Jeff Passetti is a cross-media designer and professor, specializing in website design. He teaches at StartFast Code, the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and the School of Information Students (iSchool) at Syracuse University. He recently collaborated on three award-winning journalism websites: Dome35 (, The Fall Workshop (, "Family. Life. Project" ( For the past ten years, Jeff has worked on all types of multimedia projects, producing logos, illustrations, letterpress invites, brochures, posters, websites, animations, and clothing. Jeff’s current passion is exploring collaborations, whether it’s combining journalism with web design (News21), web development merged with business concepts (Syracuse Student Sandbox), or multimedia students with web design (collaborating with other classes). Currently, when Jeff isn’t working or teaching, he’s probably playing Geodefense, watching Top Gear BBC, making vector monsters in Adobe Illustrator, or drawing in his sketchbooks. Jeff lives in Syracuse, NY with his wife Jackie, who is also a teacher and an artist.

Max Mathews is Lead Developer at Tuzag, Inc. and Founder & CEO of MZM Tech LLC.  Max Matthews is a Bachelor's degree candidate in Syracuse Universities' College of Information Studies. Max has experience with PHP, Javascript, SQL, Java, Objective C, Python, Grails (Groovy), Twitter Bootstrap, MeteorJS, Sencha ExtJS, Wordpress and more. Although he can spend quite a few hours behind a computer as a full stack developer, Max prides himself in his entrepreneurial spirit, management experience, and communication skills. In addition to programming, Max explores his hobbies in video & stage tech while staying active biking, cross country skiing, and sailing. He lives in Syracuse.

Mike Vormwald is a professional software engineer who is passionate about building high quality software with well documented, scalable, reusable code. Skilled at identifying a client's problem and identifying the best solution, Mike is constantly trying to learn more about the software industry, staying up to date with new software technologies and techniques. Mike is a compassionate teacher, who brings a sense of fun to his classes. He is the organizer for Open Hack Syracuse, which occurs the second Tuesday evening each month.

Christy Presler: I specialize in designing and building enterprise level web applications. I love challenges and enjoy leveraging modularity to create designs and code that scales well.

I'm a user experience nerd, who likes reading about accessibility and user centered design. I'm equally passionate about design and technology, which means I'm just as happy to discuss typography and color theory as third-party API integrations, or the latest JavaScript framework. Collaborating with teams where I get to do both on a regular basis is great!

I love to learn. I earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Washington University in St. Louis, where I discovered my love of letterpress, typography, and effective design. After completing my degree this grew into a passion for well executed and creative design on the web. Designing for the web lead to learning to build my own designs. I found the resources I needed to learn to code, and discovered how awesome the creative problem solving process of development is. In my opinion, the best projects are the kind that challenge me to draw on new tools and combine them with a little, or a lot of, ingenuity to create a solution that solves a real problem.

I'm also an outdoor enthusiast, an Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiker, an avid tea drinker, a book lover, and appreciator of pet rabbits. These days, when not at my computer working on a design or developing an application, I'm often found curled up with a book or working on a woodblock print.

Management TEam

Chuck Stormon is a mentor, author, serial entrepreneur, board member, investor, computer engineer. He cofounded StartFast Code to provide a locally-grown, free-range, sustainable solution for training developers in Upstate New York. Chuck is Managing Director of StartFast Venture Accelerator LLC and CEO of RushTera, Inc. He taught himself to code in 6th grade in order to develop computer games. Since then he's gotten BS and MS degrees in Computer Engineering and built five companies in the fields of artificial intelligence, the Internet, telecommunications, electric utilities, and software as a service. When not mentoring startups, Chuck enjoys movies, canoeing, long walks, meditation and bragging about his kids. He and his wife live with their cat in Cazenovia, NY.

