• The Conference

Speaker Bios



Speaker Bios


Jeffrey Antonelli
Founder, Antonelli Law

Jeffrey Antonelli launched one of the first Drone/UAS Practice Groups in the country in 2014 after discovering drone technology in his RC aircraft hobby. The practice has grown to more than 100 clients nationwide, including billion dollar engineering, construction, and telecom concerns as well as GIS professionals, cinematographers, real estate companies, a news organization, and a forensic specialist. Four of Antonelli Law’s UAS clients received some of the first night-time waivers granted under Part 107.

The firm provides Part 107 waiver and FAA enforcement defense services, and advises clients on privacy, intellectual property, business agreements, and civil litigation. Jeffrey is a member of the federal trial bar of the Northern District of Illinois and is admitted to numerous federal courts around the country. In 2015, Antonelli Law was selected by DJI for its Professional User Referral Program. Antonelli Law's expertise is made possible in part by its Washington DC Special Counsel attorney Mark Del Bianco who focuses on regulatory and telecommunications law; aviation consultant Douglas Marshall; co-counsel Kate Fletcher, attorney and pilot for the world’s largest airline; and attorney associates Amelia Niemi and Melissa Brabender. When he has spare time, Jeffrey enjoys flying his DJI Inspire and traditional RC airplanes.



Paul Brierley
Executive Director, Yuma Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture

Paul was raised on a family farm in California. After earning an EE/CS degree from the University of Colorado, he spent five years conducting telecommunications research before returning to his agricultural roots. After 12 years of production agriculture, he spent 10 years as Director of Organization at Arizona Farm Bureau.

With a background in agriculture, research, leadership and politics, Paul was chosen to serve as the inaugural Executive Director of the Yuma Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture (YCEDA). This public-private partnership is funded by the AZ/CA production agriculture industry and housed in the University of Arizona’s College of Agriculture & Life Sciences. Its mission is to improve all aspects of desert crop production systems.

Many of the projects YCEDA is pursuing involve the application of advanced technology to agricultural applications, enhancing productivity and profitability by applying remote sensing and Big Data analytics to agricultural decision making.



Charles Buchanan
Director, 56 Range Management Office, Luke Air Force Base

Charles E. "Chas" Buchanan is the Director, 56th Fighter Wing Range Management Office, Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. He is responsible for more than 200 military, civilian and contract personnel who operate the 1.7 million acre Barry M. Goldwater Range and Gila Bend Air Force Auxiliary Field. He directs all operational and environmental stewardship activities to ensure sustained range operations. He is also responsible for the 11 million acres of airspace assigned to Luke AFB. In resolving airspace and land management issues, he liaises directly with 15 separate Federal and State of Arizona agencies as well as 26 Native American tribes.

Mr. Buchanan was commissioned in the Air Force in April 1982 after graduating from the University of Texas, El Paso. His first flying assignment was as a T-37 flight instructor with follow-on selection into the F-16. As an F-16 pilot he served in several fighter squadrons performing a variety of duties including instructor, flight commander, operations officer, and executive officer, and he was well versed in the LANTIRN system as well as night vision goggles. Mr. Buchanan has also served in the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force for International Affairs, and he led an F-16 specialized training team on behalf of the USAF working with the Turkish air force at Akinci Air Base, Turkey. A command pilot with more than 3,700 hours flying time, more than 2,600 of these hours were in the F-16 Lockheed Fighting Falcon. He retired from the Air Force as a lieutenant colonel.



Michael Cohen MSA ATPL
President & CEO, Industrial SkyWorks

Michael is the President & CEO of Industrial SkyWorks; a provider of Drone Analytical Solutions. He is a former Airline Captain (Boeing 737 NG) and an expert in Aircraft Safety Systems and Risk Management, as well as, a Certified Aircraft Accident Investigator. Michael is a proactive leader with a commitment to safety. He has served as Chairman of Air Safety and a member of an Airline Emergency Response Team.

