Valley’s titans of tech recognized in 11th annual Top Tech Awards | #education | #technology | #training

Vegas Inc and Cox Business have partnered for 11 years to honor the creative and innovative technology leaders who have advanced the tech industry and economy in Southern Nevada. The 2021 Top Tech Awards represent a diverse group of 12 honorees making a difference in nearly every sector—education, government, health care, hotel/gaming, nonprofit and more—through the power of technology.  

Award recipients were selected by an independent panel of judges, including distinguished industry leaders and past honorees based on their recent achievements, company and community impact, and major projects. Their collective, future-focused vision brings the work of the Valley’s growing tech scene to the forefront and demonstrates how technology improves the lives of all those who live, work and play here.    

The 2021 Top Tech Awards originally appeared in a special issue of Vegas Inc found inside of Las Vegas Weekly. Sign up to get each of Vegas Inc’s special publications delivered to your inbox on the day of their release.

Top Tech of the Year: Gary Sharp

Senior Director of Information Technology | MountainView Hospital and Southern Hills Hospital & Medical Center, HCA Healthcare 

Gary Sharp (Christopher DeVargas / Staff)

Internally and externally, Gary Sharp is known as a role model to his IT peers. In his position as the IT director for Southern Hills Hospital, Sharp has overseen several major initiatives including the IT setup for an 80-bed Behavioral Health Pavilion, the rollout of iMobile, an important internal communications system, and more. After being an integral part of Southern Hills Hospital for more than four years, Sharp was recently promoted to senior IT director at MountainView Hospital as well.

Patient care and staff support is the primary goal for Sharp and his team. Responsive and continually available, Sharp understands the pressure of caregivers to provide the highest quality of care for patients, and as such, Sharp ensures his hospitals receive immediate technical support. He also encourages innovation to improve efficiencies for the IT department to make these goals possible.

Two of Sharp’s most notable recent accomplishments include the opening and IT development of two new, free-standing emergency rooms in the Valley—ER at South Las Vegas Boulevard and ER at Skye Canyon. He led the successful implementation of cutting edge mobile and telehealth technologies to optimize patient care, and physician, provider, and staff efficiencies to open and run both 24-hour facilities.

Cox Innovation Award: Dan Neuman, MBA-IT

Manager of Application Services, Development | Sunrise Health System, HCA Healthcare

Dan Neuman (Christopher DeVargas / Staff)

Despite the myriad of pandemic-related challenges presented for health care IT departments, Dan Neuman successfully led his team through unforeseen workflow changes, urgent application development, and the necessary amendment of existing systems to account for COVID data collection.

Some of Neuman’s accomplishments over the last year-and-a-half include the creation and implementation of a Personal Protective Equipment Depot tracking application, a Power BI report that tracked COVID trends using information from John Hopkins and HCA Healthcare’s internal data warehouse, a surgical reboot dashboard that allowed for the tracking of elective surgeries, and many more. Neuman’s tools were adopted by 19 hospitals in Southern Nevada, California, Utah, Idaho, and Alaska, and as a result of their success, these applications became the foundation for similar tools created for nearly 185 hospitals across the county. Because of Neuman’s visionary systems development, countless hospitals and health care workers were given important tools and necessary support during an unprecedented time.

Neuman is renowned and respected across HCA Healthcare’s 6,000-person IT organization. He recently was awarded a company-wide Innovators Award and was a finalist for an IT Employee of the Year award in the Far West Division. He has been in his role for 12 years and developed more than 100 applications during that time.

Community Exemplary Award: Chekesha Van Putten

Founder & CEO | Castango

Chekesha Van Putten (Christopher DeVargas / Staff)

An award-winning performer, Chekesha Van Putten built Castango on the foundational knowledge from her own professional experience working in the entertainment industry. Castango is a unique, on-demand job marketplace that connects freelance talent with job opportunities. This platform streamlines the hiring process and allows companies to search, cast, hire and pay talent—no middleman required.

Castango was launched in 2017 and has since acquired more than 11,000 freelancers and 1,200 companies to date. When the pandemic hit the Las Vegas event industry and left thousands of freelance talent looking for work, Van Putten sought to restructure the casting landscape and hiring process for these performers. During a challenging and uncertain time, Castango was able to provide up-to-date resources, remote job opportunities and put hundreds of freelancers to work.

Some of Castango’s most notable clients include Nevada Department of Public Safety’s Zero Fatalities campaigns, Wework, United Health Group, Forbes Travel Guide and many more.

Van Putten is a dynamic and passionate leader who seeks to help others achieve their goals using her visionary platform. She was a 2020 Caress IFundWomen of Color COVID-19 recipient and was featured in Yahoo Finance as one of the 12 Women in Tech to Know, 2021.

Top Tech Hospitality Award: Jason Stump

Senior Vice President & Chief Information Officer, North America | Wynn Resorts

Jason Stump (Wade Vandervort / Staff)

For most, completing one major project in 12 months is a worthy accomplishment. But not for Jason Stump. He raised the bar, by a six-time multiplier.

