for his storytelling recordings and performance, but he is tickled as can be to have been patted on the head by his sweet community of peers as they bestowed upon him the Oracle Circle of Excellence from the National Storytelling Network.
Also, when he gets around to buying a frame he will hang upon his wall:a Special Congressional Recognition–For outstanding and invaluable service to the community–from Rep. John Lewis.
Kathy is a Microsoft Certified education/training professional with experience in all aspects of training. Her strengths include classroom presentations, organizational skills, problem solving, program design and development, and interpersonal communication.
Kathy has been in the technical training industry for over 20 years, with additional experience in management and organizational training. With a degree in education, she is especially qualified to understand and respond to all aspects of the classroom experience. Awareness of student needs and expectations, and the ability to adapt to differing classroom dynamics, increase the effectiveness of her training sessions and enable her to better help students achieve their learning goals. Her workshops are dynamic, and she employs a wide variety of proven training strategies to lead truly interactive sessions that enable participants to creatively discuss and apply new skills. She also has designed and taught Train the Trainer curriculum, intended to help new and experienced trainers be more effective in the classroom.
She has held management positions and consulted with managers on a wide range of projects for multiple corporations. In her work with managers, Kathy discovered that while job requirements and technical expertise are often the primary target for most job training, there is a need as well for an emphasis on other skills. To meet this need, she began teaching and creating training classes focusing on key competencies including leadership, negotiation, interpersonal communication, effective presentations, customer service, delegation, conflict resolution and change communication management.
Her position as a consultant has provided wide experience in many different industries. Key customers have included Office of the Inspector General (USPS), Marriott International, the Centers for Disease Control, and Wells Fargo, as well as numerous military and defense contractor locations. Regional clients include Blue Cross Blue Shield, First Quality Tissue, Greenville Technical College, Spartanburg Community College, Duke Energy and USC. In this capacity, she has had the opportunity to evaluate customer needs, create specialized training, and work with the customer to implement specialized change.
Lisa Lopez, ABD is an adjunct instructor of computer science at the University of South Carolina Upstate. Prior to that, Lisa was the Academic Director for Computer Applications at Spartanburg Community College, where she served for nine years. During her tenure, she received the Faculty of the Year Award as nominated by the students. She developed curriculum for approximately 40 sections of students at various locations around the Upstate and for online courses. She was a technology presenter at the Cengage Learning and Course Technology national conferences. Lisa and her husband co-founded and operate Stisa Talent Agency in Spartanburg, SC. Stisa Talent Agency represents professional actors and models for TV commercials, TV shows, movies,Internet videos, print ads, and runway. They have a very diverse talent roster. They are proud of the fact that this Black owned, and operated agency is composed of Black, Puerto Rican, White, Greek, Turkish, Brazilian, Haitian, Thai, Jamaican, Mexican, Irish, African, and Hawaiian actors and models. I think that, percentage wise, we’re the most diverse company in the City of Spartanburg! Some of their actors can be seen in commercials for Microsoft, CPI, Belk’s, Cree Lighting, Floor & Decor, and on TV shows for LifeTime, NBC, TV One, and Investigation Discovery. Chosen by President Barack Obama to meet with him personally during his second term (photo available upon request); Recognized by the City of Spartanburg as a Sparkle City Black History Maker; Profiled in the national Essence magazine as Side Hustle of the Month; Recipient of ACHI magazine’s Trailblazer of the Year award; Volunteer Award from Habitat for Humanity; Former Faculty of the Year award recipient at Spartanburg Community College (the firstBlack female to receive that award); Adjunct professor in the Math & Computer Science Department at USC Upstate; 3.7 GPA in Clemson’s PhD Program and member of Phi Kappa Phi; BS from South Carolina State University, MBA from Webster University, Graduate Certificate from the University of South Carolina, and PhD Candidate at Clemson.
Marisa launched Methods in Motion in 2004 as a spin-off from D.E.I. Management Group. Prior to launching Methods in Motion, Marisa held positions that included Sales Director with Marriott Hotels and Regional Sales Manager with IDT/Winstar. It was at IDT/Winstar that Marisa was introduced to D.E.I. Management Group. She was a client for four years before starting her business, which is a spin-off from D.E.I..
For over 14 years, Methods in Motion has helped hundreds of companies from diverse industries grow their businesses. Marisa knows that in life, it’s all about building good relationships. The average client engages Methods in Motion for five to seven years. Marisa has conducted sales training workshops throughout the U.S. and abroad, has been certified by the Leadership Strategies Institute as an “Effective Facilitator” and is regularly published in Independent Dealer Magazine. Marisa also started two separate Manager peer-sharing calls across two unique industries to foster an environment where Methods in Motion clients in similar industries can exchange ideas and help keep one another on track.
Marisa and her husband Troy of 19 years, reside in Atlanta, Georgia with their two dogs, Katie and Maggie. Marisa is actively involved with Mostly Mutts, a non-profit animal rescue organization and also competes in a sport called adventure racing throughout the southeast with her team that has been together for twenty plus years. Marisa received her formal education at Kennesaw State University and holds the rare designation of Atlanta Native.
