Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth is a father, husband, and small business owner from Marshall County. Prior to entering public service, he worked as a youth pastor at Albertville’s Grace Fellowship Church and was a co-founder of Dream Ranch, one of the most recognized hunting and fishing lodges in the United States. He currently operates the annual Tennessee Valley Hunting and Fishing Expo, which draws more than 20,000 attendees each year. In 2014, Lt. Gov. Ainsworth felt the call to serve his community through elected office and won a seat in the Alabama House of Representatives, where he was a champion of public education, farming, and family values issues. Keeping a self-imposed legislative term limit promise, Ainsworth declared his candidacy for lieutenant governor in 2018 and received the most votes of any candidate for constitutional office on the general election ballot. Ainsworth, who is committed to providing quality public education to Alabama’s schoolchildren, is a strong supporter of the state’s nationally-recognized “First Class” prekindergarten program, which provides young learners with the skills and foundational knowledge necessary to excel in their K – 12 education. Focusing his efforts as lieutenant governor on improving workforce development so that Alabamians may fill and retain long-lasting, well-paying, 21st Century jobs, he also works to promote policies that allow both new and existing industries to expand in Alabama. Ainsworth was elected as national chairman of the Aerospace States Association and is a member of the Alabama Workforce Council. He also heads the Lieutenant Governor’s Small Business Commission and the Lieutenant Governor’s Commission on a 21st Century Workforce.
Buzz Aldrin grew up in Montclair, New Jersey. His mother, Marion Moon, was the daughter of an Army Chaplain and his father Edwin Eugene Aldrin was an aviation pioneer. Buzz graduated one year early from Montclair High School and he attended the US Military Academy at West Point, graduating third in his class with a BS in mechanical engineering. He then joined the Air Force where he flew F86 Sabre Jets in 66 combat missions in Korea, shot down two MIG-15′s, and was decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross. After a tour of duty in Germany flying F100′s, he earned his Doctorate of Science in Astronautics at MIT and wrote his thesis on Manned Orbital Rendezvous. Selected by NASA in 1963 into the third group of astronauts, Aldrin was the first with a doctorate and became known as “Dr. Rendezvous.” The docking and rendezvous techniques he devised for spacecraft in Earth and lunar orbit became critical to the success of the Gemini and Apollo programs, and are still used today. He pioneered underwater training techniques to simulate spacewalking. In 1966 on the Gemini 12 orbital mission, Buzz performed the world’s first successful spacewalk – extra-vehicular activity (EVA), and set a new EVA record of 5 1⁄2 hours. During that mission, he also took the first ‘selfie’ in space. On July 20, 1969, Buzz and Neil Armstrong made their historic Apollo 11 moonwalk, becoming the first two humans to set foot on another world. An estimated 600 million people – at that time, the world’s largest television audience in history – witnessed this unprecedented heroic endeavor. Upon returning from the moon, Buzz was decorated with the Presidential Medal of Freedom and numerous awards all over the world. Named after Buzz are Asteroid “6470 Aldrin” and the “Aldrin Crater” on the moon. In 2011 along with his Apollo 11 crewmates Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins, he received the Congressional Gold Medal. Most recently, he was named a member of the Space Advisory Committee by the Vice President of the United States. Buzz is the author of 9 books, most recently his children’s book, Welcome to Mars: Making a Home on the Red Planet and his newest NY Times and Washington Post Bestseller, “No Dream Is Too High: Life Lessons from a Man Who Walked on the Moon”. Both published by National Geographic. Buzz’s vision finally has come to past with the creation of the supreme think-tank, Human SpaceFlight Institute which will fully launch later in the year. Since retiring from NASA and the U.S. Air Force, Col. Aldrin is a Global Statesman for Space and has remained a tireless advocate for human space exploration.
