Steve Brownlee is dedicated to helping teach the next generation of software developers by providing people with a solid understand of the core technologies used today, and then expanding into how to be a valuable contributor.
Brownlee has been developing software since 1980, when he programmed his TRS-80 to do his math homework for him. Since then, he grew up with the world wide web explosion and discovering all the new technologies that got invented to exploit its capabilities. 35 years later, he wants to take all the knowledge and skills he has accumulated and teach a new generation to build the next version of the Web.
Originally a Yinzer (those from Pittsburgh to you), he has adopted Nashville as his new home, having moved here in 2007 and been honored enough to be a small part of the exploding Nashville tech community. Steve firmly believes in the following values when it comes to technology: Equality, Core Competence, Respect, and Creative Destruction.
A graduate of the second NSS web developer bootcamp way back in 2013, Joe is a mid-career convert to the software world after many years as an award-winning radio and online producer, writer, and voice talent. The thread that runs through his career is communication. The dissemination of information for the education and entertainment of a wide audience has always been at the center of his professional life.
After NSS, Joe worked as a front-end developer for Lonely Planet where he learned at the feet of some of the best developers from Nashville and around the world. In January 2015, he became a part of the teaching team for Nashville Software School’s first cohort of part-time night course students. In 2016, he returned to NSS full-time as a lead instructor.
For the past ten years Brenda Long has taught college level courses in web-, interactive-, and digital design. She brings 20 years of graphic arts and web design experience to her teaching, along with a belief that everyone should know how to code. As Brenda describes it, “coding is a way of thinking and problem solving that makes us a better person.”
Brenda enjoys blending her creative interests on the web. Early in her career she created art that utilized technology and incorporated dynamic user experiences. This translated to the web where technology was becoming more publicly accessible in a medium that supported multiple formats (music, photo, visuals, video, etc.). The multidisciplinary aspects of the field fit perfectly with Brenda’s bachelor’s degree in Music and MFA in New Media, and she continues to use technology to find new ways to communicate ideas, art, and solutions.
In 2014 Brenda’s app, Mabell’s Zoo, a counting app for children, was named as a finalist in UX Magazine’s International Design for Experience Awards. The app (available on the App Store and Google Play) includes handcrafted illustrations, original sounds, and Box2D physics. A second app, Mabell’s Days is underway.
Jisie David is a developer with a background in both mobile and full stack web development. An eager learner with an insatiable curiosity, she likes trying out new languages and technologies. She got her first serious introduction to programming with a introductory Java class which eventually led to a degree in Computer Science. She has worked for start-ups in fields such as healthcare, mobile security, etc. throughout her career and believes in collaborative learning from your peers.
Andy has been a professional software developer since receiving a Computer Science degree from Middle Tennessee State University in 2000. Throughout his career, he’s worked across an array of technologies - primarily focusing on web application development - in both the public and private sectors. Andy’s love for software development stems from a love of learning. He’s excited by new ideas, techniques and programming languages. That love of learning grew to include a love of mentoring and teaching. At NSS, Andy has found a place that appeals to both his technical side, as well as his desire to help others grow.
Program Manager | Instructor
Mary van Valkenburg is a data enthusiast with experience in data wrangling and exploration, visualization, and machine learning.
Mary is excited about being a part of Nashville’s first data science bootcamp. If you asked her what she loves more: data or learning, she would have a hard time answering. Mary has a BS in Psychology and an MS in Data Science. She has 18 years of experience in software product development and consulting. She places high value on curiosity, empathy, and honesty.
Michael Holloway is a mathematician turned data scientist who brings over 7 years of teaching experience to Nashville Software School. Michael holds a PhD in Mathematics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and a Masters from Tennessee Technological University. Michael loves the challenge and excitement of keeping up with the ever-evolving landscape of data science. Prior to joining Nashville Software School in April 2019, Michael served as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics at Saint Augustine’s University.
Mahesh Rao gave up life as a neuroscientist after he fell in love with data science at NSS. He’s a lifelong learner who enjoys taking an interdisciplinary approach to new problems, which made data science a perfect fit. Mahesh received his PhD in Biological Sciences from Vanderbilt University before starting as a data scientist at Amira Learning, where he worked to develop their data science pipeline and machine learning models. Mahesh couldn’t stay away from NSS and is excited to be a part of the growing data community in Nashville.
UrLeaka Newsome embodies a unique combination of curiosity and compassion which has driven her career in teaching and research for over 15 years. After completing the NSS Data Science Bootcamp for Cohort 2, she is excited to continue her passion for learning and helping others “tell the story” with data. UrLeaka has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in biomedical engineering and a PhD in Science Education from the University of Georgia. She enjoys using her engineering skills to tackle interesting problems with data and loves the challenge of using data science for non-profits.
I am an Interaction Design & User Experience Specialist. I have years of successes proving that user-centric design is the key to a successful product and a successful team. I work with clients to bring to market commercially successful and user-centric products, businesses, and processes. Over the years I have been lucky to build a portfolio of large company clients like IBM, Roche Diagnostics, and HealthStream as well as small start-ups. I have been a mentor with Nashville Software School focusing on design for developers. I also was faculty and mentor for Jumpstart Foundry’s IT start-up accelerator. I like this mix of large and small, teach and create because it keeps my skills fresh and gives me the chance to keep learning from the experts and the newbies.
