Linda Whipker, PhD
President and Co-Founder
Linda has a PhD in Marketing and Agricultural Economics from Purdue University. In addition to 25 years of marketing consulting, Linda has immersed in alternative education, identifying needs in the community and creating frameworks to meet those needs - workshops, parent groups and non-profit organizations. Her vision for The Forge Initiative is to support our community through Forge where individuals of all ages can explore, learn and lead though the area of STEAM.
Michael is currently a Program Manager of Business Process at Cisco Systems in RTP, NC. Michael was born in Budapest, Hungary, grew up in Moscow, got his undergrad in Israel, and his Masters in the US. Michael received his B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering from the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology and his MBA from NC State’s Jenkins Graduate School of Management. Over years, Michael has worked as a chemical engineer, IT systems developer, supply chain analyst, and IT-Business liaison. What Michael likes the most about The Forge Initiative is the people who run the organization and what they do to get children excited about technology and help equip them with 21st century skills. And it’s simply so much fun being a part of it!
Rob is a Technical Leader at Cisco Systems. He holds a B.S. in Computer Science from NCSU, with minors in French and Russian. Before deciding on software engineering, Rob experimented with various career paths including working for Berlitz International Language Schools as Pedagogical Director, founding 2 small businesses, and working at 2 different high tech startups. Since 1995, he has actively worked in telecommunications R&D, co-authoring over a dozen patents. “Leading is natural. Everyone leads. How to do it best? Join or form a group that shares a purpose you care about, then ask, ask, ask: What does this group do? Contribute however you can, asking again and again and contributing as you ask. You can change the world. It’s a lot of fun."
Karen has worked with her husband developing their online bookselling business since 1998 and homeschools her four children in Cary, NC. Karen is actively involved in mentoring, coaching, and developing a strong community within The Forge Downtown. Karen holds a B.S. in Physical Science with a Mathematics minor from Michigan State University. She taught middle school math and science in Michigan for 5 years. Karen embraces lifelong learning by continuously improving her knowledge in areas of website development, grant writing, fundraising, logistics and organization, bookkeeping, inventory, mentoring and coaching and she encourages others to join her on this journey.
Director and Co-Founder