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Engineering / Roundups / Software

The 20 most influential technologists in Philadelphia: RealLIST Engineers

We're recognizing this curated list of technologists for both their coding skills and community leadership. Join us to celebrate them and the Awards nominees on Dec. 12.

Armard Bellamy, Lindsey O’Niell, Chris Alfano and Annie Rose Webb. (Canva design by Julie Zeglen)
When you read a news article about a tech company at or elsewhere, chances are the founder or CEO is the person speaking about the company. But behind the new products and launches with new clients, there are engineers bringing the technology to life, and making sure everything works seamlessly.

With the latest edition of our RealLIST series, set out to spotlight some of the most influential technologists within our local communities.

Today, the inaugural RealLIST Engineers Philly is live.

They’re creating, maintaining and securing the software and infrastructure that’s being built in the city each day. And they’re powering the local tech industry as a whole: Whether it’s mentoring younger engineers or leading meetup groups, most names on our inaugural list count community right alongside code as a priority.

So, you might ask, how did we decide who’s real? It started with a public call for nominations, which resulted in about 60 responses. Then, we consulted technologists and looked back through our own coverage. We considered how the person in mind was influential within their organization or community, how they overcame a specific technical challenge and how this person contributed to educating others on technical issues.

(Full disclosure: A few of the folks on the list below are founders or C-suite folks, though mostly at smaller or newer companies. We included them because of their previous technical experience, and because they’re still involved in the day-to-day code shipping or have heavily influenced others’ technical work.)

Join us on Thursday, Dec. 12, as we celebrate them with a happy hour alongside an awards event naming the winners of the Awards — psst, voting is still open through Thursday, Nov. 7 — at Guru’s Center City office.

Get tix

So let’s take a look at the first-ever RealLIST Engineers Philly, in alphabetical order:

Chris Alfano, CTO, Jarvus

Alfano is a staple in Philly’s tech scene as one of the cofounders of development firm Jarvus Innovations and one of the original leaders of civic tech organization Code for Philly. He also represented the chapter nationally as a member of Code for America’s National Advisory Council.

Alfano has been integral in the development of Jarvus’ Slate product, which aims to help public education bring more technology into the classroom. “By using a grassroots, bootstrapping, open-source model, he is also able to offer the product at a much more affordable rate than government or corporate projects, which makes it tangible for the schools,” his nominator said.

Armard Bellamy, software engineering manager, Guru

Bellamy is a Zip Code Wilmington alumnus and current manager at Guru, where he was promoted from a back-end software engineer into a managerial role in about two years. One of his first large-scale projects was improving Guru’s search algorithm, his nominator told us.

Bellamy has been back to Zip Code to help mentor current students, and volunteers with organizations such as Coded by Kids, the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, Year Up Philadelphia and the Urban League of Philadelphia.

“He challenges himself each day to pursue personal goals while also investing in the lives of others,” his nominator said.

Aaron Bauman, senior software engineer, Message Agency

Bauman is a leader in the Drupal community, and the architect and lead contributor to a set of modules to integrate the Drupal CMS with Salesforce CRM. He implemented this module for a number of Message Agency’s nonprofit clients, and has worked with other Drupal developers to expand and maintain the Salesforce suite, per his nominator.

Bauman is the senior-most member of the Message Agency team outside of its founder and is interested in civic tech — especially in improving Philly’s cycling infrastructure: Check out this Twitter bot he made that tweets images and map links of bike lanes in Philadelphia.

Domitrius Clark, UI engineer, machineQ

Clark recently moved to Comcast to work on its IoT communications platform after working as a front-end software engineer for Guru. He’s known for being “incredible influential” in the Reactjs community in Philadelphia, leading and planning workshops for React developers, and being able to expertly explain how his (or another person’s) code works and how their issues can be resolved.

Clark’s nominator said that he is an extremely friendly and helpful person who genuinely wants others in the tech community here to succeed. “He’s a breath of fresh air in the development community,” they said.

Karissa Demi, senior software developer, City of Philadelphia

Demi has been a software developer for the city for the last five years and is a former instructor at the University of the Arts.