Nasir Ali is a mentor, serial entrepreneur, board member, investor, community builder. He cofounded StartFast Code to build a more vibrant startup and developer community in Upstate New York. Nasir is Managing Director of StartFast Venture Accelerator LLC and CEO of Upstate Venture Connect. He serves as Executive Director of the Seed Capital Fund of Central New York, and is on the Boards of the Upstate Venture Association of New York and Interface Foundry, Inc. Nasir co-taught the course in technology entrepreneurship at Syracuse University which eventually led to the establishment Syracuse Student Sandbox. He moved to Syracuse from Washington, DC, where he was an associate at Booz Allen Hamilton working on billion dollar initiatives. Nasir co-founded a mobile commerce company and an offshore technical writing company. Before that, Nasir turned around large-scale software, telecommunications, and systems integration projects for Fortune 100 companies. He received his MBA in finance and operations management from Yale University’s School of Management, where he helped initiate a joint master’s degree program in industrial environmental management. Nasir graduated from Princeton University with a degree in physics and a concentration in economics. He and his family live in Fayetteville, NY.


Elisa Miller-Out is an entrepreneur, investor and community builder. She’s currently COO of Women 2.0 and co-founder of CourseQ, a chatbot startup. She’s also managing director of the Finger Lakes Fund, an early stage angel investment fund.

Elisa recently had a successful exit from Singlebrook, a custom software services firm that she co-founded and ran for 10 years. Singlebrook has Fortune 500, higher education and nonprofit clients from all over the world including: Cornell, Yale, Henry Schein, Hitachi, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund and more.

Elisa has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, Forbes and other publications, and she speaks about technology and entrepreneurship at events across the country. Prior to founding Singlebrook, Elisa founded two other companies and worked in a variety of industries in New York City. She has also founded several networking groups and regularly serves as a mentor and judge for startup accelerators and competitions. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Barnard College of Columbia University.

When she’s not working, Elisa enjoys local foods, Crossfit, swimming in waterfalls, reading and spending time with her husband and two daughters and her big extended family. She can be found on Twitter at @ElisaMillerOut

Doug Crescenzi has an eclectic background. It began in information security, passed through academia and then proceeded to product development, entrepreneurship and startups. Doug spent three-plus years in Washington, DC working at The MITRE Corporation - a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) - as a Lead Information Security Engineer/Scientist. He was a graduate teaching assistant supporting an introductory information science and technology course at the Syracuse University iSchool. During the summer of 2012, Doug worked as a graduate assistant at the Syracuse Student Sandbox; a business incubator for Central New York student startups. Today, Doug runs Hack Upstate and is cofounder of smart sprinkler company, Lono.

John Talarico is a developer trapped in a designer’s body…or sometimes the other way around. Even though he designs and builds complex data-driven systems, he won’t sleep until every pixel is in its place. Because he knows that usability, look, and feel can transform an application from functional (ho-hum) to Killer. And if you want to get him going, just ask him about erroneous punctuation in national advertising.

Taking a slightly circuitous route, John found his way into technology through design. In 1992 he started his career as a advertising artist, though he was trained in computer graphics and procedural animation. During the web land-rush of the late 90s he found opportunities to meld his love of design with his fascination with technology. After a few side trips doing enterprise integration and software component product development, he teamed up with Dave Sanders to form Avenue80.

John is also the Syracuse CoWorks Community Manager, so introduce yourself if you want to learn more about coworking or getting tapped into the entrepreneurial scene in Central New York.

Dan Taylor is a design focused training professional with experience developing and delivering media rich instructor lead and asynchronous eLearning for healthcare and technology professionals. Some of Dan's clients include hospitals, universities, public safety agencies, continuing medical education providers, and multiple start ups. He is an active member of the Central New York Chapter of the Association for Talent Development (CNY ATD) and proud to serve on their Train-the-Trainer committee. Training I developed for an onboarding program was nominated for a CNY ATD best practice award. My training development and delivery work is conducted through Expressive Consulting.

Additionally, I have 9 years experience in Emergency Medical Services as a pre-hospital care provider and instructor. I have served as the Director of Community Relations and the Public Relations Officer for two community focused, non-profit ambulance services as well as working as a special event medic, ski patroller, incident commander, and CPR instructor. I continue to teach and serve in this discipline through Frozen Medical, my CPR and First Aid training company.