RISE 2024: Igniting Collective Action for a Thriving Roanoke Region

Experience Conference 2024 Event Recap

Over 200 attendees, speakers, and panelists gathered for the highly anticipated relaunch of the 2024 Experience Conference, held on May 2-3 at venues throughout downtown Roanoke. Showcasing the vibrancy of the region’s urban core, the conference spanned iconic locations such as the Taubman Museum of Art, Six and Sky Rooftop Bar, the new EYE planetarium, Hotel Roanoke, and the City Market Building.

Attendees hailing from 19 towns, cities, and localities across the Commonwealth converged at the event to delve into cutting-edge technology, engage with non-profit organizations, explore new avenues for community involvement, network with peers, and glean insights into the power of individual and collective action.

“Experience Conference never disappoints. Rishi Jaitly’s captivating talk on being a ‘Full Stack Human’, and his call to self-reflection to reengage with the humanities and liberal arts to add meaning and context to technology deeply resonated with me,” said John Park, co-owner of JPG Agency and a Get2KnowNoke ambassador. “As someone mid-career, I also gained a surprising amount of useful insights from the professional networking and communication session. I left feeling inspired and energized, with a renewed sense of what’s possible.”

Virginia State Delegate Sam Rasoul kicked off the conference with an impromptu speech that recognized local influencers in the room and highlighted the diverse, melting pot that now represents the city.

While the theme of this year’s conference was RISE, with the intention to RISE together as one, the recurring topic among many of the speakers and panels was transformation. From the Riverdale Project in SE Roanoke to the Melrose Plaza Project in NW Roanoke, to the innovation corridor investments and the introduction of their incubator on Jefferson Ave., to transformational tech like AI, and even in The Rookie Restaurateur live podcast session, they spoke to the energy of the region’s burgeoning culinary scene.

“There are so many transformational projects happening right now in the Roanoke Region which have brought us to this tipping point, said Julia Boas, event organizer and director of talent strategies at the Roanoke Regional Partnership. “It’s an exciting time to be working and living in the Roanoke Region, and together we can support these projects and community efforts in a variety of ways.”

A session inside the Taubman Museum of Art theater with a great crowd, ready for thought-leading discussion.

The 2024 Experience Conference tasked attendees to think deeply about how we can lift each other up within the community, and attract new talent to the region. How can we support non-profits, the arts, transformational developments, talent attraction efforts, higher education, small businesses, and infrastructure improvements? These unique elements are critical in making the Roanoke Region an ideal place to live and work.

Attendees were informed of the many exciting things happening around the region, leaving all feeling invigorated, inspired, and ready to support through collective action, information sharing, fundraising, volunteering, and more!

We were also reminded of the boundless potential in Virginia’s Blue Ridge and the power we all have to implement positive change. Change isn’t an abstract concept or beyond our reach; it’s something we’ve witnessed time and again in this beautiful place.

Live dance, music, and art permeated the conference adding vibrancy and beauty between sessions. Special thanks to the Roanoke Cultural Endowment and Local Colors for organizing.

Think about the landmarks we cherish today—the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Appalachian Trail, Explore Park, Elmwood Amphitheater, Daleville Town Center, Main Street Salem, Rocky Mount, or Vinton (just to name a few)— all of these projects started with a spark of inspiration and grew through collective action. From large-scale projects to our favorite local small businesses, each required the support of passionate individuals, supportive governments, and private-sector involvement. That spark is what Experience is meant to ignite.

As we move forward from Experience 2024, let’s carry forward this guiding premise. Change isn’t just possible; it’s inevitable and can be immensely positive when driven by informed individuals (like you). Let’s continue to dream, innovate, and make a difference because together, we have the power to shape the future of the Roanoke Region into something truly extraordinary.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to all the attendees, speakers, partners, and sponsors who supported the conference and contributed to its success. Your enthusiasm and dedication inspire us to continue building upon this momentum for future years.

We invite you to join us in shaping the future of the Experience Conference, to participate in the committee, and to help us amplify its impact on our community. Shoot us an email if you’d like to host a program or join the Experience planning committee. Together we can make a difference!

Join our newsletter and stay updated on future events and initiatives aimed at transforming our community and attracting and engaging talent.

