Chris Taylor is a three-time defense industry CEO, and the current CEO of Govini, a big data and analytics firm committed to transforming the business of government through data science. The company’s insights and analyses are utilized by federal contractors, federal agencies, private equity firms and hedge funds to guide their strategies and uncover opportunities. He founded a tech startup that used a unique talent-opportunity matching technology platform to assist veterans in their search for meaningful employment in the communities of their choice. He conceived of, and convinced The White House and ABC’s Shark Tank to collaborate on an all-veteran episode – which aired on Veteran’s Day 2014. For his work, he was named as one of, “HillVets’ 100 of 2014” most influential veterans in America.
Previously, as the CEO of a large government services firm, Chris was named one of, “15 to Watch in 2012” by GovCon Executive magazine along with fellow industry CEOs. Chris is also an adjunct associate professor of national security studies at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service Security Studies Program, where he teaches, “The Business of National Security” and “Hacking for Defense.”
Chris spent 14 years in the U. S. Marine Corps as an enlisted infantryman and Force Recon Marine. Twice selected for meritorious promotion, he was the Distinguished Honor Graduate at the NCO Leadership Academy, the Distinguished Leadership Graduate at Amphibious Reconnaissance School, and the Class Commander at Marine Combatant Diver Course 93-40. Chris finished his undergraduate degree at night and left the Marine Corps to attend the College of William & Mary where he earned his MBA in Strategy & Leadership in 2002, and received the Dean’s Award for Leadership and Service at graduation. He is also a 2008 graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School, where he earned a Master of Public Administration degree in Political Economy and International Security, and was elected by his class to lead them into Harvard Yard for graduation. Chris also served as the Director of the Harvard Defense & Security Initiative and as a member of the Defense Leadership Project at Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership where he co-authored, Transforming the National Security Culture.
Chris speaks frequently at professional and academic forums, and has testified before Congress and the Commission on Wartime Contracting on private sector contributions to national security. He has appeared on MSNBC and CNN offering commentary on global security challenges. Chris is the former Chairman of the International Stability Operations Association and a member of Business Executives for National Security. He has attended Harvard University’s Program for Senior Executives in National and International Security and the Aspen Institute’s Executive Seminar and the Justice and Society Seminar.
Chris is a member of the Board of Trustees of the American University of Afghanistan, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Atlantic Council, and serves as a board member at 360VA. Follow Chris on Twitter @cttaylor and @H4DGUSSP.
Matt Zais is a career Army officer and currently serves as the Director for Iraq at the National Security Council at The White House. Previously, he served as the Deputy Director of Strategic Initiatives at U.S. Army Cyber Command. He sponsored a problem topic for the first Hacking 4 Defense course at Stanford in the spring of 2016 where his student team developed analytic methods to gain scaled situational awareness of ISIS social media activity. In his current capacity he has also designed and led Silicon Valley pilot programs that bring together civilian and military experts to develop innovative methods to understand and counter extremist social media environments.
Before becoming a military strategist, Matt served as an Infantry officer in the 101st Airborne Division, 82nd Airborne Division, and as a Ranger Instructor in the Mountain phase of Ranger School. He taught International Relations and American Foreign Policy in the Department of Social Sciences at the United States Military Academy. He served as a Strategist for the Syrian chemical weapons elimination operation for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. Matt also served as the Executive Officer for the Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, Iraq Study Group. In this capacity he both led and served as a primary author for the forthcoming two-volume official history of the U.S Army in Operation Iraqi Freedom. His research focuses on quantitative analysis of modern military operations, operational military decision-making, and organizational dynamics.
Matt earned a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the United States Military Academy and an MPA and Ph.D. (Security Studies) from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.
Faculty & Course Advisors
Michael J. Morell
Michael Morell, the former Acting Director and Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, is one of our nation’s leading national security professionals, with extensive experience in intelligence and foreign policy. He has been at the center of our nation’s fight against terrorism, its work to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and its efforts to respond to trends that are altering the international landscape—including the Arab Spring, the rise of China, and the cyber threat. Politico has called Michael the “Bob Gates of his generation.”
During his 33-year career at CIA, Michael served as Deputy Director for over three years, a job in which he managed the Agency’s day-to-day operations, represented the Agency at the White House and Congress, and maintained the Agency’s relationships with intelligence services and foreign leaders around the world. Michael also served twice as Acting Director, leading CIA when Leon Panetta was named Secretary of Defense and again after David Petraeus left government.