Scott Alexander Sr. Vice President of Strategic Business Development & Acquisitions Teledyne Brown Engineering, Inc. Scott Alexander is the Senior Vice President of Strategic Business Development & Acquisitions. In this role, he is responsible for shaping and growing Teledyne Brown’s business within the Space, Maritime, Energy and Defense markets and focusing strategies with customers and industry partners, to create and win business opportunities. Prior to joining Teledyne Brown in April of 2016, Mr. Alexander most recently served as the Director of the Redesigned Kill Vehicle within Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson AZ. Additionally, he served as the Deputy Director for the SM-3 IIA program, which was a joint cooperative development program with the Japanese. Prior to these positions, Scott worked at Raytheon’s Integrated Defense Systems, Global Integrate Sensors, Missile Defense Directorate in Woburn, MA. From 2008-2012, Mr. Alexander served as a Government Program Manager with the Missile Defense Agency where he was a key senior civilian leader of the Directorate of Engineering (DE). In this capacity, he was Program Director for all the Agency’s Model and Simulations activities that support Missile Defense capability development and MDA test activities. From 1987 to 2008, Scott served as a U.S. Army Acquisition Officer with numerous Program Management Positions including, Deputy Program Manager for the U.S. Marine Corps Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement program which earned the Department of Defense Packard Award for innovation in acquisition in 2000. He retired as an Army Officer after 20 years of distinguished service to his country. Earlier key assignments include duty as Chief of Staff and Executive Officer for the Joint National Integration Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Commander of a U.S. Army Maintenance Unit in Aberdeen Maryland, Operations Officer for a General Support Patriot/Hawk Maintenance Company and Operations Officer for the U.S. Army’s only Special Weapons Special Assignment Air Mission Unit both in Miesau, Germany. Alexander is a member of the Association of the United States Army, The Department of Defense Acquisition Corps, the United States Army Ordnance Corps Association and the Missile Defense Advocacy Organization. Alexander holds bachelor’s degrees in both Economics and Political Science from the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh, a master’s degree in International Relation from Troy State University and a master’s degree in Business Acquisition/Procurement Management from Webster University. Among military schools, he attended the U.S. Army Ordnance School Basic and Advanced Course and the Army Command and General Staff College. Additionally, he is certified in Program Management, International Program Management, Test and, Evaluation & Logistics by the Defense Acquisition University.
Veteran Arizona lawmaker John Allen (R – 15) is the chairman of the Arizona House of Representatives Committee on Judiciary for the 54th Legislature. A native of Long Island, New York, Allen has resided in Arizona for 34 years. The new House Majority Leader-elect graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Science in Business. He and his wife, Tina, have three children and reside in Scottsdale.
Mr. Garelick Bell has over 20 years of policy experience at the federal, state, local, and tribal levels of government policy development and serves as the Executive Director of the Aerospace States Association, an organization established to advance the aerospace community at the state level. Under his direction, as Director of State Chapters and then as Deputy Executive Director, Mr. Garelick Bell has quadrupled the organization’s membership while creating and expanding the organization’s chapters to California, Arizona, Hawaii, Utah, Colorado, Alabama, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Virginia, Florida, and Georgia with continued growth expected. Through this growth, ASA has advised legislative offices and testified before both the California State Senate and Assembly Judiciary Committees on Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) policy and vision, seen the passage of state legislation establishing aerospace commissions, and been sought after as a source for state aerospace input by the aerospace community at large. Mr. Garelick Bell is the Managing Partner at MRGB Consulting, LLC, which specializes in aerospace, defense, appropriations, cyber security energy, environment, Native American issues, and non-profit management. Previously, Mr. Garelick Bell handled Space, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), National Security, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) Policy at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). Mr. Garelick Bell also provides analysis and chapter content National Aeronautics and Space Association (NASA) for the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual review of research and development funding in the President’s Budget Request. For AIAA, he has conducted Congressional panels on the impacts of space exploration on the overall economy, human rating for spaceflight, commercial space applications, and earth observation systems in order to effectively understand and implement any climate change activities and legislation. Prior to AIAA, Mr. Garelick Bell was the Founder, President, and Bureau Chief of The Capitol Pulse, Inc., Natural Resources Policy Director for the Texas Office of State-Federal Relations, serving as the liaison for the then Governor George W. Bush and the state legislature to the United States Congress and Federal Government on energy, agriculture, and natural resource issues, and served as the director of the Energy, Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture Task Force and as the director of the Transportation Task Force at the American Legislative Exchange Council. Mr. Garelick Bell has testified before state legislative committees, briefed state legislative freshman classes, participated in conference panels, and co-authored editorials. Mr. Garelick Bell holds a Master of Public Administration degree from The George Washington University with a concentration in Executive, Legislative, and Regulatory Management and a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from Arizona State University. In addition, Mr. Garelick Bell held a gubernatorial appointment to the Virginia-Israel Advisory Board and has served on the Alexandria Environmental Policy Commission and the Alexandria Waterfront Committee.
Bob Brock, a Kansas native, is an alumnus of Pittsburg State University and Texas Christian University with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management and a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Development from Webster University. Prior to joining KDOT, Bob served a 22-year career in the Air Force. An instrument-rated commercial fixed-wing and helicopter instructor pilot, he now serves as the Director of Aviation & UAS for the Kansas Department of Transportation as well as a member of the National Association of State Aviation Officials board and the FAA Drone Advisory Committee.
