Each Matthew Isakowitz Fellow is paired with a mentor within the commercial spaceflight field. These mentors will provide invaluable guidance to foster the Fellow's professional growth. Our mentor pool includes the following executive leaders in the space industry:
CEO of Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company
George T. Whitesides is the CEO of Virgin Galactic, Sir Richard Branson’s human spaceflight venture, and The Spaceship Company, a manufacturer of advanced space vehicles. With its innovative spacecraft, the company seeks to transform access to space to change the world for good.
Prior to Virgin Galactic, George served as Chief of Staff for NASA. Upon departure from the American space agency, he received the Distinguished Service Medal, the highest award the agency confers. George serves as co-Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Space Technologies. He is a member of Caltech’s Space Innovation Council and Princeton University’s Advisory Council for Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. George has testified on American space policy before the United States Senate, the United States House of Representatives, and the President’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy.
An honors graduate of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, George later earned a master’s degree in geographic information systems and remote sensing from the University of Cambridge, and a Fulbright Scholarship to Tunisia. George is a licensed private pilot and certified parabolic flight coach.
Director of Business Development and Strategy, Blue Origin
Brett Alexander is Director of Business Development and Strategy for Blue Origin, a developer of vehicles and technologies to enable human space transportation. Brett previously served as a senior policy analyst for space issues in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy where he served both Presidents Bush and Clinton. From December 2006 to May 2011, he served as President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, the industry association of businesses and organizations working to make commercial human spaceflight a reality. From 2008 to 2011, he was a consultant in the space industry, providing strategy and business development advice to launch service providers and vehicle developers, as well as assessment of international space activities to NASA.
From 2007 to 2008, Brett served as the executive director for Space and the X PRIZE Cup at the X PRIZE Foundation, responsible for overseeing all aspects of the Google Lunar X Prize, the Lunar Lander Challenge, and the X PRIZE Cup.
Brett holds Master and Bachelor of Science degrees in aerospace engineering from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Executive Director, Lockheed Martin Ventures
Chris Moran is Executive Director and General Manager of Lockheed Martin Ventures; the venture capital investment arm of Lockheed Martin Corporation. In this capacity, he is responsible for leading the Corporation’s investments in small technology companies which support Lockheed Martin’s strategic business objectives.
Prior to joining Lockheed Martin, Chris served in a variety of increasingly responsible positions at Applied Materials, Inc., Santa Clara, CA. He served most recently as the head of the Business Systems and Analytics group in the Applied Global Services Organization. Previously, Chris was head of Corporate Strategy and General Manager of Applied Ventures LLC; the strategic investing arm of Applied Materials. Chris is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he obtained both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering.
CEO and General Manager, Mojave Air & Space Port
Karina Drees is the CEO and General Manager of Mojave Air & Space Port (MASP), home to a diverse set of companies manufacturing and testing air and space vehicles. As CEO, Drees is responsible for maintaining more than 3,000 acres of property and managing 150 tenant contracts. She oversees all testing operations at the airport and manages procedures, business operations and regional partnership development. Drees leads the implementation of strategic initiatives for the benefit of the companies operating in Mojave as well as the region.
Prior to MASP, Drees held senior positions in strategy, business development and operations for growing technology companies. She was most recently a member of the strategy and positioning team at SRA International. Before joining SRA, Drees held leadership positions at two investor-backed high tech startup companies in the Washington DC area.
Drees has a BS from Arizona State University and an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management. She also completed International Space University’s (ISU) Summer Session Program in Beijing, China. She serves as treasurer on the executive committee of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation and is a board member of the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition.
Barry Matsumori is the CEO of BridgeSat, Inc. Barry has extensive experience in the wireless and Space 2.0 sectors, including 13 years at Qualcomm where he served as the VP of Wireless Connectivity as well as product development roles. Most recently, he led business development at SpaceX and Virgin Galactic. This experience is well aligned to BridgeSat's development objectives as the company seeks to advance optical communications in space with a global ground network and network operations center. Further, BridgeSat is developing optical terminals for spacecraft applications.
Barry's experience with early stage technology companies include product development in satellite communications and space launch vehicles, and maturing operational processes leading to an IPO. He has held positions at Space Systems Loral and General Dynamics.
Barry earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Arizona State University and a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Arizona.
Dr. Alan Weston is an aerospace expert and CEO of LTA. He was previously the Director of Programs at NASA Ames Research Center. Before working at NASA, Alan was a technical adviser on small satellites at the Space Vehicles Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory. In this role he provided scientific support to Air Force Space Command, the Department of Defense and the National Reconnaissance Office. He has made nationally recognized contributions in space technology and has comprehensive experience in space systems, responsible for design, integration, test, launch & operations of 22 spacecraft. He completed his undergraduate studies at Oxford University in 1978, and he subsequently began working for the Air Force in 1983 after completing his doctoral thesis at Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg, Virginia.