Michael’s senior assignments at CIA also included serving for two years as the Director of Intelligence, the Agency’s top analyst, and for two years as Executive Director, the CIA’s top administrator—managing human resources, the budget, security, and information technology for an agency the size of a Fortune 200 firm.
Michael has been a witness to history on multiple occasions. He is the only person who was both with President Bush on September 11th, when al-Qaida burst into the American consciousness, and with President Obama on May 1st, when Bin Laden was brought to justice. Michael played a major role in the Bin Laden operation.
Michael is known inside CIA for his leadership. He inspired individuals and work units to perform beyond expectations. He mentored most of the Agency’s current senior leadership team, including a significant number of women and minorities. When he departed CIA, thousands of officers wrote Michael notes of thanks.
Michael is the recipient of many awards. He received the Presidential Rank Award for exceptional performance – the nation’s highest honor for civilian service. He also received the Distinguished Intelligence Medal, CIA’s highest award, for his role in the Bin Ladin operation. Michael is also the recipient of the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal, the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, and the Department of Defense Service Medal.
Today, Michael is involved in a wide range of activities. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company; Senior Counselor to Washington’s fastest growing consulting firm, Beacon Global Strategies; and a consultant to a number of private sector entities.
Much of what Michael does today is tied to national security. He is a frequent guest on the Charlie Rose Show discussing national security issues. He is a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School; a Senior Fellow at West Point’s Center on Combatting Terrorism; a resident fellow this at the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago, a member of the Aspen Institute’s Homeland Security Group, which advises the Secretary of Homeland Security on national security issues; a member of the Board of Director’s of the Atlantic Council, a member of the Advisory Board to the University of Chicago’s Project on Security and Terrorism, and a member of the Atlantic Council’s advisory group to its study on the future of the Middle East. He served as a Member of President Obama’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology.
Michael is the author of the New York Times bestseller on CIA’s nearly 20-year fight against al Qa`ida. The title of the book is “The Great War of Our Time: An Insider’s Account of the CIA’s Fight Against Terrorism – From al Qaida to ISIS.” It was published in May 2015.
Michael is a native of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, and he maintains close ties to northeast Ohio. His father and mother—who taught him hard work, the pursuit of excellence, and humility—were an autoworker and a homemaker. Michael is a first-generation college student, earning a B.A. summa cum laude in economics from the University of Akron. He also earned an M.A. in economics from Georgetown University.
Michael is involved with charities associated with supporting the families of fallen soldiers and intelligence officers
Adm. Sandy Winnefeld
Admiral James A. "Sandy" Winnefeld Jr. graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a degree in Aerospace Engineering and served for 37 years in the United States Navy. He instructed at the Navy Fighter Weapons School, also known as Topgun, and served as senior aide-de-camp to General Colin L. Powell. He subsequently commanded a fighter squadron, the amphibious ship USS CLEVELAND, the aircraft carrier USS ENTERPRISE, and the THEODORE ROOSEVELT Carrier Strike Group. As a flag officer, he commanded NATO Joint Command Lisbon, Striking and Support Forces NATO, the United States SIXTH Fleet, United States NORTHERN Command, and the North American Aerospace Defense Command, also known as NORAD. He retired in 2015 after serving four years as the ninth Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the United States’ number two ranking military officer.
Admiral Winnefeld is a frequently published author and a director or advisory board member for companies operating in a broad spectrum of business sectors. He currently serves as Distinguished Professor at the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at Georgia Tech, where he is also a member of the Engineering Hall of Fame and the Georgia Tech Advisory Board. He is a senior non-resident fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He is on the Board of Visitors of the United States Naval Academy, and serves on the board of the U.S. Naval Institute.
