Beacon Authors

AJ Pope Profile

AJ Pope

Senior Visual UX Designer

AJ is Beacon’s lead graphic designer for Higher Ed, leveraging his extensive experience with design and marketing for websites, rebranding projects, print material and video. He brings a nice mix of today’s technology and design concepts that are brand-attentive and user friendly. AJ earned a BA in Media from UNC-Greensboro.

Amy Mason Profile

Amy Mason

Digital Marketing Strategist

Amy earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, then pursued her career in digital marketing. With over 13 years’ experience in digital marketing, Amy has partnered with local small businesses and worldwide brands to help them achieve marketing goals. With her background in analytics, Amy combines her digital marketing experience and love of data insights to drive decision-making strategy.

Andrea Cole Profile

Andrea Cole

Director, Digital Marketing Services

With 13+ years of SEO, Paid Search and Google Analytics experience, Andrea is Beacon’s chief digital strategist and works directly with our Higher Education clients and large commercial accounts. Andrea earned a BA in Communication Studies from the University of NC at Chapel Hill, is certified in Google Analytics and is invited annually to Google’s exclusive GA Summit.

Anna Sizemore Profile

Anna Sizemore

UI Developer

Anna is a UI Developer with a master’s degree in Interactive Media from Elon University. Anna has worked with on large scale higher education projects for clients such as Husson University, and on smaller scale ones at Elon. She’s also worked on international projects as a web developer, living and working in Cuba. At Beacon, Anna focuses on developing web pages that meet web accessibility and W3C standards.

Ashley Collins Profile

Ashley Collins

UX Visual Designer

Ashley is one of the newest additions to the Beacon design team. Her experience working with print design for non-profit organizations, as well as her passion for psychology and user experience, give her a unique take on digital and web design. Ashley earned her BFA in Graphic Design from Appalachian State University and works to combine client goals with user-friendly, unique designs.

Austin Johnson Profile

Austin Johnson

Digital Marketing Analyst

Austin Johnson is a Digital Marketing Analyst. He has a B.S. in Communications with a Concentration in Advertising from Appalachian State University. Austin worked for several years at various agencies, dealing with CRM data and social media content creation. At Beacon, he works closely with Bassett Home Furniture, Bell Partners, burton + Burton, Kane Residential and New Jersey Resources. Austin enjoys working in SEOClarity, Screaming Frog, Google Search Console and Google My Business to help drive online traffic for his clients and help them be successful.

Ben Bourgeois Profile

Ben Bourgeois

UI Developer

Ben is a UI Developer at Beacon Technologies, working to build and deploy websites for higher education. With over three years of experience in the space, he holds an A.S. in web development and mobile device programming, and enjoys the technical and artistic side of the work.

Bradley Burton Profile

Bradley Burton

Project Manager

Bradley is a Senior Project Manager at Beacon, with more than 15 years of experience in the information and development fields. In his time at Beacon, he’s worked with clients such as Carolina Kidney Associates, RSVP, Townsend Restoration, and the University of North Alabama. Bradley earned a B.S. as a double major in both Computer Information Systems and Business Administration from Guilford College.

Brandon Canter Profile

Brandon Canter

Senior Lead UI Developer

After earning his AAS degree in Advertising and Graphic design, Brandon worked as a graphic designer in an agency before transitioning to development. He is involved with most all of our Higher Ed clients, who benefit from his unique blend of creative and technical experience over the last 10 years.

Carolyn Garavente Profile

Carolyn Garavente

Digital Marketing Specialist

Carolyn is a Digital Marketing Specialist with over 7 years of experience ideating, forming, and executing paid and organic digital marketing campaigns. She graduated from High Point University in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication. During her time as a student, she pioneered paid social media campaigns in various internships, including one with a documentary filmmaker. After graduating, she built her portfolio of work and experience on the client and agency side, executing and analyzing paid media strategies for clients including Natuzzi, LYCRAbrand®, STAINMASTER®, Four Seasons, Walmart, and others, before joining Beacon in 2020.  

