September 5, 2016

The Team


Steven Critchfield

Steve grew up in the Washington D.C. area and was accepted into Virginia Tech. There he earned a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Economics and a minor in Computer Science. After graduating in 1980, Steve became a systems analyst for the First Virginia Banks data processing department. After leaving the Bank in 1983, Steve returned to Blacksburg and re-entered Virginia Tech where he took classes in the Pamplin School of Business. In 1984, Steve started his first Real Estate Development Company, known as Rocky Acres, outside of Blacksburg, catering to the Graduate School Student Market, which he still owns today. Steve continued his love for business by establishing Tele-Works, which provided informational and payments systems to local governments in over 36 U.S. states and Canada. The company was successfully sold in 2014 as one of the largest technology sales in the New River and Roanoke Valleys.

Steve has been involved in many other startups in the Blacksburg area through investments, board guidance, and advisory boards. These involvements include the Roanoke Blacksburg Technology Council, the Steger Poetry Initiative, the Alexander Black Museum and Cultural Center, and numerous other organizations. His is currently involved in the revitalization of the Town of Pulaski through real estate development and emerging technology companies such as MOVA. Steve currently serves as President and Chairman of the Board of Directors for MOVA Technologies, Inc.

 Russell Ellis

Russ grew up in Virginia where he attended Virginia Western Community College and earned an AS in data processing, graduating in 1980. After beginning his career as a computer programmer and IT Manager, he started his first company Data Systems Consulting, Inc in 1991. There he created an electronic forms automation platform for the life insurance and financial services industries, growing into a multi-million-dollar business and merging with InSystems Technologies in 1998. In 1999, he spun out a separate based startup,, which was an internet-based benefits portal to connect small employers and insurers. In 2002, InSystems Technologies was purchased by a publicly traded company, and in 2004 he founded Rusty’s Best Corporation where he created and produced a unique line of Bloody Mary Mixes and grew the distribution to span seven states.

In early 2015 Russ became Managing Director of a London based startup for Interactive Achievement, LLC, a US based K-12 online testing and assessment software company. Returning to Roanoke in May 2016 after a successful sale of the company, Russ became the president of Common Wealth Growth, a private equity investment group where he is responsible for deal flow and overall company management. Russ has served his community by serving on numerous boards including the Roanoke Blacksburg Technology Council, VWCC Educational Foundation, the Foundation for Roanoke Valley, the Taubman Museum of Art, and numerous other non-profit organizations. Russ currently serves on the Board of Directors for MOVA Technologies, Inc.



Dr. Michael Karmis

Dr. Michael Karmis is the Stonie Barker Professor of the Department of Mining and Minerals Engineering and the Director of the Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research (VCCER) at Virginia Tech.  During his over +40 year career at Virginia Tech, he also served as Head of the Department of Mining and Minerals Engineering for 14 years.

His interest is in the broad area of sustainable development of energy and mineral resources, with focus on mine systems and geomechanics, health and safety, environmental management, energy planning and carbon management.  He has authored or co-authored over 180 scientific papers and has directed more than 60 major research projects, funded by federal and state agencies, foundations and the private sector.

A Professional Engineer (P.E.) in the USA and a Eur Ing in Europe, Dr. Karmis is an active consultant to the global mining industry, academic and research institutions, government agencies, engineering companies, and financial and legal firms.  He served as the 2002 President of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (SME) and as the 2008 President of the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers (AIME). He was elected as the 2002 President of the Society of Mining Professors (SOMP)-Societät der Bergbaukunde and served from 2005 to 2012 as the Society’s Secretary General.  Dr. Karmis serves on the Board of several entities, including private companies, organizations and professional groups.

He is an Honorary Member of AIME, a Distinguished Member of SME, a Fellow of the Institute of Quarrying, and a Fellow of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining.  He has received numerous awards and recognitions by major scientific, educational, professional and industrial organizations.

Mike Quillen

Mike received his Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Civil Engineering from Virginia Tech and currently resides in Bristol, Virginia. He joins MOVA’s Advisory Board bringing a wealth of industry knowledge and experience. Most notably, Mike was the Founder and CEO of Alpha Natural Resources (ANR) which had operations throughout Virginia, Kentucky and West Virginia as the third largest coal company in America. ANR was the largest exporter of met coal in the United States and third largest producer of met coal in the world. Prior to ANR, Mike served as the Executive Vice President of Operations for American Metals & Coal International (AMCI) where he was responsible for worldwide company operations. Mike’s involvement with ANR and AMCI were developed through experience in previous positions that include Vice President of Operations for Pittston Coal, President of Pittston Coal Sales, President of Paramount Mining, Terry Eagle Coal Co., and Rapoca Energy Company.

