Leadership

Linda Whipker, PhD
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 educational theory and practice, identifying needs in the community and creating frameworks to meet those needs - workshops, parent groups and non-profit organizations. Her vision is of a world where every individual gets a fighting chance at building the skills, motivation and leadership to make our very technical world a better place. Founding The Forge Initiative is a step on that path.
Tom Parker
Treasurer
Kelly McChesney
Director and ARTtech Affictionado
Executive Directory of Lump Gallery in Raleigh, NC, formerly the director of Flanders Gallery, Kelly's background in art and leadership at The Forge Initiative are creating excitement about the juxtaposition of technology and art, and collaborations between technologists and artists.
Rob Mackie
Rob Mackie
Vice President and Secretary
Rob, after 16 years as a Technical Leader at Cisco Systems, is now a self-employed author and consultant. He holds a B.S. in Computer Science from NCSU, with minors in French and Russian. Before entering the field of telecommunications as a software engineer, Rob explored 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 20 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."
Adrian Powell
Director
Karen Mellendorf
Karen Mellendorf
Senior Staff
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.
Kate Ivers
Director and Co-Founder
Kate Ivers is a long term transplant to Cary, North Carolina. Kate received her BS in Physical Therapy at Sargent College, Boston University. She spent 8 years as a pediatric physical therapist and then left the professional world to raise children of her own. She returned to physical therapy in 2004 and continues to enjoy working with patients to see them regain function and get relief from pain. Kate partnered with Linda Whipker and their sons to start Team PyroTech and then The Forge Initiative after seeing what an amazing impact FIRST LEGO League had on her son. Each year of her involvement, as The Forge Initiative has grown, she is excited and inspired by the growth each student displays. There is no better payoff than looking back at the end of the season and seeing the changes that take place in each one. It is especially exciting to see students recognize that they can accomplish things that they thought were impossible.

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