Speakers and Panelists

2019 MAMA Space Symposium


James F. Bridenstine is the the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the space agency of the United States Federal Government. The Administrator serves as the senior space science adviser to the President of the United States. According to NASA, the role of the Administrator is to "lead the NASA team and manage its resources to advance the Vision for Space Exploration." ​Bridenstine was elected in 2012 to represent Oklahoma’s First Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served on the Armed Services Committee and the Science, Space and Technology Committee.


Lt. Gen. David J. Buck, USAF (Ret) is President and CEO of The Buck Consulting Group (BCG) headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  The BCG is postured to help the small and mid-sized space, cyber and nuclear-oriented companies navigate complex bureaucracies, agency transitions, contract mechanisms and industry competition. Dave served as the commander of the 14th Air Force, Air Force Space Command, and the Joint Force Space Component at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Brig. Gen. Donna D. Shipton is the Vice Commander, Space and Missile Systems CenterLos Angeles Air Force Base, California. She is responsible for assisting the Commander in managing the research, design, development, acquisition, and sustainment of space and missile systems, launch, command and control, and operational satellite systems. The Space and Missile Systems Center is the nation’s center of technical expertise for military space acquisition with more than 5,000 employees nationwide and an annual budget of $7 billion.


Eric Stallmer is the President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. Mr. Stallmer has been recently appointed to the National Space Council Users’ Advisory Group (UAG). He also serves as co-chair of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airspace Integration Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) and is a member of the Space Launch and Reentry ARC and the Spaceport  ARC. Stallmer is also a member of the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC). He recently testified at a House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology  hearing titled, “The Commercial Space Launch Industry: Small Satellite Opportunities and Challenges".


Oscar Garcia is the founding Partner, Chairman and CEO of InterFlight Global Corporation (IFG), an international Air and Space Transportation consulting firm in business since 1992. At the firm, he serves clients as a Senior Consultant, Board Advisor and Project Leader in the areas of Private-Public; Economic Development, Strategic Planning, Financing, Sales and Marketing and optimization of Air and Space Transportation Systems and Operations. His business experience ranges from funding startup ventures to designing joint ventures amongst large aerospace conglomerates.


Thomas O. "Tom" Engler is the Director of the Center Planning and Development Directorate at NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida. He provides strategic leadership and management integration of center planning activities, partnership development initiatives and technology development activities to enable Kennedy as a multiuser spaceport supporting both government and commercial launch providers and their customers. He leads the identification and development of strategic and business partnerships that advance NASA and Kennedy goals, and provides the Kennedy "front door" interface to industry and other governmental organizations.


Mr. Thomas Eye is the Director of the 45th Space Wing Plans & Programs Directorate.  As the Director, his responsibilities include managing the entry and establishment of federal, state and commercial organizations desiring to operate on the Eastern Launch Range.  As the Premiere Gateway to Space, the Eastern Launch Range spans over 15 million miles to include the 45th Space Wing’s tracking location on Ascension Island in the south Atlantic Ocean.  His stewardship of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Patrick Air Force Base and the restricted special use air space continues to  assure access to space for the warfighter and the nation.  


Frederick Whitten Peters is a District of Columbia lawyer and senior level public official. His law practice specializes in civil and criminal litigation including contract fraud, antitrust, tax and security cases. He has served in several key positions within the U.S. federal government, including as Secretary of the Air ForceAfter leaving the Air Force in 2001, Peters returned to the Washington law firm of Williams & Connolly as partner. He also served as vice chairman of the President's Commission on the Future of the U.S. Aerospace Industry which studied America's aerospace industry and assessed the future importance of that industry to the nation's security within the twenty-first century global environment.


Michael Walter Wynne is an American business executive and was the 21st United States Secretary of the Air Force and was responsible for the organizing, training, equipping and providing for the welfare of its nearly 370,000 men and women on active duty, 180,000 members of the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve, 160,000 civilians, and their families. Wynne is a prominent proponent of renewable energy, and supported the Air Force's continued leadership in clean energy procurement. Wynne has published numerous professional journal articles relating to engineering, cost estimating and contracting. 


BG. Wayne R. Monteith USAF (Ret.) Currently serves as the Federal Aviation Administration 's Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation. Mr. Monteith provides strategic leadership and direction to ensure the protection of public health and safety, safety of property, and the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States during commercial launch and reentry activities. He is also responsible for encouraging, facilitating and promoting the U.S. commercial space transportation enterprise.


