Meet Our Board of Directors


  Christy Barwick
Treasurer, Core Scientific, Inc.

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
Senior Director Technical Alliances Sales - America's UiPath

Erica Beckstrom is a seasoned and  strategic Executive Sales Leader who is delivering deep experience and broad background into small and medium business.  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 believe that relationships drive every form of success. 

Eric Harris
Board Member
Vice President of Warehouse Operations and Facilities, Costco Wholesale


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
Board Member
Independent Educational Consultant, Your College Matters

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
Board Member
Business Advisory
Corporate Board Member

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.

Patrick Jenny

Board Member
Executive, Entrepreneur, Technology Leader

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
Board Member
Founder and CEO
Artemis Connection

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
Board Member

Managing Partner, Paladin Partners           

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.

As a committed board member, industry and community leader, and innovator, Janis is a market visionary within the technology, higher education, and B2B software and services sectors. She brings strategic insight, a track record of success, collaboration, creativity, and people-connectedness to every role.

In 1996, Ms. Machala launched Paladin Partners to provide strategic business consulting, executive coaching, capitalization advice, interim executive services, and executive team development to start-up and growth companies.

Since then Janis has served as Interim CEO on numerous occasions, each time with the goal of replacing herself with the right long-term executive. Other interim roles have been as VP of Professional Services, VP of Marketing, and VP of Business Development.


Kevin Ross
Board Member

Founding Chairman, FIRST Washington, FIRST Executive Advisory Board

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. 
Click here for an extended biography.

  Susan Saidman
Board Member 

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 lead 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
Board Member
Board Member, ORTOP

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

Board Member 

Rob Short is an effective and strategic volunteer who works closely with organizations who 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 lead 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
Board Member
Manager, Avista

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
Board Member
Director of Engineering, Advanced Wireless and Cellular Products, Itron

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 Tokman
Executive, Entrepreneur, Technology Leader

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
Board Member

VP of Marketing and Business Development

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
Board Member 

Manager, Semi/Digital, Omron Automation - Americas

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 a 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.



Brad Gile

Board Member
Logistics Center Manager, Catepillar, Inc.

Brad Gile

Board Member
Logistics Center Manager, Catepillar, Inc.