Sam English – Who Are You?

Sam English, CIE Partners, Commentator Extraordinaire Dear Sam English,

You have generously posted comments on Handshake 2.0 since its inception one year ago.  For longer than that, you have posted comments on Inside VT KnowledgeWorks.

Your comments are consistently thoughtful, informed, pointed but fair, and ultimately supportive.
I've met you in person maybe three times and we've spoken only briefly.  You kindly gave Stuart Mease an interview for Connecting People in the RNR.  You seem to have a deep interest in thinking, in ideas, in regional economic development.  And you seem to have a philosophy or a context in which you're commenting on what's going on, at least as conveyed on H20 and IVTKW.

I see your impressive bio on the CIE Partners site, but, really:

Who are you?

With respect,


Dear Anne,

First, I only keep up with a few blogs and Handshake 2.0 is on the top of my list.

You have asked me a challenging question.

Of course that question simultaneously hits on many levels – I’ll avoid the philosophical/metaphysical discussion (for now) and introduce myself instead. 

Ten years ago, my wife and I were living in Chicago and wanted to find a community that aligned with our family’s priorities.  The influencing factors were similar to those in Stuart Mease’s post, Connecting People in the RNR – Nine Reasons to Live Here.

After conducting research and visiting several cities, we chose Roanoke, Virginia.  It was a great decision and we treasure our new community.  Since then, I’ve been professionally active in business endeavors which, if you're interested, you can read about on CIE Partners.

While those items provide part of the “who I am” story, there are other parts that might be helpful…

Several beliefs:

  • I believe that entrepreneurs and small businesses play a critical (and often overlooked) role in our region.
  • I believe that the benefits of the region (Roanoke & New River Valleys specifically) working more closely together are numerous and will have far-reaching positive impacts.
  • I believe that we, as a community, need to learn from the lessons of others so that we collectively learn and grow (e.g. New Century Council).

My volunteer efforts might also give you some insights into "who I am." At the moment these include:

Science Museum of Western Virginia.  I serve on the Board because the Museum:

  • Inspires the next generation of scientists and engineers
  • Serves the entire region (RNR and then some)
  • Puts into practice its mission.  For example, a recent program, Women in Science, featured free admission to meet local women scientists and a NASA astronaut.

NewVa Corridor Technology Council. I’ve been actively involved since 2001 in this professional network that ties the technology business community together.

Southwest Virginia Science Forum.  An annual event – scheduled for October 13, 2009 this year – the Forum brings together the region’s scientists from academia and industry to learn about local life science research. It’s a wonderfully collaborative group with everyone pitching in to make it successful. Here’s the link for last year’s event

Roanoke College Innovation Challenge.  I just finished working with some very creative and talented business students from across the country selected to participate in this innovative summer program at Roanoke College. 

Social Solutions.  This is a collaborative effort led by local nonprofit organizations (through the Nonprofit Resource Center of Western Virginia) to address complex problems using social entrepreneurship tools.

These volunteer efforts coupled with my entrepreneurial pursuits might seem overwhelming, but the key is to make sure that there is synergy among all things.  To paraphrase Thoreau, it is easy to be busy, but what are we to be busy about?  For me, it’s about being deliberate in what I do and how I connect the dots to build and add value.  I focus on areas in which I am passionate and can make an impact.  My passion is advancing technologies, businesses, and the region.

The best motivational speech I've heard is by Jim Valvano.

I hope that answers your question and thank you for asking it.


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