Chris Beauregard serves as the policy analyst for the White House National Space Council, where he supports the office’s priorities in civil, commercial, national security, and international space policy matters. He has previously held roles at the Space Policy Institute, United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, Space Generation Advisory Council, United Launch Alliance, European Space Policy Institute, and Micropropulsion and Nanotechnology Laboratory.


Todd Master joined the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in 2016 as a program manager in the Tactical Technology Office. His interests include space launch, space domain awareness, space traffic management, advanced on-orbit operations including robotic servicing, and space policy associated with all of the above. Prior to joining DARPA, Mr. Master was a mission systems engineer with Orbital ATK, where he was responsible for the development of systems concepts, business strategies, and technical solutions for space situational awareness and other mission areas.


Mark Peller is the Vice President of Major Development at United Launch Alliance(ULA), and in this position is responsible for development of Vulcan. Vulcan is ULA’s future launch system that builds upon the ULA’s extensive Atlas and Delta heritage to provide a competitive product offering to serve a broad spectrum of markets. As the program manager, Peller has overall responsibility for developing the launch vehicle and the supporting capabilities required across the supply chain as well as ULA’s production and launch operations to meet the program’s objectives.



Kevin Clinton is the Director of Program Execution for Dream Chaser, a commercial space plane designed by Sierra Nevada Corporation to take cargo and crew to the International Space Station and other desinations in LEO.  Kevin joined SNC in 2011, led the Systems Engineering, Integration and Test (SEIT) organization of Dream Chaser, and was the program manager for SNC’s Lunar Gateway architecture development study.  Prior to SNC, Kevin held engineering and management roles as a civil servant with NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.


Steve Heller is the co-founder and CEO of Sugarhouse Aerospace. Throughout his career, Steve Heller has worked in several capacities toward one goal - bringing people closer to technologies that can take them further. As CEO and co-founder of spaceflight venture Sugarhouse Aerospace, Steve blends a lifelong passion for aerospace with a career in public outreach to make space more accessible (and affordable) than ever - and make the world a little smaller in the process. Previously, he served as executive speechwriter for the C-suite at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Every minute of his spare time is spent writing country music and developing solid rocket propellants. 


Leslie Kovacs is President of Firefly Black and Vice President of Business Development at Firefly Aerospace, an emerging small launch provider.  Les was formerly Senior Director of Executive Branch Affairs in Washington, DC for United Launch Alliance, where he was responsible for leading ULA’s interaction with government agencies including the national security and intelligence space communities, the White House, and NASA. Les has over 30 years of operational experience in space and space launch operations and has led concept of operations efforts for numerous launch vehicles to replace the Space Shuttle.


Kevin Walsh is Director of Government Affairs for BRPH Architecture and Engineering where he advocates for his company and their customers at state legislatures and on Capitol Hill. He is part of the BRPH business development team for Aerospace, Defense and Government Programs. He is on the company's frontline, representing designers actively searching for customers with engineering and architectural challenges that are unique and extraordinary and possibly something never attempted anywhere before in the world.


Dr. Robb Kulin is the Alpha Vehicle Program Manager and Chief Engineer at Firefly Aerospace. He began his aerospace career as a structural designer and analyst at SpaceX, and progressed through a career on Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy and Dragon working on reusability, integration and operations development until leaving SpaceX as Launch Chief Engineer while managing the Flight Reliability group. Robb has also been a NASA Astronaut Candidate, and currently is the co-founder of Keeni Space electronic procedures.


Mark Gunzinger, Director, Future Aerospace Concepts and Capabilities Assessments at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies. Mr. Gunzinger is a prolific author whose recent studies have focused on directed energy capabilities (lasers & microwaves); operational concepts and technologies to maintain the U.S.’s dominance in the electromagnetic spectrum; and concepts and capabilities to create advantages in precision strike salvo competitions with China, Russia, and Iran. He has led and co-led wargames and workshops sponsored by the Office of Net Assessment and the DARPA Strategic Technology Office to assess future concepts and systems-of-systems for U.S. military operations in highly contested environments. 


Brian Gabriel joined the OSD Industrial Policy Assessments team in January 2019. The team has responsibilities in assessing the capabilities, overall health, and policies concerning the industrial base on which the Department of Defense (DoD) relies for current and future warfighting capabilities. Brian’s current responsibilities including coordination of the Space Industrial Base Working Group, which focuses on identifying and mitigating supply chain and manufacturing risks for critical satellite and launch vehicle components and technologies. Prior to his position at Industrial Policy, Brian was Chief of the Planning Branch at Defense Logistics Agency Strategic Materials (DLA-SM). The DLA-SM Planning Branch assesses DoD strategic material requirements and serves as program managers for strategic material stockpiling and research and development efforts.


