Leading innovation

Conversant Group is an IT infrastructure and security consulting company based in Chattanooga, TN. Conversant Group has provided technical, organizational, procedural, and process consulting internationally since the company was formed in 2009.

Unlike many in IT, Conversant Group has a unique perspective: technology is a tool, nothing more. Technology should support the business, and the business should support the people.

 

 

Our approach:

Plan with perspective.

Act with precision.

Serve with passion.

our
leadership
team

John Anthony
Smith

Chief Listening Officer & Chief Executive Officer

Chief Listening Officer, John Anthony Smith, founded Conversant Group in July of 2009 as an outgrowth of his passion to cultivate people-focused business.

Engaged on numerous projects and consultations with companies both large and small throughout his 24-year career, John Anthony understands the unique challenges of conducting business on a human-centric level — its strategy, quality, and process.  He especially understands the practice of law, as he has served law firms’ technological and business needs since 1998.

John Anthony started his IT career in 1994, at the age of 14, at Thompson Machinery Commerce Corporation of Lavergne, TN. While working with Thompson Machinery, John Anthony was involved with the initial rollout of multiple industry-leading technologies including: Citrix Winframe, IBM NetStation, Window NT 3.51, Windows NT 4.0, Windows NT Terminal Services Edition, remote access via Shiva, ISDN Internet, and WebSense.

During his time at Thompson Machinery, John Anthony founded his first company, Computech, in 1996. In 2002, he founded his second company, NetAlliant Technologies, which he sold in 2008.

In 2009, he founded Conversant Group, a technology conglomerate based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, serving clients across North America.

John Anthony studied Computer Science at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and holds a degree in Organizational Management from Covenant College, Lookout Mountain, Georgia.

Mark Grazman

President

President, Mark Grazman is a successful entrepreneur and venture capitalist with a track record of launching, scaling, and leading successful companies. Most recently, Mark was the CEO of an email security company named MessageControl where he led the organization through a successful exit to Mimecast (NASDAQ: MIME).

Mark’s commitment to driving growth as a leader, board member, and advisor has given him the experience (and grey hair) to build a culture of excellence while rapidly scaling companies. From his transformational tenure leading strategy and technology for CBIZ (NYSE: CBIZ), launching Banque Nationale de Paris’s emerging markets private equity group to his entrepreneurial success as the founder of an internet company in Europe – Mark has an impressive track record of success and innovation.

Mark first met John Anthony and the Conversant Group during his tenure at MessageControl where John was an early adopter, reseller, and eventually an investor. John made it clear back then he was investing in Mark and started recruiting him almost immediately to join him in leading Conversant Group to drive growth, strategy, and culture. If you get them both in a meeting, be careful – they both have a lot to say!

Mark graduated in 1994 from Duke University and was invited back as an adjunct lecturer in the Public Policy Department years later. Throughout his distinguished career, Mark most prides himself on giving great opportunities to the people he has worked with, the teams he has built, and the leaders that have emerged from his mentorship.

Brandon
Williams

Chief Operating Officer

As Chief Operating Officer, Brandon is centrally responsible for ensuring the delivery of all consulting and managed services on-time, in-budget, and to the satisfaction of the customer.

Brandon started his professional career in 2003, after receiving a Business Administration degree with an emphasis in Computer Information Systems. Upon graduation, Brandon accepted a network administration post at a Japanese automotive parts manufacturer in the Nashville area.

Shortly after meeting John Anthony Smith in 2006, Brandon signed on with NetAlliant Technologies, LLC, as a Network Engineer with a focus on network infrastructure design and implementation. In this role, Brandon performed an array of storage, networking, remote access, Exchange, and data center projects. 
After starting with NetAlliant, Brandon began delivering industry-leading consultation to companies large and small using Terminal Services, Citrix XenServer, Citrix Provisioning Services, Citrix XenApp (Metaframe/Presentation Server), and other core infrastructure products.

In 2012, Brandon joined Willis, a Nashville-based company, as a Citrix Administrator for the IT Infrastructure Platforms team. In this role, Brandon supported IT infrastructures across the globe — one of which included a global Citrix XenApp farm for approximately 13,000 users virtualized with VMware on Cisco UCS blade servers.

