When IMA's founders got together, we identified key long range goals we shared for the technologies powered by people in virtual worlds communities. We listened to others and discussed how researchers are seeing increasingly beneficial results when using virtual worlds to improve the quality of life and the impact of positive technology efforts in addition to an active social component in virtual worlds.
Gathering with others, we took a look back at where we've been as a community then we looked forward into a brighter future for everyone. We at IMA see all of us building the future together using virtual worlds, virtual reality, and synthetic environment technologies. Our concept of an alliance and logo naturally evolved because maximizing societal benefit together became our theme.
The color blue is the color of trust and responsibility - this color in our logo represents an infinite loop of core services in our Research Branch. Red is the color of energy, passion and action - this color in our logo represents the people who make up Team IMA and our Working Group Branch. Green is the color of balance, harmony and growth - this color in our logo represents the founders working together to build the foundation from the ground up and the middle out along with our Development Branch core services. Combined, these colors in our logo represent empowerment of Team IMA - an alliance for a better future through science, technology, and innovation. We believe we are only limited by our IMAginations in the Infinite Metaverse.
We extended the branch concept as an integrated team to form an innovative research and development philanthropic foundation. IMA's hybrid structure basically has two parts: business at the core and a community surrounding that core. The community aspect (Working Group branch) is where the bulk of working group activities take place and is the larger part of IMA that will continue to grow. The business aspect of IMA (Research and Development branches) will remain lean at the core to keep costs down in providing resources for the community aspect. But, the core will also grow in number of paid staff as jobs are created as a result of working group activities, grant awards, and service contracts. Together, members and staff in all three branches comprise Team IMA - all stakeholders in IMA's success.
The growth of Team IMA will not be limited to the number of members and staff as it would in a typical foundation type organization. Working groups that obtain grant funding or fiscal sponsorships will also directly create jobs where IMA will need to lead. The membership itself creates a talent pool for IMA's leadership to have available in filling new jobs as they come available under service contracts. Some other areas we see growth may be in content creation, coding, animations, instruction, and moderation. Indirectly, as Team IMA helps advance greater adoption of virtual worlds and virtual reality technologies with a viable secure virtual economy, demand will create even more jobs and/or opportunities towards the development of future synthetic environments. All of these aspects are directly related to research projects that either develop software based on research results or that support ongoing research using virtual worlds, virtual reality, or synthetic environment software or content. Overall, these are positive effects that improve the quality of life as much as specific projects in Working Groups help improve the quality of life through research.
So, as part of our plan forward, when Laxton Consulting, LLC and A Dimension Beyond, Inc. began discussing partnering as founders of IMA, we knew that we needed to plan for growth yet keep overhead costs low. The best way to do that is to have a leadership team with experience that plays an active role not just an administrative one. Specifically, everyone involved must be able to conduct grant and service contract work and actively lead by example in the working groups. This means each member of the leadership team will be responsible for both traditional C-level activities and also serve in active functional roles on Team IMA. We've put together a strong leadership team that brings unique value to the community and IMA from a business, technical, and research perspective:
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Lisa Laxton – Core Sustaining Engineering
Lisa Laxton has 15+ years experience in software engineering, programming, and consulting as well as 25+ years experience in the public, government, and private sectors. Specific experience includes programming standards compliant immersive online Web3D simulations; designing interactive online multi-user environments; developing innovative GIS-based DEM modeling techniques with tiled overlay capability; and managing emerging technology solutions including Open Simulator.
Additional areas of expertise are backed by a Bachelor of Science in Process Monitoring and Control Systems, Computer Systems Design, and Computer Science along with eleven years engineering experience in computer and communications systems, systems integration, and both ground-based and orbital networks and six years providing technical instruction and training.
Ms. Laxton, President of Laxton Consulting, LLC (LC), is currently an active member of the Project MOSES: Military Open Simulator Enterprise Strategy community supporting research and development at United States Army Advanced Training Systems Division (ATSD). She is also active in the Open Simulator server community, the Open Simulator third-party viewer community, commercial Open Simulator grids, Open Simulator community events, Open Simulator social networks, and non-profit Open Simulator projects in education and the arts.
Recent activities include active participation in Human Computer Interface research conducted in Virginia using Open Simulator technology sponsored by Nova Southeastern University. Ms. Laxton was also the 2014 Overall Winner of Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) Massive Multiplayer Online Wargame Leveraging the Internet (MMOWGLI) Business Innovation Initiative (BII). She was cited by NPS as the most influential Idea Card author and most prominent Action Plan collaborator. As CEO of IMA, Ms. Laxton brings a broad range of expertise and experience not often found at the head of other organizations.
Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Steve LaVigne – Core Information Assurance
Steve LaVigne has 25+ years experience as an entrepreneur running sales and service enterprises. The latest incarnation of his business expertise is called AngelFire Productions, Inc. – established in 1997. AngelFire Productions’ focus is selling Apple computers and repairing all brands of computers for small business and consumers. Additional services include: networking, hosting, web design, and audio-visual services to customers world wide.
Mr. LaVigne is also Secretary-Treasurer of A Dimension Beyond, Inc., (ADB) which is a company specializing in software development for Virtual Reality and Virtual Worlds. ADB also provides hosting, setup of virtual world servers and technical education for users of virtual world servers. The company has been developing an innovative web front end for Open Simulator with a user interface that is simple and easy to use.
