Passions and Education
Laura Brennan has spent most of her adult life pursuing her three passions: technology, creativity, and entrepreneurship. As an undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin, she studied computer science, math, fine art, and business. Her education continued in the form of a Master’s degree in Systems Management, PhD coursework in Information Technology, and all the art classes she could fit into her overloaded schedule.
Washington DC Consulting and Hawksbill Lodge
Her professional life began in Washington DC as a database programmer for a large government contractor and progressed to a position of senior systems analyst and partner in one of the area’s top consulting firms. At the same time, Laura’s first entrepreneurial business venture began – “Hawksbill Lodge”, a vacation fishing lodge on the Shenandoah River. After overseeing construction of the property, Laura managed the advertising, accounting, and other property management tasks and hosted groups of visitors and fishing enthusiasts from around the world.
The Shenandoah Valley and Brennan’s Orchids
After twelve years of working in Washington DC and traveling to manage Hawksbill Lodge, Laura left DC to make the Shenandoah Valley her home and the site of her next business. A dilapidated farmhouse on seven acres of beautiful Shenandoah County hillside became a stylish home and the site of “Brennan’s Orchids”, a 9,000 square foot facility growing these beautiful houseplants. Of course, every aspect of the greenhouse operation was closely tracked and analyzed using extensive database management systems and automated inventory and facility controls. Her creative skills were utilized in the design of many award-winning orchid displays at flower shows throughout the country.
IST Professor, JMU Database Specialist, and Property Manager
Laura sold her interest in Brennan’s Orchids and joined Blue Ridge Community College as an adjunct professor of Information Systems Technology while updating her IT skills. She then joined James Madison University as a database specialist, data manager, and web developer while beginning her next business venture: HburgRentals.com rental property management. Laura’s property management strategy involves acquiring the best properties possible, updating them to attract the best tenants possible, and maintaining great homes and great tenant relationships.
Consulting Work and Web Development
Laura continues to work as a faculty member for James Madison University and to consult for Blue Ridge Community College as a database developer and trainer. Her current obsession is website design and development and she has built a wide range of sites including shopping sites, blogs, events registration, and data management sites. Laura feels that web pages are an exciting and dynamic medium for expressing her design ideas, while web development provides the technical challenges she loves. She also enjoys creative collaboration with clients and the thrill of making their vision a reality.
Laura’s other interests include kite-making and flying (she won the Smithsonian Institution Kite Festival’s Grand Prize and was featured in USA Today), home renovation projects, yoga, community service (she is on the Board of Directors of Citizens for Downtown and First Night Harrisonburg, a key organizer for Fridays on the Square, and the webmaster for many non-profit organizations), drumming (she is a former member of the Charlottesville Community Drum Choir), theater production, reading, drawing, and painting.