Joe is currently a Research Assistant at MD5 National Security Technology Accelerator, a new DOD initiative that aims to reinvigorate civil-military technology collaboration and value creation through programs like Hacking for Defense, of which MD5 is a principal sponsor. Within MD5, Joe focuses on developing and managing programs like H4D, MD5 Hack - a series of hackathon events that bring together technologists, government agencies, and the military to build prototypes that address areas of interest to the national security community - and Fed Tech - a graduate level class offered by the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland which matches innovations in federal labs with entrepreneurs who conduct rigorous customer discovery and business model building. Prior to MD5, Joe attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he studied Mechanical Engineering and Political Science. Joe also attended St. Peter’s College at Oxford University as a visiting student, where he studied Philosophy, Politics, and Economics in addition to Engineering Science. In the venture world, as his senior capstone, Joe worked with a team of twenty MIT engineers and a budget of $7,000 to develop SleepTight, an automatic brace tightening system for scoliosis patients that he pitched in front of a crowd of 1,200 attendees and which drew interest from industry. Joe is currently working on a project in the civic technology space called Hi From the Other Side, which aims to facilitate constructive political discussions between individuals with ideological differences.
Jim is an active duty Army officer with a tireless passion for solving complex problems and improving the defense enterprise. He holds a B.S. from the United States Military Academy in economics and foreign languages (French and Russian), as well as, an MBA from Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business. Outside of his day job where he works for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jim is the executive director of the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum (DEF), a network of emerging defense professionals promoting grassroots innovation in the defense enterprise. Jim is also the co-founder of MilitaryMentors.org which aims to improve professional development within the military and he consults for U.S. Army Special Operations Command. He is a graduate of U.S. Army Ranger School, Sapper Leader Course, and is a qualified parachutist. Over the last 10 years, he has been stationed or deployed around the world to Missouri, Germany, Iraq, Georgia, North Carolina, Washington, and currently lives in Washington, DC with his wife (who is also an Army officer) and son.
Sgt. Jon Gillis
Jon is a Marine infantry sergeant and former Combined Anti-Armor Team section leader. He enlisted in June 2013 and has deployed to Romania in support of the Black Sea Rotational Force and Norway in support of exercise Cold Response. In January 2016, Jon was selected as the II Marine Expeditionary Force Color Sergeant, a position which has allowed him to focus on designing II MEF's enlisted innovation training and on researching enlisted talent management and small unit leadership strategy. In addition to his official duties, Jon is also the author and project manager of an Installations and Logistics Command effort to 3D print tactical Group 1 UAS. Beginning in January 2017, Jon will transfer to the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory in Quantico, Va., where he will serve as the Commander's Special Advisor for Science, Technology and Experimentation.
Jon's professional military education includes the Marine Corps' Advanced Machine Gunners Course, Infantry Small Unit Leaders Course, Company Level Intelligence Cell Course, and Instructor of Water Survival Course. He holds a B.A. in Government from Georgetown University and will pursue his M.A. at Tufts' Fletcher School beginning in the Fall of 2017.
Julia earned her MBA from the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University in 2016 and is currently a Senior Consultant with BDO USA's Federal Practice in Washington, DC. She enlisted in the U.S. Navy following the 9/11 attacks, and subsequently graduated from the George Washington University with a major in International Affairs. She has lived and worked in a variety of countries supporting military operations--including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Notably, she qualified as an Information Dominance Warfare Officer supporting operations at the Navy Network Warfare Command from 2010 to 2011. In her 13 years as an Intelligence Officer she served in various positions where she planned, managed and participated in the collection, evaluation, and analysis of information from many sources into actionable intelligence.
Ben Taylor is a full-time Army Special Forces officer stationed in Washington, DC. He has multiple combat and operational deployments to Central Asia over the span of his 17-year career. He is also the Chief Operating Officer of the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum, a not-for-profit organization that connects, inspires, and empowers junior and mid-career national security professionals to have an outsized impact on defense innovation. His interest in defense innovation began while writing his masters thesis on the need for militaries to constantly innovate to support the power status of the countries they serve. Ben holds a Bachelor Degree in International Relations and Strategic History from the U.S. Military Academy and a Masters in Defense Analysis and Counter-Terrorism from the Naval Postgraduate School. His passions include connecting disparate disciplines for social improvement, the value of networks and motivated people, and the transformative power of good leadership.
Nate is a Cyberspace Operations Officer in the United States Air Force. He joined the service in 1998 and has worked as an IT professional for the NSA, Nuclear Command and Control Systems Programmer for U.S. Strategic Command, a two-time J6 for both the Joint Force Special Operations Component in Japan for OPERATION TOMODACHI as well as the Joint Task Force in Central America. His last position was the Space and Cyber Legislative Liaison to Congress for Air Force Space Command under General John Hyten.