She’s been cited as the main driver behind building and managing the City’s new website, and is “one of the best user-centered developers I’ve worked with to date,” her nominator wrote.

Miguel Guerreiro, manager of engineering, Jornaya

Guerreiro “walks the walk” as the leader of Jornaya’s engineering team, where he has organized training, skill sharing, and a company-wide hackathon (something he spoke about at NET/WORK Philly 2019), his nominator wrote. IntegriChain’s previous senior director of engineering also started a Philly-area Spark meetup, after a previous meetup group went dark.

“Miguel came into a company that really employs complex Python, JavaScript, PHP, and SparkSQL in applications that span from big data to client side JavaScript to APIs that process hundreds of millions of requests a day,” his nominator wrote. “And he was able to get his arms around all of that and be contributing, improving, and mentoring folks that had been with the company for years.”

Eric Heydenberk, technical cofounder, QuotaPath

After leading the engineering team that built “Monetate 2.0,” Heydenberk joined QuotaPath, a 2019 RealLIST startup, and now leads a team that makes up half of the current organization. He lead a handful of projects including challenges surrounding SSL certificates and increasing the front-end speed and performance of QuotaPath’s application by 40%, according to his nominator.

Heydenberk also lead an internal, monthlong Python school and regularly recruits from nearby universities, as he believes in keeping talent local, “and will make the upfront commitment to teach and mentor those that are less experienced,” his nominator said.

Cathy Lennon, senior software engineer, Stitch

The current senior software engineer at Stitch is an alumna of local data darling RJMetrics and Magento, where she “was known as a wizard,” her nominator told us.

“Lennon single-handedly reimplemented a particularly slow and expensive part of our data stack (Sqoop),” her nominator said. “The new Clojure microservice she wrote was 50% faster and was 90% cheaper to run.”

Krista Lewis, product design lead, Chatham Financial

Lewis’ nominator championed her effort to bring the first global technology summit to the financial risk management company, bringing more than 100 engineers from around the world to Kennett Square for a weeklong “celebration of technology, knowledge sharing, education/training opportunities and community engagement through volunteerism with local organizations in need.”

The designer also recently started working with TechGirlz, and her nominator said, “she remains approachable and eager to help in many different areas, not just within her specific expertise as a technology product designer.”

Lindsey O’Niell, senior product manager, Crossbeam

O’Niell was the 2019 realLIST startup’s third hire, and she came all the way from Austin from a position at  TrendKite to do so. One of her first projects was defining Crossbeam’s CSS architecture and she spearheads Crossbeam’s quarterly product summit.

She’s since spoken on the 2019 Philly Tech Week panel “Taking Your Product to the Next Level” and at this year’s Lesbians Who Tech Summit in NYC.

“Lindsey’s impact was immediate,” her nominator wrote. “While product management is her specialty — she’s been instrumental to Crossbeam’s product roadmap and vision — she’s got an engineering background and still puts her coding skills to good use on engineering projects.”

Max Pollack, CTO, Leagueside

Pollack has been “a staple in the Philly startup community” for more than 15 years, with stints at companies like eMoney, Zoomer and Canary before joining the 2018 RealLIST startup, where he’s helping to build the team, product and development organization “from the ground up,” his nominator said, while implementing the company’s stack of React, Rails, Postgres and GraphQL.

His nominator said that Pollack has pushed Leagueside’s tech team to be a part of the larger Philly ecosystem and encouraged them to find and mentor other engineers.

Plus, “Max loves code, dance music, and cats (in that order),” his nominator said. (Indeed.)

Ken Rimple, director of training and mentoring, Chariot Solutions

Rimple is a long-time technologist, with 12 years at Chariot Solutions, where he now directs education programming and works to make technical conference and learning sessions more available to the public.

“Ken is one of the key reasons Chariot has been able to stay ahead of the curve technically,” his nominator said. “He is always encouraging people to learn new technologies and being supportive of their efforts through bespoke training and mentoring.”

Bryan Sadler, full stack and IoT developer, Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals

Sadler’s been a developer for TJUH for two years, and is known by colleagues for innovations in medtech and for building an app that made it easy for TJUH employees to donate via their employee ID’s on Jefferson Giving Day, “where a record-setting 3,500 employees donated to students, scientists, researchers, and future medical innovations,” per his nominator.

