Red Dirt RubyConf 2011

  • Keynote
    Aaron Patterson
    Open source contributions include:
    ARel, Nokogiri, and Mechanize
    Aaron Patterson - AT&T Interactive
  • Keynote
    Dr Nic Williams
    Open source contributions include:
    Hudson.rb, RoR Textmate Bundle, and ChocTop
    Dr Nic Williams - Engine Yard
  • Conference Themes
    nike slides 6pm
    ´╗┐Sheila Johnson a truly 'dynamic woman' Imagine the projects and priority lists bouncing around Sheila Johnson's brain at any given moment. America'sfirst black female billionaire and co founder of the BET network might be thinking about the ongoing makeover at the Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club or her efforts to find a sponsor for the PGA Tour event there. Then again as the only woman ever to have a stake in three pro sports franchises she could have her mind on the WNBA's Washington Mystics club she owns, or the NBA's Washington Wizards and the NHL's Washington Capitals in which she has partial shares. But it's just as likely she's consumed by her work on many social and artistic fronts as global ambassador of CARE, a humanitarian organization that fights poverty; as an executive producer of two acclaimed documentaries including one about soccer and the homeless called Kickin' It, which was featured at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival; and as an active member of corporate boards that promote ways for children and young adults to express themselves in the arts. Right now, though, Johnson, 59, is sitting inside her plush, airy condo with large windows that overlook the 18th hole of Innisbrook's Copperhead Course to field questions. Is it in the back of her mind to lure Tiger Woods from his home in Orlando to the next PGA tournament at her place whomever the sponsor will be? "It's in the front of my mind," she said, smiling. "I've started making some moves to see what we can do. It's something I've put on my radar screen." A radar screen worthy of Chicago O'Hare filled with a steady flow of deals Johnson has landed and endeavors she's watching take off, fueled by an unwavering determination to fly high in a male dominated world. These days, the Johnson mission that matters most to bay area sports fans involves the PGA tournament at Innisbrook. PODS, the portable storage company based in Clearwater, recently opted out as the tournament sponsor after two years, following four with Chrysler and one with Buick. Johnson and tournament director Gerald Goodman have been working behind the scenes trying to nail down a replacement, and PGA commissioner Tim Finchem's news conference slip May 7 indicated that the tour will be back on the Copperhead Course in March. All signs point to Transitions Optical Inc. of Pinellas Park, though Johnson remains mum on the identity. "We're actively pursuing new sponsorship," she said. "I think the tournament is really important for this area, and we need to keep the momentum going. The way to do that is not only attract even more talent but continue to improve the facility." She did just that after buying the resort in July for $35 million, then launching a $1.7 million overhaul of the Island Course, bringing it up to the level of Copperhead. LPGA officials have visited the Island Course, raising the possibility of the men's and women's tours staging events at Innisbrook. And there's talk of adding the Nationwide Tour's fall championship as well. Last week, the resort announced another Johnson golf undertaking a nine hole walking course geared to families and all levels of skill. Named Fox Squirrel and created in conjunction with Nike, it opens Memorial Day weekend. But golf isn't the only game at Innisbrook. Basketballs have been bouncing there, too. Last month, in a PR coup, she hosted the WNBA draft the day after the women's Final Four championship in Tampa. ESPN covered the event live from a large Innisbrook conference hall, with top collegians many of whom competed in the Final Four and WNBA leadership attending. "Sheila is spectacular," said WNBA president Donna Orender, standing in a packed lobby. "She is a well rounded human being who cares about people, understands that everybody has the ability to make an impact in this world. "I can't tell you how happy we are in the WNBA with all the things she has in front of her that she chooses to prioritize the growth of women, women in sports and leadership in our league. For that, she's just an unbelievable partner and asset." Against a far wall, dozens of high school girls filled bleachers, serving as a WNBA cheering section. Johnson made a point of stopping by to talk. "You know, I'm all about women's empowerment," she told the teenagers. "And I nike shoes soccer wear many hats. But my proudest one is owner of my great team, the WNBA Washington Mystics." The comment was greeted by loud cheers. Johnson went on to sing the praises of the WNBA players as top athletes and well educated, caring nike shoes volleyball individuals and encouraged the youngsters to strive for excellence. "She's a dynamic woman and wonderful role model for young women like these," said a familiar female official nike shoes xdr price standing nearby, Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio. "I'm just delighted that she's here, in the Tampa Bay area, investing in the Innisbrook Resort and bringing attention to this region." Johnson has gotten attention most of her life, which she likens to three acts of a play in progress. Act I: She was born Sheila Crump in McKeesport, Pa., in 1949. Her father was a skilled doctor one of only 11 African American neurosurgeons in the United States at the time and her mother was an accountant. "My mom is very smart in math, and my father was absolutely brilliant," Johnson said last month inside her condo, minutes after speaking to a conference of African American businesswomen at the resort. "He wasn't only a neurosurgeon, but a doctor in psychology," she said. "One of the sad things is that it was hard for him to find jobs in white hospitals. We were connected to the VA, so we had to move every 10 months or so." Johnson and her brother got used to the moves 13 of them. "But you know what? I think it made me very strong," she said. "And I can deal with many different people."