Nate’s professional military education (PME) as a Captain was with the United States Marine Corps’ Expeditionary Warfare School. In his current PME program, he’s an Air Force Fellow with the FBI’s Cyber Division. He has MA in Economics from University of Oklahoma.
Major Kudrna is a cyber operator at U.S. Army Cyber Command, with duty at USCYBERCOM conducting counter-terrorism cyberspace operations. As an activated Reserve Major, Kirk has significant civilian and military experience to include assignments with DARPA and the National Security Agency. Major Kudrna's research, development, and operational experience focuses on the deep web, dark web, and social media.
LTC Wilson is currently an Army War College student and most recently commanded 1st Battalion, 1st Information Operations Command, a subordinate command of U.S. Army Cyber Command. As an Information Operations officer, LTC Wilson has significant operational and command experience throughout the DoD and Interagency with planning and delivering information effects in support of warfighting units to include U.S. special operations forces. Following graduation from the Army War College, LTC Wilson will return to Afghanistan to serve as the lead information operations officer for Operation Freedom's Sentinel.
Roosevelt Samuel is a career Army Engineer Officer and currently serves as the Branch Chief for Contingency Construction, Operational Energy, and Military Construction in the Office of the Chief of Engineers at the Pentagon.
Prior to arriving at the Pentagon, Roosevelt served in the Republic of South Korea as the Division Engineer for the 2nd Infantry Division where he was the senior engineer advisor responsible for providing engineer plans and assessments for maneuver, protection and sustainment engineering. It was in this capacity where he first interacted with H4D while in search of a solution for Subterranean Breaching Techniques. He has numerous combat deployments and operational assignments where delivering the Army’s 23 engineering capabilities and problem solving have been his primary focus throughout his 27-year career. These assignments include: Somalia with the 10th Mountain Division and two tours in Iraq (Assistant Division Engineer for the 101st Airborne Division and Information Operations Officer for Reconstruction for the XVIII Airborne Corps); two previous tours at the Pentagon in G8 Programming Analysis and Evaluation (PA&E) Directorate as the Military Construction Analyst and G3/5/7 as the Installation Capabilities Analyst and Integrator; Commander of the 6th Engineer Battalion (Multi-Mission Airborne) at Ft. Richardson, Alaska; two tours at Headquarters, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington D.C. where he served as the Executive Officer to the Director of Military Programs and Special Assistant to the Chief of Engineers; Assistant Division Engineer and the Battalion Executive Officer for the 326th Engineer Battalion, 101st Airborne Division; Theater Master Planner for Eighth U.S. Army, Republic of South Korea; Commander of the 911th Engineer Company (Technical Rescue) and Senior Engineer Observer/ Controller at the U.S. Army Jungle Operations Training Battalion, Ft. Sherman, Panama. Additionally, he is a graduate of the U.S. Army Ranger School, U.S. Army Airborne School and is Air Assault qualified.
His passions are for problem solving, working with high performing individuals and organizations, and leadership. He holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Buffalo.
During her 20-year CIA career, Kristin served in the Director’s area and three Agency directorates – analysis, operations, and digital innovation – leading a wide variety of the Agency’s missions in positions of increasing authority.
Kristin served most recently as Deputy Chief of the Innovation & Technology Group at the Open Source Center (OSC). She led OSC’s open-source IT and innovation efforts to extract meaning from big data by guiding multi-disciplinary teams of analysts, data scientists, data management officers, engineers, programmers, developers and researchers in creating tools, methodologies and infrastructure for the future.
Previously, Kristin led the analytic team in the Office of the Director of Central Intelligence, partnering across CIA to present the CIA Director and the Agency’s most senior leaders with the substantive content they needed to represent the Agency with the White House, Congress and foreign partners. She was noted for strong leadership of content and successfully coaching her officers handle at-times high stakes engagements with senior leaders. Kristin founded and led a new regional Directorate of Operations (DO) division focused on the Middle East as its deputy chief, the first analyst ever selected for this honor. She created the division’s strategy, secured funding and built strong partnerships, all of which contributed to the division’s high morale and successful execution of clandestine operations.
Kristin also led the Advanced Analyst Program in the Directorate of Analysis’ (DA’s) Sherman Kent School, creating a program of study, overseeing the development, design and teaching of advanced tradecraft courses to experienced analysts.