Sadler was also behind the creation of the Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence Lab within the Digital Innovation Group at Jefferson, “which will focus on exploring the use of ML/AI in the future of healthcare innovation.”

Pam Selle, senior software engineer, HashiCorp

Selle is known in the region for her JavaScript skills as well as being a regular host of tech-related meetups, including Liberty.js and Philly JS Dev Meetup, and for giving one of the most-viewed Ignite Philly talks of all time.

She has also has instructed multiple courses or given talks for programs such as Girl Develop It and BarCamp Philly and was described as “a role model for me and other engineers in Philly” by her nominator, who also said “she makes people feel welcome and appreciated in the community.”

Ricardo Signes, CTO, Fastmail

The long-time developer was the principal maintainer of the Perl 5 language for four years, and is well respected in the Perl community, per his nominator. He became the CTO of Fastmail in 2017, and combined two separate technical teams: one in Philly, the other in Australia.

“Rik is the go-to person for explaining technical issues to non-technical staff,” his nominator said. “He makes sure that technical plans are always well laid out, and that non-technical stakeholders understand exactly what’s going on and why.”

Kathryn Stracquatanio, senior UX engineering manager, Comcast

Stracquatanio was nominated and praised for her work in “disrupt[ing]” the Comcast experience design department, and laid the groundwork to create a new prototyping team within the department. She also instituted a “show and tell” day every other week to bring developers together, giving them the space to talk about their current projects, learnings and struggles.

“Even though Kat is the manager and leader of the XD Prototype team, she is still in the weeds every day, building and creating,” her nominators wrote.

Stracquatanio is also on the board of directors for LibertyJS, the largest JavaScript conference in Philadelphia (happening this week!), which, with her help, has been noticed by the international community of Javascript developers and attracted speakers from across the U.S., the U.K., Australia, Finland and India, per the nominator.

Jon Wagner, CTO, Vivid Seats

Wagner has been involved in some big ventures like GrubHub, eMoneyAdvisor, Zoomer and now Vivid Seats, while being an active angel investor in the Philly community backing up-and-coming startups.

His nominator told us that Wagner has helped countless people become better engineers, problem solvers and prioritizers — “but he also coaches them on how to manage themselves mentally and emotionally, how to manage and recruit others,” they said. “I could give you a list of 25 technology professionals in the area who would take a bullet for Jon because of what he’s done for their careers.”

Annie Rose Webb, director of web development, Hopeworks Camden

Webb’s helped dozens of Camden’s youth get into tech and coding through her work at Hopeworks Camden, and also works with programs like TechnoloCHICAS, an initiative to bring more STEM skills to Latinx communities, and especially young girls. Oh yeah, and she gamified her resume.

“To truly grow our region, we need more engineers like Annie Rose, individuals committed not just to great product, but individuals who are also deeply committed to equality, diversity, and using technology to make the world a better and more equitable place,” her nominator said.

Courtney Wilburn, lead DevOps engineer, Wirecutter

Wilburn has been a lead engineer at The New York Times’ Wirecutter for the last two years, and is an alum of O3 World and Wharton School of Business, where she was a developer and program analyst, respectively.

In recent years, Wilburn has become an influential and frequent speaker, with organizations such as Lesbians Who Tech, WordCamp US and #techInColor.

Michael Winslow, director of software dev and engineering for core applications, Comcast

The DevOps pro was nominated for his work in the architecture, design and decisions around microservices at Xfinity Mobile.

Winslow is also an advocate for personal branding for engineers, is well known for presenting and speaking about the dev community, and is involved in organizations such as Comcast’s BENgineers, a Black professional development within the corporation. “He treats his career as a craft, constantly learning and improving,” his nominator said.

Companies: Chatham Financial / QuotaPath / Thomas Jefferson University / Crossbeam / Jornaya / Stitch, Inc. / LeagueSide / Message Agency / Chariot Solutions / City of Philadelphia / Comcast / Hopeworks / Jarvus Innovations
Series: RealLIST Engineers / RealLIST

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