The Team

Rory John O’Brien

A third generation Nevadan having lived in Reno for over two decades, Rory has deep roots in the Biggest Little City. Rory has been in the same school system from Kindergarten to graduating from Nevada in 2009 with a Bachelors Degree in Information Systems. He currently works at a financial hedge fund software company specializing in Sales, Business Development, Account Management, and Support. Previously he worked on Social Media Campaigns/Marketing, along with web design and development.

Reading, golfing, softball, frisbee, and watching 49ers/Wolfpack football are activities Rory enjoys on a regular basis. Rory has an interest in keeping Reno clean and community driven; he believes Reno is a strong city to bring in new businesses dedicated to the positive growth for our local and national economy.

Geoff Deal

Born in California and raised in Nevada, Geoff has a deep family history in the Northern Nevada area. As a result of growing up in the Reno area, Geoff has fallen in love with the local amenities in Reno and believes strongly in developing a prosperous community with a high sense of culture. Geoff Graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a degree in Information Systems and currently works as an Accounting and IT Manager for Dr. Pepper/7-Up Bottling Company of the West. A strong advocate of community, Geoff volunteers at the Boys and Girls club of Northern Nevada and is a current committee member for A Night in the Country, a music festival benefiting the Boys and Girls Club of Mason Valley. He enjoys all the amenities around the Reno area including golfing, skiing, hunting, mountain biking and frequenting the surrounding lakes.

The opportunities for culture and community are limitless in Reno and it’s time to let them unravel to showcase to the world.

Tony Gallian

Born and raised in Reno, Tony is a third generation Nevadan and has no intention of leaving the Biggest Little City in the foreseeable future. After spending several years employed in the banking industry he now works as a credit analyst for Harley-Davidson Financial Services. Upon graduating from the University of Nevada with dual majors in International Business and Economics he spent nearly a year traveling through Europe, providing him the opportunity to experience the complexities of daily life elsewhere. While reinforcing the fact that Reno is at the top of an extremely short list of locales able to offer a broad spectrum of activities for people with all kinds of interests, it also emphasized the idea that the city is now at a crossroads and has the opportunity to redefine itself – an idea he plans to help become a reality.

Lance King

“Reno is one of the last best kept secrets.“

Captain Lance King is a Navigator with the Nevada Air National Guard. As a drill status guardsman and a small business owner, Captain King emulates the true meaning of what it takes to be a citizen-soldier. Lance moved to Reno during the summer of 1996 and immediately fell in love with the mountains, the four seasons and the people. He attended the University of Nevada and holds a bachelor of science in electrical engineering and a master of business administration.

Doug Erwin

Doug has established and operated a series of startup companies ranging in industry from business intelligence and software development to medical diagnostics technology. He began his career as a serial entrepreneur in Silicon Valley and moved to Nevada in 1999. In 2005, Doug was honored as the Entrepreneur of the Year award for the State of Nevada, and has been recognized by the Kauffman Foundation for his fundraising strategy at Pria, one of his startups commercializing a point of care diagnostic technology developed at Stanford University, for which he raised $8 million in angel and corporate financing and established a partnership with a $2 billion consumer products company.

Doug co-founded Tahoe SUP, a designer and distributor of premium brand stand up paddle boards and accessories. Tahoe SUP rapidly established itself as the leader in flat water SUP market and has grown over 300% annually since inception.  He currently is Vice President for Entrepreneurial Development at EDAWN.

Meghan Pescio

A second generation Nevadan, Meghan moved to Reno to attend the University of Nevada and promptly fell in love. Going to school for journalism, business and Spanish, Meghan became involved on campus and in the community through an internship (later a job) at the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN). To Meghan, Reno has the best of all worlds: outdoor beauty and activities (she’s an avid runner), an amazing university, great food and cultural experiences, and most recently a growing population of community-oriented entrepreneurs that make the prospects of The Biggest Little City limitless. She believes in Reno, but sees a gap between the city’s potential and what the community perceives, making her goal as an economic developer and marketer to bring out all of the positive talent and vibe in the BLC from the ground up!

Brita Muller

Brita was born and raised in Southern California and made the trip up north to attend college at the University of Nevada in 2005. Since then, she has made Reno her home and graduated in journalism and public relations. She’s been involved in the university community through the Nevada Alumni Association and other on-campus entities. Currently, she works as the Manager of Social Media for QuinStreet, Inc. along with President of Nevada Young Alumni. Brita loves the charm of Reno and all of its best kept secrets. There’s so much Reno has to offer, making it one of most ideal places to live, work and play.

Mark Hatjakes

Mark Hatjakes is a native of the Biggest Little City. He has spent his career developing big ideas from small beginnings. A creative director, marketer, television producer, filmmaker and designer, Mark is seasoned in the art of visual and interactive storytelling.

Mark and his wife Dana founded SoSu.TV to tell the stories of northern Nevada… Engaging stories about people, businesses, events and the arts that inspire, ignite and unite our community.

Hatjakes is a big picture thinker and aims to be a “Biggest Little Citizen” in his work. For that reason and more, Mark is proud to be a part of the TEDxReno team.

Shyla Pheasant

Shyla is an entrepreneur in spirit, accountant by trade, and cowgirl at heart; who was born and raised in the Biggest Little City and is a 3rd generation Nevadan. A graduate from the University of Nevada , Reno, with a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration (emphasis in accounting), Shyla currently works at the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN) as the entrepreneurial coordinator. Prior to working at EDAWN, Shyla worked for a family trust office based out of Boston, MA; on a vertical team that managed billions in assets.

In addition to growing the innovative and entrepreneurial community in Reno, NV, Shyla’s true passion is deeply rooted in the western industry and rodeo. As a past rodeo queen, Shyla has traveled over 20,000 miles promoting the sport of rodeo and the Silver State – locally, regionally, and nationally. Innovation and growth are important, as is our heritage and the history of rodeo . Winston Churchill once said, “The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see”; with a background in both, Shyla’s initiative is to strengthen the western industry through modern business strategies while fostering entrepreneurial growth and success.