As a venture capitalist for more nearly three decades, Ray has assisted entrepreneurs in achieving their dreams and produced outstanding financial returns for his limited partners. He has personally discovered, created and guided more than 50 companies in the Venrock portfolio through their early stages of formation and emerging growth. Today he is Partner Emeritus, Venrock.
Ray was the chair of the National Venture Capital Association for the 2012-2013 term and has been listed twice on the Forbes Midas List. His areas of investment expertise and interests span the globe, and include energy, information technology infrastructure and cyber security. Today Ray is the CEO of RedSeal, Inc. a cyber security company in the Silicon Valley. In addition to his company activities, Ray currently serves on a number of private company boards, is a board member of Check Point Software (NASD: CHKP), is a Member of the MIT Corporation, and is a trustee of UTIMCO, the $40B public endowment for University of Texas and Texas A&M University. He previously served as Trustee of the Texas A&M Foundation and chaired the investment committee of its $1 billion endowment, Woodside Priory School, and TheatreWorks. Ray earned his B.S. in Nuclear Engineering from Texas A&M University, an S.M. in Nuclear Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an MBA with Distinction from Harvard Business School. He’s the bassist in the rock band, “Up and to the Right” in the Bay Area.
Senior Vice President, OneWeb
Suzi McBride is the Senior Vice President of OneWeb's Program Office, where she is responsible for the overall program to develop, construct, launch and operate the satellite constellation and ground system. Prior to joining OneWeb, she served as the Vice President of the Iridium Program Management Office (PMO) and Launch Services.
Suzi has spent more than 20 years in program management and engineering in the aerospace and telecommunication industries. Prior to joining Iridium, she held the position of Program Manager at General Dynamics (now Orbital Sciences Corporation) where she managed NASA and U.S. Air Force satellite programs. Prior to joining General Dynamics, Suzi was a Program Director at Motorola.
Suzi received her MBA from the University of Tennessee in the Executive Aerospace & Defense program and her dual undergraduate degrees, a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Columbia University and a B.A. in Management Engineering from Claremont McKenna College. She also holds a Master’s degree in Program Management from George Washington University and is PMI certified.
Chairman, Breakthrough Prize Foundation
Pete Worden is currently the Chairman of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation and Executive Director of the foundation’s Breakthrough Starshot.
Prior to joining the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, Pete was Director of NASA’s Ames Research Center. He was research professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona. He is a recognized expert on space and science issues and has been a leader in building partnerships between governments and the private sector internationally. Pete has authored or co-authored more than 150 scientific papers in astrophysics and space sciences. He served as a scientific co-investigator for three NASA space science missions – most recently the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph launched in 2013 to study the Sun. He received the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal for the 1994 Clementine Mission to the moon. Pete was named the 2009 Federal Laboratory Consortium ‘Laboratory Director of the Year’ and is the recipient of the 2010 Arthur C. Clarke Innovator’s Award.
DR. ANITA SENGUPTA
Senior Vice President, Hyperloop One
Dr. Anita Sengupta is a Senior Vice President of Virgin Hyperloop One, a technology company revolutionizing travel with the development of an in vacuum magnetic levitation transportation system, capable of reaching speeds of up to 1000 kph. Her areas of responsibility include systems engineering, regulatory compliance, and human safety certification of the commercial product line.
Previous to this assignment Dr. Sengupta was a member of the technical staff at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory developing spacecraft and propulsion technologies that have enabled the exploration of Mars, Asteroids, and deep space for over a decade. Her doctoral research focused the developing the ion engine technology that powered the Dawn spacecraft to reach Vesta and Ceres in the main asteroid belt. She was then responsible for the supersonic parachute system that was integral to the landing of the Curiosity Rover on Mars in 2012. She most recently led the development of the Cold Atom Laboratory, a laser-cooling quantum physics facility to be launched to the International Space Station in 2018. Prior to joining NASA she worked for Boeing Space and Communications as a propulsion engineer on the development of the Delta IV launch vehicle, X37 reusable space vehicle, and XM radio communications satellite.
Dr. Sengupta received her BS in aerospace engineering from Boston University and MS and PhD in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Southern California, where she is also a Research Professor in Astronautics and Space Technology. In her spare time she is a private pilot, motorcyclist, snow boarder, scuba diver, runner, public speaker, and STEM advocate.
