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What and Who are MVPs?

Learn about the MVP program here where you'll find Microsoft's explanation of what an MVP is.

Meet some of the MVPs at Ric Bretschneider's Presentations Roundtable where they talk about what being an MVP means to them.

Do MVPs get paid?

No. As PowerPoint MVP Sonia Coleman put it: "Our reward is the satisfaction of being able to help others with what we've learned here." [ed: And when users thank us for our help, it feels like we've gotten a raise.]

Who's an MVP? (and who let them out?)

Recently, MVP Austin Myers responded to a poster who wanted to know about the history of PowerPoint. With his classic sense of humor, Austin reached back into ancient history and explained it this way (only slightly edited), and it is now "carved in stone". It's a humorous view of the history of PowerPoint from an MVP's point of view, and certainly, at least, explains the spirit of why MVP's exist. Visit us and all of the other contributing members at news:// It's a great place to "hang out" and learn!

From Austin:

Well ... There was a caveman by the name of Brian (Reilly) that started it all with some really crude drawings on the wall of his cave. Actually the drawings weren't that bad but his ability to speak and point at the drawings was somewhat limited. He asked his friend Steve (Rindsberg) if there wasn't someway to jazz up his presentation and Steve said sure, hold this burning stick up by the drawing you want people to look at, and darkness will hide the rest of the drawings. We believe this was the first attempt at a "Custom Show". Enter agrarian Austin (Myers) who was the one who made all those drums and voices audible and the funny flickering moving pictures visible. He was the one who daily climbed the hill and yelled "CODEC - - MCI - - QT - -MPEG"!!!!!! Everyone wondered about the new words he had invented. They are, to this day, still trying to de-code them, but Austin's voice from the hills cannot be suppressed. Now there were three. One day Kathy (Huntzinger) came walking by and asked the guys what they were doing. At first she thought they had lost their mind but after an explanation she could see what they were trying to do. Naturally she wanted to improve on the situation and suggested they add drum sounds to the presentation. While the three guys thought it had possibilities they didn't want her to be seen so they made her sit off to the side out of sight. (That's why we drag the Icon off the slide to this day.) When Kathy began beating the drum the guys noticed a sound that was almost a duplicate but sounded fainter and far away. Steve asked Brian, do you here that? Brian said of course, it's Echo (Swinford). Hey, did someone call my name said the woman with the strangely colored hair as she came walking into the cave. She looked over what everyone was doing and said that while the pictures were nice, what was needed was some text to go with it. No one had any idea what she was talking about so she showed them by making squiggly marks beside all the drawings. Everyone thought it was a big improvement but the problem was that everyone looked at the squiggly lines before looking at Brian's drawings. Not a problem at all said Echo. Just cover the text with a bear skin and then take it off when you shine the burning stick on it. Should make a nice "transition". Just remember to cover them back up or they won't look right the next time you show it to anyone. Now there were five. With all the improvements cavemen and women came from miles around to see the presentation. But alas, after all the local folks had seen the presentation it became obvious that they needed a way to take the entire thing on the road so they might show it to others. What to do, what to do? Fortunately for our friends there was a woman that lived next to the big water hole who claimed she could transport anything. Her name, Sonia (Coleman), was spoken only rarely but all knew who she was. The group convinced her to look over the problem and asked for her help. After much study and concentration Sonia hit upon an idea. We will "burn" copies of everything on my new invention the wheel. That way we can simply roll the presentation to the next cave and everyone can see the show. Problem solved! Now there were six. Things went along well for the gang, but you know how people are and they soon started complaining about not having enough tools to make drawings, text, and sounds with. Complain as they might, there just weren't any better tools available. That is until the day they met a traveler from far, far away by the name of Shyam (Pillai). Because he was a decent sort of fellow he agreed to help out and had soon produced many new tools. Sharp sticks for text, wide sticks with all sorts of berry juices on the tip for drawing, and he even made a better set of drums for sounds. He was immediately invited to live in the cave and now there were seven. Things just couldn't get any better and these folks found a life-long calling explaining how to make presentations to others.

Meet the PowerPoint MVPs

And people who were once and probably will again be MVPs. Let's just consider them "MVPs on vacation".

