White Whale Web Services: Staff biographies

Us: Donald, Alex, Tonya, Jason and Jeremy.

White Whale Web Services, from left: Donald, Alex, Tonya, Jason and Jeremy.

Photo by Patty Burns, Director of New Media, Kenyon College.

White Whale was founded in the fall of 2000 as a sole proprietorship. We have grown slowly and steadily since then; the company was incorporated in July of 2004. Today the firm has four permanent employees and works when needed with a network of outside designers and writers, most of whom maintain their own freelance businesses.

Jason Pontius, president

Jason has been designing and building Web sites since 1997, when he began exploring the field of interactive design as a complement to his graduate study in linguistics at the University of Chicago (where he now holds a master’s degree). Since founding White Whale in 2000, he has presided over the company’s steady growth, helped in large part by the enormously talented employees he’s managed to bring aboard along the way.

A pathological multitasker, Jason is typically involved in every aspect of the Web site development process; however, the bulk of his time is spent creating custom user interfaces, executing front-end site designs, and guiding the design and development process.


Tonya Langford, vice president

Tonya’s background is diverse to say the least. After receiving her MA from Brown University in Political Science, she managed a number of projects that worked to improve international response in peacekeeping operations. As part of this work, Tonya consulted for the World Bank and United Nations in East Timor during the early stages of the UN’s Transitional Administration in East Timor and has published two articles on intervention in international peace operations. Tonya then moved into nonprofit arts management; first working with the Arts & Business Council of Rhode Island helping arts and cultural organizations from throughout the state improve their business and organizational infrastructures and then with the Alliance of Artists Communities directing two regional collaborative projects and fundraising for the organization. She has also been a small business owner and served as board chair of one of the premier youth arts organizations in the country.

In addition to managing White Whale’s business affairs, Tonya serves as lead content developer: refining site navigation, hiring and managing copywriters, editing final copy for consistency, and working closely with client staff throughout the site development process. She is a graduate of Wellesley College.


Alexander Romanovich, technical director

In over fifteen years of experience with computer programming, Alex has developed web sites and web-based software solutions for a wide range of clients. He has deployed small and large-scale web services in the areas of business, education, entertainment, employment opportunities, community-based services, healthcare, Internet commerce, and company management. His proficiency in PHP, MySQL, Javascript, XML/XHTML, and DHTML has enabled sophisticated content management systems, subscription-based web services, client and company relationship managers, job tracking systems and e-commerce web applications. He specializes in database-driven back-end architectures with fully interactive front-end tools for everything from private administration to community operations.

As technical director of White Whale, he has developed an intimate understanding of higher ed needs, and has produced numerous tools to effectively manage content for universities across the United States. Recently he has led the development of a fully featured, White Whale-branded CMS, called LiveWhale, which focuses on bringing White Whale's trademark simplicity and ease of use to the complex and varied requirements of a content management system.

To complement his professional work, Alex has also created open source projects for the PHP community, including an "Aggressive PHP Smart Caching" system, XPHP, an XML-based templating system, and XPresent, an extension to the PHP DOM suite of functions which brings added flexibility and rapid development/deployment of XML/XHTML related content. Although Alex has been indispensable to White Whale since our inception, he became a permanent full-time employee in 2004. He is a graduate of New York University’s film program, and is an active screenwriter and photographer.


Donald Tetto, developer

Donald is the newest member of the White Whale team, having joined our full-time staff just in September 2006. He adds to our development team as a PHP/MySQL programmer; his keen design sensibility is often brought to bear on site designs and administrative interfaces. In particular, Donald has become White Whale’s primary standards compliance and accessibility policeman; he keeps up to date on the latest developments in Web standards and best practices, and is charged with ensuring that all White Whale projects are executed in valid XHTML.

Donald moonlights as a professional photographer and is a 2006 graduate of Brown University’s undergraduate program in Creative Writing.


Jeremy Ashkenas, designer

The newest member of our team studies and works in Providence, Rhode Island—old hometown and/or stomping ground for the rest of us— where he is finishing his senior year at Brown University, studying a blend of computer science and literature. But he hails from Berkeley, California, and if we all still like each other in summer 2008, he will come and join us in our Oakland headquarters.

He brings a new design perspective to the table, focusing on visitor interactions and front-end design. A generalist in the fine liberal-arts tradition, Jeremy has worked in and around many aspects of the web site arena: from behind-the-scenes Ruby and Rails development, to PHP CMS customization, XHTML/CSS template design, and Javascripting up draggable, tuggable, animated interfaces. He's learning how White Whale works as a company, and is enjoying diving into our new projects.


White Whale Web Services

White Whale Web Services, Inc.   •   1904 Franklin Street, Suite 500  •  Oakland, CA 94612  •  510-808-4028  •  web@whitewhale.net