Deb Paylor Profile

Deb Paylor

Senior Project Manager

Deb's clients benefit from her wealth of knowledge in website redesign, accumulated throughout a successful, 18+ year career in IT with companies like AT&T, Lucent Technologies, IBM and Graphik Dimensions. Customers find her mix of people skills, positive attitude and business sense dependable and comforting. She has managed website redesigns for Lees McRae College and Del Mar College, as well as projects for Macomb Community College (online new student orientation feature) and Scranton University (News Hub & e-Newsletter). Deb earned a B.S. in Information Science from East Tennessee State University and an M.S. in Computer Science from Kansas State University.

Darin Humbard Profile

Darin Humbard

Project Manager

Darin Humbard is a Project Manager with Beacon.

Emily Ledbetter Profile

Emily Ledbetter

Senior Account Executive

Emily Ledbetter joined the Beacon team as an Account Executive after a successful, 10-year stint in the banking industry. She excels in understanding the business and technical requirements of website redesigns and digital marketing projects for our college and university customers. You're likely to find her exploring these subjects at many of the major Higher Ed conferences. Emily has built lasting relationships with long-term Beacon clients, such as Hawaii Pacific University, Michigan State University, Lees McRae College and Birmingham Southern University among others. She holds a bachelor's degree in Business Administration and Economics from Greensboro College.

Heather Grimsley Profile

Heather Grimsley

Marketing Manager

Heather Grimsley is Beacon’s Marketing Manager, overseeing Beacon’s marketing efforts including our websites, email campaigns, and tradeshows. Heather brings over seven years of experience in Higher Education, most recently as the Marketing Communications Manager at Ithaca College.

James Kite Profile

James Kite

Senior Transactional Developer

James has served as the Senior Transactional Developer since July 2012, adding more than 15 years of overall IT experience to the Beacon team. He specializes in .Net and Sql Servers and has a strong knowledge of Cascade Server development, as well as Velocity programming. James holds a B.A. in Computer Information Systems from High Point University.

Jeremiah Barrett Profile

Jeremiah Barrett

Digital Marketing Specialist

Jeremiah is a Digital Marketing Specialist, with over 15 years of experience in inbound marketing, marketing automation, and social media marketing for both B2B and B2C. He’s also a full stack web developer with a concentration on emerging marketing technology like psychographics, Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Artificial Intelligence (Ai). Jeremiah has worked with clients ranging from mom and pop businesses to start-ups to major corporations like Chase Bank, Dicks Sporting Goods, Dell Computers, EA Games, Sonos, Intuit TurboTax, Bell Canada, and The Department Of Health and Human Services (DHHS). He also holds certifications in digital marketing, gamification, software development, web development, and project management, and he began at Beacon in 2020.

John Scaramuzzo Profile

John Scaramuzzo

Senior Vice President, IT Services & Co-Founder

John is the Senior VP of Beacon’s IT Services Group, a veteran technology strategist, innovative engineer, and creative entrepreneur with nearly three decades of distinguished service and experience in platform and server technologies, e-commerce, business consulting, and customer service management. Before co-founding Beacon, he worked for 12 years at AT&T, where he was instrumental in building the infrastructure to support AT&T’s global corporate intranet in the mid-90’s while also supporting AT&T’s HR HW/SW/NW. John architected Beacon’s data center, serving hundreds of clients worldwide for web hosting and software to support content management, custom applications and high-end e-commerce for Higher Education institutions and businesses. He also created Beacon’s IT Services division (BITS) which provides managed services for desktops, servers and networks across many states. John also served as an IT consultant on government contracts through subcontracts with Accenture and KPMG, and earned his B.S. in Computer Science/Mathematics from the College of Staten Island.

John Vine Profile

John Vine

Lead Software Engineer

John carefully crafts a great user experience for the many types of visitors to college and university websites, while maintaining focus on best practices. He specializes in custom HTML, CSS and JavaScript, including server side logic for more complex solutions. Over the last 6 years, John has helped to optimize websites for Beacon clients Clark Atlanta University, Husson University, Hawaii Pacific University, CSU Pueblo, Lees McRae College. John holds a bachelor's degree in Game Development from Full Sail University.