Roanoke Career Event Aimed at Students and Graduates Hopes to Strengthen Talent Pipeline

October 4 Talent Expo to be held at the Taubman Museum in Downtown Roanoke

Roanoke, VA (September 26, 2023)– Get2KnowNoke (G2KN) and the Virginia Talent + Opportunity Partnership (V-TOP) are hosting the Fall Intern and Early Career Expo to connect Roanoke Region employers with potential talent educated in the region. On October 4, college students, recent graduates, and early career professionals are invited to meet with regional employers about career and intern opportunities.

From 4:30-7:30 p.m. at the Taubman Museum of Art in downtown Roanoke, nearly 50 local employers will be on-site to discuss both paid internship programs and early career positions with talent looking to gain valuable experience and on-the-job training. Attendees can still register online to learn about regional companies, internship opportunities, entry-level positions, the Roanoke Region, and its professional ecosystem.

Entry to the expo is free for attendees, and higher education institutions will provide transportation to and from the event. Enrolled students and alumni must register by September 27 for transportation.

Along with G2KN and V-TOP, all the region’s top colleges and universities have collaborated in the planning of this event to maximize the value to students and employers. Hollins University, Ferrum College, Virginia Tech, Radford University, Roanoke College, and Virginia Western Community College career service department are all engaged in this effort.

Continue reading “Roanoke Career Event Aimed at Students and Graduates Hopes to Strengthen Talent Pipeline”

Blacks in Technology Foundation’s Newest Chapter Kicks Off in Roanoke

The first official event for the new Blacks in Technology (BIT) Roanoke-Blacksburg chapter kicked off last week on March 9 at The Collective co-working space. The networking mixer had 66 attendees who rubbed elbows with other tech professionals interested in advancing the cause of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the Roanoke-Blacksburg communities.

“The tech world didn’t represent the community,” said Harvey Brookins, VERGE board member, on why they formed the new BIT chapter. “We wanted to do something very deliberate, so we brought together all the stakeholders to figure out the best ways to connect and showcase the Black community members. Then we reached out to BIT national.”

Second from the left is Harvey Brookins, Board Member at VERGE and RAMP mentor, who helped form the new chapter.

Get2KnowNoke also spoke with Angela Dickerson who volunteered as the first chapter president. She explained that the Roanoke-Blacksburg chapter leadership determined three areas of focus:

  1. Educate K-12 students about the opportunities that STEM can afford them.
  2. Increase engagement among those that work in tech and tech-adjacent fields.
  3. Provide opportunities for certification, networking, and mentoring.

So who can join BIT, and what does membership entail?

Membership is 100% free. Members just need to identify as Black and be interested in growing their knowledge in the tech space. Members receive benefits such as free or deeply discounted certifications.

As far as engagement and events are concerned anyone, regardless of race, can come and learn how to grow their tech careers.

**Currently membership is with BIT Virginia Chapter.

The next event is in Blacksburg on April 14 with special guest Dennis Shultz, the executive director of Blacks in Technology, who also happens to be a Hokie.

“Since BIT is an international organization, Dennis meets with people all over the world on Zoom,” said Angela Dickerson, BIT Roanoke-Blacksburg chapter president. “On all his international calls, he [Shultz] proudly hangs his Hokie flag directly behind him in his office.”

The kick-off event was held at The Collective on 11th Ave. in Roanoke, VA. The Collective has co-working spaces, event space, a podcast and media studio, retail pop-up studio, etc.

Dickerson, Brookins, and the rest of the newly formed BIT Roanoke-Blacksburg board have high hopes for the future of the club. They plan to identify opportunities for grants and funding to start getting the community the training and support needed to be successful. They also are looking for sponsors interested in helping to create programming and bring inspiring speakers.

If you are interested in sponsoring or learning more about membership, please email Angela Pope Dickerson.

To receive updates for the April 14 event and all future opportunities related to the BIT Roanoke-Blacksburg chapter, sign up for the Roanoke Blacksburg Technology Council e-newsletter.

Home for the Holidays – Thanksgiving Edition

Home for the Holidays- Part 1: Thanksgiving Edition

Below is your guide to the “Best of the Roanoke Region” over the Thanksgiving holiday. Share this with your college students, adult children, or anyone coming to visit this season – and show off everything your community has to offer.

Get2KnowNoke has hand-selected the trendiest cocktail lounges, the best outdoor adventures, the tastiest eats, breweries you may not have tried, cool new shops that just opened, and so much more. We tried to highlight everything new that your friends and family may not have tried, as well as all the old favorites.