With a focus on ADB’s commitment to Open Source, Mr. LaVigne has been an active member of Project MOSES: Military Open Simulator Enterprise Strategy community supporting research and development at United States Army Advanced Training Systems Division (ATSD) in Orlando FL for several years. Like Ms. Laxton, he is also active in the Open Simulator server development community, the Open Simulator social community, the Open Simulator training community, and support of Open Simulator projects. Steve LaVigne currently has over 75 regions on various grids based on Open Simulator including Metropolis Grid, OSGrid, One More Grid, and his own grid: the AngelFire Grid. He has been involved in the community building more than 100 regions with different themes over the past 10 years.
As an advocate of Open Source software, Mr LaVigne has actively supported Open Source development since its inception. He sees Open Source as a primary choice in all future projects. In relation to IMA’s mission, Mr. LaVigne understands the community’s need for participation in this project and will do everything he can do to facilitate participation.
Chief Information Officer (CIO) Myron Curtis – Core Software Engineering
Myron Curtis, with 25+ years directly related software engineering and business experience, has a broad set of skills in the ICT sector as system administrator, freelance computer technician, and an educator. He is a successful team leader who has a talent for bringing together people with both divergent and common interests to achieve complex goals, attaining the greatest mutual benefit.
In 2006, Mr. Curtis was asked to investigate the educational potential of virtual worlds, like "Second Life" where he built the Darkstone Learning Center. This simulation was designed to develop and test curriculum using instructional media for teaching in virtual worlds. The Darkstone Learning Center was closed in December of 2011 due to increasing fees for land ownership in Second Life. Looking for alternatives, beginning in 2007, Mr. Curtis built his own virtual world using the Open Simulator software platform. Today, his Virtual Worlds Grid is the third largest Open Simulator grid in land quantity, but has fallen to about 20th in number of users. However, active users are again growing in Virtual Worlds Grid.
Three years ago, Mr. Curtis became the Deputy Sector Navigator for ICT & Digital Media in far Northern California. He serves seven Community Colleges to help create clear pathways in Career and Technical Education (CTE) that enable students to navigate from their academic careers to vocational careers in a cost effective manner. He also works with the colleges and K-12 schools to encourage students to follow career paths in Science, Technology Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) pathways, especially women.
Myron Curtis is also the current CEO of ADB providing coding, marketing, hosting and educational services to further the adoption of Open Simulator worldwide. His expertise is backed by educational credentials from Cabrillo College, Sierra College (Associate of Arts), California State University (Bachelor of Arts), and 36 units post-graduate level studies. His vision, education, expertise, and experience make him a perfect fit to lead the development branch of IMA.
Chief Digital Content Officer (CDCO) 'Jo Querrien' – Core Content Management
In keeping with the virtual world presence, our Chief Digital Content Officer is 'Jo Querrien' in any of IMA's grids. She has 7+ years virtual world experience and a presence in multiple virtual world spaces including being a long-time creator in Second Life and multiple Open Simulator grids. Ms. Querrien is an expert in the creation of avatar shapes, tailoring skins to those shapes for realism, avatar eye textures, and accessories. She is also experienced in object creation - specifically realistic architectural details backed by a degree in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Art. She maintains a focus on usability and immersion in virtual world design encouraging the use of animations, scripted object behaviors, lighting, and sound.
Ms. Querrien is familiar with technology limitations that impact scripting and building considerations like camera limitations, movement, animations, etc and has experience with the intricate nature of creator interaction when it comes to setting permissions for sharing and sales of digital content. She will likely extend her expertise into writing tutorials for beginners, novices, and experienced users and provide member resources on IMA's community forum.
The broad experience Ms. Querrien has developed allows her to contribute a wide range of skills needed to create high quality realistic digital content for training and education simulations. As CDCO, she will also contribute to User Interface Design and assist subscribers with their content creation to be shared in the IMAginations Store.
Chief Research Officer (CRO) Georgia Laxton, PhD – Core Research Review and Support
Georgia Laxton has 25+ years experience in research as an analyst, programmer, and researcher. Her educational background, which includes a BS in mathematics and a PhD in Experimental Psychology, provided a sound basis upon which to develop her skills from both a programming and research perspective.
Dr. Laxton has provided analytical support for research projects and evaluations of intervention programs. She has also managed projects, which included applications development, systems analysis, air traffic control research and collecting and analyzing data from a number of sources for a national government agency.
Among the areas which Dr. Laxton has provided support and research expertise are Criminal Justice, Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse in military and civilian settings, Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse in adults and juveniles, Clinical Drug Trials, Air Traffic Control, Child Support, and Learning Disabilities. Additionally, Dr. Laxton has extensive experience in database development, quality control, database applications development, database maintenance and database reporting.
Additional areas of experience include authoring, editing, and proofreading of publications. Her analytical skills, project management experience, and demonstrated expertise aligned Laxton Consulting’s vision for success. Dr. Laxton contributes strategic value to the research branch of IMA.
Chief Procurement Officer (CPO) Marion DeGhetto – Core Procurement and Compliance
Marion DeGhetto has 15+ years experience managing accounts and team members as a Licensed Optician and Retail Manager. Responsible for product testing, review, administrative tasks, and marketing support, Ms. DeGhetto has superior customer service knowledge with excellent coaching and team building skills. Keen on organizational objectives, Ms. DeGhetto has demonstrated the ability to deliver results.
Ms. DeGhetto has specific experience which includes modeling and inspiring associates through clear team objectives and goals. Her sound judgment in anticipating challenges and seeking the right resources ensures Laxton Consulting, LLC maintains a positive and diverse team culture. This skill set, combined with a vested interest, makes Ms. DeGhetto a natural fit to keep the IMA team in compliance with procurement rules.