Stump led all technology aspects of a private, on-site COVID testing lab at Wynn Las Vegas which was used to test employees as well as CCSD students and staff—allowing student athletes, coaches and staff to be tested quickly so that they could finish their sports program. The lab completed several thousands of tests each day.

A new marketing loyalty program, a promotional kiosk system and an automated enrollment kiosk were all on the docket—and all three projects were championed by Stump to drive increased customer loyalty. With these, Wynn became the first among its competitors to open an automated marketing promotional kiosk product that reduced wait times—with 45% of Wynn Rewards transactions taking place at the enrollment kiosk.

At Allegiant Stadium, Stump drove technology deployment for Wynn Field—a private club at the stadium offering unparalleled service and unforgettable experiences for those attending concerts or sporting events.

And finally, Stump continued for the third year as the president of Technology and Diversity for Charity, a nonprofit that raises funds for charitable community partners. Throughout his tenure, the organization experienced the most funds raised in its history.

Education : Cam Johnson

Director of IT Operations | UNLV School of Medicine

Cam Johnson (Wade Vandervort / Staff)

The UNLV School of Medicine is focused on making Southern Nevada a healthier place to live and work, and Cam Johnson has been instrumental in this endeavor. He is part of a team that supports equipment in 17 different locations for over 1,500 individuals—including the new Medical Education Building opening fall 2022. All IT coordination services including computers, printers, wiring and technology have been implemented and coordinated through Johnson.

During the pandemic, Johnson quickly adapted to changing needs of all faculty, staff and students, pivoting all teams to home environments when needed and then back to in-person seamlessly. For employees that had to remain in the office, Johnson introduced small group conferences to increase productivity and efficiency, and he was responsible to ensure their COVID vaccination PODS had constant connectivity.

Johnson also leads the team for moves, consolidations, new clinics and the medical school, including extending the network for COVID-19 curbside testing and vaccinations, two consolidated ENT clinics and the pediatric surgery relocation as well as switching out over 900 phones to upgrade the call flow and design for each clinic. He works to ensure UNLV has the technology in place to serve the health care needs of our diverse community—when and where it is needed.

Government : Dennis Moriarity

Director of Information Technology | City of North Las Vegas

Dennis Moriarity (Courtesy)

In only two years, Dennis Moriarity has fully embraced his role at the City of North Las Vegas and has spearheaded its successful completion of several projects that have made the city’s “fast and faster” ways of doing business proceed at record speed.

Moriarity led the city’s shift to a fully online environment to allow City Hall to be open and accessible to customers 24/7 during the pandemic. Then, when North Las Vegas set the goal of being the first municipality in the state to run its own large-scale public vaccination program, Moriarity developed a user-friendly online registration system that allowed more than 25,000 people to sign up for vaccination appointments, without crashing or slow performance. All of this for the mere cost of $6,000—a drop in the bucket compared to $6 million the state spent to design and roll out its own version. His expertise was tapped regionally and by the state as entities developed some of the IT systems behind the pandemic response.

Additionally, Moriarity implemented a computer network for 100 students at the highly acclaimed Southern Nevada Urban Micro Academy, which expanded to 150 students in fall of 2021. As his team implemented technology upgrades citywide, existing technology was repurposed for student use at three North Las Vegas facilities.

Nonprofit: Kris Smith

Director of Information Technology | Goodwill Industries of Southern Nevada

Kris Smith (Christopher DeVargas / Staff)

With dueling passions for philanthropic work and IT, Kris Smith found the perfect role with Goodwill Industries of Southern Nevada. Here, he helps facilitate organizational growth while also supporting mission services programs. Goodwill does so much more than sell donated clothing—it also operates two Career Centers, offering training services and job placement to local job seekers.

The Goodwill IT team, led by Smith, transformed its traditional in-person services to create a virtual Online Career Center to allow remote access to obtain bus passes, work clothing, work cards and gas cards to those who needed assistance during the pandemic. Smith also oversees the Digital Recycling program, which rebuilds computers for reuse, saving them from our landfills. Day-to-day, he stays busy updating the organizations technological systems and improving efficiency across all 16 retail stores—always introducing modern technology to increase productivity and facilitate incredible growth.

Fueled by the mission of Goodwill, Smith helps to provide real-world knowledge and experience to youth interested in IT with community partner, TechImpact. He not only helps students acquire the training necessary to pursue a career in the industry, but also helps them secure employment with local companies as well.

Hotel/Gaming : Sonal Chablani

Director, Delivery and Support Services | IGT

Sonal Chablani (Christopher DeVargas / Staff)

Sonal Chablani is an accomplished gaming technology leader who delivers results and drives growth and profitability for IGT and its customers. She applies her talents, expertise and passion to optimize processes and implement next-generation technologies that modernize gaming in casinos across North America.

Chablani and her team lead deployments and support for more than 1,000 systems across 450 U.S. casinos. The backbone of any casino, these casino management systems track casino play, monitor machine uptime and game performance, and are the foundation for every casino’s loyalty program.

Chablani tackles each problem she faces with a collaborative, pioneering spirit. Most recently, she led the charge to propel cashless gaming in Nevada with IGT’s Resort Wallet and IGTPay solutions—accelerating a shift in consumer behaviors, and health and safety considerations brought on by the pandemic.