Nov. 22

Plan your Friendsgiving at one of the region’s top restaurants or grab a craft cocktail to celebrate.

Nov. 23

Move your feet so others can eat! The Drumstick Dash is a Roanoke Turkey Day tradition.

Nov. 24

#OptOutside this Black Friday and take advantage of our 1000s of miles of trail and greenways.

Saturday, Nov. 25

Snag great deals and local gifts on Small Business Saturday.
Not in the mood to shop? We’ve gotcha covered with our brewery crawl.

“Now that you can remotely work from anywhere in the world – why would you not choose a place with beautiful mountains, great dining, arts and culture, breweries for days, a huge outdoor community; where your commute is non-existent and adventure is boundless.”

-Julia Boas, Director of Talent Strategies for the Roanoke Regional Partnership

Wednesday, November 22 – Thanksgiving Eve (aka – Friendsgiving)

Plan Your Friendsgiving: Grab dinner with hometown friends at one of the region’s trendy new spots and Star City favorites.  

  • Stock (Downtown Roanoke): Inside the historic Firestation One building.
  • Fortunato (Downtown Roanoke): Homemade Italian restaurant serving handmade pastas, pizzas, craft cocktails, wine and beer.  
  • Bloom (Wasena): Restaurant and wine bar serving seasonal small plates and libations.  
  • Sidecar (Downtown Roanoke): Located next to Martin’s Downtown, this mid-century, art deco-designed modern bar and restaurant serving seafood, steak, and superior cocktails is a must do.
  • 1772 Rooftop Bar on Main (Fincastle): A rooftop bar featuring a bar made out of an old prop plane, and views overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains. They have Wine Wednesdays with $5 glasses, and award-winning mixologists.
  • Local Roots (Grandin Village): This small eatery offering a menu of locally sourced plates.  
  • Tuco’s Taqueria (West End): Serving a selection of tacos plus a long list of tequilas and mezcals.   
  • New York Pizza (Vinton): A Vinton classic serving NY-style, thin-crust pizzas, subs, burgers, plus wine & beer.  
  • River and Rail Restaurant (South Roanoke)
  • Liberty Trust (Downtown Roanoke)
  • Anastasia’s Speakeasy (Rocky Mount)
  • Daleville Taphouse (Botetourt)

Thanksgiving Eve Downtown Roanoke: One of the biggest social nights of the year! See old and new friends at any of Downtown Roanoke’s bars. Our list of favorites will be pouring late so you can catch up with old and new friends.


Back to the top

Thursday, November 23 – Thanksgiving Day

Get your dash on and earn your turkey by running or walking in this annual Roanoke tradition.

The Rescue Mission of Roanoke Drumstick Dash 5K: It’s not too late to sign up for Roanoke’s annual pre-meal run/walk. Move your feet so others can eat this holiday season! Sign up online or in person on Thanksgiving morning.  

There are several restaurants open for brunch or lunch options after the race, if you’re not too busy cooking yourself. Check out the VisitVBR “Where to Eat on Thanksgiving” list to learn where you can go.

Back to the top

Friday, November 24 – #OptOutside Black Friday

#OptOutside on Black Friday: The movement started by outdoor retail company REI in 2015 is celebrated here in the Roanoke Valley, an outdoor wonderland. Instead of spending your day stressed out in crowded stores, enjoy a beautiful outing in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

PRO TIP: Bring a bag on your adventure to collect litter and keep our region beautiful.

  • Blue Ridge Parkway: Explore the beauty of the most visited park in the US at any of these local stops.
    • Peaks of Otter: Take a leisurely stroll around Abbott Lake and enjoy the views from the base or challenge yourself to a hike up Sharp Top Mountain to 360 mountain views. 
    • Explore Park: Explore Park features hundreds of acres of trails, riverside views, and outdoor fun. Whether you want to get in a game of Disc Golf or take a bike through the 14 miles of trails, you are sure to get in some serious outdoor adventure. Finish the day at Twin Creeks brewpub.
    • Mill Mountain: Haven’t taken a visit to the city’s iconic star in a while? Take a trip up the Mill Mountain Greenway with a picnic at the star. With miles of hiking, mountain biking, and running trails, the zoo, and the botanical gardens – there is plenty to do for all ages.
  • Smith Mountain Lake State Park: Smith Mountain Lake State Park is a 1,148-acre state park along the shores of Smith Mountain Lake in Bedford County, Virginia near Huddleston. It is primarily a recreational area, offering water-related activities as well as camping, picnicking, hiking facilities, and a public beach.
  • Carvins Cove Natural Reserve: With 60 miles of trails for hiking and mountain biking, you are sure to find beautiful fall foliage at this outdoor hidden gem.  
  • Roanoke’s Regional Greenways: The greenways that lie within the City of Roanoke’s limits include Roanoke River Greenway, Garden City Greenway, Mill Mountain Greenway, Murray Run Greenway, Lick Run Greenway, and Tinker Creek Greenway.  
  • Jackson River Scenic Trail: Virginia’s newest and extremely scenic rails-to-trails project is just outside of downtown Covington. Easy access makes it popular for residents and visitors to walk, bike, or jog along the Jackson River in the beautiful Alleghany Highlands.