Michael lead Industrial SkyWorks to becoming the first approved Day and Night Commercial Operator in both Canada and the United States. In 2016, Michael was named as an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Finalists.

Michael is the co-creator of Tremco Roofing and Building Maintenance’s SkyBEAM Program which uses small Unmanned Aerial Systems to remotely map Building “envelopes”, providing accurate energy loss and visual condition assessments.



Dr. Joseph V. Cuffari
Policy Advisor, Office of the Arizona Governor

Doctor Joseph V. Cuffari is the Policy Advisor for Public Safety and Military Affairs for Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, and previously for Governor Jan Brewer. He has served more than 39 years in the Air Force; on active duty, in the Reserves, and currently as a member of the Arizona Air National Guard.

He began his military service after graduating from high school and enlisting in the Air Force in 1977. He subsequently was an F-4E crew chief at the Victor Alert unit at Hahn AB, Germany. In May 1980, he transferred to Torrejon AB, Spain, where he was also an F-4 crew chief. In December 1980, he received an Airman Scholarship and Commissioning Program award, and began his undergraduate studies at the University of Arizona. In 1984, he graduated and was commissioned. He then attended undergraduate flight school and in 1986 was subsequently selected for a special duty assignment as a special agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI). He was a Commander with the AFOSI at MacDill AFB, FL; England AFB, LA; and Naples, Italy (NATO). In 1989, he received the AFOSI Outstanding Officer of the Year Award.

He has also served for more than 20 years in the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in a multitude of roles dating back to 1993. In 2013, he retired from his position as an Assistant Special Agent in Charge for the Office of the Inspector General in Tucson. In other capacities, he has augmented the United States Senate and House Intelligence Committees and the DOJ Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development.

Dr. Cuffari has completed the OPM Senior Executive Service certification course, the Brookings Institution Executive Leadership seminar, and the University of Arizona’s Public Policy and Management certification program. In addition, he earned Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Arts degrees in Management. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration & Management Information Systems from the University of Arizona.



Mary Darling
CEO, Darling Geomatics

Mary Darling started flying airplanes when she was 14 years old, while working at her parents Beechcraft airplane dealership in Sacramento, California. Mary has since taken up flying UAVs and assisting with all aspects of UAV projects in multiple states. She is a keen visual observer and skilled at a wide variety of tasks required on UAV projects. Mary also specializes in FAA compliance aspects of the company’s commercial UAV program.


Rich Darling
President, Darling Geomatics

Richard Darling is a UAV pilot and a registered land surveyor in Arizona, Nevada, and South Dakota. He has a passion for high tech solutions for land measurements and has led the UAV Division at Darling for the past two years. Mr. Darling has supervised a wide variety of topographic mapping projects in Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and beyond. Mr. Darling has been President of Darling Geomatics since its incorporation in 1997. He oversees the land surveying division of the company as well as the UAV Division. What separates him from many UAV pilots is his strong land surveying background. He understands aerial target placement, survey control networks and the wide variety of deliverables that different clients need.


Leonardo Garcia
Master Instructor of UAS Operations, Unmanned Safety Institute

Officer (Ret) Leonardo Garcia brings 20+ years of Aviation Flight & Ground Operations and Federal Law Enforcement combined experience. He flew over +4,000 hours in commercial passenger jet airplanes on Domestic and International routes North & South America. In addition, he also holds several aviation certificates (FAA & ICAO) such as: Commercial Pilot - Multi-Engine & Instrument, Flight Engineer, Flight Dispatcher, Advance Ground Instructor (AGI) and Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate. He also worked for Boeing Space & Defense division as a System Engineer Aerospace & Defense. He is a graduated Police Officer from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Brunswick, GA. Some of his Federal Law Enforcement experience included assignments as a Liaison Watch Officer - Airspace Security - for the Department of Homeland Security National Capital Region Coordination Center in Washington, DC. He also participated in the Airspace Security detail for several VIP events such as: Presidential Inaugurations, State of the Unions, Pope Francis Joint Session of Congress (2015), and many other high profile events including Government Relocation (COOP). Recently, he was the lead Agency Officer in charge to investigate UAS/UA events inside the National Capital Region (NCR) and other incidents that involved illegal UAS operations and airborne threats that represented a threat to national security. He recently completed the Department of Homeland Security Armed Security Officer, specialized training program with the Federal Air Marshal Service and became an active ASO for the Reagan National Airport - DASSP aviation security program. Officer (Ret) Garcia teach Aviation Counter- Terrorism and Aviation Security classes for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Worldwide. Additionally, he is a current Master Law Enforcement UAS Instructor for the Unmanned Safety Institute and a FAA Aircraft Dispatcher Program Coordinator & Lead Instructor for the Aviation Institute of Maintenance, both positions include developing and delivering extensive training according to FAA Regulations. He is an aviation enthusiast and a Radio Control Pilot with over 22 years of experience in R/C Airplanes and Helicopters. He is an Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) member since 2003.