June Peterson is a professional, online and in-home educator, administrator, and curriculum writer for all ages. June is both dynamic and versatile, with nearly 7 years’ experience as a PHR in Human Resources for one of the fastest growing telecom companies, retail business owner for over 4 years, real estate agent for over 10 years, Academic Dean and Administrator for a private college for over 5 years, and educator for over 10 years. As the daughter of an IBM Media Marketing Manager and Consultant, June grew up with Microsoft and the technology boom as it has changed and developed into what it is today. She continues to teach and tinker with any Microsoft product she can get her hands on and retains her professional status as a Certified Microsoft Office Specialist and Microsoft Innovative Educator.
Bigger Brains Founder and President Chip Reaves is a serial entrepreneur who has started five successful IT companies. An Atlanta native, Chip began fixing computers for small businesses in the1980’s while studying Computer Science at Georgia Tech. After 10 years building a successful IT Service Practice in Atlanta, Chip founded the Computer Troubleshooters USA franchise system alongside Wilson & Suzanne McOrist, which became the world’s largest computer service franchise and received multiple awards from Entrepreneur Magazine, Franchise Business Review, and AllBusiness.com. Chip has been interviewed on TV and other major media on topics related to small business technology and entrepreneurship, including ABC News, BusinessWeek TV, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times, and is a member of Jim Blasingame’s “Brain Trust” on SmallBusinessAdvocate.com. In 2010 Chip was listed among the Top 150 most influential people in small business IT by SMB PC magazine. Chip lives with his wife Maren and step-daughter Meg in Anderson, South Carolina where they also co-own a local Managed Service Provider. In his spare time Chip is very active with his church and local charities, and consults with aid organizations serving Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa.
Bigger Brains co-Founder Maren Reaves has the perfect background for her position as Director of Curriculum: 15+ years in professional education, experience as a curriculum writer for CNN Student News as well as training in acting, comedy, and music. She has degrees in Physics, Theology, Education, and Religion and Social Ethics. When not busy with Bigger Brains Maren creates curricula for Tri-County college, teaches science, math, and orchestra in local schools, and is a member of the Anderson Symphony Orchestra. She also serves on the board of directors of the Anderson School of Theology for Laypersons.
Experienced educator with a demonstrated history of working in the higher education industry. Skilled in Adobe Creative Cloud Applications, Non-linear Editing, Advertising, Photography, and Videography. Strong arts and design professional with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) focused in Arts, Entertainment, and Media Management from University of South Carolina-Columbia. Amy is an Adobe Certified Education Trainer and an Adobe Certified Expert Premiere Pro.
Rebecca Schwartz authored and regularly delivers the “Writing for Results” training program to federal employees. As a plain language consultant, she has conducted plain language testing on important public documents, including theNotice of Privacy Practices for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Ms. Schwartz served as the Executive Director of the Center for Plain Language in Washington, D.C., from 2014-2016.She earned an M.S. Ed. from University of Pennsylvania. Her undergraduate degree is from Wellesley College, with a major in French Studies.
Christina Tankersley has been involved with software education and project management since 1994. Her career includes working on software development and varying manufacturing projects, helping people understand the power of diverse thinking, and continue to learn tools to share with customers, students, and the population at large. Her primary focus for instruction includes:
- Project Management
- Microsoft Software
- Herrmann Brain Dominance Index
- Customer Relationship Management Tools
- Business Analysis
- Information Technology Infrastructure Library
She has a BS in Business from the University of Charleston, an MBA from North Greenville University, and certifications including Project Management Professional (PMP), Comptia A+, Comptia Certified Technical Trainer, and Microsoft Certified Trainer. When not working or studying, she loves to travel, read, and spend time with friends and family.
Kelly Vandever is the founder of Professionally Human, a firm dedicated to helping organizations improve their leadership and communications skills. Kelly’s professional career includes 23 years as a manager, a master’s in management, and experience consulting with over 800 leaders from more than 200 different organizations. Kelly understands that in this attention-deficit, wait-while-I-post-this-on-Facebook world in which we live, leaders need to engage the whole self in their employees, and she shares practical, immediately applicable tools to make connections at all levels. Kelly’s leadership podcast, Permission to Speak, has been listened to on 6 continents (Antarctica is the hold out) and is available through iTunes. Kelly’s clients have included Cox Media Group, Cox Enterprises, the CDC, USAID, INPO, the Georgia Justice Project, The Home Depot, the American Management Association and more. You can reach Kelly for more information about her programs at Kelly.Vandever@ProfessionallyHuman.com.
Peggy Ward has almost 15 years of experience as a Microsoft Certified Trainer, educating professionals of major corporations and small businesses. As a Certified Trainer, Peggy provides training in Microsoft Office applications such as Excel, Access, Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook as well as a variety of other software applications. In addition to computer training, Peggy delivers many professional development classes focusing on leadership, emotional intelligence, communication, time management, customer service and conflict management. Peggy’s interest in helping others, as well as her drive for excellence, knowledge and success have made her an outstanding trainer, teacher and mentor. She is quickly able to put a classroom full of strangers at ease with her warm and friendly personality. She not only has your best interest at heart but considers your success her success.
Bigger Brains Staff
Director of IT Channel Sales