His Citrix support role led to Brandon and John crossing paths once again in early 2015 at a Citrix conference in Orlando, FL. Later that year, Brandon joined Conversant Group. He has led technical services for us ever since.

Heath
Renfrow

Chief Information
Security Officer

Heath Renfrow, is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading cyber security experts. He has more than two decades of experience as a high-level information security specialist, much of it as a chief information security officer (CISO) in the United States Department of Defense, where he addressed some of the nation’s most significant cyber challenges. In 2017 he was named Global CISO of the Year by EC-Council, the largest cyber- training organization in the world.

Heath was the CISO as The Crypsis Group most recently, one of the leading incident response firms in the country, and who was recently acquired by Palo Alto Networks.

He served as the first CISO for U.S. Army Healthcare, the largest Healthcare organization within the Department of Defense and one of the largest providers globally, where he developed a long-term strategic roadmap for addressing cybersecurity risks to the Healthcare environment. The program he established there became the cybersecurity gold standard for all of DoD and many private Healthcare organizations.

Prior to that he was CISO at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, where he established the Corps’ first comprehensive cybersecurity program, providing critical infrastructure to support hundreds of locations throughout the United States. While there, he led a team of more than 500 IT and operational technology personnel in an overhaul of security architecture that ended up reducing cybersecurity risk by 75 percent to the critical infrastructure locations.

Heath has also served as CISO at the U.S. Army Installation Management Command and as chief joint security officer at the Defense Information Systems Agency, as well as chief security officer at the military’s Global Cyberspace Integration Center. He began his career as a cyber interface control officer with the U.S. Navy.

A frequent public speaker on cyber security matters, Heath serves on a number of boards, including the National CyberWatch Center Foundation, the Association for Executives in Healthcare Information Security, the University of Indiana Cyber Advisory Council, and the Cyber Patriot Program Advisory Council. He earned his master’s degree in cyber studies at the American Public University System and is bachelor’s in information technology from the University of Management and Technology.

Eli Nussbaum

Managing Director

As Managing Director at Conversant Group, Eli Nussbaum works with clients to bridge the divide between technology and their core business. With over 20 years of experience as an Information Technology consultant, Eli understands that having the right IT environment and strategy help an organization fulfill its goals. As a result, he is well-known for his expertise in providing strategic technology planning and support to his clients based on their needs today, while taking into consideration their future needs with a focus on security and efficiency. 

Prior to joining Conversant Group, Eli built his career at Keno Kozie Associates which he joined in 1998 as a Y2K research intern before being offered a full-time position within the Engineering department. There, he initiated the firm’s virtualization practice and subsequently oversaw the department as Director of Engineering. Eli’s real passion however is on the client services side and he migrated into the role of Managing Director of Business Development. As a shareholder and member of the firm’s Board of Directors, Eli was able to help focus the firm on a client centric approach.

Eli believes that Conversant Group best serves its clients when working as a true business partner.  No question is too mundane or irrelevant – he is always happy to be consulted and willing to provide his opinions and lessons from the experience gained over many long nights.  He continually strives to build relationships with clients by delivering strong industry expertise that allows clients to navigate the ever-changing IT landscape. He provides honest insight and solutions to solve issues without creating unwanted and unnecessary complexity. Eli has established himself as a recognized thought leader and expert in cloud solutions and security. He is a regular content contributor to top legal publications and frequently speaks at legal technology events. 

Eli earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from the University of Illinois, Chicago. He lives in Chicago with his wife, four children, two dogs, four birds and too many fish to count.

Michael
Ball

Director of Managed Services

Michael Ball is the Director of Managed Services for Conversant Group and leads our talented managed services engineers. He is responsible for ensuring the success of the team’s mission – “To manage infrastructure for our clients to facilitate a secure, dependable user experience.” Michael has an associate degree in Computer Science. Through his 20+ years in the industry, Michael has served in many technology roles including an internship at ABB Environmental Systems, help desk support with Associate Housing Finance, system administrator and IT Director before coming to Conversant Group.

The key to a strong partnership with our clients begins with communication, and Michael is committed to doing the very best for his team and our clients. The goal – align with our clients’ initiatives.