In addition to his work in the private sector, Mr. Quillen served on numerous Board of Directors throughout the Commonwealth, including the Virginia Port Authority, Virginia Community College Foundation, the Virginia Tech Civil Engineering Advisory Board, the Forward Southwest Virginia Board and many others. His efforts have not gone unrecognized, as he was named Virginia Business Magazine’s 2011 Business Person of the Year, 2006 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for the Greater Washington Area in Energy, and he was the first recipient of the William P. Kanto Memorial Award for significant contributions to public education in 1989. Mike looks to bring his commitment to the Commonwealth and vast industry experience to his role on MOVA’s Advisory Board.

Dr. Raymond Smoot

Raymond D. Smoot, Jr., retired in 2012 as Chief Executive Officer and Secretary-Treasurer of the Virginia Tech Foundation, Inc. where he was responsible for management of assets in excess of $1.3 billion including the university’s endowment, the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, and the Hotel Roanoke.  He previously held several vice presidential posts at Virginia Tech, most recently as Vice President for Administration and Treasurer.  Prior to returning to Virginia Tech in 1975, he was a graduate research associate at The Ohio State University and served as a legislative assistant in the Ohio House of Representatives and Senate.  Dr. Smoot continues to serve as a director of several Virginia Tech Related Corporations.

Dr. Smoot is a native of Lynchburg, Virginia, and earned bachelor and masters degrees from Virginia Tech and a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University.

Dr. Smoot is active in business and community affairs.  He is executive committee member and finance committee chair of Carilion Clinic, and a director of RGC Resources, Inc., and served 2014-19 as Chairman of Union Bankshares.  He is a director of the Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, and has served as Chairman of the Investment Committee of the Virginia Retirement System, one of the nation’s largest pension funds.  He also serves as an investment advisory board member of Harbert Venture Partners.  Dr. Smoot was recognized by the Association of University Research Parks as recipient of its 2005 National Community Leadership Award, in 2012 by Junior Achievement as a member of its Western Virginia Business Hall of Fame, and in 2015 with the Silver Hope Award by the Virginia/West Virginia Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society.  Dr. Smoot currently is Chair of the Lynchburg/Roanoke/New River Valley Go Virginia Regional Council, and in 2018 was appointed by Governor Northam to the Commonwealth Transportation Board.

Dan Carson

Dan Carson retired June 1, 2010 from Appalachian Power Company, a regional subsidiary of American Electric Power Company (AEP). Carson joined Appalachian Power in 1970 after graduating from Virginia Tech with a degree in civil engineering. He was appointed vice president of the company in 1992, and Virginia-Tennessee president in 1996. Carson earned a master of business administration degree in 1977 from Lynchburg College and a master of science in management from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1982, following a year of study as an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow. Prior to his retirement, he was a registered professional engineer.

Carson served as chairman of the board of directors of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, chairman and director emeritus of the Western Virginia Foundation for the Arts and Sciences, and board chair for the Roanoke Valley Business Council, the Washington County Chamber of Commerce, and Roanoke Country Club.He also served in leadership capacities for the Virginia Manufacturers Association, the Virginia College Fund, the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges, and a number of Roanoke area organizations. Carson served as 2009 campaign chair for the Roanoke Valley United Way.

He is a member of the Virginia Tech College of Engineering's "Committee of 100," and in 2007 was inducted as a member of the Academy of Distinguished Alumni of the Via Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Tech. He was inducted into the College's Academy of Engineering Excellence in 2014.


James Compton

 James is from Apex, North Carolina where he grew up before moving to Blacksburg to attend Virginia Tech. At Virginia Tech, he graduated in 2017 earning a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies with a concentration in World Politics and Policy. During his time as a student, James was a member of the Virginia Tech soccer team, UKIRK campus ministry, and the GERMAN Club. As a member of the soccer team, he served on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee to be a representative of the team to the athletic department.