And some of the great folks at Microsoft who put up with them and work quietly behind the scenes to support the PowerPoint MVPs.

Shawn Toh (aka tohlz)
Shawn lives on the sunny island of Singapore. He started creating PowerPoint presentations in secondary school and his interest in PowerPoint animations kept rowing. Shawn loves to do advanced animation tricks using PowerPoint. He is also known as "tohlz" in the PowerPoint newsgroup communities. Shawn is the webmaster of PowerPoint Heaven and also runs The Art of PowerPointing blog

Picture of country girl Glenna Shaw Glenna Shaw
PowerPoint Magician
Glenna Shaw grew up on the banks of the Ohio River near Huntington, West Virginia.
She learned to be creative from the womenfolk in her family. They taught her how to crochet, knit, quilt, cook, embroider, sew and all those good country gal thangs.
The menfolk taught her mechanics, gambling, magic tricks, hunting and all those other good country gal thangs.
She mixed those traits with a generous helping of twenty years technical experience and got herself the perfect blend for PowerPoint troubleshooting; country-style.

Bill Foley
Professional Training Technologies, Inc.
Born and raised in TEXAS (God's Country), Bill went to college (computers), got bored, joined the Nuclear Navy and rode around in submarines, then became an Instructor in the Navy which led back to computer for developing training materials.
Started Professional Training Technologies, Inc. in 1997; PTT specializes in creating Word document management systems (Userforms and templates), lesson plans and graphics for the nuclear industry, doing Instructor Training for utilities and creating PowerPoint training presentations/PowerPoint CBTs (using VBA).
He also has a few game samples (Family Feud and Jeopardy) and has taught Microsoft Office programs.
He's a golfer (and until new MVPs are elected, the resident Go-Fer. He'll be by to take your order shortly).
Bill says "I am sincerely honored to be a part of such a wonderful bunch of folks as the Microsoft MVPs and the PowerPoint users we serve in the newsgroup."

Bill Dilworth
Bill admits that "cutting-edge", when he was in high school, was "two teletype machines with an acoustic modem link to the University of Delaware's mainframe". Anyone remember yellow punch tape?
His eclectic resume includes: installation of stage counter-weight and curtains systems, maintenance crew of a pipe organ, lighting of same, club bouncer, pinball machine mechanic, vending machine mechanic, data entry, hospital orderly, lighting and set design/construction for some very small stage productions, and even a few classes in the behind the proscenium arch stuff; learning, from these, the all-important principals of presentation, focus, balance & flow, and tinkering until it works.
Bill's been in Ophthalmology as a technician for over 15 years. That's taught him patience, the ability to talk to a wide range of people, and to have them understand complicated and sometimes scary ideas, without hiding behind medical jargon and technical printouts. And it shows in his newsgroup explanations of complicated and sometimes scary PowerPoint concepts.
Bill's mostly picked up PowerPoint on his own, doing occasional presentations at work and helping co-workers solve their computer problems. But he really hit his stride when his wife volunteered him for the post of Tech Team Leader at their church, where he's applied his PowerPoint and theatrical knowledge to the fullest.
Bill came to the newsgroup somewhere along the way, looking for solutions to his PPT problems. As he says, "I asked a question and strangely enough, I got an answer. Better yet, it was correct and simple to understand, even if all they did was point me to the FAQ a few times, that was what I needed. I thought I would like to return this favor by helping someone else down the line. Doing that has brought me here among fellow wallowing geeks and lunatics."
Hey. I think he likes us!

Kathy Jacobs
PowerPoint Answers
Kathy got into her first computer in High School and was never able to get back out. It was a build-it-yourself Heathkit at school. Yes, she did use the soldering iron. Quickly, it became apparent that software, not hardware was a better fit. College brought lots more computer time and a degree in Computer Science. From there, it was into the testing and training worlds, where she has lived ever since.
Right now, Kathy's professional time is spent writing, supporting her site, and answering PowerPoint and other questions. The rest of the time goes into email, Girl Scouts, and outdoor cooking (especially using Dutch Ovens). She has a husband who is also a computer nerd and outdoor cook. They live in Phoenix AZ and love the weather. She loves tech theater, word searches, reading, and stuffed animals. Ask her someday about Scott, the ExploraBear and you will get quite the interesting response.
Kathy has two bad knees, so she doesn't do standup training anymore. That's done nothing to prevent her from releasing the odd pun or two.