Back to the top

Saturday, November 25 (Small Business Saturday)

Small Business Saturday #SBS: Shop ‘til you drop (or until you need a beer). Be a part of recognizing and contributing to our region’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. 

Support some of the area’s newest spots on this national holiday.

  • Txtur Living Showroom:
  • Mast General Store: Offers a variety of goods, tasty treats, apparel, and outdoor gear.   
  • The French Farmhouse: Modern farmhouse home décor, lighting, furniture, and holiday spirit.  
  • Roanoke Farmers Market Vendors: Connect and buy from the people growing locally sourced food and creating handmade pieces you can’t buy anywhere else! 
  • Crafteria: Find small-batch food and handmade goods from 60+ craftspeople. Find anything from records, holistics, coffee, candles, kitchy Applachia-themed gifts, jewelry, and woodworking. If you like digging for hidden treasures, the Crafteria will provide hours of entertainment.
  • Rock Outdoors in Hardy, VA

Other regional favorites:

Star City Beer Tour: The Roanoke Region has 16 craft breweries to choose from but one cool little nook of town has three all within a few blocks. Head to the trendy West End to check out of Roanoke’s neighborhoods on the rise.

IPAs, Stouts, and Pale Ales – Oh My! Try them all at these West End Breweries

  • Twisted Track: Offers pub fare and craft beer and ciders with a twist.
  • Golden Cactus: Brewing daily at this colorful, kid-friendly brewery with a greenhouse vibe.
  • Big Lick Brewing Co.: Outdoor fire pits and regular live music.
  • Blindhouse Beer Company: Saison-focused brewery offering draught pours and bottles to-go.
  • Twin Creeks: Two locations Vinton and Explore Park
  • Three Notch’d
  • Olde Salem Brewing: Two Locations
  • Living Proof: Rocky Mount
  • Starr Hill
  • Parkway Brewing

Back to the top

Stay tuned! Our Home for the Holidays Part 2 will have a full calendar covering 21 days of planned events throughout December.

Internship Canceled? Don’t Panic … We Got You Covered

College students and recent grads have seen their summer plans dashed by COVID-19, including the withdrawal of internship and job offers.

But you can prepare for your future career this summer. The Experience Leadership Institute is a summer-long program that will help you master skills that employers have rated most important. The certificate program will be conducted by leaders and employers in the Roanoke Region of Virginia during eight online sessions.

Use it to boost your resume if the summer isn’t shaping up the way you intended. Continue reading “Internship Canceled? Don’t Panic … We Got You Covered”

Faces of Experience: Taryn Louma

Did you know that members of the Experience committee are volunteers with careers outside of event planning?

Taryn Luoma is a Roanoke native who moved away at a young age and recently moved back to the region after taking a job at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute. She is excited to see more young professionals come here for work. When she is not working, she enjoys indoor rock climbing at The River Rock Climbing gym, petting any dog that crosses her path, reading, and trying to spruce up her own little fixer-upper.

Experience 2019 is June 6-7 at the Taubman Museum. (What are you waiting for? Registration is open.) Make sure to say “hello” to Taryn there. Continue reading “Faces of Experience: Taryn Louma”

Experience 2019: The Future of Leadership Starts Now

experience 2019 register

Get all the tools you need to grow your career and leadership skills at Experience 2019. This year’s conference, “The Future of Leadership,” will help you redefine leadership to inspire innovation and thrive in the workplace of tomorrow. National and local speakers will help you connect and develop your professional narrative and goals for the next year, 5 years, or 10 years. Continue reading “Experience 2019: The Future of Leadership Starts Now”