During his summers in between college, James was actively involved in serving the local and international community. He interned with New Dublin Presbyterian Church and participated in Intercultural Encounter programs in Guatemala to learn more about how individuals and communities can support each other around the world. This has fueled his passion for social justice advocacy, a vision he looks to incorporate into MOVA. He became involved with MOVA as an intern during the summer of 2016 and remained involved throughout his senior year. James now serves as the Operations Officer for MOVA Technologies, Inc.


Matthew Gulotta

Matthew grew up in Mount Airy, Maryland where he was accepted into Virginia Tech on an Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship. Matthew became an Eagle Scout in his early years and decided to pursue a commission in the Air Force by becoming a member of the Corps of Cadets. While in the Corps, he served as the Alpha Company First Sergeant, Company Commander, and ended his time in the corps as the 1st Battalion Commander. While serving in those capacities Matthew was in charge of the daily life, training, and welfare of up to 329 cadets.

Throughout his time in the corps, Matthew was in charge of organizing, planning, and leading numerous large-scale events. Furthermore, he was essential in further evolving the EMT staff for the corps by raising funds, recruiting EMTs, and equipping personnel. He served as the junior in charge of medical services for over 400 cadets. In the Air Force ROTC detachment, Matthew served in numerous leadership and staff positions in which he has earned leadership awards for his efforts. Matthew graduated from Virginia Tech in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering. Matthew remains involved by acting as the Technology Development Director of MOVA Technologies, Inc.


Luke Allison

Luke grew up in the valleys of Tazewell, Virginia before attending Virginia Tech. He graduated in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Forestry Resource Management within the College of Natural Resources and Environment. Luke spent his first three years at Virginia Tech as a member of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets and the Armed Forces Special Operations Preparation Team, in which he held the positions of Tap Coordinator, First Sergeant, and Executive Officer. In these positions, he planned, coordinated, and conducted training for 150 potential candidates and 12 members. Prior to his senior year, Luke chose to explore the civilian sector, allowing him the opportunity to serve as an assistant to the Maintenance Technology Supervisor, John Martin, at the Tazewell County Public Service Authority.

Luke is currently a member of the Advisory Board for two startup companies to be located in Pulaski, VA: Next Level, Inc. and Crescent City Café. He is involved in Kethenos, a property company in Pulaski, and a member of West Main Development dedicated to the revitalization of downtown Pulaski. Luke’s educational and professional background have developed his interests in local government and environmental health and stability, and he now serves as the Management Director of the Arthur Squires Irrevocable Trust to work with MOVA Technologies in its relationship to the Trust.


 Leslie Farthing

Leslie graduated from Shepherd College in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and a minor in Economics.  She moved to Blacksburg to continue her education, and a year later graduated from Virginia Tech with a Master of Accountancy.  While living in Blacksburg, Leslie began work with a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Elizabeth Roberts.  She moved to Morgantown, West Virginia for three years while her husband attended law school at West Virginia University.  For part of her time there, she worked as a staff accountant at a local hospital.  In 1999, Leslie and her family returned to Southwest Virginia when her husband got a job in Wytheville.  She got back in touch with Mrs. Roberts and worked with her as a CPA, both from home and in Roberts' office, for the next several years.  Over that time, she slowly grew her own client base and now has her own practice.  She has been a practicing CPA for over 20 years and is currently serving as the accountant for MOVA Technologies.


Jeffrey Mitchell

Jeff grew up in Tazewell, VA and currently resides in Blacksburg, VA. Jeff graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Virginia Tech in 1986. After graduation, Jeff attended law school at the University of Richmond School of Law. Jeff currently owns The Mitchell Law Firm where he focuses his practice on corporate transactions and working with emerging and established businesses to provide strategic, growth-oriented legal advice, with practical in-house experience and public-sector awareness. He has also served as the lead counsel on numerous venture capital financings, private equity raises, mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, strategic alliances, and complex limited liability operating agreements. As a small business lawyer, Jeff has worked with hundreds of small business owners and founders providing advice for their growth.

Jeff has served on the staff of former Virginia Governor Gerald L. Baliles, focusing on economic development issues, and has served as a key political advisor to many Virginia elected officials, including former Virginia Governor and current United States Senator Mark R. Warner. He has also served as a director and advisor for numerous business and civic entities, including several privately held companies. Former Virginia Governors Warner and Tim Kaine both appointed him to the Virginia State Board for Community Colleges, where he now serves as the Chairman of the State Board for Community Colleges. Jeff currently serves as the Attorney for MOVA Technologies, Inc.