John Wallwork Profile

John Wallwork

Senior Systems Engineer

John Wallwork is a Senior Systems Engineer. He has a BS in Chemistry and has taken graduate courses in chemistry and computer science at NC State University. John has over 16 years of IT experience and has the following software skills: VB, ASP, .NET, C, C++, XML, Delphi, SQL, Crystal Reports, VMS, Unix, MS Access, SQL Server

Jordan Burleson Profile

Jordan Burleson

Chief Marketing Strategist - Digital Advertising

Jordan leads the paid search team at Beacon, helping clients like The Princeton Review and Bassett Furniture achieve positive growth and ROI through their digital marketing programs. In addition to his 10+ years of digital marketing experience in traditional and digital marketing mediums, Jordan holds a certification in Google Analytics. He is also a Google Advertising Certified Professional in search, display, shopping, and video campaigns. A graduate of Appalachian State University, Jordan earned a B.S. in Communication with a specialization in Broadcast and Advertising.

Josh Barrer Profile

Josh Barrer

Digital Content Specialist

Josh is a Digital Content Specialist at Beacon, with over 10 years of experience in marketing and communications. He’s worked with clients including Verizon, AAA, Walmart, Sysco, Interstate Batteries, and more, creating websites, magazines, social posts, books, radio ads, and video. An adept writer, editor, and storyteller, he collaborates with clients and colleagues to create and elevate content that engages, connects, and drives audiences to action. Josh has an B.A. in English from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Keana Massey Profile

Keana Massey

Director, UX Design and Development

Keana has led and consulted for over 35 Higher Education projects and is Beacon’s expert in CMS and Accessibility. She specializes in the analysis, design, and implementation of websites with passion on user experience, accessibility, multi-device interactions and technical best practices. Keana earned an Associate’s Degree in Web Technologies from Guilford Technical Community College and regularly presents at Higher Ed conferences.

Kent Dickinson Profile

Kent Dickinson

Sales Executive

Kent is a web design and digital marketing executive with more than 25 years of experience in business development, strategic planning, operations, customer service, and sales management. He has worked in a variety of industries, including educational publishing, digital printing, direct marketing, consulting, financial services, among others. He has worked with many colleges and universities around the country and is a strong proponent of strategic partnership, performance management, and customer service/communication. Kent earned a BS in Business from Wake Forest University and his MBA from the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School.

Logan Ray Profile

Logan Ray

Chief Strategist - Digital Optimization

Logan is a digital marketing strategist with 8 years of experience. He is a recognized SEO expert, a top-rated Moz Community Contributor, leads SEO workshops at conferences, presented SEO tactics and strategy to Wake Forest University graduate students and carries GA certification. Logan earned a BS in Marketing from UNC-Greensboro.

Luke Pajer Profile

Luke Pajer

Digital Marketing Analyst

Luke Pajer is a Digital Marketing Specialist with a M.A. in Management Degree from Wake Forest University, and a B.S. in Geology Degree from Baylor University. Luke is passionate about data analysis, which combined with his published research experience in the realm of geoengineering brings a unique perspective to the Beacon team.

Mark Dirks Profile

Mark Dirks

CEO/Senior Vice President & Co-Founder

Before becoming Beacon's CEO, Mark climbed through the technical ranks, starting as an application developer for RJ Reynolds. He then spent 15 years at AT&T, where he led the creation of one of the world's first corporate intranets. Co-founding Beacon in 1998, he has driven consistent growth, long-term partnerships and a unique culture for 20 years. Mark was instrumental in forming relationships with Google, Accenture, KPMG Consulting, Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Department of Education (when Beacon developed FAFSA on the Web). These relationships during the company's early years, coupled with Mark's leadership and business development skills, foreshadowed the growth of Beacon's Higher Education portfolio over the last 10 years.