As the Bush Administration was considering whether to go to war, Kristin was asked to lead the team examining al-Qai’da’s ties in the Middle East in the Office of Terrorism Analysis in the Counterterrorism Center (CTC). She took this assignment after a long stint as a briefer for the President’s Daily Brief (PDB), serving the Vice President’s National Security Advisor—and frequently the Vice President—during the lead up to and after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. During her career Kristin also served as an analyst overseas in the Middle East, a military analyst during the Balkans war, and an imagery analyst during the first Persian Gulf War.
Kristin graduated from Occidental College with an Advanced Bachelor’s in Political Science. She has two teenage sons and a highly entertaining Wheaten Terrier.
Andrew Hunter is a senior fellow in the International Security Program and director of the Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group at CSIS. He focuses on issues affecting the industrial base, including emerging technologies, sequestration, acquisition policy, and industrial policy. From 2011 to November 2014, Mr. Hunter served as a senior executive in the Department of Defense (DOD). Appointed as director of the Joint Rapid Acquisition Cell in 2013, his duties included fielding solutions to urgent operational needs and leading the work of the Warfighter Senior Integration Group to ensure timely action on critical issues of warfighter support. From 2011 to 2012, he served as chief of staff to Ashton B. Carter and Frank Kendall, while each was serving as under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics. Additional duties while at DOD include providing support to the Deputy’s Management Action Group and leading a team examining ways to reshape acquisition statutes.
From 2005 to 2011, Mr. Hunter served as a professional staff member of the House Armed Services Committee, leading the committee’s policy staff and managing a portfolio focused on acquisition policy, the defense industrial base, technology transfers, and export controls. From 1994 to 2005, he served in a variety of staff positions in the House of Representatives, including as appropriations associate for Representative Norman D. Dicks, as military legislative assistant and legislative director for Representative John M. Spratt Jr., and as a staff member for the Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns with the People’s Republic of China. Mr. Hunter holds an M.A. degree in applied economics from the Johns Hopkins University and a B.A. degree in social studies from Harvard University.
Suzanne is CEO & Publisher of The Cipher Brief and most recently served as CNN’s Intelligence Correspondent before spending two years in the private sector. She also worked as an Executive Producer for CNN and as a news anchor at CNN International based in Berlin and Atlanta. In Berlin, she anchored a morning news program that was broadcast live in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and from Atlanta, she anchored a number of world news programs. She covered the NATO campaign in 1999 from Kosovo and Macedonia.
David H. Langstaff is a business and community leader with extensive experience as Chief Executive Officer and Director of advanced technology and professional services companies. He currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Monitor 360 – a San Francisco-based narrative analytics and strategy company, and as Chairman of the Proxy Board of Morpho Trust (a U.S. subsidiary of Safran S.A.). In 2009, he was named to the Defense Business Board, which provides independent advice to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense.
From December 2009, upon its acquisition from Northrop Grumman by General Atlantic Partners and KKR, David served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of TASC, Inc. He was named President & CEO and served in that capacity from March 2011 through November 2013.
Previously, David was Founder, President & Chief Executive Officer and Director of Veridian Corporation from its formation in 1997 until its sale to General Dynamics in August 2003. Veridian was an advanced technology company that specialized in mission-critical national security programs primarily for the U.S. Government. Veridian was regarded as one of the preeminent companies in its field with a strong values-based culture, and its IPO was recognized by the Financial Times as one of the ten best global IPOs in 2002. David served as chief financial officer, chief operating officer, and chief executive officer of predecessor companies since 1984. He also served as chief executive officer and co-chairman of The Olive Group, a global integrated security company with offices in Dubai, London and Washington, DC, from August 2006 through December 2007.
David is a senior moderator on values-based leadership with the Aspen Global Leadership Network of The Aspen Institute. He chairs the Advisory Board of the Aspen Institute Business and Society policy program, is a Trustee of the Committee for Economic Development, a Director of The Hitachi Foundation, an Executive Fellow for the Center for Higher Ambition Leadership, a member of the Advisory Board of the Open Cloud Consortium, and a Director of the Wolf Trap Foundation. In September 2016, David was named a director of Premier, Inc (NASDAQ: PINC) where he serves on the Audit and Compliance, and other committees. From 2004-2010, he served on the Board of Directors of SRA International (NYSE: SRX), where he chaired the Committee on Compensation & Personnel, and previously, the Long Range Planning Committee. He served on the Board of Directors of QinetiQ Group PLC (LSE: QQ) from 2009-2011, where he was a member of the Audit, Remuneration, and Governance Committees.