Rafael Gaytan
President, AUV Flight Services

Rafael Gaytan started in the UAS industry in 2000 working in UAV production at a small company in Tucson, AZ. A short time later, Rafael was involved in flight testing, training and deployment of multiple UAS. He has operated UAS around the world; Greenland, the Philippines, Maldives islands and Afghanistan. In 2011 Rafael left his job as Head of Flying for BAE Systems Unmanned Aircraft Programs to start a services company, AUV Flight Services. Today AUV has grown to over 40 employees, providing manned and unmanned flight service to DOD and commercial entities.


Luke Geiver
Editor, UAS Magazine

Geiver is the editor and program director for an emerging market-focused BBI International product line, UAS Magazine. Geiver received a bachelor’s degree in English from South Dakota State University and a master’s degree in English from the University of North Dakota.




Thomas Gemmell
Shareholder, Polsinelli Law

Tom Gemmell is an intellectual property attorney and lead unmanned aircraft systems, or “drone,” attorney at Polsinelli. He is a former Air Force fighter pilot, with thousands of hours in the F-15 “Eagle” air superiority fighter, including as Mission Commander during the Persian Gulf War. Tom is proficient in UAS technologies, including precision targeting, data-link and encryption, as well as flight operations in the National Airspace System. He represents UAS clients across a wide range of industries, including energy, communications, GIS/mapping, agriculture, mining, real estate, construction, railroad, resort, higher education/university and movie and television, and is among the first to obtain FAA authorization to allow for the commercial use of UAS. In intellectual property, Tom is an experienced patent litigator and has jury and bench tried cases in courts nationwide. He represents clients in, among others, aerospace and weapon systems technologies, automotive systems and medical devices.


Marius Gheorghe
Engineering Manager, Ideal Aerosmith Inc.

Marius Gheorghe has earned a degree in electrical engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of Bucharest, Romania in 1986. A great deal of his professional career was dedicated to designing test equipment used in a variety of applications ranging from the semiconductor industry to military jet aircraft, nuclear submarines and space programs. Prior to joining Ideal Aerosmith Inc., where he holds the position of Engineering Manager, he has worked for over 14 years with a world leader in ATE manufacturing in Ontario, Canada. His portfolio includes substantial hardware and software design, award-winning ATE and technical leadership. In addition to his industry experience, he has authored published papers on inertial sensor calibration techniques and has taught at the Polytechnic Institute of Bucharest and the Advanced Computer Training for Engineers, Toronto.

Mr. Gheorghe is a member of IEEE and licensed as Professional Engineer in Ontario, Canada. He was awarded the Distinguished Committee Service Award for his contribution to the development of the IPC/WHMA-A-620A standard in 2007 and his Horizon 1500 wiring analyzer design was awarded The Best in Test, by Test and Measurement World in 1996.



Callie Groth
Vice President of Operations & Business Development, BrockTek

Callie Groth is Vice President of Operations and Business Development for BrockTek, an small engineering and manufacturing company that specializes in the research, design and development of unmanned systems, subsystems and components. At BrockTek, Ms. Groth designed the organization's business model, championed the entrance into newly emerging civilian and commercial markets, and positioned the company at the forefront of UAS innovation, research and development.

