Rhia Dixon

Rhia Dixon

Problem-Solving Tech Lead @ VML

Kansas City, Missouri, United States

Kansas City. Lead Dev. She/Her. Physicist. Mentor. Mom. A Manager of Mischief. Dangerous in the front; deadly in the back. Enabler of repeatable, scalable success.

Rhia Dixon is a technical architect and lead software developer for VML, a global brand and customer experience powerhouse agency headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri. She provides logical, analytical, technical, and strategic direction to help internal and external development teams deliver high-quality web-based experiences.

Area of Expertise

  • Information & Communications Technology


  • Professional Networking
  • diversity
  • Diversity in Technology
  • Amazon Web Services
  • visibility
  • java
  • Backend
  • JUnit
  • Leadership
  • Leading Remote Teams
  • Front-End Development
  • Backend Development
  • Web Development
  • Web Applications
  • Development Process
  • Web
  • Professional Development
  • Professional Transitions
  • Personal and Professional Development
  • Process Improvement
  • Software Development
  • Software Architecture
  • Software Engineering Management
  • Modern Software Development
  • Software Engineering
  • JavaScript
  • TypeScript
  • SCSS
  • Code Reviews
  • Code Quality
  • Women in Technology
  • Women in Tech
  • Technology
  • technical debt

Physics as a Philosophy for Practicing Life

Everything is relative.

What if I told you that physics makes career paths, colleague interactions, software solutions, and dinner plans all the same?

Intriguing, right?

Consider Newton's laws of motion -- every action has an equal and opposite reaction. This is true in physics and life. Every choice we make has a consequence (positive or negative, something will happen). This is true from the perspective of career moves, conflicts, and dinner!

Join me for an unforgettable spin on "life science" and personal growth as I relate my favorite physics lessons to my challenges, triumphs, and pivots.

Everything is relative. Literally, and figuratively, everything.

As a parent, a spouse, a people leader, a champion for those from underrepresented and underserved communities, and a technical lead at a global creative agency, I encounter complex and compounded challenges daily. I'm not the only one.

I want to share how physics influences my worldview and contributes to my career trajectory. I hope sharing this story helps attendees shift their perspective on their current challenges.

CloudWatch-ing: Creating More Useful Logs & Alerts with AWS

Logging is essential for visibility and resiliency, especially when monitoring and debugging software applications. However, overzealous logging of everything can do more harm than good. For integrated applications, generating massive files of data no one reads can lead to days of troubleshooting and weeks of fixing the “fix”. The time lost multiplies when these logs live in various places with no system to sound the alarm. Learning to use Amazon CloudWatch for streamlined, meaningful, centralized logging and alerts can drastically reduce the time it takes to notice issues, find bugs, and fix them.

From Boot Camp to Rockstar! 10 Lessons Learned and Applied

Trying to figure out the benefits of attending a coding bootcamp is not the easiest of tasks. Is it legit? What do you really get out of the experience? Is the information relevant to the real world? How can a person go from bootcamp attendee to full-fledged successful developer in such a short amount of time??
Well, there’s more to learn at bootcamp than how to code! Some of those things are tech-related, and some are life-related. Applying these 10 techish and not-so-techish lessons can help you take your newfound coding skills and thrive in your new tech life!

Lightning Talk that can be shortened to Ignite Talk or lengthened to full session talk.

Getting Good (or Better) at Code Reviews

If you write code, you should review code.
That's it.
That's the talk.

There are quite a few "reasons" why developers at various levels find themselves code-review averse: impostor syndrome, time constraints, and area of expertise are a few I've heard. For code owners and project leads, it's a constant battle.

But it shouldn't be! It doesn't have to be!

Let's discuss the benefits of reviewing code, what it is, what it isn't, and how to make it more than the blind rubber stamp approvals we've grown used to. I'll show you my process and things that have helped me cultivate totally awesome code reviewers!

This is a brand-new talk for 2023! The audience is anyone (ANYONE) who contributes code to a codebase, with some helpful tools for team leads and an action plan for newbies (new to tech or new to a codebase).

Public Delivery:
* 4 April 2023 -- Connectaha 2023 -- Omaha, Nebraska, USA
* 5 May 2023 -- Stir Trek 2023 -- Columbus, Ohio, USA
* 25 July 2023 -- DevOps KC Meetup -- Kansas City, Missouri, USA

It's All Relative: The Science of Debugging

Most people don't realize they do math every day, and I'm guessing most people also don't consider they're using science. The Scientific Method isn't just a tool for doctors and scientists. If you're solving problems, you're likely using it too!
Let's break down how the Scientific Method relates to the Software Development Life Cycle and helps us develop tools, tactics, and techniques for tracking down bugs.

This talk assumes attendees have some level of experience debugging code, be it their own or a legacy inheritance. I do not assume people recall the Scientific Method. There are no technical requirements, and audience engagement makes this talk a bit different every time.

As of February 2023, this talk has been delivered once, at Connectaha 2022.

How NOT to Choose a Third-Party Library

Who doesn't love an open-source solution to their JavaScript development problems? I mean…
Third-party libraries and packages are great!

Until they aren't.

Until you choose the wrong one.

Sometimes, the solutions available aren't quite the solutions you need. Picking the wrong library can introduce performance, maintainability, scalability, and security issues.

So how do you even choose?

Knowing what to look for and how to evaluate potential challenges will help you identify the packages that are most likely to minimize your pain.

Let's compare a few packages in the NPM Registry, learn how to spot red flags, assess the impact of different metrics, and rank them in order of least to most likely to use.