David performs from time-to-time as a baroque soloist with amateur and professional orchestras. He is currently producing a television special on the history of recorded music (‘Soundbreaking’), with the late Sir George Martin, to be aired in November 2016 on PBS, and globally throughout 2016 and 2017. He earned a B.A., cum laude, from Harvard University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. He resides on a farm in Comus, MD with his wife of more than thirty-five years.
Caryn is Senior Counsel and Director of Government Affairs for Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) where she focuses on commercial and civil space launch services, including SpaceX’s NASA contracts for commercial crew and cargo carriage to the International Space Station. Caryn represents SpaceX on Capitol Hill and works extensively with U.S. Government agencies, particularly the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, which licenses SpaceX’s launches and reentries.
Prior to joining SpaceX, Caryn served as Deputy Associate Director for Legislative Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget in the Executive Office of the President. Caryn has also served as Counsel, Policy Director and Deputy Chief of Staff on Capitol Hill; her last Hill position was with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Before entering the political realm, Caryn practiced international law at a Washington, D.C. firm.
Bryan is the CEO of Haystax Technology, and a pioneer in the development and application of analytic methods and software for enterprise risk management, high consequence/low probability events, critical infrastructure protection and cyber risks. He was previously the co-founder of Digital Sandbox, Inc., a venture-backed provider of security risk analytics and intelligence fusion products that was acquired by Haystax in 2013. Bryan holds multiple patents for advanced analytics and has advised senior government officials on critical risk matters for many years. Bryan began his early career developing automated target recognition algorithms for UAVs and designing optical systems for the “Star Wars” program. He holds a B.S. in Applied Optics from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.
Sarah is an Emerging Technology Trends Project Associate at RAND. As a computer engineer, she took her first job out of college in Baghdad with the DoD Biometrics Task Force and went on to lead SOCOM's first Identity Operations team in Afghanistan. She has past stints at The White House, a biometrics startup company, and the National Academy of Sciences as an S&T Fellow to the disruptive technologies committee chaired by the founder of In-Q-Tel. Sarah is a graduate of the West Virginia University Statler College of Engineering and the University of Cambridge Judge Business School. Find her on Twitter @BioMetricsNerd.
Mikhail is a management consultant at Renaissance Strategic Advisors where he helps lead the firm’s emerging technologies and government services practice areas. He has advised aerospace & defense clients across multiple functional areas to include market analysis, corporate strategy and planning, and mergers and acquisitions. Mikhail has a particular focus on helping companies develop investment strategies for new technology areas such as additive manufacturing and directed energy. His work has spanned many defense industrial sectors such as unmanned aerial and underwater systems, cyber, laser satellite weapons and communications, robotics, ISR, space, IT, and government services. Prior to joining Renaissance, Mikhail worked at Deloitte, as well as IHS Jane’s where he supported the DoD and Intelligence Community in roles that varied from intelligence analysis to supply chain optimization. Mikhail has also done extensive research and writing on defense procurement reform and innovation.
Mikhail is currently a Visiting Research Fellow at the National Defense University. He is also an editor at The Strategy Bridge, an organization that provides a forum for the discussion of strategy, national security, and military affairs. He is the CFO of the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum, a non-profit focused on preparing future leaders for national security challenges. Mikhail holds a Master’s in International Security and Terrorism from the University of Nottingham, UK and a Bachelor’s in Political Science and History from the University of Massachusetts.
Jason is the Founder and CEO of Hard Yards Technologies. Prior to founding Hard Yards, Jason was a Vice President at the HumanGeo Group and a Product Manager at Ringtail Design. Both companies are software development and data visualization pioneers supporting national security agencies. Jason is a former Navy SEAL officer and brings more than 20 years of deep special operations and intelligence community expertise. He holds an MBA from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business with a focus on venture capital and entrepreneurial studies. Jason also earned an M.S. in the Management of Information Technology from the University of Virginia, an M.A. in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College, and a B.S. in Political Science from the United States Naval Academy.