Prior to joining BrockTek, Ms. Groth served as Lead Consultant for Microsoft Services where she spearheaded the design and development of a new Change Management model specific to the implementation of Cloud Technology in Fortune 500 companies. She also served as Lead Consultant for CoreLogic where she led the development of new product and service offerings in order to support the transition of CoreLogic from a B2B to a B2C company. Additionally, Ms. Groth has worked extensively developing and implementing business models, strategic plans, and market strategies for small businesses and start-up ventures.

Ms. Groth graduated from the University of Arizona with a BA in International Diplomacy and Chinese, and an MBA in Business Strategy and Entrepreneurship. She holds certificates in Entrepreneurship from the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship and in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Arizona School of Government and Public Policy.



Mignonne Hollis
Executive Director, Arizona Regional Development Foundation D.C.

AREDF Executive Director Mignonne Hollis is an accomplished economic development professional with many years of experience in developing and transforming businesses into sustainable enterprises. Ms. Hollis has developed countless partnerships throughout Arizona and abroad; making her a valuable commodity in our foundation. She graduated from the University of Arizona and went on to earn her MBA degree from the University of Phoenix.


Michael Hrnicek
Assistant Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General State of Arizona

Michael Hrnicek is an Assistant Arizona Attorney General working in the Federalism Unit of the Solicitor General’s Office. His work broadly focuses on challenging federal overreach and preserving Arizona’s sovereignty, consistent with the 10th Amendment of the United States Constitution. Michael has specifically worked on wildlife management and Endangered Species Act matters, federal water rights claims, municipal Home Rule issues, and unmanned aviation systems (UAS) law. Prior to coming to the Attorney General’s office, Michael worked as a civil litigator with numerous first chair bench and jury trials, arbitrations, mediations, and settlement conferences to his credit.


Julian Hughes
Commercial Director, Intelligent Energy

Julian Hughes is Commercial Director at Intelligent Energy. Based in Intelligent Energy’s San Francisco Bay area office, Julian heads up the Commercial team as well as US operations. Prior to joining Intelligent Energy, Julian held senior positions within the automotive industry at General Motors (Vauxhall) and TWR Group (Tom Walkinshaw Racing), which then led into the Cleantech sector with Microgen Engine Corporation where he held the position of CEO. Microgen developed and manufactured Stirling engines for the CHP, military and solar markets.

In addition to his role as Commercial Director, Julian is also a Non-Executive Board Member for IECHP Ltd, which is a subsidiary of Intelligent Energy.



David Hung
President, Arizona Autonomous Vehicles Club

David Hung is the president of the Arizona Autonomous Vehicles Club (AZA), a student organization at the University of Arizona. He is currently an undergraduate student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. In addition to his work with AZA, David has worked as an undergraduate researcher for the Artificial Intelligence Lab and developed satellite FPGA code as an intern at Honeywell.


Fernando Jimenez
Senior International Trade Specialist, U.S. Department of Commerce-U.S. Commercial Services

Mr. Fernando C. Jimenez serves as a Senior International Trade Specialist of the U.S. Department of Commerce – U.S. Commercial Service in Phoenix, AZ. Mr. Jimenez is responsible for export development in the Phoenix Metro Area and Northern Arizona with an emphasis on the aerospace and defense and safety and security sectors primarily.

Mr. Jimenez previously served the state of Arizona as the International Trade and Investment Vice President at the Arizona Commerce Authority, formerly known as the Arizona Department of Commerce. Mr. Jimenez joined the Arizona Department of Commerce in January 2001 as a Small Business Representative for the Small Business Assistance Center, assisting and counseling the public and small business owners in establishing, expanding and relocating in the state.

As the Vice President of International Trade and Investment, Mr. Jimenez worked with small and medium sized Arizona companies with their exporting efforts and promoted the state to foreign companies as a premier location for their U.S. expansion. In addition, he served as staff to the CEO/President of the Arizona Commerce Authority for all Arizona/Mexico economic development cross border activity.