David Burns is the Director of Marshall's Science and Technology Office. Prior to joining NASA, he worked for the U.S. Department of Defense Missile Defense Agency, where he served as the director of Science and Technology. He led the teams that managed the agency’s directed energy programs, conducted university and small business innovative research and modeled the impact of new missile defense capabilities. Prior to his time with MDA, Burns was a senior leader in private industry. From April 2006 to May 2008, he was founder and chief executive officer of Dielectric Blue Inc., which specialized in the design and manufacture of anti-tamper sensors for military and commercial applications. Burns retired from the U.S. Air Force in August 2003 after 20 years of active duty. His Air Force career included assignments in the Pentagon, multiple product centers, and London. In London, he was technical director of the European Office of Aerospace Research and Development. Burns holds a doctorate in electrical engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology, a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Dayton, Ohio, and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Air Force Academy. He is also a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government Senior Executive Fellows Program. He and his wife Cheryl have four children and reside in Huntsville.
Dr. Sharon Cobb currently serves as Acting Deputy Program Manager of the Space Launch System (SLS) Program. SLS, with its unmatched capability to lift more mass and volume to the Moon, is a key enabler of Artemis, NASA’s program to return astronauts to the Moon. Prior to her role as Acting Deputy Program manager, Dr. Cobb served as manager of the Program Operations &Strategic Communications Office for the SLS Program, which is managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. She was responsible for formulating and executing cross-program strategic planning activities for the SLS Program Office including infrastructure management, life cycle review implementation, and strategic communications across the Marshall Center and the Exploration Systems Directorate. Prior to this role, Dr. Cobb served as the Assistant Program Manager for SLS, assisting in planning, directing, and coordinating the development of America’s deep-space rocket for human and scientific exploration. Previously, Dr. Cobb managed Marshall’s External Relations team in the Office of Strategic Analysis and Communications. She also has served as a Congressional Fellow in the U.S. House of Representatives, was the Deputy Manager for Marshall’s New Projects and Partnerships Office, and worked as a senior research scientist. Dr. Cobb holds a B.S. and M.S. in Materials Engineering from the University of Alabama in Birmingham, and a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Florida.
Sharon Field Sharon Field is Head of Organization Development and Training for Airbus Mobile Final Assembly Line, responsible for developing the capability of the organization and its people through culture, change management, and workforce and leadership development. Sharon joined Airbus in 2012 in the Helicopters Division in Australia in Human Resources. She has lead companywide culture programs and change initiatives, and the implementation of people related programs such as change management, talent development and succession planning, inclusion and diversity, and training systems. She has previously held roles in Medical Research, Oil and Gas, and Finance industries. Sharon has a Bachelor of Arts (Politics) and a Graduate Diploma in Business (Human Resources Management). She is currently studying for her Masters in Organization Development and Strategic Human Resources.
Lieutenant Governor Jenean Hampton was elected into office in November, 2015. Active in the areas of Education, Entrepreneurship and Emergency Preparedness, she has visited students and teachers in 190 schools across Kentucky. Her Lieutenant Governor’s Entrepreneurship Challenge for high school students, a shark tank style competition, has already awarded $245,000 of in-state scholarship funds to winning teams. She also created the STEM Challenge for middle school girls, and the Bluegrass Book Buddies Challenge for readers of all ages. Seeing a great need for collaboration, she also created the Kentucky Aerospace Industry Consortium (KAIC) to foster networking and support in the aerospace and aviation industries, Kentucky’s largest export. An Air Force veteran, she is a member of the Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame, and is actively working on projects that address the needs of both veterans and active military in Kentucky. Emergency preparedness as well as youth suicide prevention are also priorities as she promotes the safety and well-being Kentuckians across the Commonwealth.