COL Tom Nelson, U.S. Army, Ret., runs DC operations for BMNT Partners, and is also the founder and CEO of Talon Intelligence, a company which delivers artificial intelligence augmented solutions to its customers. He has a tremendous breadth of experience over his 24-year professional career. After graduation from the United States Military Academy in 1992, he served as an Infantry Officer and later in diverse assignments across the Department of Defense to include: strategy and policy development at the Pentagon and National Security Council, planning and executing military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, and cyber security operations at U.S. Army Cyber Command. Tom has a master’s degree in Economics from the Budapest University of Technology and Economics and was a National Security Fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University.
Emilian is president of Good Harbor Security Risk Management, a premiere cyber security risk management advisory firm. He advises Boards, CEOs, investment professionals, and government leaders on managing cyber security risk. He has helped clients across sectors including energy, insurance, law, technology, defense, and manufacturing, among others, and in North America, the Middle East, Latin America, and Asia. Emilian has published and presented extensively on cyber risk management and cyber security risk diligence.
Before joining Good Harbor, Emilian worked for Foreign Affairs Canada and for the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. He is a graduate of the University of Toronto and received a Masters of Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.
Tim Ogden is the CEO of Blue Ivy Partners, a value-added reseller of emerging technologies in security, big data and networking. He's an active investor in security startups like Vahna and Syncurity. Tim began his career leading Marines as a communications officer in 29 Palms and Quantico from 1995-2000. Then, he led sales and engineering teams at Cisco for 10 years. He started and led the growth of the Federal business for Arista Networks, the leading company in software-defined networking, which resulted in a successful IPO in June 2014. He's worked closely with clients at the Federal Reserve, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Navy and the Intel Community. He has a BS in General Engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy and a MSE from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Geoff left McKinsey & Co’s DC office to found Eastern Foundry in 2014. Before joining McKinsey, he created networks of sheikh-led transportation businesses in Iraq and Afghanistan. Geoff holds a B.A. in Computer Science from St. Mary’s, a juris doctor degree from Harvard Law School, and was a decorated infantry Platoon Commander in the United States Marine Corps.
Brandon serves on the Executive Leadership team and oversees growth and development of Barbaricum. The company supports government clients with full-scale Communications, Technology-Enabled Services, Research and Analysis, Cyber Security/OSINT, as well as International Development. Brandon has been directly involved in the financial planning, performance management, business development, operations management, and overall business performance of the company since its founding in 2008.
His leadership has helped guide the firm to recognition as one of the nation’s fastest growing companies as ranked by Inc. magazine for the past three years–#322 and 7th Fastest Growing Company in DC in 2013, #488 and 7th Fastest Growing Company in DC in 2014, and #539 and 3rd Fastest Growing Company in DC in 2015–as well as one of Washington Post’s Top Workplaces for 2015. Brandon was recognized as a Greater Washington EY Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist in both 2014 and 2015 and was honored by SmartCEO.
Brandon received a B.S. in Engineering Management from The United States Military Academy and holds an M.B.A. in Finance from Johns Hopkins University. Brandon served in the U.S. Army as an Infantry Officer and was Airborne Ranger qualified. He is a Certified Energy Manager and Project Management Professional.
For more than 15 years, Jim has provided a wide range of management and strategy consulting support to domestic and international defense and security firms, as well as commercial firms seeking a role in the defense market, with a focus on major defense platforms and electronic subsystems, land systems, soldier systems, and weapons. His expertise and experience in the aerospace and defense sector at every level of the supply chain, from basic materials to system-of-systems, helps clients address a range of needs, from market entry and competitive positioning to adjacent market growth and mergers and acquisitions.
In addition to his lead client service role with several prime contractors, Jim is also one of the leads for Avascent's Competitive Strategy and Price-to-Win practice. In this role, he helps a range of clients develop compelling win strategies, find impactful competitive intelligence, shape customer cost and performance perceptions, make strategic pricing decisions, ghost and exploit competitor weaknesses, and win significant defense contracts in extremely competitive markets.
Prior to joining The Avascent Group, Jim was an engagement manager with Jane’s Strategic Advisory Services (JSAS) and a project manager for new product development in their publications department. As an engagement manager, Jim served a wide variety of industry and government customers to assess domestic and international markets. In the publications department, Jim served as Managing Editor of Jane’s Unconventional Weapons Response Handbook and contributed to Jane’s World Insurgency and Terrorism as well as several other publications on all hazard security planning and crisis response. Prior to Jane’s, Jim worked at an educational non-profit.