Fernando has assisted over 500 companies in the past fifteen years with their exporting efforts. These companies have generated over 21 million dollars in sales. Some of the activities he coordinates to assist small and medium size businesses are trade shows, commercial missions, participation in trade shows, workshops and foreign visits. He has participated and coordinated dozens of trade and investment events around the world, just to mentions a few countries, Mexico, Canada, Chile, Brazil, Germany, Spain and the UK. Mr. Jimenez managed the Arizona Trade and Investment Offices in Mexico.

Throughout his career, Fernando has been involved with well over a dozen community based organizations and active partner of the Arizona-Mexico Commission, member of the State International Development Organization, Arizona Association for Economic Development, Arizona District Export Council, the Governor’s Coordinator for the Border Governors Conference Economic Development Work Table and the state liaison to the President’s National Export Initiative.



Justin Langlois
Vice President of Stratollite Applications, World View

Justin is the VP of Advanced Applications for World View, an Arizona-based spaceflight company that operates in two primary business segments: Stratollite un-crewed flight systems and Voyager human spaceflight systems. Stratollites, in operation today, offer lowcost, long-duration, persistent high-altitude flight for enterprise and government agencies. The Voyager human spaceflight experience is under development and will offer private citizens a comfortable, safe, and perspective-changing voyage to the edge of space via high-altitude balloon.

Prior to World View, Justin's impressive life and career includes the following:
  • Justin previously held several positions at Google’s Terra Bella (formerly Skybox Imaging), a high-resolution small satellite company which provides imagery, video and analytics services. He worked as a product and go-to-market manager, starting as an MBA intern in 2012 through two years at Google after the $500M acquisition.
  • Justin spent the previous decade in the military as a special operations officer, deploying multiple times to combat zones.
  • He is drawn to small, elite teams that use their agility to push the boundaries of possible through disruptive innovation.
  • Ten years of service as an officer within the Naval Special Warfare community, deploying multiple times to combat zones. In addition to being Ground Force Commander for combat operations, he also managed operations for units of 300+ individuals and efforts of up to $50M dollars annually.
  • A bachelors (US Naval Academy) and masters (Michigan) degree in Aerospace Engineering andan MBA(Harvard).

James Lawrence
President, Drone Control Systems

James Lawrence has a Master’s Degree in computer science with post-graduate education in the area of distributed systems and attribute-driven architectures. James has over 25 years of experience with distributed software systems. He has served as the chief software architect for multiple commercial and DOD cloud-based systems. James has successfully started two previous start-ups that have and continue be successful businesses focusing on software consulting and software development. James’ company Drone Control Systems is authorized via an FAA Section 333 exemption and has met the requirements under the FAA Part 107 Rule to operate drones commercially. James is also a private pilot with a background in aviation and sUAS.


Simon Morris
Chief Operating Officer, Altus US

Simon is the COO or General Manager of Altus UAS. He also takes care of Business Development. He joined the Air Force straight out of school as a pilot. After a tenure here he went on to build his hours in the civilian flying world, getting his Commercial Pilot’s License. Along the way he got distracted and went to University and completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Systems and Spanish. Simon also joined the Army partway through this process and diversified into the Geospatial and Intelligence arena. He served two tours in Afghanistan in support of Kiwi Special Forces and after 7 years in this role joined a forestry company. He has since built up over 5 years of UAV experience focused on flying and photogrammetry.


Sarah Nilsson
Attorney And Assistant Aviation Law Professor, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Dr. Sarah Nilsson has both an aviation and a legal background. She began her career as a pilot in 1994 and is an FAA licensed airline transport pilot in multi and single engine fixed-wing airplanes. Since 2000 she has been a gold seal flight instructor, and has trained hundreds of pilots. She also has flown air cargo, and private business jets, and holds a type-rating in the CE-500 series.

