Member Spotlight: DISH Network

The RBTC Membership ranges from solo tech entrepreneurs to the region’s largest companies. Our members are constantly inspiring us with their drive and creativity. We love it when we get to sit down with them to hear about their forward-thinking cultures and projects. 

We recently touched base with employees at RBTC member DISH in Christiansburg, VA to talk about what it’s like to work for a national company with a large local presence. DISH began as a communications technology startup in the 1980s and expanded to a household name. It pioneers not only the flagship DISH brand, but also serves at the parent company for well-known brands like Sling and Boost Mobile. 

Empowering Employees 

DISH firmly believes that their greatest asset is their people, which is why they pour energy and resources into cultivating an inclusive environment and fostering the development and promotion of all. DISH has long had a reputation for having a supportive, inclusive culture and being a great place to work. The Christiansburg location is no exception!

Anna Dantzler

Anna Dantzler, Data Analyst, has been with DISH Christiansburg for 19 years. She started as a customer service representative before moving through the ranks to her current position. 

“What has really stood out to me has been how DISH invests in its people,” she says. With the help of DISH’s tuition reimbursement program, she’s earned an associate degree and is on track to finish a bachelor’s of business administration management this spring. As part of her degree, she recently took a class on the best practices for training and development. 

 “I could clearly remember DISH demonstrating each best practice,” she said. “Currently, I’m taking an internal leadership class DISH offers salaried employees to help prepare me for future roles because my management recognizes my potential for growth.” 

Culture of Collaboration

DISH places a strong emphasis on cooperation, teamwork, and the ability to see eye-to-eye. It’s clear that the culture of collaboration is strong at DISH. They believe that some of the best ideas come from hallway conversations, happy hours, and celebrations, so they go out of their way to host events that bring teams together. 

Mary Duncan

Data Analyst Mary Duncan started with DISH Christiansburg just under a year ago. She was brought on board to curate and analyze data using SQL and Tableau. Her favorite thing about working for DISH is, “100% the people. We have a ton of knowledge on our team both in skill sets and company operations. Teammates are always enthusiastic to share information and teach. The leadership team is encouraging and supportive. Everyone on the team wants their coworkers to succeed and they’re always willing to provide tools to help me get where I need to go. The experience has been wonderful and I’m grateful to be a part of this organization!

Leaders in Innovation

DISH sets itself apart by prioritizing innovation. For 40 years, they’ve been guided by character-driven, user-focused principles that keep them nimble and on the leading edge of developing technologies. 

Todd Jackson

Longtime employee Todd Jackson has spent 22 years at the Christiansburg DISH location and currently serves in business operations and data analytics. He loves the opportunities to challenge himself and learn new things. “Now that DISH has entered into the Wireless industry, there is tons of data to explore and NEW questions to answer.” He’s proud to work at DISH because they’ve “always been innovative and disruptive in the industry. We’re taking on a new challenge by entering wireless and I’m excited to see us excel once again in a new industry.”

Business Operations Manager Bryan Newton cites his coworkers and technology as his favorite aspects of the job. In his 21 years with the company he has, “been lucky enough to work with a great group of people. The technology is also great. DISH had one of the first DVR’s available for Pay TV and is now in the middle of building the country’s first greenfield 5G network. It’s exciting to be part of it!” 

Access to Opportunity

Whether they’ve been there ten months or two decades, one thing all the employees agree on is that DISH Christiansburg is an amazing place to work. “There are TONS of opportunities at DISH and our Christiansburg location,” Todd Jackson said. “It’s thought of as a call center but that’s not the case. Christiansburg is a corporate office that has opportunities including (but not limited to!) data analytics, software engineering, IT, program managers, customer journey analysts, product owners, and product stability.”  

“Absolutely apply [to work here]!,” Mary Duncan said. “I really can’t speak highly enough about the culture.” 

The corporate offices at DISH Christiansburg offer a fantastic culture of collaboration and opportunities to work on the cutting edge of communication technology. If you’re looking to break into the Roanoke-Blacksburg innovation ecosystem, DISH Christiansburg is a great place to consider. Visit their website for information about DISH and their available opportunities at their corporate offices in Christiansburg.

Workforce Development: Creating a Vibrant Innovation Ecosystem

A fully mature ecosystem takes time to develop, but that doesn’t stop RBTC from planting seeds of innovation today that will bear fruit in the future. In fact, that’s what RBTC is all about—we’re committed to the growth of the Roanoke-Blacksburg technology community as it matures into a self-sustaining innovation ecosystem.  