Glen "Roo'd Awakening" Millar
Glen's home on the web
Glen brings new meaning to the term "animated conversation", particularly if he's got his laptop along with him!
Glen's lives in Australia, with his wife, two Border Collies, 50 guppies, a cat named Tiger and three boys. One of the boys tells jokes to Tiger. Tiger explains them to Glen.
The guy who started life on the dairy farm traded it for an education, got employed in science, and got into PowerPoint when asked to build a presentation explaining science to people in the office. Now, he works on matters pertaining to the Great Barrier Reef and its sustainability.
In between working among the barely navigable waterways of Australia, Glen makes PowerPoint perform unnatural acts, directing it from a mental vantage point far outside the box the rest of us inhabit. In short, the guy's simply amazing.

Michael Koerner
Web site
Goo goo! Da da!
  Wot??? <whacks the side of set>
There. That's better.

At this size, we can afford two
TAJ Simmons
TAJ Simmons' Awesome PowerPoint Backgrounds
A picture? For the rogue's gallery? Is this rogueish enough for you?

Geetesh Bajaj
Since Geetesh hasn't given me his bio yet, I was going to make up some lies, but then I discovered he'd already done the work for me. The bio that is. I still have to make up the lies myself.

Sonia Coleman

Sonia Coleman passed away on July 15, 2006, but her memory will be with us for a long, long time; as long as she's still around, if only in spirit, we'll let her speak for herself.
A tribute to Sonia Coleman
Background: Artist, amateur photog, computer professional (techie > manager > techie > retiree), PC user since 1981.
How'd I get here: Accidentally. I traveled to Thailand in late 1999, returned with more than 400 photos and wanted to share some of them with my friends and family. That led to PowerPoint and then to a CD, and then to learning how to make the CD autorun from the talented people on the newsgroup (thank you Michael, et al!). Then my addiction to the newsgroup overtook me, as well as my natural stubbornness and persistence. I read every single post and learned from the experts (except VBA) by trying everything they suggested to each newsgroup member. After awhile it sank in and I actually understood my own suggestions and answers . I started documenting some of the things that I had learned and had discovered on my own, and it amazed me that people actually used the tutorials on my website! In the interim, Steve Hetrick, a great developer, contacted me and suggested that we partner on a "Wizard" to automate the process of creating an autorun PowerPoint CD and the Autorun PowerPoint CD project Creator was born. I guess my real attraction and involvement evolved and persisted due to the friendly and constructive attitude of everyone in the PowerPoint newsgroup. If you're going to spend your time with a group of people, find the best group available in the world. I did that and I'm stickin with my decision!

Steve Rindsberg
The PowerPoint FAQ No, don't go there. There's here and you're already there.
Background: Photographer; A/V & Multi-image producer; owner of RDP, a 35mm slide imaging service bureau; programmer; writer. Clearly a dabbler in much and demonstrably the master of very little.
So how did I get here? I've been using small computers since 1981, and got a modem the next year. The online monkey climbed on my back and held on for the ride.
Along came PowerPoint, and I ended up writing a monthly column for The Cobb Group's Inside PowerPoint and some bits of books for Que. When Microsoft started the MVP program, I was standing there looking like I didn't have enough to do, so they nabbed me.
With PowerPoint 97, MS added VBA (programmability! magic!) to PowerPoint and it's been my downfall. I now spend most of my time working on the PPTools add-ins that fellow-MVP Brian Reilly and I sell, and doing custom VB and VBA/PowerPoint programming.
And here I am. Echoing all the nice things Sonia had to say about the great folks on the PowerPoint newsgroup.

Echo Swinford
Web site
Echo's still deciding what she wants to be when she grows up.
Other than purplemaned 'n pixellated.
When she does, I'm sure she'll let us know and we'll pass the revelation along. Watch this space.

Late-breaking news: -- She's joined the cast of "Stayin' Alive" Get down, grrl. Boogie. Oh yes.