Ms. Lenell A. Kern, is a Science & Technology 2030 Business Outreach Lead, at the Air Force Research LaboratoryMs. Kern is currently detailed Headquarters AFRL to support the Science & Technology 2030 initiative introduced by the Secretary of the Air Force, Dr. Heather Wilson. Ms. Kern plans and coordinates regional outreach events for Industry and Academia to help identify opportunities and best practices for the Air Force to innovate and maintain technological dominance on the battlefield.


BG. Michael Dudzik, USAF (Ret.) is the President of IQM Research Institute . He has served in key leadership roles on the Air Staff, National Security Space, and Air Force Space Command with assignments in policy, space systems acquisition, and space operations.   Since 2013, IQM Research Institute has been actively engaged in embedded and operational cybersecurity programs for vehicles and infrastructure, as well as software assurance and cyber workforce development.  Prior to joining IQMRI as President, Mr. Dudzik served as a Vice President of Science & Technology within the Lockheed Martin Corporation. 


Mr. Robert A. Mercier is the Chief Engineer for the High Speed Systems Division of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Aerospace Systems Directorate.  He is responsible for the development of hypersonic aerodynamics, structures and engines including supersonic combustion ramjets (scramjets) and combined cycle engines. Prior to his current assignment, Mr. Mercier directed the development of advanced combustion devices for turbine engines, pulse detonation engines, ducted rockets, and scramjets, including the Air Force Hypersonic Technology program to demonstrate scramjet engine performance and durability.


Riley Meik is the co-founder and COO of Sugarhouse Aerospace where he helps people take their ideas from paper to launchpad through low cost access to space. Riley grew up during the private space era and realized that the next big step in the privatization of space is taking it to the public. As the first suborbital launch provider to implement a high-volume rideshare program, Sugarhouse Aerospace brings space access only $500 away from anyone on earth. When Riley isn’t at work, he enjoys leisure reading NASA technical papers and baking chocolate chip cookies.


Kimberly Yoder is Deputy Director, Contracting at the Air Force Research Laboratory.  Ms. Yoder graduated from the Air Force Officer Training School in 1985 and began her active duty military career as an Administrative Contracting Officer for the Civil Reserve Air Fleet at Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina. In addition, her career included overseas assignments to Clark Air Base, Republic of the Philippines and Iraklion Air Station, Crete, Greece as well as deployments to both Southeast andSouthwest Asia. After retirement from active military service in 2005, Ms. Yoder continued a civil service career with the government.


Michelle Lucas has been inspired by space her entire life. After years of hard work in school, Michelle graduated from university and went to work at Johnson Space Center (JSC) to follow her dream. There she was part of the Payload Safety Review Panel, then she worked Mission Control for the International Space Station as a Flight Controller. After that, she then went on to be a technical instructor for astronauts. Along the way she found a passion for inspiring the next generation so she left JSC to pursue this new trajectory. Michelle started Higher Orbits – a non-profit that uses space to excite students about STEM. She runs programs all over the country (and world!) encouraging students to find and pursue their passion. Michelle is also the VP of Industry Relations for uniphi space agency – a management agency for retired astronauts.


Melanie Corcoran-Freelander is a guest scientist for Los Alamos National Lab, an adjunct professor for IQM, an advisor for Ursa Space, and the CEO of Analytic Fusion. Analytic Fusion enables its customers and end users access to new cutting-edge dual-use, commercial and government sector, fused data and small satellite outputs that deliver alpha and decision advantage.  



Frank Backes is the Senior Vice President of Kratos SATCOM Products and Federal Satellite Solutions. Mr. Backes joined Kratos in January 2017 and has spent 30+ years in the satellite and command & control industries. Mr. Backes was most recently Chief Executive Officer for Braxton Technologies LLC and Braxton Science and Technology Group, LLC, leading manufacturers of command and control software for intelligence, military and commercial applications based in Colorado Springs, CO. He is an industry thought leader and technology pioneer, recognized for innovating high-yield solutions that expand organizational capability, product portfolios and market presence.


