“I believe that technical education is the GI Bill of our time. It is the path to equality.”

Kakui Srivastava, VP of Product Management and Marketing, GitHub

Why Connected Academy

As a cohort of professionals from the tech industry, we know the power of digital technology to create jobs both within a company and as a freelancer and we believe those jobs can happen in Nevada County. Connected Communities Academy is an initiative driven by local residents who love our community and our lifestyle. However, we realize that there HAS to be a growth and diversification of economic opportunities for us to continue to thrive in these beautiful Sierra foothills.

Who Is The Academy For?

It's Not Just for Geeks! There is an option here for just about everyone. The Academy is for anyone who also loves living here and would like to find work that will provide them and their families with a long term sustainable living in a high growth, high wage industry. We offer you new training options in the field of technology; information about tech careers and how to get one; and support and advice from industry experts on how navigate the ecosystem.

Founding Partners

Nevada County CalWORKS Program

Nevada Union Adult Education

NCERC Talent Connection Task Force

Supporting Partners

NoRTEC (Northern Rural Training and Employment Council)

Connecting Point - Nevada County Works Program

Nevada County Information & General Services Agency

Placer School for Adults

Sierra College

Sac VR MeetUP

Meet Our Team

We are fortunate in Nevada County to have a wealth of tech talent who have stepped forth to help us with this project. What some educational organizations call teachers or instructors, we refer to as mentors. They are here to assist you every step of the way in your self-learning process.

Shavati Karki-Pearl - Master Juggler

ShavatiShavati Karki-Pearl has  20+ years of combined experience in the fields of Global Business Development, Vocational Education Administration, and Workforce Development. Along with being the Founding Director of Connected Communities Academy she serves as the Career Technical Liaison for the Sierra Joint Consortium for Adult Education and volunteers as a Commissioner for the Nevada County Adult and Family Services Commission.

“After living in multiple countries, I have finally found a home in Grass Valley and am so very pleased to be raising a 4-year old boy in this wholesome environment. I am very passionate about finding solutions for creating long term – sustainable living for him as well as the multi-skilled people that live in this beautiful region. Like myself and our mentors, those people who chose to be here, need to have all the options they can to make a decent living to support themselves and their families and I believe that tech education can open that doorway for those who aspire to do so. I have worked very diligently to unearth the gems that are our mentors and are ready and willing to share their knowledge, skills and experience to make you as successful as them. Now it’s up to you to take this opportunity and take their hand and open the doors to your own freedom.”

John McDaniel

John Mc Daniel

Mentor: CodeIgnitor, PHP, MYSQL

John has a wife of almost 20 years and 4 children. His background is in Physics and different types of engineering. He has a B.S. in Physics and Structural Engineering and a Masters degree in Engineering Design and has worked as a Test Engineer, Financial Advisor, Physics Teacher and Software Engineer. He got into programming as a Physics student in college, continued learning as a teacher where he taught some Java, Solidworks, PBasic and some others. Most recently he has written integrations for Riskalyze in Auburn.

I am mentoring because programming is becoming more and more necessary for many areas of industry. Jobs in programming fields are abundant and rewarding. I also enjoy teaching people who want to learn.


Ryan Trauntvein

Mentor: GitHub & LAMP Stack

Twitter | LinkedIn

RyanRyan's 11+ years of experience as a Linux administrator and consulting professional has given him a unique and extensive proficiency in a broad range of IT systems and methodologies. As the Senior Infrastructure and DevOps Engineer at Novacoast, and most recently as an Enterprise Support Engineer at GitHub, Ryan has acted in roles such as network admin, external consultant, project maintainer and manager, lead engineer, and solutions architect.

Ryan is an active contributor to Open Source, and has spoken at local meetups as well as SUSECON 2015 in Amsterdam on Docker and DevOps methodologies.

"I am excited to give students more exposure to real-world software development and systems, and inspire new engineers and developers to begin participating in open source development."

Shawna Hein

Mentor: User Experience Design

ShawnaA native of Nevada County, Shawna went to college and grad school out of county, obtained degrees in Computer Science and Information Systems, then worked in the bay area for 7 years before moving back home. She now runs her own consulting agency designing and prototyping software and smart phone apps. Shawna is excited to bring more Nevada County natives into the exciting and lucrative tech field, and is especially interested in encouraging women and minorities.

Cat Scholz

Mentor: WordPress.com


Cat has been a WordPress coach, developer, consultant and trainer for over eight years. She has worked with authors, entrepreneurs, arts organizations, non-profits, "mad" scientists, musicians, artists, small businesses, healers and folks working for positive change. Her passion is working with clients to create the look and functionality that they want while teaching them how to maintain and update their sites. She has taught hands on classes on the self-hosted version of WordPress through Sierra College Community Education and the Placer School for Adults. In addition to her WordPress work, she is also a singer-songwriter, and enjoys being a mother to 2 children ages 5 and 14, hiking, biking, dancing, roller skating and cooking.

DJ Powersdjpowerheadshot

Mentor: Fundamentals of DJ Performance

DJ Power has been spinning vinyl since the age of 12.  Growing up in the depths of New York City and New Jersey in the 1970's, he was raised direclty in the core of where Hip Hop Culture was born. It all started when his cousin Darryl showed him how to transform a household record player into a party machine.  From that point forward it was destined for Power to become one of the greatest DJs of all time. 

The current Hip Hop heroes of that time are what inspired Power to create his own crew, called "Jam Force".  As he built his skills and grew older, that changed into the "Cut Crew", which was formed into the "Super Lovin 4" who were all Cold Crush Brother fanatics.  Back then, before he was Dj Power, he was known as "Dj Sure Shot". 