Chablani’s leadership extends far beyond her role in tech at IGT. She currently serves as the vice president of public relations for IGT’s Toastmasters organization. She is also a member of an IGT-organized Lean In Circle and IGT’s Employee Advisory Committee.

Private – Small/Medium Business: Ian Jones

Director of Information Technology | The PENTA Building Group

Ian Jones (Wade Vandervort / Staff)

The arrival of COVID-19 brought with it an evolution in the way The PENTA Building Group did business. Ian Jones was there to lead a successful navigation of this ever-changing work environment.

Jones rolled out a completely new and innovative internal intranet platform, replaced an aging videoconference platform and upgraded over 15 conference rooms across regional offices and job sites—ensuring the PENTA team could complete its 1,700 meetings each month. A remote workforce also introduced new challenges, including the ability to provide required trainings. Jones leveraged the new intranet site to publish micro-trainings to Microsoft Stream. All of this while keeping the security of PENTA’s infrastructure front of mind.

Recognizing that the world of IT is constantly changing, Jones is an active member of several industry groups. One such group is Construction Technology Users Group that discusses technology trends and best practices, and attempts to drive innovation and change from the industry’s largest vendors. Jones is also a member of the American Contractors Insurance Group that is focused on technology and security, and he has established himself as a thought leader within an IT PEER Group.

Jones is also a dedicated mentor to his staff and works to create learning opportunities that foster personal and professional development for his team—regularly nurturing the natural skills of staff to promote growth.

Health Care : Jaswant S. Tony

Founder & CEO | GoMeyra

Jaswant S. Tony (Wade Vandervort / Staff)

In March of 2020, at the start of the pandemic, Jaswant Tony’s IT company was contracted to provide services to a local medical lab. He quickly discovered that the lab’s information management system (LIMS) was terribly inefficient. After some research, he found this to be true for the bulk of labs across the country. It became clear to him that this was a main cause for the COVID testing bottleneck the U.S. was experiencing. He wanted to help, and in about four months’ time, GoMeyra LIMS was born.

GoMeyra LIMS is a comprehensive, fully customizable, cloud-based laboratory information management system that increases efficiency challenges inherent in laboratory workflows and can be onboarded with unprecedented speed—in as little as two days. The system is now used in organizations across the U.S. as well as several countries overseas, including labs, medical providers, enterprise-level corporations, universities, casinos, live entertainment productions and professional sporting events, to handle large-scale testing and help get more Americans get back to work, school, travel and normal activities.

Tony is a humble leader who recognizes that it is his team that has allowed GoMeyra to become the successful business it is today. He also supports his community through the development of scholarships for the Medical Laboratory Technician program at CSN and the Vegas Chamber’s leadership programs.

Private – Large Business: Harvin Chavez

Lead Systems Administrator | Vegas Golden Knights

Harvin Chavez (Christopher DeVargas / Staff)

Harvin Chavez is responsible for all the IT infrastructure associated with the Vegas Golden Knights, Henderson Silver Knights and Las Vegas Black Knights. Some might call this an IT hat trick.

One of Chavez’s most recent projects was outfitting the 120,000-square-foot indoor hockey facility at Lifeguard Arena—the practice home to the Silver Knights and a welcomed expansion to host VGK youth programs. This included a jumbo TV in the City Hall Plaza used for streaming VGK watch parties for the community, free of charge.

Additionally, Chavez championed the technical portion of the Silver Knights’ new arena, a 6,000-seat indoor venue known as the Dollar Loan Center. The project is scheduled for completion in spring 2022 and will also be home to non-sports entertainment such as the Henderson Symphony Orchestra. The stadium will be fitted with the latest fan-facing technologies, including the best game-day wireless and video technologies.

Chavez often works long, tireless hours in pursuit of the best experience for VGK fans because he knows just how much the team means to the Las Vegas community. He also does charity work for Good Smartian Christian Academy, volunteering his time on Sundays, and bringing the children school supplies and VGK memorabilia.

Start-up Business: Blake Resnick

Founder & CEO | BRINC Drones

Blake Resnick (Christopher DeVargas / Staff)

At only 21-years-old, Blake Resnick has founded and created an innovative drone technology company that is gaining national recognition. BRINC Drones manufactures advanced indoor/outdoor tactical drones used by local and national law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, CIA and various police departments.

Motivated by the October 1 shooting, Resnick designed the Lemur drone to suit the specific needs of law enforcement during active-shooter, hostage or hostile police situations. These drones are uniquely designed for law enforcement, with highly specialized functionality such as glass breaking, a 31-minute flight time, the ability to correct itself if flipped over, a speaker and microphone for two-way communication, and more. It can provide aerial footage in dangerous situations to help first responders identify and assess risk. Today, BRINC’s Lemur is used by agencies across the country and Resnick is working to expand into the foreign market. A pivotal accomplishment for BRINC occurred in July 2021, when the Miami Dade Search and Rescue team used the Lemur to help find survivors of the collapsed apartment building.

Resnick founded BRINC Drones over three years ago, and during that time, he has grown it from a small-scale living room operation to a multimillion-dollar company with more than 50 employees.

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