Currently, Sarah is founder and managing attorney of Nilsson Law, PLLC. Since January 2015, Sarah has served as full-time faculty at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona, teaching Aviation Law, Global UAS Regulations, Business Law, and Business Ethics. Sarah volunteers with the FAA as a FAASTeam Safety Representative.

In addition to her own research on Drone Law and Space Law and Policy, she is co-author of the 6th edition of Practical Aviation and Aerospace Law with Scott Hamilton, a national aviation law textbook. She is currently completing a scholarly book on U.S. Drone Law for the American Bar Association. She has made multiple media appearances as an expert in UAS regulation, law, and implications for the public.



Andrew Osbrink
Solutions Engineer, Unmanned Systems Source

Mr. Andrew Osbrink is the Business Development Manager & Solutions Engineer for Unmanned Systems Source; a reseller and distributor of parts, systems, services, and solutions for the unmanned systems industry. Mr. Osbrink has worked with UAS for more than 13 years in the areas of research and development, flight test, hardware assembly and production, procurement, government contracting, flight services, and program management. Specifically, he managed the development of the Coyote, a 13 pound, 5 foot wingspan, tube-launched UAS now used by the US Navy for UAS swarming research and by NOAA to study the energy flux within hurricanes.


Alex Palmer
Design Engineer, Local Motors

Alex is a design engineer at Local Motors. His research touches on everything from large scale 3D printing to autonomous car systems, with heavy emphasis on all things aviation. Before joining Local Motors in 2015, Alex spent ten years supporting military aviation programs, including unmanned and rotor-wing air systems. Currently, his work focuses on growing Local Motors' aerospace and aviation programs into potential white label partnerships and supporting local labs events to empower an aviation-loving community.

A native of Buffalo, NY, Alex graduated in 2010 from Mississippi State University with a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering where he co-founded the university's club ice hockey team. When not traveling for Local Motors, Alex can be found yelling at children while refereeing youth and college hockey at the many ice rinks around Phoenix.



Julie Pastrick
President and CEO, Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce

Julie Pastrick is the President and CEO of the Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce. As President/CEO, Pastrick is responsible for providing the leadership, direction and administration for all aspects of the Chamber’s activities. The Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce is a Top 5 Arizona Chamber, a private non-profit, business membership organization of more than 1,000 businesses committed to advancing a strong business climate and vibrant economy by being an advocate for business and a catalyst for community and economic development in the greater Flagstaff region.

Prior to joining the Chamber in January 2005, she was the development and marketing director at KNAU, Arizona Public Radio, for 10 years.

Pastrick has lived in Flagstaff for more than 25 years and is involved in numerous civic endeavors. She serves on many boards statewide, including an appointment by Governor Jan Brewer to the Rural Business Development Advisory Council, Chair; the Arizona Commerce Authority Board of Directors, Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, The Arizona We Want Advisory Board, and the statewide Bioscience Steering Committee. She is a board member of the national industry organization, American Chamber of Commerce Executives. Locally she is a member of Flagstaff 40 and a Flagstaff Medical Center certificate holder. She also participates on the Coconino County Workforce Investment Board, ECONA Executive Committee and the Coconino Community College President’s Advisory Council.

In December 2013, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker appointed Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Julie Pastrick to serve a four-year term on the Arizona District Export Council. The District Export Council recognizes that there is great potential in Arizona for small and medium size business through exporting products and services.

She is a past Ford Foundation Regional Sustainable Development Fellow and participated in its exclusive year-long program which provided training, peer knowledge exchange and examination of working models to accelerate understanding of regional growth and sustainability issues including infrastructure, education, housing, land use and the environment.

In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her family, cycling, cooking, and getting away to the beach. Pastrick graduated from Indiana University, the Flagstaff Leadership Program and the United States Chamber of Commerce Institute for Organizational Management.



