Meet the Crew (They’re Speaking, Too!)

Press Publish Phoenix is tomorrow, isn’t it great? Tonight we’ll hold an opening mixer for registered attendees from 5:30-7pm. Attendees can pick up their welcome packets, check in, and meet the amazing people who will be taking the stage and helping out on Saturday. Check your inbox; logistical info about the location of the opening mixer has been emailed to everyone registered for the Phoenix event!

We’ve introduced you to all the featured bloggers who’ll be speaking in Phoenix, and we wanted to introduce the rest of the folks you’ll see working and speaking at the event too. They’re all super friendly, so if there’s someone on this list you’d like to meet, please say hello and introduce yourself at the event!

The Theme Teachers

Themes and easily customizing your site is such a huge part of why people choose WordPress that of course we’d have speakers to talk about help you make the most of your site design. Kathryn Presner (Montréal) is a Happiness Engineer focused on helping people customize their themes. She’s a patient teacher, and in addition to speaking at a number of WordCamps, is involved with other organizations that help bridge the gap between being a blogger and being a site builder. She’ll be doing a short talk about Widgets in the first hour of the day, then leading all of our design workshops throughout the day — taking you through menus & widgets, CSS basics in the first three, followed by running an open CSS clinic to help troubleshoot common CSS display issues toward the end of the day.

Erick Hitter (Ventura) works at Automattic leading an outreach team focused on increasing WordPress adoption. Previous to that, he lead a team which developed customization tools for users to take our beautiful themes and make them their own. Erick’s an experienced speaker at WordCamps and a patient instructor. He’ll be teaching a design workshop on using the WordPress Customizer and helping Kathryn teach the other design workshops throughout the day, as well as giving a short talk on using Jetpack in the afternoon.

Lance Willett (Tuscon) has been with Automattic for five years now, leading the Theme Team for much of that time. He’s currently on a team focused on improving the quality of the experience. Raised in Mexico, Lance is an experienced conference speaker in English and Spanish. When he’s not helping out in the Happiness Lounge, Lance will be presenting a session about the recent changes to the design of the dashboard. He’ll also talk about Jetpack Manage, a new Jetpack feature which will be of interest to self-hosted bloggers.

The Shopkeeps

Got a question about a upgrade? Marjorie Asturias (Dallas) is a Happiness Engineer focused on helping people who use the Store. Before joining Automattic last year, Marjorie worked as a social media and content marketing consultant. She’s an experienced speaker who’s presented at technology and business conferences. Marjorie will be speaking in the morning about making money through your blog using ads, affiliates, and ecommerce; then in the afternoon, she’ll team up with Josepha Haden to present a session on search engine optimization, social media, and public relations.

Chris Lauzon (Ventura) leads the team of Happiness Engineers who help out with the Store and has worked for Automattic for two years. You’ll find him at the Happiness Lounge on Saturday. He’s incredibly friendly and patient, so don’t hesitate to ask him any WordPress question you’ve got. Chris is a self-described nerd who is currently obsessed with the new Star Wars trailer.

The Editors

Cheri Lucas Rowlands (Redwood City) has worked as a Story Wrangler on the editorial team for 3 years. She was Freshly Pressed a few times and got curious about who was handpicking the blogs for what was at that time the  home page, and ended up working here! Cheri helps teach Blogging U classes and works on a number of cool outreach and curation projects, helping bloggers meet their creative goals and calling attention to great WordPress bloggers. She’ll be leading two of our writing workshops and presenting a short session on how to get more readers on

Grace Park (Los Angeles) has worked as a Happiness Engineer at Automattic for 2 years now, helping people in the Forums and, more recently, supporting Blogging 101 students at Blogging U. Grace will be speaking in the morning about making the most of your Premium upgrade (don’t forget to activate yours if you haven’t already!) and  helping out with the writing workshops in the morning and afternoon. She’s a warm and confident speaker who loves helping people make the most of their blogs.

Happiness Engineers

Ash Rhodes (native to Phoenix!) works for Automattic as a Happiness Engineer, focused on helping people via the free Forums. Ash is an accomplished photographer and can answer domain/hosting questions better than anyone I know. He’ll be helping people in the Happiness Lounge nearly all day long as well as taking pictures of the event for us. If you notice him yawning a little, it’s because he’s got a newborn at home, so be gentle! 😉

With three years at Automattic under her belt, Karen Arnold (Albuquerque) has helped a lot of people with WordPress as a Happiness Engineer. Her current focus is on hiring more Happiness Engineers so that Automattic can provide exemplary service to the people who use She’s spoken at WordCamps all over the world, in both Spanish and English, and is an experienced WordCamp organizer to boot! How she does all this and still homeschools her 4 kids is beyond us, but we’re excited that Karen will be presenting a session on using the WordPress mobile apps — if anyone knows how to blog on the go, it’s her!

The Community Builders

Cami Kaos (Portland) works with volunteers all over the world in her role as a WordPress open source project community organizer, and has done so for the past two years that she’s worked for Automattic. She’s an experienced podcaster, blogger, and event organizer. Cami will be emceeing in the Steele Auditorium.

Josepha Haden (Kansas City) also works for Automattic as a community organizer for the WordPress open source project; before joining the company, she worked as a content management and social media consultant for ten years. Josepha will be presenting a short session on the less-known features of the WordPress editor and co-presenting with Marjorie Asturias with tips on how to do a fantastic job on your own SEO, social media, and public relations.

Ian Dunn (Seattle) develops and maintains the tools that the WordPress open source project’s community organizers use to create great events. He’s worked at Automattic for two years now, and he’ll be helping out at the Happiness Lounge all day on Saturday. Ian can help you with your questions about and self-hosted blogs; he loves to find solutions!

Jen Mylo (Portland) has been with Automattic for over six years now. In that time, she’s worked as the project manager and design lead for the WordPress open source project as well as, more recently, the community organizing and diversity lead for the open source project. This year she and Andrea Middleton have focused on launching Press Publish, a new event series for bloggers from Jen will be presenting a session after lunch on ways to post more often with less effort. You might also find her at registration and walking around the conference, making sure everything is running smoothly.

Andrea Middleton (Portland) has worked for Automattic for 4 years… Hey, that’s me! Most of my time in the past 4 years has been focused on working with volunteers for the WordPress open source project all over the world. This year, I’ve been working on launching this new event series called Press Publish, a blogging conference from I hope you like what we’ve put together for you! I’ll be at registration or buzzing around the conference space, keeping the trains running on time.

Whew, that’s a lot of people! I look forward to seeing you at tonight’s opening mixer (remember, details in your inbox) and tomorrow at the Heard Museum for a great weekend of inspiration, learning, and meeting new friends!


Comments are closed.