Jim holds an M.A. in Publication Design and Management from the University of Baltimore, and a B.A. in Speech Communication from James Madison University. He has co-authored a number of articles on pricing strategy, tactical wheeled and combat vehicle markets and supply chain security for Avascent, as well as several articles on terrorist organizations and weapons for Jane’s. His commentary has appeared in tech and defense media outlets such as Defense News, Federal News Radio, ABC News, Wired, and National Defense Magazine.
Joshua Pavluk is a Principal at Avascent, a Washington-based management and strategy consulting firm supporting clients in government-driven industries. Since 2005, Josh has advised a wide range of global aerospace and defense industry clients on how to develop and achieve their strategic growth objectives. His clients have included diversified prime contractors, leading sub-system suppliers, and non-profit laboratories. Josh also works closely with the investor community, supporting private equity clients as they evaluate investments in the national security sector.
With a focus on developing data-driven solutions, Josh has collaborated with senior executives on topics including growth strategy, organizational change, competitive strategy, strategic partnerships, and M&A. Josh’s clients have successfully launched new products, expanded market share, closed acquisitions, and aligned their organizations to strategy. His market expertise spans the defense electronics landscape and includes radar systems, tactical communications, and electronic warfare. He also has deep experience supporting clients develop strategies and investment plans for emerging technologies such as autonomous systems, directed energy, and UAS for commercial applications.
Josh has authored several white papers on autonomous systems including Unmanned Aerial Systems at a Crossroads and Redefining Asymmetric Warfare: Unmanned Swarm and the Third Offset. He is a frequent speaker at events ranging from corporate strategy offsite discussions to the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum 2016 Annual Conference. His commentary has appeared in tech and defense media outlets such as TechCrunch, VentureBeat, National Defense, Asian Military Review, War on the Rocks, and Public Radio International.
Prior to joining Avascent in 2005, Josh served as a defense industry analyst at Jane’s Strategic Advisory Services in Washington. During Josh’s time at Jane’s he supported corporate clients on the development of international growth strategies.
Brad Rainey has spent 15 years working in software development and technology management for the U.S. Defense Department. He earned a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Tennessee in 2004, an M.S. in Systems Engineering with an emphasis on Complex System Design from Stevens Institute of Technology in 2009, and an MBA with an emphasis on Finance and Entrepreneurship from the University of Maryland in 2015. Brad has developed and deployed software solutions for many different projects all over the world and has managed computing infrastructure design, integration, and deployment teams in several different countries. He has recently joined Helm Point Solutions where he continues to support some of the DoD’s most important software and system development efforts.
Stephen P. Rodriguez is the founder of One Defense, an agile network of market leading, non-traditional technology companies, venture capital firms and research universities dedicated to scouting advanced software and hardware applications and enabling their transition into the Department of Defense (DOD).
Mr. Rodriguez began his career at Booz Allen Hamilton shortly before 9/11 supporting their National Security practice. In his capacity as an expert on game theoretic applications, he supported the United States Intelligence Community and DOD as the lead wargame architect for the Thor’s Hammer, Schriever II/III and Cyber Storm exercises. He subsequently was a Vice President at a venture-backed political risk company (Sentia Group) and served as Chief Marketing Officer for a mid-size international defense corporation (NCL Holdings).
Upon moving to New York, he launched One Defense that has supported the growth of more than 30 venture-backed startups as well as the above-market venture portfolio performance of SineWave Ventures, Scout Ventures, Archangel and Abundance Partners.
Mr. Rodriguez serves on the Board of CENSA, ClearChat, Coin.co, WarOnTheRocks, Public Spend Forum, GraySpace and Training Leaders International. He is also a Visiting Research Fellow at the National Defense University and New America Foundation. A Term Member at the Council on Foreign Relations, he also serves on the Term Member Advisory Council and acts as the President of the Foreign Policy Initiative’s Leadership Council.
He received his B.B.A degree from Texas A&M University and an M.A. degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. He has published numerous articles on innovation in the Department of Defense and his graduate thesis on conflict resolution in the Caucasus resulted in an invitation to join Secretary Robert Gates transition team in late 2006.
Mr. Rodriguez resides in Washington D.C. with his wife, Laura, a venture capitalist with Bulldog Ventures and their son, Fletcher.