Carol Craig is Founder and CEO of Craig Technologies, headquartered in Cape Canaveral, FL. Starting from one person in 1999, Carol doubled 2009 revenues of $16.5M during three years of our Nation’s most tumultuous economy. The company now supports a diverse portfolio of government and commercial customers with nearly 400 associates in 20 states and Washington DC.  In 2012, Carol negotiated and executed a Space Act Agreement with NASA’s KSC for the loan of 1,600 pieces of specialty equipment once used to process Shuttle systems, and opened the Aerospace and Defense Manufacturing Center in Cape Canaveral to support aviation, aerospace, transportation, energy and other high technology industries.


Michelle Sourie Robinson is the President & CEO of the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council, a non- profit organization dedicated to creating and developing successful business relationships between minority business enterprises (MBE) and multinational corporations. Annually, the MMSDC helps facilitate over $26 billion in spend between corporations and certified minority owned businesses. Prior to joining the MMSDC, Michelle served as Director, Supplier Diversity at The Home Depot where during her thirteen-year tenure she led several areas of the organization through successful growth and change processes. 

Cheree Kiernan is the President and CEO of Integrated Launch Solutions, Inc. (ILS), an emerging engineering and technical services company headquartered in Merritt Island, Florida. Under her leadership, the ILS team provides launch site design, operations, and integration services for commercial, federal, and civil launch range users and operators, applying decades of experience and lessons learned to help clients and teammates proactively address and manage launch licensing and regulatory compliance, range integration and safety, and launch site operations. 


Mr. Peter Lawrie is the Executive Director of Orion’s Quest and an educator with over thirty years of experience in public education. He holds a Master’s Degree in School Administration with a minor in Science from Eastern Michigan University and is certified to teach grades K-12. Lawrie’s career includes assignments as a classroom teacher, program director and for seventeen years a building principal.



MG. Mike Carey, USAF (Ret.) is CSO and Founder of Atlas Space Operations. Mike is responsible for ATLAS’ strategic development. Experienced with Air Force Satellite Control Network, Eastern/Western test ranges, and the Space Test and Training Range, Mike has the technical and political prowess to navigate the ever-expanding space markets. Mike holds a BA in History from the University of Central Florida, an MPA from the University of Oklahoma, and an MA in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.



Sean McDaniel is CEO and Founder of Atlas Space Operations. Sean is a USAF veteran with over 15 years of experience in satellite design, test, and operations of space-based optical infrared sensor systems.  Sean first created the game changing space-to-ground communications company, ATLAS, as a subsidiary of Assured Space Access Technologies (ASAT). In 2015, Sean launched ATLAS Space Operations as its own entity. Prior to ATLAS, he oversaw integration for unmanned systems in Northrop Grumman’s Strike and Surveillance Division.


Jim Cantrell is CEO of StratSpace, Inc. and is a well-known entrepreneur and expert in space systems and has 30 years of experience in the aerospace and high technology industries. Jim was part of the SpaceX founding team and served as the company’s first Vice President of Business Development. Jim founded two other successful aerospace and automotive engineering companies and has held CEO positions in aerospace and biometric software companies. Jim also played key developmental roles in numerous venture funded space efforts including Rocket Lab, Planet, Black Sky and Spaceflight.


Lt. Col. Sean Carlson, USAF (Ret) is the Executive Director of the Michigan Defense Center (MDC). The MDC created and manages the “Protect and Grow Initiative”, the state’s strategic plan for defense. The MDC's core mission includes the pursuit and capture of important new missions, protection of facilities and missions in the state, and the creation of new cutting-edge economic growth tools and programs to assist Michigan companies in expanding their portfolios into federal contracting.


Col Jeffrey “JR” Alexander is the 110th Operations Group Commander, 110th Attack Wing, Battle Creek Air National Guard Base, Battle Creek, Mich.  He directs Cyber operations, the 110th Operational Support Squadron, and the 172nd Attack Squadron ensuring persistence against emerging targets in support of a Joint Force Commander’s objectives. His is currently the 110 Operations Group Commander flying the MQ-9 and leads defensive cyber activities supporting Geographic Combatant Air and Ground Force Commanders.



Gavin Brown, Executive Director of the Michigan Aerospace Manufacturers Association and is recognized as the leading driving force for promoting aerospace companies active in Michigan by providing aerospace prime contractors and top-tier system integrators with highly qualified sources for their part procurement in the commercial, general aviation, defense and unmanned aerial vehicle aerospace sectors. The MAMA family of manufacturers has focused on developing a space industry focus that includes missiles, directed energy, satellites and other defense systems. 

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