Brian Reilly
Web site
Brian is President of Reillyand, Inc. in New York City.
Brian Reilly passed away on September 14, 2008. We'll miss him, probably more than even he would have suspected.
A tribute to Brian Reilly
Reillyand, Inc develops custom automation solutions for companies across the U.S. Typical projects for Reillyand are the automatic creation of multi-hundred page proposals or presentations from custom databases. These presentations generally contain hundreds of custom charts and tables and data-driven text and footnotes, and can be created in a matter of minutes because they are controlled by Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) code which seamlessly integrates Microsoft Access, Excel, Word, and PowerPoint into one application and one end product, the report. At latest estimate, code created by Reillyand, Inc. has been responsible for the creation of over 50,000 charts and tables and grows by the thousands on a weekly basis.
Clearly automation is a driving objective of Brian and his company, which is also incorporated into the RnR PPTools which are always in continuing development jointly with Steve Rindsberg.

Shyam Pillai
Web site
The group's VB Guru

Austin Myers
For a guy from the Show Me state, he's not showing (or telling) much here to date. Oh, wait. That'd be Missouri, wouldn't it?
Sorry. Wrong state.

Mickey Stevens
Mickey's Site
Raised in Wisconsin, USA, Mickey Stevens has been an MVP since October 2002.
Awarded as a Macintosh MVP, Mickey helps out in the PowerPoint:mac newsgroup regularly and even tries to get into the Windows PowerPoint newsgroup in the rare occasion he has time to do so!
Even though he never had formal training on the use of a computer, he has vast general knowledge of the Mac OS, and tries to get into the finer points of PowerPoint and Entourage, a personal information manager.
He currently works as a full-time student, and tries to help the school out when it comes to PowerPoint issues, especially cross-platform compatibility.

Jim Gordon
Jim Gordon is an old hand at MVP-dom but we're delighted to have roped him into the PowerPoint area, where he tackles the Mac end of things.

Our ex-MVP Lead, aka MVP Buddy, aka Hapless Microsoft Person In Charge of Herding Cats
April Dalke

April's shy, so I'll have to write her bio for her. She stays quietly behind the scenes nibbling on chocolates and kicking major butt wherever and whenever PPT MVPs and users need something done fast and done right.

This one got away, but she's still our ace buddy.
Heeeeeerrrrrrrre's Jenn!

It's funny - I can remember a time when I was actually afraid of computers. Then came that fateful day in college. I was hunched over a typewriter clacking away in a desperate attempt to finish a paper before my next class. One of my friends dropped by and was horrified at what she saw. It would seem that friends don't let friends use typing paper. That evening she bodily dragged me to the computer lab and taught me MacWrite. Within days I was a Macintosh convert and have never looked back (although I looked sideways and ahead over the next several years and learned Windows).

Fast forward a few years. I had just moved to Seattle after finishing college and seeing a bit of the world (enough of it to know I wanted to live in Seattle). Jobs were scarce at that time but I landed one with a small company that specialized in MRP software. I started as their office manager but was given the opportunity to become the in-house web "mistress". For the next several years I gained experience in web technology, technical editing and software testing. When that company took a downturn my job hunt landed me a contingent position as a FrontPage Support Engineer. About 9 months later I became FTE, still supporting FrontPage for Windows and Mac. When the Communities initiative got started I saw it as a unique opportunity to gain technical knowledge and get more involved with the user community in a meaningful way.

Since coming to Communities I have focused mainly on supporting Windows 2000 and working with the PowerPoint MVPs to facilitate communication between the PowerPoint user community and Microsoft.

Outside of work I enjoy mountain and road biking, writing, having dinner parties, gardening, snow sports (snowshoeing is my new thing) and advocacy work in the mountain bike community. When I have the time I read, mostly literary fiction with some history and geography thrown in. I love the Pacific Northwest and all the recreational opportunities it affords. I don't have any kids but I do have a niece who lives in Chicago and visits me every summer. Two years ago I became a homeowner but I don't include "working on my house" as a recreational activity; I consider it more of a second job.

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What and Who are MVPs?
Last update 04 January, 2017