One of the ways RBTC supports this goal is through robust workforce development initiatives. The technology sector is booming, and there are jobs today that didn’t exist even 10 years ago. The rapid growth makes it critical to train current and future tech workers to fill exciting jobs in the region. Supported by legislation and funding aimed at keeping talent in the state, RBTC partners with local and state collaborators to develop amazing local STEM opportunities for businesses, students, new grads, and professionals. So, what are the ways RBTC is helping train a new technology workforce? We’re so glad you asked! Keep reading—you might even find an opportunity that’s right for you.

Virginia Western Community College STEM K-12 Pipeline

Virginia Western Community College is leading the charge to prepare local students for careers in STEM.  The community college recently announced the launch of a new degree program to address the rapid growth of biotechnology jobs in the region. Beginning in the fall of 2023, students can earn a two-year degree in biotechnology. Following the completion of their degree, students can transfer to a four-year degree program or use their job-ready skills for an entry-level laboratory position (many of which pay $24 an hour).
Virginia Western isn’t just focused on nurturing post-high school students. This summer, VWCC launched STAT 22, a professional development event for local K12 teachers. STAT 22 helps teachers earn professional development credits by learning about biotechnology and incorporating that knowledge into their STEM curriculum. In turn, K12 students benefit from their knowledge, learning more about biotechnology and potential career opportunities in the field.

Virginia Technology Alliance Creates Big Opportunities

In the U.S., more than 700,000 tech roles remain unfilled due to the enormous gap in the tech talent pipeline.[1] RBTC is working with partners across the state to close the gap—filling roles and creating exciting opportunities for early-career professionals right in their hometown.

If you’re a recent college graduate with a STEM degree, RBTC can help you get connected to jobs across the state without ever leaving the city. We partner with northern VA-based organizations to fill entry-level technology positions remotely. New hires can work from our professional offices, have access to mentorship and community, and enjoy a lower cost of living while building experience in a learning-focused environment.

If you’re not quite ready for a full-time position, we can help you find internships while you finish your degree. We’ve partnered with Exelaration, a software development company with a nationally recognized internship program, to match undergraduate students with local employers in need of talented interns. The program is funded through the ELITE (Experiential Learning Through Tech Employment) grant and helps undergraduates gain real-world experience by working on mission-critical projects for local companies.

Emerging Cluster of Biotech Companies Builds Momentum

The Roanoke-Blacksburg region is quickly becoming the state hub for biotechnology expertise. Companies here find a progress-friendly environment with plenty of talent to grow their missions of delivering practical solutions to pressing problems. A good example of the types of companies that thrive here is Intuitive Surgical — a company focused on advancing minimally invasive care through advanced robotic systems. Headquartered in Blacksburg, Intuitive Surgical continues to innovate and evolve as the horizons of biotechnology expand. Globally connected and locally resourced, Intuitive Surgical works every day to solve hard problems in healthcare.

Companies like Intuitive Surgical continue to develop or locate here thanks to our vibrant, well-resourced community. Our eyes are on the future and we’re doing all we can to ensure that as the biotechnology sector develops, the talent will too.

Learn More

Innovation takes a village. Whether you’re exploring a career in biotechnology, or a company looking to find stellar talent, RBTC has a place for you. Browse our event calendar or check out our memberships to find your tribe with RBTC.

Job Listing: Technology and Life Science Talent Manager

Reports to: Associate Director, Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council (RBTC)

Education: Bachelor’s degree (B.A.) in Business Administration, Marketing, Urban Studies, Human Resources, or a related field.


The Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council (RBTC) is adding a Technology and Life Science Talent Manager to focus on a sustainable talent strategy for the Go Virginia Region 2 market.  The goal is to attract and retain technology and life sciences talent to fuel our innovation ecosystem. The candidate will have strong initiative, as well as a propensity for working and thinking creatively and collaboratively. The Technology and Life Science Talent Manager will work in tandem with regional and state-wide stakeholders while building and executing a blueprint for a robust technology talent program.

The position requires effective project management, strategic thinking, strong written and verbal communication, ability to identify and engage varied internal and external stakeholders, and the ability to create and foster partnerships and collaborations. The Technology and Life Science Talent Manager brings their own creative ideas to the organization’s programs and events. The ideal candidate is a people person who is naturally curious and delights in trying new things.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities include the following:

  • Creatively and collaboratively address the need for technology and biotechnology specific talent in the Roanoke-Blacksburg region
  • Assist with strategically connecting early and mid-stage technology talent to the innovation ecosystem with the goal of retaining them in Region 2
  • Support talent and workforce divisions of regional and state-wide partners including colleges and universities, VEDP, Roanoke Regional Partnership, Virginia Career Works Blue Ridge, and others
  • Build and execute a blueprint for a robust pipeline of technology and life-science talent program
  • Advocate for and provide support to regional employers seeking technology talent
  • Create avenues to retain early-stage talent in Region 2, including cohorts for remote workers living locally and working outside of Region 2
  • Maintain and engage a consistent database of regional and statewide contacts for channeling technology talent to Go Virginia Region 2
  • Work closely with marketing team to create custom campaigns to complement regional messaging
  • Act as an information broker on behalf of stakeholders to appropriate audiences through programming and key feeder market engagements
  • Build benchmark and reporting system to show progress and growth of technology talent attraction and retention using clear metrics that serve the regional alliance mission
  • Involvement in after-hours events planning, coordination and activities
  • Travel as required


  • 5+ years of professional work experience in a related or transferrable field is required
  • Passion for service to others
  • Ability to collaborate and work well with others
  • Self-starter who desires an active learning environment of building a new program
  • Strong project management, analytical and organizational skills
  • Ability to multi-task, prioritize, and complete projects on time and within budget, while working on long-term initiatives and strategies of the Verge alliance
  • Knowledge of local business community and ability to interact with senior level executives, government officials, academic institutions, and other stakeholders including workforce and economic development entities
  • Highly developed and effective verbal and written communication skills
  • Proactive thinking with detail-oriented and creative problem-solving approach
  • Experience overseeing creative marketing and communication campaigns
  • Excellent research, computer and technology skills are required. MS Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint are essential
  • Strong administrative skills including email management, scheduling, and problem solving

To Apply:

Virginia Western Community College Launching Biotechnology Degree Program

Virginia Western Community College is launching a new degree program in response to a fast-growing industry in the region. Beginning with the fall 2023 semester, students will be able to complete a two-year degree in biotechnology and begin to build a pipeline of qualified workers.

“We’re really building a spectrum of opportunities for our STEM students,” said Amy White, Dean of the College’s School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. “Adding this program creates another pathway to a solid, lucrative industry that keeps our students here locally and gives them the skills to be successful wherever they land.”

Biotechnology classes and a career studies certificate are currently available at Virginia Western. With an associate degree in biotechnology, students can either transfer to a four-year school or they will be job-ready for entry-level laboratory positions, which typically pay $24 an hour.

Biotechnology jobs are available across many industries including pharmaceutical, environmental, breweries, agriculture and research and development. The biotechnology field is growing so rapidly, more industries will likely be job feeders in the next decade.

“As commercialized biotech and life sciences grow in the region, Virginia Western Community College has been committed to developing new programs to meet the demand for additional employees in this emerging sector,” said Erin Burcham, Executive Director of RBTC and President of Verge.

“From their labs to their faculty, Virginia Western Community College is a true asset in our region. Amy White and her team are focused on preparing students to be ready for our ever-changing economy.”

“Our goal with this program is to prepare students with the right skillset so that they can be successful and fill the jobs that don’t even exist today,” White said. “We’re essentially putting together the ecosystem by supporting innovation and entrepreneurship and growing the industry as a whole.”

The goal is to have 12 students in the program the first year. Maintaining smaller class sizes for biotechnology is ideal due to the hands-on laboratory work required. Biology professor Heather Lindberg is the new head of the biotechnology degree program.

Virginia Western is currently reaching out to local K-12 teachers to make them aware of biotechnology learning opportunities at the College in order to build interest in the upcoming degree program.

“We are committed to creating a pathway for students and making sure they are getting an early exposure to the educational programs and the career opportunities right here in our area,” Lindberg said.

This summer, teachers are invited to STAT 22, a program on campus designed to advance their knowledge of biotechnology so they can then incorporate biotechnology into their STEM curriculum and introduce elementary and secondary students to biotechnology learning and career opportunities. The event is free to teachers, and they can earn professional development credits. Contact Heather Lindberg at for more information.

Verge Job Opening: Financial & Administrative Coordinator

Part-time position (25 – 30 hours per week)

Verge is a collaborative strategic alliance established to grow the region’s innovation economy, technology, and life sciences sectors, and the supporting professional communities. Considering future growth opportunities, Valleys Innovation Council, an alliance member of Verge, is seeking a Financial and Administrative Coordinator to support its operating procedures, financial grant reporting, future budget planning efforts, and to help strategize operational efficiencies, based on their analysis. This role will include supporting the Verge team on broader projects and duties, like:

  • Works with bookkeepers to properly track expenditures/transactions across all grants and projects
  • Maintains proper financial documentation of expenses and revenue of our vendors, contributors, and sponsors
  • Supports monthly reconciliation process of banking and checking statements by maintaining proper documentation
  • Supports leadership with financial planning and personnel commitments required on each grant/project
  • Works with the Grants Manager to support financial elements on grant reports and remittances
  • Provides financial data and information to support the annual budget(s)
  • Offers financial forecasting/projections and grant budget planning to optimize funds
  • Prepares financial reports and administrative support on future grant funding opportunities and other sources of revenue
  • Supports the annual audit and annual form renewals
  • Serves as the customer service liaison and building manager at the Gill Memorial Building in Roanoke for RAMP vendors and tenants, including lease and vendor contract management
  • Manage communications through Verge/VIC websites, social media (LinkedIn), and newsletter coordination


  • Bachelor’s Degree in finance or business or a related field.
  • Grant experience and management preferred on cross-functional projects.
  • Experience in Microsoft Excel to effectively analyze financial information, budget plan, and make forecasts.
  • Working knowledge of project management tools and shared drives.
  • Experience working with coalitions, tech industry, and/or non-profits is preferred.
  • Ability to manage multiple projects to meet deadlines and prioritize deliverables.
  • Experience working in a fast-paced team-oriented environment.
  • Must be energetic and self-motivated, with the ability to multi-task and easily adapt to change.
  • Must have excellent communication, problem solving and analytical skills.
  • Must have excellent organization, planning and time management abilities.

About Verge

Verge is a collaborative strategic alliance established to grow the region’s innovation economy, technology, and life sciences sectors, and the supporting professional communities. It aligns the strengths and programming efforts of the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council (RBTC), the Regional Accelerator and Mentoring Program (RAMP), and Valleys Innovation Council (VIC). Verge serves GO Virginia Region 2 and works to form collaborations with government, business, academia, and other organizations to advance the region and grow a thriving innovation economy.

Email cover letter and resume to

Verge Job Opening: Director of Programs

Verge, part of the RBTC collaborative alliance, is poised to grow significantly this year and in the future with multiple grant proposals and funding requests in the pipeline. The key to our success is largely dependent on the stellar ability of our program management team. We’re currently searching for an experienced director of programs to join our passionate team.

The Director of Programs will work in tandem with the Verge president and in collaboration with the entire Verge team to manage cross-functional projects. The ideal candidate will have a sharp business mind and a proven ability to strategize and implement high-level program initiatives. As a natural-born leader, you will have a strong talent for project coordination and delegation. Ultimately, you are motivated by the desire to optimize productivity and nurture program success from inception to completion. The Director of Programs will work with the team to understand deadlines, stakeholders, and deliverables to create project plans, identify and manage risk and change management while maintaining clear project status at all times.

Essential Functions:

  • Establish and maintain effective working relationships with team members, project sponsors, stakeholders and other project managers to develop project charters that define project scope, deliverables, resources, budgets and timing.
  • Leadership qualifications to include developing, leading, mentoring, and setting goals for each member of his/her team.
  • Identify project risks and mitigation plans
  • Manage project scope and work with the appropriate project teams to ensure problems are resolved in a timely manner.
  • Function as a liaison between coalitions and team members working through challenges and issues as they arise.
  • Mentors members of the organization on the principles and practice of project management.
  • Work with the appropriate project teams to ensure problems are resolved in a timely manner
  • Clearly communicate expectations, milestones, risks, status and changes in scope to team members, coalition members and project sponsors.  Track and provide regular status reports on project milestones and key project metrics.
  • Complete post-project evaluations to determine how well results were achieved and if adjustments to processes are needed.
  • Support reporting and analysis of grant results.
  •  Perform other duties as assigned.


  • Bachelor’s Degree in business, communications, finance or related field.
  • Current PMP certification is preferred.
  • Five to eight years of work experience managing strategic cross-functional projects.
  • Working knowledge of project management tools.
  • Experience in the technology industry desired.
  • Grant writing and/or management preferred.
  • Ability to manage multiple projects while working under time constraints and rapidly changing priorities.
  • Experience working in a fast-paced team-oriented environment.
  • Must be highly energetic, self-directed and self-motivated with the ability to multi-task and easily adapt to change.
  • Must have excellent communication, leadership, problem solving and analytical skills.
  • Must have excellent organization, planning and time management abilities.
  • Demonstrated experience leading people and getting results in a matrixed environment
  • Ability to think and plan strategically for organizational success.
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills.

About Verge:

Verge is a collaborative strategic alliance established to grow the region’s innovation economy, technology, and life sciences sectors, and the supporting professional communities. It aligns the strengths and programming efforts of the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council (RBTC), the Regional Accelerator and Mentoring Program (RAMP), and Valleys Innovation Council (VIC). Verge serves GO Virginia Region 2 and works to form collaborations with government, business, academia, and other organizations to advance the region and grow a thriving innovation economy.

Email cover letter and resume to