Michael lives in East Tennessee with his wife, son, and daughter and yes, is a suffering Tennessee Volunteer fan.

David
Graves

Director of Project Management

David has over 20 years of experience in the technology arena with extensive professional services delivery experience. In addition, David has senior and executive level experience managing complex, multi-use technology divisions. He began his career with the US Army in communications, where he built on technical skills in infrastructure. His responsibilities expanded to include project delivery of IT services, often this included application delivery. David’s experience grew to include executive-level leadership focusing on IT service delivery as a project-centered delivery model. This delivery model was demonstrated in organizations such as being CIO for a State Supreme Court System. This included developing a service delivery organization built on project delivery of new services.

In his role as Director of Project Management at Conversant Group, David builds on the services-centered strategy that is clearly defined while overseeing project delivery performance. He maintains project service delivery team morale by ensuring an environment exists that supports the teamwork mindset. His clear and consistent communication, along with his client service skills, enhance Conversant Group’s servant leadership mindset and process-driven project management philosophy.

David graduated from Georgia Southern University with a BBA with an MIS focus. He is also PMP certified since 2009 and ITILv3 certified since 2010. He has held numerous manufacturer and industry certifications throughout his career.

Michael
Williams

Director of Marketing &
Business Development

Michael joined our team in May of 2016, after graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree of Communication from Shorter University with a focus in Marketing, Public Relations, and Advertising. Through his studies, Michael assists with the study of the sociodynamics between the end user and the ever changing world of technology.

Bringing dynamic energy and out-of-the-box approaches to marketing and public relations, Michael is an integral part of Conversant Group’s client relations and business development.

Before joining Conversant Group, Michael played lacrosse for Shorter University. He continues to display his passion for leadership and competition as coaching a travel lacrosse team on the weekends.

Jill Dietz

Process Improvement and Education Manager

Jill Dietz is the Process Improvement and Education Manager of Conversant Group responsible for developing workflow efficiencies and enhancing business continuity. With almost 30 years’ experience, she has intimate knowledge of the legal industry, and understands the challenges facing law firms.

Jill’s passion to help people grow and achieve their goals is a testament to her strong leadership, coaching and interpersonal skills. Some of her more memorable projects capitalized on her talent to analyze data, develop and implement strategic goals. Her longtime alliance with the International Legal Technology Association, its members and business partners, is one of her most cherished relationships.

John Anthony Smith

Chief Listening Officer & Chief Executive Officer

Chief Listening Officer, John Anthony Smith, founded Conversant Group in July of 2009 as an outgrowth of his passion to cultivate people-focused business.
Engaged on numerous projects and consultations with companies both large and small throughout his 24-year career, John Anthony understands the unique challenges of conducting business on a human-centric level — its strategy, quality, and process.  He especially understands the practice of law, as he has served law firms’ technological and business needs since 1998.

John Anthony started his IT career in 1994, at the age of 14, at Thompson Machinery Commerce Corporation of Lavergne, TN. While working with Thompson Machinery, John Anthony was involved with the initial rollout of multiple industry-leading technologies including: Citrix Winframe, IBM NetStation, Window NT 3.51, Windows NT 4.0, Windows NT Terminal Services Edition, remote access via Shiva, ISDN Internet, and WebSense.

During his time at Thompson Machinery, John Anthony founded his first company, Computech, in 1996. In 2002, he founded his second company, NetAlliant Technologies, which he sold in 2008.

In 2009, he founded Conversant Group, a technology conglomerate based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, serving clients across North America.

John Anthony studied Computer Science at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and holds a degree in Organizational Management from Covenant College, Lookout Mountain, Georgia.

Mark Grazman

President

President, Mark Grazman is a successful entrepreneur and venture capitalist with a track record of launching, scaling, and leading successful companies. Most recently, Mark was the CEO of an email security company named MessageControl where he led the organization through a successful exit to Mimecast (NASDAQ: MIME).

Mark’s commitment to driving growth as a leader, board member, and advisor has given him the experience (and grey hair) to build a culture of excellence while rapidly scaling companies. From his transformational tenure leading strategy and technology for CBIZ (NYSE: CBIZ), launching Banque Nationale de Paris’s emerging markets private equity group to his entrepreneurial success as the founder of an internet company in Europe – Mark has an impressive track record of success and innovation.