I am patient with creativity and innovation but have a low tolerance for inefficiency and money-wasting. After 20+ years of working in the industry, I have seen crazy bubbles of success and failure. One thing that has been true of all successful products and companies over that time is the lesson that “You can’t do it alone and you don’t know everything.”
Partner Development Manager
Kristin McKinney, co-founder of the Nashville Girl Geek Dinner, has joined our team and will lead our efforts to partner with local employers. Kristin has worked with a diverse portfolio of clients for more than 20 years, but she has purposely focused on partnering with innovative start-ups an emerging software and technology companies.
Career Development Specialist
Ashley Canino helps current students plan their careers and provide personalized support for their job search. She comes to NSS with technical recruiting experience in both corporate organizations and staffing agencies in the Nashville area. She began her involvement with NSS during her time as a recruiter at Parallon HCA and placed several of our graduates. From there she fell in love with our mission!
Program Manager, Computing Infrastructure
Nathan Vaughn brings a broad range of experience to his role at NSS. Having worked in a variety of industries over the past 20 years, he has a strong background in computing infrastructure, software development and teaching.
As Program Manager for Computing Infrastructure Programs, Nathan will be responsible for identifying, developing and launching programs in the areas of IT infrastructure, cloud computing, and DevOps. He is excited to develop the IT infrastructure foundations bootcamp launching in cooperation with Apprenti Tennessee.
Since coming to Nashville in 2016, Nathan has engaged in opportunities with the Nashville tech community. He currently serves as a board member at the Greater Nashville Technology Council and the Chattanooga Technology Council. When not building and launching programming initiatives, Nathan enjoys volunteering and supporting his community with his family.
Program Manager, Web Development
Student Services Representative
Jeremiah Vasquez brings a variety of skills and background to our program. Currently he oversees the admissions process and is available to help those who wish to join our program. Jeremiah is also here for those who have questions about our program by managing our info address. Basically, if you have questions about our school and Google can’t help you, you can be sure Jeremiah will have the answer.
Jeremiah comes from a healthcare background, and has a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Norwich University in Northfield, VT. He is involved in his church and local programs. While traveling often with his family due to military service, has lived the Middle Tennessee for the majority of his life and calls Clarksville his home.
Student Services Representative
Student Services Representative / Bookkeeper
Jessica Grande joined NSS as the Community Advocate in March 2020. With a background in digital marketing and a passion for online content, Jessica creates content and messaging for social media while organizing and representing NSS in community outreach efforts and events.
Jessica graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in 2017, where she studied New Media Communications, Marketing and Public Relations. She is a native to Nashville, where she lives with her husband, AJ, and internet famous cat, Cash.
In her free time, Jessica enjoys creating video content, taking photos, and going to coffee shops with friends.
Director of Operations
Laura A. Buchanan brings over 15 years of experience growing and managing not-for-profit organizations to Nashville Software School as the Director of Operations. Her responsibilities include oversight of regulatory compliance, financial management, data collection mechanisms and analysis, human resources, facilities, and personnel management. Prior to joining NSS, Laura served as an Executive Director, Statewide Project Director and consulted with educational institutions and a multitude of other community service organizations. Her educational background includes a BS in Psychology and an MBA along with two professional certifications in human resources management.
Director of Marketing
Mandy Arola joined Nashville Software School in 2017. She is responsible for the marketing and communications strategy and the community building efforts of NSS. In addition to strategic marketing efforts, she is hands-on with content creation, branding, advertising, and website development.
She has more than 12 years of experience in marketing and is an alumna of Seth Godin’s altMBA for business leaders. She is currently serving as the chapter Secretary & Strategist for AMA Nashville. Originally from North Dakota, Mandy has made Nashville home since 2006 and loves Nashville’s vibrant tech and marketing communities.
President & Chief Operating Officer
Amy Henderson brings a deep understanding of the Nashville tech community, a strong commitment to what NSS stands for, and years of progressively greater responsibility as a software professional, manager, executive, and entrepreneur. Amy oversees the day-to-day business operations, including admissions and enrollment, student services, finance and accounting, HR, facilities, employer recruiting and relations, career development, and student placement services. She also serves on the NSS Board of Directors.
Founder and CEO
John Wark founded Nashville Software School in 2012. He believed that Nashville’s technology talent shortage would never be solved by trying to import experienced developers from other cities that also suffer from talent shortages or by waiting for colleges and universities to start graduating enough students and/or appropriately trained students. He also had faith that Nashville had an ample supply of motivated adults with latent aptitude who, if offered a chance, would eagerly pursue a career in technology.
John started programming professionally at age 19 in 1971. He spent a few years in enterprise IT as a developer, analyst and project manager. In 1978 he moved to a startup database software company and spent the next 25+ years in the software vendor world moving back and forth between startups and growth stage companies. He was involved with helping to launch, grow, and/or lead four software startups. As CEO of Continuus Software he raised $30M in venture capital financing, took the company public in 1999, and sold the company in 2000.
John moved to Nashville in 2005 and has been involved with both the local startup and technology communities since that time. For seven years he taught entrepreneurship classes as an adjunct professor at Belmont University. He was an active mentor at Jumpstart Foundry from 2011 through 2014. He continues to be inspired and energized by the pro-active community engagement of Nashville’s technology community.