Mark holds a B.S. in Mathematics from Wake Forest University and an M.S. in Computer Systems from Kansas State University. He serves on the Board of Directors for the North Carolina Technology Association, was named Small Business Person of the Year by the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce and received the Entrepreneurial Success Award by the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce.

Michelle Smith Profile

Michelle Smith

Human Resources Manager

Michelle is Beacon’s Human Resources Manager, specializing in HR Life Cycle. She attended North Carolina A&T State University and Strayer University to earn her bachelor’s degree and has a master’s degree from Strayer University in Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resources Management. At Veraxx Engineering Corporation in Chantilly, Va., she successfully collaborated with stakeholders to construct and manage Veraxx’s new HR department. Michelle relocated to Greensboro in 2020 to bring her HR experience and expertise to Beacon.

Mike Wood Profile

Mike Wood

Senior Lead Software Engineer

Michael Wood has been with Beacon 9 years. He provides transactional programming expertise mostly in VB.NET and SQL Server. In the past he worked in the corporate worlds of AT&T and IBM.

Olivia Earley Profile

Olivia Earley

Digital Marketing Specialist

Olivia is a Digital Marketing Specialist and Social Media Manager, managing day-to-day PPC tasks for a number of clients, as well as overseeing all of Beacon’s respective social media channels. Olivia brings over 3 years of social media management experience, most recently as the accounts manager at Social Moxy.

Tony Cooler Profile

Tony Cooler

Senior Project Manager

Tony Cooler is a Senior Project Manager with over 20 years’ experience managing digital development and comprehensive marketing campaigns for international brands including Walt Disney World, Verizon, and Wells Fargo. She joined Beacon in 2020 and brings her expertise in client service and social media marketing to help support a wide range of clients in the financial, residential and furniture industries. Tony has a degree in Marketing from Florida State University.

Tracy Dirks Profile

Tracy Dirks

Senior Vice President, Web Development Services

Tracy is the Senior VP over Beacon’s Web Development Services division. She brings 30+ years of Information Technology experience to her clients after serving as a Technical Manager for Bell Labs and the Chief Systems Architect for AT&T’s HRIS. She specializes in strategic planning, intranets, systems architecture and project management. She has led major Higher Education projects at Beacon for over 10 years for institutions such as the University of North Georgia, Colorado State University Pueblo, Winston-Salem State University, California State University East Bay, Husson University and more. Tracy is a trusted source of guidance to her clients because she is uniquely skilled in correlating technical solutions to business needs. Tracy earned a B.S. in Computer Science at NW Missouri State, and a M.S. in Computer Systems from Kansas State University. She regularly attends and occasionally presents at the major Higher Education trade shows. Tracy was selected for the Leadership Greensboro Development Program and was recognized by the Triad Business Journal in their Women in Business edition.

Victor Ayala Profile

Victor Ayala

Digital Content Specialist
Victor is a Digital Content Specialist at Beacon, with more than 10 years' experience in public affairs, crisis communication, and marketing. He began his writing career as a U.S. Army photojournalist, covering troops in North America, South America, and Iraq. Since then, he's written for clients like AAA, Walmart, U.S. Army Reserves, and UNC Greensboro on social media, websites, print and digital magazines, and video. Victor has a B.A. in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Wayne Garrett Profile

Wayne Garrett

Senior UI Developer

Wayne Garrett is a content strategist with over 5 years of experience developing, testing, and managing higher-education websites. After graduating with a B.A. in Communication Studies from Lynchburg College in Virginia, Wayne worked as a Web Content Specialist at Miami University of Ohio before joining Beacon in 2016. At Beacon, he specializes in user experience for higher education with a focus in content strategy and web accessibility.

Zedric Myers Profile

Zedric Myers

Senior Lead UI Developer

Zedric joined Beacon in 2011 and is a Senior Lead UI Developer for Beacon Technologies. After earning his degree in Advertising and Graphic Design, he spent 11 years with an advertising agency in Greensboro, NC where he was initially hired as a designer and transitioned to being a Web Developer.

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