Mark first met John Anthony and the Conversant Group during his tenure at MessageControl where John was an early adopter, reseller, and eventually an investor. John made it clear back then he was investing in Mark and started recruiting him almost immediately to join him in leading Conversant Group to drive growth, strategy, and culture. If you get them both in a meeting, be careful – they both have a lot to say!

Mark graduated in 1994 from Duke University and was invited back as an adjunct lecturer in the Public Policy Department years later. Throughout his distinguished career, Mark most prides himself on giving great opportunities to the people he has worked with, the teams he has built, and the leaders that have emerged from his mentorship.

Brandon Williams

Chief Operating Officer

As Chief Operating Officer, Brandon is centrally responsible for ensuring the delivery of all consulting and managed services on-time, in-budget, and to the satisfaction of the customer.

Brandon started his professional career in 2003, after receiving a Business Administration degree with an emphasis in Computer Information Systems. Upon graduation, Brandon accepted a network administration post at a Japanese automotive parts manufacturer in the Nashville area.

Shortly after meeting John Anthony Smith in 2006, Brandon signed on with NetAlliant Technologies, LLC, as a Network Engineer with a focus on network infrastructure design and implementation. In this role, Brandon performed an array of storage, networking, remote access, Exchange, and data center projects. 
After starting with NetAlliant, Brandon began delivering industry-leading consultation to companies large and small using Terminal Services, Citrix XenServer, Citrix Provisioning Services, Citrix XenApp (Metaframe/Presentation Server), and other core infrastructure products.

In 2012, Brandon joined Willis, a Nashville-based company, as a Citrix Administrator for the IT Infrastructure Platforms team. In this role, Brandon supported IT infrastructures across the globe — one of which included a global Citrix XenApp farm for approximately 13,000 users virtualized with VMware on Cisco UCS blade servers.

His Citrix support role led to Brandon and John crossing paths once again in early 2015 at a Citrix conference in Orlando, FL. Later that year, Brandon joined Conversant Group. He has led technical services for us ever since.

Heath Renfrow

Chief Information Security Officer

Heath Renfrow, is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading cyber security experts. He has more than two decades of experience as a high-level information security specialist, much of it as a chief information security officer (CISO) in the United States Department of Defense, where he addressed some of the nation’s most significant cyber challenges. In 2017 he was named Global CISO of the Year by EC-Council, the largest cyber- training organization in the world.

Heath was the CISO as The Crypsis Group most recently, one of the leading incident response firms in the country, and who was recently acquired by Palo Alto Networks.

He served as the first CISO for U.S. Army Healthcare, the largest Healthcare organization within the Department of Defense and one of the largest providers globally, where he developed a long-term strategic roadmap for addressing cybersecurity risks to the Healthcare environment. The program he established there became the cybersecurity gold standard for all of DoD and many private Healthcare organizations.

Prior to that he was CISO at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, where he established the Corps’ first comprehensive cybersecurity program, providing critical infrastructure to support hundreds of locations throughout the United States. While there, he led a team of more than 500 IT and operational technology personnel in an overhaul of security architecture that ended up reducing cybersecurity risk by 75 percent to the critical infrastructure locations.

Heath has also served as CISO at the U.S. Army Installation Management Command and as chief joint security officer at the Defense Information Systems Agency, as well as chief security officer at the military’s Global Cyberspace Integration Center. He began his career as a cyber interface control officer with the U.S. Navy.

A frequent public speaker on cyber security matters, Heath serves on a number of boards, including the National CyberWatch Center Foundation, the Association for Executives in Healthcare Information Security, the University of Indiana Cyber Advisory Council, and the Cyber Patriot Program Advisory Council. He earned his master’s degree in cyber studies at the American Public University System and is bachelor’s in information technology from the University of Management and Technology.

Eli Nussbaum

Managing Director

As Managing Director at Conversant Group, Eli Nussbaum works with clients to bridge the divide between technology and their core business. With over 20 years of experience as an Information Technology consultant, Eli understands that having the right IT environment and strategy help an organization fulfill its goals. As a result, he is well-known for his expertise in providing strategic technology planning and support to his clients based on their needs today, while taking into consideration their future needs with a focus on security and efficiency.