He would have never imagined in his wildest dreams at that time that years later he would wind up meeting Grandmaster Caz of the Cold Crush Brothers and that Caz would take him under his wing to then become an official member of the Cold Crush Crew.

This was a major launching point in his music career that brought him all across the world to attain a level of such respect that he is sought after for DJ lessons and software production. He has now brought his lifetime of expertise to Nevada City where he is now offering official DJ lessons to all those willing to learn.

Alexander Ditaalex-dita

Mentor: Digital Self Defense

Raised in Truckee, Alexander J. Dita has over a decade of experience in systems administration, web development and education. His articulate and humorous approach to teaching technical concepts makes learning easier and more fun. Becoming a freelance consultant after college, his expertise in LAMP, cloud infrastructure, e-commerce, and systems security has helped small and medium sized businesses grow unconstrained by technology. His emphasis is to empower students to have the resources and confidence to achieve their career goals.


Barbara Bitner - Project Manager

Mentor: Photoshop Creative Cloud Clinic

Barbara by MattSMALLBarbara has over 20 years in Education Administration including 10 years running a Continuing Education Program at Maui Community College, 8 years creating and administering a summer fine art program for the prestigious Oxbow School in Napa, California and 6 years consulting for the Katherine Michiels School in San Francisco. While at the College, she co-founded 3 highly successful programs all designed to integrate traditional artist tools with technology. They were: Cybercamp, a summer youth program; Art-Tech Maui, a nationally attended conference to explore the art and technology interface; and USC on Maui, a program providing USC film and animation classes to Hawaii residents. She was deeply involved in the marketing all programs including designing and maintaining the organization's brand, creating and implementing marketing plans and producing web and print collateral.

Al McBride

Mentor: Software Development

BrianAl is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley BSEE and MSEE programs. Some of the positions he has held include: IBM Senior Engineer specializing in Computer Aided Design software and Integrated Chip Development; Director of Technology at Tandem Computers; Founder and CEO of VisionSoft, a company producing software quality tools; Vice President of Enginering at High Country Tech; and (currently) Founder and Chief Technology Officer for SMART Light System in Grass Valley.

Edward Rotberg

Mentor: Game Development for Virtual Reality

Ed RotbergEdward Rotberg has a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering: Computer Engineering from the University of Michigan.

Ed has 30 years of experience in the video game industry having been directly involved in the development of over thirty (30) commercial video games. He has worked on a wide variety of game platforms including coin-operated arcade games, console game systems, PC games, location based entertainment systems, online web-based entertainment, and mobile platforms.

He has been invited to participate on many panels of game designers at a variety of industry conferences including the Game Developers Conference. He has also been interviewed numerous times for books, magazines, and video documentaries on the history of video games and the industry and was a contributor to the “Game Development Essentials” book series.

He is a member of the invitation-only group BOSSLEVEL, which consists of the world’s top 100 game developers as well as being a charter member of the International Game Developers Association, the premier association of its kind, since 1994. He received the Lifetime Achievement in Video Games award from the Classic Gaming Expo in 2004.

Marcy Boyle & Rachel Holzman

dpyxphotoMarcy Boyle and Rachel Holzman met at a film class at Columbia University and decided to work under the joint moniker, Dpyx. Dpyx successfully released their feature film thriller, NOBODY CAN COOL, a graphic novel and film noir influenced thriller, that they wrote, produced, and directed together, in the US, Canada, and the UK.

Since they began to produce live action 360 virtual reality, their work has been invited to show at art galleries, VR film festivals, universities, expos and conferences.  Last year they showcased their film at FIVARS, the Festival of International Virtual and Augmented Reality Stories: the first Canadian festival to showcase a new wave of filmmakers and content producers who are pushing the boundaries of VR narrative.This year, they founded a startup, Hot Bit VR, a virtual reality destination with a comedy slant. They are very happy to be in Nevada City to develop their startup with the Green Screen Institute’s accelerator program.


Sebastian Romanet

Mentor: Virtual Reality Integration

SebastianSebastian Romanet is the Director of VR at Talaris Technologies. He is a hardware emulator and simulator developer and also teaches classes currently at Hackers Lab, Rocklin.

Steve Hurley

Mentor: IT Tech & Networking

Steve Hurley HeadshotSteven Hurley has 30+ years of combined experience in Broadcast & Electronics Technology, Computer Information Systems, and Business Process Engineering. Currently an Adjunct Professor of Business & Technology at Sierra College, Steve is also a licensed Real Estate Broker and Appraiser.

“Future prosperity in the foothills will depend upon building a collaborative connected base of technology companies that honor the spirit of our pioneer forbearers.

The entrepreneur-driven digital ecosystem of tomorrow will depend on self-directed exploratory learning tools that can train flexible, adaptable knowledge workers equal to the task.

Just as the original settlers of this region worked together in groups to provide safety and support to explore new things, so must today’s digital explorers band together into efficient learning communities that can handle constant change and cooperate as well as compete.

Facilitating, and (in turn) being inspired by individuals imbued with these capabilities, and imparted upon this mission, is personally meaningful to me.

Technologies evolve but individuals that achieve honorable outcomes usually look much the same. They lean forward into the unknown (dream), thoroughly explore the terrain (learn), and then contribute as individuals (do).”

Alan Moore

Mentor: Introduction to Web Development

Alan has been writing software for 40 years and has a variety of industry experience working for innovative startups and industry leaders in the Silicon Valley and beyond. Alan currently works as a software architect at AJA Video Systems designing and building professional video/broadcast hardware and software systems. He previously worked at companies such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Harman International, Intel, PayPal, Octel and other tech firms.

His long time side project for more than a decade has been researching, planning and prototyping a new type of software development community based on cooperatives.



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