New talk for 2024!
Target Audience: JavaScript Developers

Inclusive Diversity: Do You Want to Build a Bracelet?

We want more diverse, inclusive workplaces...but where do we start? Our efforts to meet quantitative diversity goals sometimes cause us to miss out on the qualitative value of diversity. There is a marked disconnect when trying to reach and engage those who differ from us in race, gender, religion, age, ability, etc. I believe this disconnect happens because we struggle to find genuine planes of engagement. It is not enough to hire or reach out to someone just because of how they fit in the demographic scheme of things. Tokenism is not the answer.

People are different. People are the same. We are as wildly distinct and alike as a random assortment of beautiful beads! People need to feel truly included and valued as individuals to be successful. If there is no effort to engage on relatable levels and have genuine discussions about things we have in common, we will not be able to hold on to these very valuable people.

This is NOT a lecture. Be prepared to be your authentic self and shuffle around a bit! In this interactive session, we will construct a unique bracelet using the beads you select to help you expand your understanding of diversity & inclusion.

This is an interactive workshop that is ideal for 20-25 people at a time (or audiences that can be grouped into sets of 10-15). This talk is not a lecture…it is an incubator for conversations concerning Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Tokenism. Attendees are asked to peruse a random assortment of beads and select the one that represents who they are. They will also be asked to sum up why they selected their bead and what they feel their strengths and unique positive qualities are. We will explore the similarities and differences in the beads as we shuffle and group ourselves with those with like qualities (round, square, metal, glass, etc.). By the end of the session, attendees should have a different perspective to take away about how to engage with others on various planes. The goal is to have these conversations with different people, gaining a different point-of-view as we go…and we will have created bracelets from everyone’s individual beads.

We will need tables (round if possible). If feasible, pens and paper too!

This session was previously delivered as a 60-min session in 2019, to rave reviews WITH attendees suggesting a 2-4 hr workshop form.
- DevFest KC 2019
- Prairie Dev Con Winnipeg 2019
- KCDC 2019

Networking Your Way to Your Next Role

You have just graduated from a bootcamp, finished a degree in computer science, or perhaps, taught yourself to make awesome things via self-paced courses and decided to switch careers or pursue a new role. Now you need a job. The problem is you’re new to the field, looking to gain experience, and every open position states you are required to have a gazillion years of specific experience and/or education. But do you really need all of that?
A hardworking, eager, amazing candidate can submit 1,000+ resumes with all the right buzzwords, beautiful projects, solid education...and still not make it to the phone interview! Rhia will walk you through how she used an unexpected networking opportunity during her coding bootcamp to land her current role before she was even looking for a job. She will share with you what she has learned about networking -- what it is and isn’t, when and where to network, and how to do it effectively.

I feel like this talk is something that people need at all levels. It is so easy to stay in our own comfy bubbles expecting opportunities to fall into our laps. The trouble with this is that opportunities don’t always find us that way. We have to be willing to step out and make moves. I was introduced to my last three roles by people in my network, so I’m a firm believer that “who you know” truly matters. I want to share some of the things I’ve found useful in my networking pursuits with those who may be struggling.

KCDC 2024 Sessionize Event Upcoming

June 2024 Kansas City, Missouri, United States

Render Atlanta 2024 Sessionize Event Upcoming

June 2024 Atlanta, Georgia, United States

TechBash 2023 Sessionize Event

November 2023 Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania, United States

Stir Trek 2023 Sessionize Event

May 2023 Columbus, Ohio, United States

Connectaha 2023 Sessionize Event

April 2023 Omaha, Nebraska, United States

KCDC 2019 Sessionize Event

July 2019 Kansas City, Missouri, United States

Prairie Dev Con

Organizations are looking for ways to increase their employee’s skills while maximizing training and professional development budgets. In 2010 the first Prairie Developer Conference was held in Regina, Saskatchewan to meet this need. It provided a high quality professional development opportunity locally, without the high costs of travel and accommodation typically associated with remote conferences. Our 2019 conferences are June 4-5 in Winnipeg, Manitoba and October 22-23 in Regina, Saskatchewan!

✔️ Inclusive Diversity: Do You Want to Build a Bracelet?
✔️ CloudWatch-ing: Creating More Useful Logs & Alerts with AWS

June 2019 Winnipeg, Canada

NDC Minnesota 2019 Sessionize Event

May 2019 Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States

HUE Tech Summit '19

The summit designed to educate, elevate and empower women of color technologists and techpreneurs in the Delaware Valley and beyond. Our mantra “No More Hidden Figures” exists because as we identify women who work hard behind the scenes, make major contributions in their field, or break barriers in the tech industry, we encourage them to come forth to be seen and heard.

✔️ CloudWatch-ing: Creating More Useful Logs & Alerts with AWS

May 2019 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Southern Dev

Our goal is to push software development, design, and technical leadership beyond elementary conversations. We believe an annual conference is a way to begin these discussions that can carry over to our developer and business communities throughout the year to improve technical communication.

✔️ Networking Your Way to Your Next Job
✔️ CloudWatch-ing: Creating More Useful Logs & Alerts with AWS

April 2019 Augusta, Georgia, United States

DevFest KC

DevFest KC 2019 is a 100% community organized full-day developer conference featuring awesome world-class speakers from technology leaders within the community as well as Google product team developers.

✔️ Networking Your Way to Your Next Job
✔️ Inclusive Diversity: Do You Want to Build a Bracelet?

February 2019 Kansas City, Missouri, United States

Rhia Dixon

Problem-Solving Tech Lead @ VML

Kansas City, Missouri, United States

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