Dr. Michael L. Heil is an independent aerospace and defense consultant with over 40 years’ experience in aerospace research, development, test, acquisition, and higher education. He is President of the Cleveland Engineering Society and serves on industry advisory boards at the Ohio State University, University of Cincinnati, Kent State University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide. He is a member of the Board of Visitors for the Air Force Institute of Technology and a member of the Ohio Aerospace and Aviation Technology Committee. From 2007 to 2016, he served as President and CEO of the Ohio Aerospace Institute (OAI), a 60 person, $17M annual budget non-profit aerospace research and educational institute with offices in Cleveland and Dayton. Prior to joining OAI, Michael served as Director, Center for Space Studies and Research at the Air Force Institute of Technology. He retired from Air Force active duty in 2005 at the rank of Colonel after serving as Director of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Propulsion Directorate with responsibilities for propulsion and power research at Wright-Patterson and Edwards Air Force Bases. A distinguished engineering graduate from the U.S. Air Force Academy, Michael earned a master’s degree in flight structures from Columbia University on a Guggenheim Fellowship and a doctorate in aerospace engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology. He served as Commander, Phillips Laboratory; Commander, Arnold Engineering Development Center; and Commandant of the Air Force Institute of Technology. He has served in two Air Force acquisition centers, four defense laboratories, a test center, a major command staff, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and the faculties of the Air Force Academy and Air Force Institute of Technology. He is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Colorado and a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
Larry Helm is an experienced civil space executive, with 22 years’ experience on-site at NASA Headquarters supporting all Mission Directorates and multiple institutional offices. Starting his career in requirements analysis and project management for science missions, Mr. Helm transitioned to Human Spaceflight as an advisor on strategy and planning. His HQ assignments took him to every Center (almost - he is still looking for an excuse to visit Armstrong!), in support of major Agency programs (e.g., Earth Science and Mars missions, ISS, LSP, RPT, CxP, SLS, and numerous CIO/CFO initiatives). As a NASA policy analyst, Mr. Helm co-authored Agency procedural documents and guidance on capability portfolio management, and helped build business cases for new or evolving missions. Since leaving daily HQ support, Larry has held executive positions with a succession of small businesses, helping them evolve and mature their processes to more closely align with Agency needs. He has worked since 2012 as an independent consultant for large and small companies, advising on corporate strategy. He is the co-chair of the PSC Vision Forum NASA Team, and an active member of Center and State space business councils. Mr. Helm serves as a Director for the non-profit Von Braun Center for Science and Innovation, a Huntsville-based think-tank. He is a published author on Cold War legacy, and holds a Masters in Strategic Policy from The George Washington University.
Jerry Hendrix is the Director of UAS Programs at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) leading all UAS research and testing supporting commercial, military and governmental customers alike. Prior to coming to UAH he was the Executive Director for the FAA UAS Test Site in Texas, Lone Star UAS Center of Excellence and Innovation, where he worked for the Texas A&M University System in Corpus Christi, Texas (a Minority Serving Institution). Jerry, a Georgia Tech graduate was also a professor in UAS/engineering and led community outreach programs to local high schools (Girls in STEM, Moody High Tech Science Club, and Drone Expo.) Jerry was also instrumental in establishing the Collegiate First Person View Drone Racing with UAH and advanced UAS autonomy research with NASA Armstrong. He is an aerospace leader having worked for industry including Boeing, L3 Communications and Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) for over 35 years. Recently, Jerry was the Air Wing1 Commander responsible for disaster response using UAS for the state of Texas and via the FEMA Texas Task Force 1, most notably supporting UAS operations for Hurricane Harvey. Jerry also was instrumental in UAH being selected to be a part of the DHS Shaken Fury event. Jerry has supported FAA, NASA and DOD missions over his career and is a published author in technical journals in systems and software engineering. Jerry’s awards include the: • NASA distinguished selectee as a NASA Launch Honoree & Space Flight Awareness Award • NASA distinguished Selectee of the Astronaut Office coveted NASA Crew Award • Selected as an internationally recognized engineer/scientist with the Walter P. Batson Technical Fellowship Award • Twice selected by NASA for a NASA Group Achievement Award • Winner of the prestigious Texas A&M Corpus Christi - Presidential Order of the Silver Wave for bringing international recognition to the university
Prior to joining Spaceport America in 2016, Mr. Hicks had a successful 34-year career with the U.S. Army White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) where he held positions of increasing responsibility with various directorates. He was the Supervisory General Engineer of the Patriot Missile System, leading the execution of all aspects of developmental and operational testing of that major system. Later, as the acting Division Chief of the Materiel Test Directorate, he managed the activities of the Air and Missile Defense, Tactical Missiles and Targets, and Space, Sensor and Interoperability branches. These programs focused on theater missile and national missile defense, air defense battle management, U.S. Army directed energy and space programs, space related programs/applications under NASA, DoD, foreign and other commercial programs. By 2013 Dan had become Deputy Executive Director of the range responsible for assisting the Commanding General and the Executive Director in the operations of the range, with over eleven billion dollars of infrastructure and a noontime population of approximately twelve thousand personnel. A graduate of Las Cruces High School, Mr. Hicks received his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from New Mexico State University and received an honorary selection to the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Academy at New Mexico State University.
John Himes brings 30 years of experience building and leading military, government, and civilian operations and airport teams to success through development and implementation of training, tactics, and procedures. John leads Mojave’s Air Traffic Control, Security, and Aircraft Rescue Firefighting services in a dynamic operating environment integrating civilian test flight, commercial space, Department of Defense (DoD) aircraft, film industry, general aviation, rocket engine tests, and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) operations. His previous experience includes DoD liaison work with the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Aviation Administration, and other federal and local law enforcement agencies. John retired from the military after 28 years of service and earning a Bachelor of Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Master Public Administration from American Military University.