Prior to joining Conversant Group, Eli built his career at Keno Kozie Associates which he joined in 1998 as a Y2K research intern before being offered a full-time position within the Engineering department. There, he initiated the firm’s virtualization practice and subsequently oversaw the department as Director of Engineering. Eli’s real passion however is on the client services side and he migrated into the role of Managing Director of Business Development. As a shareholder and member of the firm’s Board of Directors, Eli was able to help focus the firm on a client centric approach.

Eli believes that Conversant Group best serves its clients when working as a true business partner. No question is too mundane or irrelevant – he is always happy to be consulted and willing to provide his opinions and lessons from the experience gained over many long nights. He continually strives to build relationships with clients by delivering strong industry expertise that allows clients to navigate the ever-changing IT landscape. He provides honest insight and solutions to solve issues without creating unwanted and unnecessary complexity. Eli has established himself as a recognized thought leader and expert in cloud solutions and security. He is a regular content contributor to top legal publications and frequently speaks at legal technology events.

Eli earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from the University of Illinois, Chicago. He lives in Chicago with his wife, four children, two dogs, four birds and too many fish to count.

Michael Ball

Director of Managed Services

Michael Ball is the Director of Managed Services for Conversant Group and leads our talented managed services engineers. He is responsible for ensuring the success of the team’s mission – “To manage infrastructure for our clients to facilitate a secure, dependable user experience.” Michael has an associate degree in Computer Science. Through his 20+ years in the industry, Michael has served in many technology roles including an internship at ABB Environmental Systems, help desk support with Associate Housing Finance, system administrator and IT Director before coming to Conversant Group.

The key to a strong partnership with our clients begins with communication, and Michael is committed to doing the very best for his team and our clients. The goal – align with our clients’ initiatives.

Michael lives in East Tennessee with his wife, son, and daughter and yes, is a suffering Tennessee Volunteer fan.

David Graves

Director of Project Management

David has over 20 years of experience in the technology arena with extensive professional services delivery experience. In addition, David has senior and executive level experience managing complex, multi-use technology divisions. He began his career with the US Army in communications, where he built on technical skills in infrastructure. His responsibilities expanded to include project delivery of IT services, often this included application delivery. David’s experience grew to include executive-level leadership focusing on IT service delivery as a project-centered delivery model. This delivery model was demonstrated in organizations such as being CIO for a State Supreme Court System. This included developing a service delivery organization built on project delivery of new services.

In his role as Senior Project Manager at Conversant Group, David builds on the services-centered strategy that is clearly defined while overseeing project delivery performance. He maintains project service delivery team morale by ensuring an environment exists that supports the teamwork mindset. His clear and consistent communication, along with his client service skills, enhance Conversant Group’s servant leadership mindset and process-driven project management philosophy.

David graduated from Georgia Southern University with a BBA with an MIS focus. He is also PMP certified since 2009 and ITILv3 certified since 2010. He has held numerous manufacturer and industry certifications throughout his career.

Michael Williams

Director of Marketing &
Business Development

Michael joined our team in May of 2016, after graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree of Communication from Shorter University with a focus in Marketing, Public Relations, and Advertising. Through his studies, Michael assists with the study of the sociodynamics between the end user and the ever changing world of technology.

Bringing dynamic energy and out-of-the-box approaches to marketing and public relations, Michael is an integral part of Conversant Group’s client relations and business development.

Before joining Conversant Group, Michael played lacrosse for Shorter University. He continues to display his passion for leadership and competition as coaching a travel lacrosse team on the weekends.

Jill Dietz

Process Improvement and Education Manager

Jill Dietz is the Process Improvement and Education Manager of Conversant Group responsible for developing workflow efficiencies and enhancing business continuity. With almost 30 years’ experience, she has intimate knowledge of the legal industry, and understands the challenges facing law firms.

Jill’s passion to help people grow and achieve their goals is a testament to her strong leadership, coaching and interpersonal skills. Some of her more memorable projects capitalized on her talent to analyze data, develop and implement strategic goals. Her longtime alliance with the International Legal Technology Association, its members and business partners, is one of her most cherished relationships.

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