The BDC Foundation

The Beaufort Digital Corridor Foundation, is an independent 501(c)6 non-profit corporation focused on diversifying Beaufort's economy by pursuing an array of innovative products, events and services focused exclusively on the tech industry.

  • Apply to Become a BDC Board Member

    Currently accepting applications for anticipated board openings in 2024. Application deadline Jan 31, 2024.

    The board's nomination task force will review all applications and notify candidates for interview. Candidates will be evaluated on the following criteria to determine eligibility: Previous Volunteer / Leadership Experience, Involvement with the Beaufort Digital Corridor, Skill / Expertise Relevant to Support the BDC's Current Mission, Fundraising Experience, Leadership Attributes and Commitment.


    Download PDF application below and submit completed application along with your most recent resume/CV and a professional bio to: by deadline of 1/31/24.

    Download Application

  • Melissa Venable


    As the Principal of Design Doc LLC Melissa's current contracts include serving as Director of Professional Development for the National Career Development Association (NCDA) where her projects include developing on-demand continuing education opportunities, producing the Career Practitioner Conversations podcast, and coordinating a webinar series. She is also the Editor of Career Developments, NCDA's quarterly member-benefit magazine. Melissa has been an adjunct faculty member and online course designer in Saint Leo University's M.S. in Instructional Design program since 2012.

    Melissa earned a PhD in Instructional Technology at the University of South Florida with research interests in distance education and support services for online students. She also holds master's degrees from Central Michigan University and the University of Oklahoma, and a bachelor's degree from Wake Forest University.

    Melissa and her husband, Rob Petitgout, have been non-resident BDC members since its opening in 2017. She has lived in Beaufort since 2012 and served on the City of Beaufort's Higher Education Task Force and on the Friends of the Beaufort County Library Board. Melissa is also a graduate of Leadership Beaufort.

  • Chris Robinson

    Vice Chair

    Chris Robinson is a visual artist and University of South Carolina Emeritus Professor, recently retired as Visiting Artist and Chair of Visual Art & Design at USC Beaufort. His interests and artwork focus on the development, role, and mediation of complex science and technology in contemporary culture and how it assists in and influences decision making. Research throughout his career has involved the early use of computers and 3D imaging in the arts to laser and ambient light installations, aviation and space development, scientific exploration, complex drawings of digital spaces, and the rapid emergence of nanoscience/technology. While at USC, Robinson was involved in a variety of cross disciplinary initiatives as a member of the NanoCenter and has been a senior and co principal investigator on $3.5 million in United States National Science Foundation funding for multidisciplinary teams investigating the broader impacts, societal implications, and role of images in the development of nanotechnology, and spent the Spring 2009 as a Visiting Professor at the Scuola Normale Superiore of the University of Pisa working with the Italian National Enterprise for nanoScience and nanoTechnology (NEST). He serves as the Chief Marketing Officer for AntiRadical Therapeutics (ART) in the development and marketing of a significant therapeutic, and as a fellow at the Carnegie Mellon University Studio for Creative Inquiry with The Moon Arts Group, placing a small museum on the moon. Robinson crosses the two cultures and exhibits, writes, and presents at national and international venues and conferences in the arts and the sciences throughout North and South America, Europe, and Asia, conducting professional activity on four continents in twenty-three countries, along with service in the breadth of university life.

  • Rich Conte


    Rich Conte is a Product Management and Development professional with over 25 years of experience in the technology industry spanning Engineering, User Experience Design and Product Management. For the past 18 years, he served in various Product Development roles at Charleston-based Blackbaud Inc. In his current role as Senior Manager of Technical Product Management, Rich leads a team that is helping power Blackbaud's digital transformation efforts by developing Identity Management, Commerce and Developer capabilities.

    A passionate Technology Startup advocate, Rich supported the Charleston technology community as Producer and Host of the Tech Life / Silicon Harbor Radio podcast, board member for the Charleston Startup and STEM Foundation, Startup Weekend Charleston organizer, and advisor to a network of Charleston-based entrepreneurs. He is excited to contribute to the local technology community and help further the Beaufort Digital Corridor's mission.

    Rich relocated from Charleston in August 2020, and along with his wife Amelia and son Sullivan, looks forward to being part of the Beaufort community for a long time to come.

  • Jeannine McConnell


    Jeannine McConnell's four-decade tech career spans successes from software development patents, Big-4 management consulting to strategic global leadership roles. Jeannine's most recent responsibilities included leading a global team of technologists and strategic partners at ServiceNow, the company Forbes magazine called "the most innovative company in the world" in 2018. At the helm of Nexterity LLC, Jeannine has supported multiple Silicon Valley technology companies to optimize their strategic programs and supported a major North Carolina healthcare organization to reinvent their portfolio management approach.

    Jeannine brings unparalleled energy to the topic of transformation and the impact technology has on the most critical resource, your people. Her four decades of technology innovation, consultative leadership, and cultural change experience makes her uniquely qualified to support your organization through whatever comes next! Jeannine is a contributing leader to the BRM Institute™, holds certifications from PMI™, IIBA™, is ITIL™ certified, and is a certified OKR Coach and an ECHO Listening™ coach.

    Jeannine has a passion for optimizing potential, creating order out of chaos, finding collaboration amongst the broken edges of complex organizations, and creating high-performing teams that really enjoy celebrating wins and growing together.

  • Jason Loia

    Board Member

    Jason is a seasoned technology executive who has served in various C-Level roles in Silicon Valley startups. He brings over 20 years of game production and publishing experience to the panel, having served with industry legends such as Trip Hawkins (Founder and first-CEO of Electronic Arts), and Ilkka Paananen (CEO & Co-founder of Supercell). Jason also has deep expertise in AI and Cybersecurity, and most recently served as President of AnchorFree and subsequently CEO of CyberGhost. Jason currently serves on the Beaufort Digital Corridor Board of Directors and advises startups on growth and monetization, as well as provides executive coaching for up-and-coming entrepreneurs.