Lee Jankowski is the Senior Director of Business Development for the Space Systems Business Unit and the Deputy Program Manager of the International Space Station (ISS) Mission Operations and Integration (MO&I) contract at Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) for Teledyne Brown Engineering (TBE). Lee also serves as the Project Manager for the Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser Vehicle Huntsville Landing Site initiative. As the Deputy PM for the ISS MO&I contract, Lee is responsible for cost, schedule, and technical performance. This includes activities associated with the development of integrated payload operations requirements, plans and processes that ensure compatibility with flight and ground systems across the ISS and its International Partners. In this role, he leads the MO&I task orders that include Space Launch System (SLS) Flight Operations, ISS Payloads and Systems, Gateway Utilization and Advanced Autonomous Systems Operations. Among his significant previous positions, Lee served over 20 years as a NASA Shuttle Spacelab Data/Video Planning Team Lead and as the ISS Data Management Team Lead. During this time, he managed and mentored over 75 certified flight controllers on numerous critical NASA space missions. Overall, he possesses more than 30 years of experience in Space Operations and Integration. Lee Jankowski is a recipient of the NASA Manned Flight Awareness Award and numerous NASA Group Achievement Awards. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and a Bachelor of Arts Pre-Law degree, from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
Ketcham has dedicated a lifetime to growing Florida's share of the space marketplace. Growing up in Cocoa Beach in the 60's with the Original 7 astronauts and coming of age with the race to the Moon, he then went to work on the Shuttle program after earning his degree at the University of Florida. That led to further career moves which always focused upon the region’s development in the exploration of the final frontier. Through working for the Congress, the private sector, in academia, and now the State of Florida, he was ever aware that California, Texas, Alabama had long dominated the landscape in political influence when space was solely a Federal program. Now as it becomes increasingly commercial, there is a sense of redemption that Florida is asserting itself from a more powerful position.
Tom McMahon is senior vice president of Advocacy and Government Relations at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. In this role, he leads AUVSI’s public affairs and communications organization. He also manages initiatives to reach policy decision makers and influencers with information about unmanned systems and how the technology will benefit the economy and generate business opportunities and jobs. Before joining AUVSI in 2015, McMahon was director of Global Communications and Government Affairs at Motorola Solutions, a leading provider of public safety communications systems. Previously, he was director of Corporate Communications and Government Relations at CenturyLink and Qwest Communications, two of the nation’s largest telecommunications providers. He managed media relations during the $22 billion CenturyLink-Qwest merger, a transaction that required approval from the Federal Communications Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice and more than 30 state public service commissions. Earlier in his career, McMahon was vice president of Communications and Government Affairs at WaveCrest Laboratories, an electric vehicle systems developer. He helped promote the company’s patented electric propulsion technology in the international transportation market. Before that he was vice president at the public affairs firms Powell Tate and Brodeur Worldwide, where he consulted clients on policy issues concerning several industries, including technology, telecommunications and transportation. He has also worked in the U.S. Congress, serving as a spokesperson and policy advisor for members and committees in the House of Representatives and the Senate. McMahon is a graduate of Auburn University and was general manager of its public radio station. He is a member of the National Press Club and was formerly on its the Board of Governors. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the National Advanced Mobility Consortium and is a member of the Virginia Unmanned Aircraft Systems Work Group, which advises the General Assembly on UAS policy.
Dale Nash is the CEO and Executive Director of Virginia Space, owner and operator of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, collocated at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility. During his tenure, Dale has overseen the successful completion and rebuild of Pad-0A where the Northrop Grumman Antares/Cygnus resupply missions are launched to the International Space Station; completion of significant upgrades to Pad-0B where the Northrop Grumman Minotaur rockets are launched, including the LADEE mission to the moon on a Minotaur V; completion of a purpose built 3,000 foot long Unmanned Aircraft Systems airfield; recent construction completion of a new Payload Processing Facility; and construction underway on Launch Complex 2, the first launch site on U.S. soil for the Rocket Lab Electron rocket. Dale’s background includes 37 years of experience in the aerospace industry. He was CEO of Alaska Aerospace, owner and operator of the Kodiak Launch Complex, for 6 years before joining Virginia Space. Prior to that, Dale spent 14 years in Florida in senior management positions working launch operations and program development on NASA’s Space Shuttle and Orion programs with United Space Alliance, Lockheed and Thiokol Corp. He began his career in Utah working 11 years on DoD ballistic missile systems and solid rocket motors with Hercules and Thiokol. Dale has a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering from the University of Utah, and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Florida.