Hoyt Slocum
Vice Wing Commander 161 ARW, Arizona Air National Guard

Colonel E. Hoyt Slocum presently serves as the Vice Commander of the 161st Air Refueling Wing, Arizona Air National Guard in Phoenix, AZ. Prior to his current position he served as the Director of Operations - Air for the Arizona Air National Guard and in that capacity was the point of contact concerning availability, capability, limitations and coordination requirements for airspace and ranges used by units of the AZANG. This coordination includes unit, state & federal entities and commercial operators. The DO-Air also liaises with the AZ Joint Force Headquarters Joint Operations Center (JOC) during real-world, multi-agency exercise, Defense Support to Civil Authority (DSCA), and Domestic Operations (DOMOPS) events. A Senior Command Pilot, he has more than 5,000 civilian and military flying hours including T-37, T-38, KC135D, -T, -E, and -R model aircraft. In his civilian occupation he is a First Officer with a major airline carrier operating Airbus A319/320/321 aircraft based out of Los Angeles, CA.


Ron Sites
President and Executive Director, Fighter Country Partnership

A resident of Litchfield Park, Ron moved to Arizona in 1997 from Northern California. He has been married to his wife Monica for 10 years, and has two children. Emma is 7 years old, and Anders is 4 years old. He was a Golf Professional in the Valley for 7 years and moved to the West Valley in 2001 with his wife Monica where he worked at the Wigwam Golf Resort and Spa until 2004. His next career path was spent with Merrill Lynch where he created a client book of over 125 clients during a course of 3 years. At Merrill Lynch, he served with many service organizations, one being the Southwest Valley Family YMCA.

Serving on the board for the Southwest Valley Family YMCA, he found himself volunteering more and more. His own miss-perceptions of what the YMCA represents led him to become an ambassador for the organization. An opportunity arose in 2007 to become the Associate Executive Director of the branch. He became the Executive director 7 months later and directly responsible for 150 full and part time staff, a membership base of 10,000 people, 300 children in Childcare Programs, 1,500 Youth Sports participants and a myriad of Community Service programs including High School Drop Out Prevention, Youth Obesity programs, and Military Outreach Programs in the West Valley.

In September of 2010, history repeated itself once again. While volunteering his time supporting Luke AFB, his own miss-perceptions of Luke AFB caused him to jump at the privilege to be the next President and Executive Director of Fighter Country Partnership, the non-profit organization attached to Luke AFB supporting the men, women, families and mission of Luke AFB. He passed up the opportunity to join the Air Force 18 years ago, and is incredibly excited about his chance to serve our country while educating the community about the valuable resource we have in the Valley of the Sun.

He is also a proud member of the Litchfield Park Rotary Club, Operation American Patriot, Westmarc, Air Force Association and past Honorary Command Chief of Luke Air Force Base.



Scott Smas
Program Manager, School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University

Scott Smas, BS Accounting, has over 15 years of experience working in higher education in a wide variety of areas including research advancement, academic business management, program and event management.



David Stine
Airspace Manager and Chief of Wing Scheduling, Arizona Air National Guard

Lt Colonel D.R. “Franken” Stine leads the daily scheduling and long-term sustainability of the 162nd Wing’s nearly 12,000 annual sorties and 19 million acres of Special Activity Airspace. He manages a $122 million US and foreign military sales flying hour program in the USAF’s largest international training wing. He also supervises and instructs in all aspects of air combat and surface attack employment in the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

Lt Colonel Stine earned his private pilot rating before graduating high school. After graduating the USAF Academy in 1983, he has continued serving in the military to the present day: half in the active duty Air Force and half in the Air National Guard. With over 4,700 military flying hours in the F-4, AT-38, and F-16, he has also flown glider, Cessna, Beechcraft, Boeing 727, 737, and Airbus A-319, A-320 aircraft.



Marisa Walker
Senior Vice-President, Strategic Planning/ Infrastructure, Arizona Commerce Authority

Marisa Walker began her professional career at the University of Arizona, where for more than a decade she held positions that advised the University’s Associate Vice President for Economic Development on Arizona-Mexico and NAFTA issues; analyzed border economic development opportunities and competitive advantages; and organized forums and symposiums on trilateral collaborations among academic institutions in Canada and Mexico in the areas of university research parks, agricultural biosciences and optical sciences-photonics. She has authored several reports on subjects including cross-border economic integration and development; targeted industry assessments of Arizona’s Bioscience and Software Industries; and women entrepreneurship and business ownership in the state.