Sam Ortega currently serves as the acting manager of the Marshall’s Science and Technology Partnerships and Formulation Office. which oversees Marshall’s Space Act Agreement process and enacts NASA strategies for new partnerships and joint opportunities. A graduate of Texas A&M University Civil Engineering Department Sam has worked for NASA for 31 years. He has had the opportunity to train astronauts in the operations of microgravity experiments, fly on NASA's microgravity simulator the "Vomit Comet", work with space scientists from Italy, Belgium and the Ukraine, manage the performance of the Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Motors and offer millions of dollars in prize money to stimulate innovation in technologies of interest to NASA and the Nation. He currently is fostering partnerships with NASA providing access to the many unique resources and capabilities NASA has. Sam currently lives in Huntsville, AL and works at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.
Rob is the Manager of the Program and Data Management Branch in the FAA’s UAS Integration Office. He oversees management of special programs, including the Partnership for Safety Program, the UAS Test Sites, and the UAS Support Center. Working with internal and external stakeholders, Rob ensures special programs are aligned to support the myriad of activities to integrate UAS into the NAS, including regulatory, policy, and standards development. Joining the UAS Integration Office in 2014 as the Special Rules Coordinator, Rob managed implementation of Section 333. More recently, Rob managed the UAS Focus Area Pathfinder Programs with CNN, PrecisionHawk and BNSF, implementing additional UAS integration firsts: operations over human beings and beyond visual line of sight. Rob also managed the implementation and start-up of the UAS Integration Pilot Program (UAS IPP). Rob has been at the FAA since 1999. Prior to joining the FAA, he worked at the Naval Air Systems Command as a System Safety Engineer.
Dianne Primavera is a leading patient advocate who has spent three decades fighting for every Coloradan’s access to quality, affordable health care. As a young mom in 1988, Dianne was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her doctor told her that she had, at most, five years to live. Since her first diagnosis, Dianne has fought cancer four times and survived. Her personal battle with cancer inspired her to make it her life’s work to ensure every Coloradan has access to the health care they need when they need it. In 1990, Dianne joined the Rocky Mountain Regional Brain Injury Center, where her work focused on helping individuals dealing with serious injuries recover and resume dignified, fulfilling lives. Since then, she’s held many prominent positions throughout the public and non-profit sectors devoted to furthering life-saving medical research and connecting Coloradans who experience illness with the treatment they need to recover. In 2006, Dianne was elected to the first of four terms in the State Legislature, representing Broomfield, Superior, and parts of Erie. Throughout her service, Dianne was highly regarded for her success working across the aisle to promote Colorado small businesses, lower prescription drug costs, and expand access to affordable health care. Some of her major successes included: • Expanding Medicaid and private-insurance coverage for cancer screenings and women’s preventative health care • Securing insurance coverage for autism services for children in Colorado • Enhancing privacy protections for Coloradans’ personal medical information • Creating a program to distribute unused cancer drugs to patients who could not afford them • Creating a Business Personal Property Tax Credit to reduce costs for small businesses Most recently, Dianne served as the CEO of Susan G. Komen Colorado, one of the largest organizations in the country dedicated to breast cancer prevention, treatment, research, and education. Dianne is a lifelong Coloradan and a Broomfield resident. She has two adult daughters and a one-year-old granddaughter, Kailani. Dianne is also an avid country dancer — taking after her dad, who was a dedicated ballroom dancer throughout his life, even on his 95th birthday.
Joe Rice is Director of Government Relations for Lockheed Martin Space (LMS). Lockheed Martin Space Government Relations (LMS GR) works primarily at the state and local level in areas where LMS has business interests to facilitate relations with federal, state, and local government officials as well as business, education, and community organizations. Prior to joining Lockheed Martin in August 2011, Mr. Rice served two terms in the Colorado State Legislature from 2007-2010 as State Representative for House District 38. While in the legislature, he focused primarily on transportation and economic development, passing legislation resulting in significant transportation improvements and job creation. He also previously served two terms as the Mayor of Glendale, Colorado from 1996-2003. His professional business experience includes more than 10 years of customer service management experience with MCI Telecommunications, JDEdwards, and Wells Fargo Bank. Mr. Rice has over 30 years of military service, primarily in the United States Army Reserve. He currently holds the rank of Colonel and entered the Retired Reserve in June 2017 where he is subject to recall in the event of a large scale mobilization of the reserve components. Military service includes UN peacekeeping operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina and five combat tours of duty in Iraq including serving as the Senior Military Officer facilitating establishment of the first democratically selected Baghdad City Council and subsequently as an advisor to both Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces on the streets of Baghdad. He is Airborne and Ranger qualified. Mr. Rice is on the Board of the Colorado Space Business Roundtable and is active with the Colorado Space Coalition and Citizens for Space Exploration. He serves on the Colorado Aeronautical Board, appointed in 2015 by Governor John Hickenlooper. He previously was an adjunct professor of history, government, and public administration at the University of Phoenix, Colorado Campus. He served on the Board of Directors of Sister Cities International and has been involved since 2003 with the Baghdad-Denver Region Partnership (BDRP). Mr. Rice earned an associate’s degree from the New Mexico Military Institute, a bachelor's degree in history from Metropolitan State University of Denver, a master’s of public administration degree from the University of Colorado at Denver, and a master’s of strategic studies degree from the U.S. Army War College. Military awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, two Bronze Stars, the Combat Action Badge for actions under enemy fire, and the Expert Infantryman’s Badge. In 2017, Mr. Rice was recognized for leadership in global diplomacy by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition and presented the Thomas R. Hobson Aerospace Distinguished Service Award by the Aerospace States Association.
Dr. John D. Schmisseur joined the faculty of the University of Tennessee Knoxville Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering on August 1, 2014. He teaches and leads research at the University of Tennessee Space Institute. Prior to joining the faculty, John was the Chief of the Energy, Power & Propulsion Sciences Division and Program Manager for Aerothermodynamics within the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR). During his tenure at AFOSR, John initiated and led a national strategic research plan which has guided the research efforts of multiple federal agencies, championed the transition of basic research capabilities that have advanced flagship national hypersonics technology programs and transformed test and evaluation capabilities, and envisioned the HIFiRE program which unifies the efforts of AFRL, NASA and the Australian DSTO to advance fundamental hypersonic science and technology via flight research. He is active within the professional community including having served as Chair of the AIAA Fluid Dynamics Technical Committee and a NATO Science and Technology Organisation working group. Dr. Schmisseur earned his B.S. (90) and M.S. (92) in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and his Ph.D. (97) in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Purdue University. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (2012) and the Air Force Research Laboratory (2013) and is the 2008 recipient of the Air Force Science and Engineering Award in Research Management.
Currently serving as Assistant Director of Business Development with the Alabama Department of Commerce, Bob began his initial service there in 2002 when the agency was known as ADO. His focus has been in the aerospace sector during his tenure at Commerce, where he has managed numerous domestic and international economic development projects; serving his clients by facilitating their site-selection process, business cost modeling analysis, incentive and tax structures and request for proposals. Managing the aerospace program for the State, Bob has been responsible since 2010 for developing marketing plans, organizing business development functions for the Secretary of Commerce and the Governor, setting statewide strategies for recruiting efforts in addition to managing location and expansion projects of aerospace companies. Bob has managed many of Alabama’s recent aerospace projects to include Airbus, Boeing, GE Aviation, Collins Aerospace, Safran, Blue Origin, United Launch Alliance, RUAG and Aerojet Rocketdyne. Bob’s initial post-college work experience began with Merit Oil Co. in Danville, KY, marketing limited-partnership oil and gas programs and business development. Bob gained marketing and financial experience during the 1980’s as a Registered Representative, holding a Series 7 License with the SEC, employed as a retail securities broker for both Edward D. Jones Co. in Shelbyville, Ky. and with J.J.B. Hilliard-Lyons in Louisville, KY. Entering into private business in 1988, Bob managed CCC, a loan servicing company, until he joined ADO in 2002. Bob was graduated from The University of Mississippi in 1982 with a BA degree in Public Administration. A native of Corinth, Mississippi, Bob and his wife Sandy currently make their home in Millbrook, Alabama.
A career Air Force officer with 36 years of service (28 in the Air Force), Colonel Thompson served as a fighter pilot in the A-10, A-37B and the F-16, academic instructor, instructor pilot, Flight commander, assistant operations officer and squadron commander. He has held a number of staff positions at the Wing, Numbered Air Force, Headquarters Air Force, and COCOM levels to include Wing Chief of Training, Inspector General Inspector and Instructor Pilot, Current Air Operations Chief and Joint Operations Center Chief of Operations at USCENTCOM, Deputy Director of Air Combat Command’s Directorate of Analysis and L2, and Executive Director of Air Force Safety at Headquarters Air Force in the Pentagon. Earle held various positions in operations, safety, systems acquisition, strategic planning, and has extensive international experience working in Southwest Asia, Europe, and South America. He currently teaches Aerodynamics, Air Space Management, and a UAS Survey class in the Aviation Management program in the College of Liberal Arts. Earle is the UAS Program Manager for the Auburn University Aviation Center and the Chairman of the Auburn University Regional Airport Safety Committee. Colonel Thompson is the Auburn University lead in the on-going UAS Center of Excellence efforts with the FAA in the ASSURE coalition of universities. He was the safety subject matter expert in an Auburn led study of Safety of UASs in the National Airspace funded by an FAA grant.