Ms. Walker also served as the Executive Director for the Arizona Governor’s CANAMEX Task Force where she was responsible for managing projects and priorities regarding transportation and telecommunication infrastructure; technology and process enhancements for cross border shipments; and international trade policy.

Currently, Ms. Walker leverages the relationship between economic development strategies and infrastructure assets/investments. Key areas include the CANAMEX Corridor, the recently designated I-11, multimodal logistic centers, and Arizona’s international gateways – notably along the Arizona/Mexico border.



Austin Yamada
Director, UAS Defense and Security Initiative, The University of Arizona

Austin K. Yamada is the Director of the Defense and Security Research Institute (DSRI) at the University of Arizona where he serves as the UA’s front door to the external defense and intelligence communities while leading an interdisciplinary center that will help identify and coordinate significant defense and security research opportunities, facilitate interdisciplinary collaborations and public and private partnerships, and help UA faculty and research teams obtain new sources of funding.

Immediately prior to his appointment at the University of Arizona in April, 2015, Austin served as Vice President for Intelligence Research at the Virginia Tech Applied Research Corporation where he was responsible for extending the university’s fundamental research enterprise to applied, translational, and commercialization projects in intelligence and national security. Prior to joining the Virginia Tech Applied Research Corporation, Austin served eight years in senior positions at several defense contractors, including serving as Senior Vice President for Strategy and Business Development at QinetiQ North America Mission Solutions Group from 2009-2011; as Vice President for National Security Strategy at ManTech International Corporation from 2006-2009; and as Director of Business Development and Homeland Security at Lockheed Martin Corporation from 2003-2006.

Austin began his federal service at the Defense Mapping Agency in 1978, and served as a career civil servant in various positions throughout his 25-year career in the Department of Defense, most notably as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Combating Terrorism in the Office of the Secretary of Defense from 2000-2003, where he was responsible for oversight of the United States Special Operations Command and the counterterrorism operations of the Department of Defense. He also served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense as Director, Special Advisory Staff (1995-2000) where he was responsible for the oversight of sensitive activities of the DoD, including covert action, sensitive reconnaissance operations, and special access programs. He also served as Senior Advisor for Imagery Intelligence in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence (1990-1995), and as the Defense Mapping Agency Liaison to ASD(C3I) (1985-1990). Austin received numerous awards for his government service, including achieving the Presidential Rank of Meritorious Executive in the Senior Executive Service.

Austin received a B.S. degree in Earth Science from Montana State University in 1975 and a Master of Engineering Degree in Remote Sensing and Analytical Photogrammetry from Virginia Tech in 1981. Austin is a graduate of the Federal Executive Institute, the Department of State Senior Seminar, and was an Intelligence Community Fellow at the Wye Institute and a Senior Executive Fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Austin was also a contributing author to Vaults, Mirrors and Masks: Reinventing Counterintelligence, Georgetown University Press, 2009. Most recently, Austin Yamada was the commencement speaker at the Virginia Tech Graduate School Commencement in the National Capital Region, May 19, 2013.



Johnny Young
Program Chair for Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott

Professor Johnny Young completed his Bachelor of Science in Aviation Administration from Utah Valley University. While in Utah he also completed his Commercial and Certified Flight Instructor ratings. During his degree program he received a job offer to start a fixed base operation in Hood River, OR. Here he specialized in tail wheel instruction as well as primary flight instruction.

During Professor Young’s time in Oregon his interest grew in unmanned aircraft applications. He received a job offer to fly both manned and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for a small Department of Defense contractor. He was checked out in various UAS such as a Predator type aircraft as well as multiple smaller UAS. He traveled all over the world in support of the DoD. While deployed Professor Young completed his Masters in Science in Unmanned Aerospace Systems from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide.



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