Sarah Turner is the Program Manager for the Advanced Manufacturing Technician Apprenticeship Program (AMTAP) at Lockheed Martin Space. In her role, she leads the design, deployment, and sustainment of AMTAP as well as the Knowledge Continuity Program for the Operations organization. Sarah began her career in Aerospace & Defense working at Northrup Grumman Newport News Shipbuilding in finance and Government relations roles. In 2007, she joined United Launch Alliance where she held a variety of roles with increasing levels of responsibility in Accounting before moving into Continuous Improvement. While in that role she earned her Six Sigma Black Belt Certification. In 2015, Sarah joined Lockheed Martin as the business optimization lead for HR before taking responsibility for AMTAP. Sarah holds a bachelor’s degree from Christopher Newport University and an MBA from the University of Colorado. She is also a Project Management Professional (PMP). Sarah grew up in a military family and strongly believes in the importance of the work we do at Lockheed Martin. She lives in the Denver area with her husband and two small children and enjoys being out in Colorado’s 300 days of sunshine – whether at the neighborhood playground or skiing in the mountains.
Representative Gene Ward has served in the House of Representatives from 1990. He has served as the House Minority Leader (1993-1997, 2011-2012, 2018-present) and as the House Minority Floor Leader (2017 - present). He is also the co-founder of the Small Businesses Caucus alongside former Representative David Stegmaier. Representative Ward has served in the USAID Office of Democracy and Governance as a Senior Democracy Adviser, promoting democracy throughout the world after writing text on the ills of campaign finance for developing countries. During his time in the Peace Corps as a country director, he supervised the humanitarian efforts of 46 Peace Corps volunteer, 18 staff and $1 million budget in East Timor. He has served as the Chair of the Transportation Committee for the Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board and has also been a member of the East-West Center and the Hawaii-Indonesia Chamber of Commerce. He co-founded the Hawaii Entrepreneurship Training Development Training Institute alongside Dr. George Kanahele. As the Small Business Development Specialist, he trained 3,000 young professionals in Hawaii and overseas jump-start their own businesses. Representative Ward received his Ph.D from the University of Hawaii and Completed dissertation on the values and attitudes of Hawaiians entering and succeeding in business. He has also taught at Chaminade and Hawaii Pacific University as an Adjunct Professor. As an author and commentator, he has written a number of articles about business and politics and recently authored a text on campaign finance and a Commentary for the Honolulu Advertiser: "Money in Politics" published by USAID in English and Spanish. Rep. Ward speaks Malay, Indonesian, and Vietnamese
Bobby Watkins currently serves as the director of the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) Human Exploration Development and Operations (HEDO) Office, managing all human exploration and operations program work except the Space Launch System. Watkins' responsibilities include leading MSFC’s role in development of the Habitation Element for the US Habitat Module for NASA’s lunar outpost, Gateway; International Space Station performance of round-the-clock station payload operations; development and sustainment of the station's Environmental Control and Life Support System; MSFC support activities for NASA's Commercial Crew Program and the Orion Launch Abort System; and development and operation of ground support systems for programs and missions. From April 2015 to January 2017, Mr. Watkins served as director of the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. This multi-tenant manufacturing facility is also where the SLS, the most powerful rocket in history, and the Orion spacecraft are being developed for space exploration. From 2010 to 2015, he was the director of the Office of Strategic Analysis and Communications at Marshall. On June 30, 2014, Mr. Watkins began a one-year detail to NASA Headquarters in Washington as director of the Legislative Liaison Division. He was chief of staff at Johnson from 2007 to 2010, and was Johnson's chief engineer from 2005 to 2007. From 2001 to 2005 Mr. Watkins served at NASA Headquarters as manager of the Space Shuttle Planning and Evaluation Office and as the Space Shuttle Orbiter Element technical liaison. From 1995 to 2001, he held increasingly vital leadership roles in the Space Shuttle Program at Johnson. Mr. Watkins began his NASA career in Johnson’s Mission Operation directorate in 1986. He has received the 2016 Presidential Rank Award of Meritorious Executive, NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, Exceptional Service Medal, and several group awards. He served on NASA’s Astronaut Selection Board in 2009, 2013, and 2017. Mr. Watkins is a member of the National Space Club, American Astronautical Society, National Society of Black Engineers, International Astronautical Federation Space Operations Committee and the National Technical Association. He has moderated panels and spoken at many conferences and events including the International Astronautical Congress, ISS R&D, and the Von Braun Symposium. Mr. Watkins earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics in 1986 from Albany State University in Albany, Georgia.
Dr. Renee Weber is a planetary scientist and manager of the Heliophysics and Planetary Science Branch at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. Renee's scientific research focuses on understanding planetary interiors, particularly as elucidated via seismology. She is a science team member on the currently-operating InSight mission, which sent a modern, broad-band seismometer to Mars in 2018. Renee has also worked extensively to re-analyze seismic data from the Apollo missions.