Former NASA Astronaut
Pam Melroy is a retired Air Force test pilot and former NASA astronaut and Space Shuttle commander. Colonel Melroy flew the KC-10 aircraft for six years at Barksdale Air Force Base as a co-pilot, aircraft commander and instructor pilot. Colonel Melroy is a veteran of Operation Just Cause and Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, with more than 200 combat and combat support hours. She also served as a test pilot for C-17 Combined Test Force. She has logged more than 6,000 hours flight time in more than 50 different aircraft.
Selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in December 1994, Colonel Melroy flew three missions in space: as Space Shuttle pilot during STS-92 in 2000 and STS-112 in 2002, and as Space Shuttle Commander during STS-120 in 2007. All three missions were assembly missions to build the International Space Station. She is one of only two women to command the Space Shuttle. Colonel Melroy served on the Columbia Reconstruction Team and the Columbia Crew Survival Investigation Team.In her final position, she served as Branch Chief for the Orion branch of the Astronaut Office.She has logged more than 38 days in space.Colonel Melroy retired from the Air Force in 2007, and left NASA in August 2009. After NASA, she served as Deputy Program manager for the Lockheed Martin Orion Space Exploration Initiatives program and as Director of Field Operations and acting Deputy Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation at the Federal Aviation Administration.She went on to serve as Deputy Director, Tactical Technology Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Colonel Melroy now is Director of Space Technology and Policy at Nova Systems in Australia.
Co-founder and CEO, Astranis
John Gedmark is the co-founder and CEO of Astranis, whose mission is to help bring the four billion people online who are without internet by building small, low-cost telecommunications satellites. John was previously the founding Executive Director of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation and Director of Flight Operations at the X PRIZE Foundation. He earned a bachelor's degree in Aerospace Engineering from Purdue University and a master's degree in Aerospace Engineering from Stanford University.
Dean, College of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Colorado Boulder
Bobby Braun is the dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado Boulder. He also serves as a Professor and the Smead Chair of Space Technology in the Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences.
Bobby was formerly the David and Andrew Lewis Professor of Space Technology at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Prior to joining the Georgia Tech faculty in 2003, he worked at the NASA Langley Research Center for 16 years. In 2010 and 2011, he served as the NASA chief technologist, creating and leading the initial implementation of a spectrum of NASA technology programs designed to bolster the nation’s capabilities in space.
Bobby is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, vice chair of the National Academies Space Studies Board, an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics fellow, and the author or co-author of over 300 technical publications. He received a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Penn State, a master’s degree in astronautics from the George Washington University, and a doctoral degree in aeronautics and astronautics from Stanford University.
Vice President of Launch, Virgin Orbit
Tim Buzza is the Vice President of Launch at Virgin Orbit and former Vice President of Program Development at Virgin Galactic. Previously, Buzza worked with SpaceX. Upon joining SpaceX in 2002, Tim led the development, testing, and successful launch of the Falcon 1 launch vehicle, the Falcon 9 launch vehicle, and the Dragon spacecraft. In addition, Tim led design, construction, and operation of SpaceX launch sites at Cape Canaveral, Vandenberg, and the United States Army Kwajalein Atoll. Prior to leaving SpaceX, Buzza was vice president of launch and test.
Managing Director, Morgan Stanley
Phillip (Phil) Ingle is a Managing Director in Morgan Stanley’s Investment Banking Division. He joined Morgan Stanley in 2002 as an Analyst in the firm’s Melbourne, Australia, office. In 2004, he relocated to the New York office where he joined the Industrial Group. Phil specializes in the coverage of Aerospace & Defense, Security, Distribution and General Industrial companies and has worked on a variety of M&A and capital markets transactions for clients across these industries.
Notable space-related transactions include refinancing transactions for Engility Corporation, Harris Corporation’s acquisition of Exelis, acquisition financing for GenCorp’s acquisition of Rocketdyne, and the IPO’s of Booz Allen Hamilton and Aeroflex. Phil graduated from The University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Commerce (Hons) and a Bachelor of Laws (Hons). During and after his five years at university, he served as an Infantry Officer in the Australian Army Reserve. Phil currently resides in Brooklyn, NY, with his wife Laura and their four daughters.
Chairman, Space Angels and CFO, Planetary Resources Inc.
Joe Landon serves as Chief Financial Officer of Planetary Resources, Inc., a company that seeks to expand the economy of humanity into the Solar System through the development and use of resources found on near-Earth asteroids. Joe also serves as Chairman of the Board of Space Angels, the world’s most active investor in early-stage space companies. He previously led Spaceflight Program Development at Space Adventures, Ltd. and developed commercial communications satellites as an engineer at Boeing.
Joe holds a bachelor’s degree in Engineering-Physics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, a master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Southern California and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Joe is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Space Technologies and a Trustee of the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle. In 2016 he was named one of Seattle’s ‘40 Under 40’ by the Puget Sound Business Journal.
DR. RANDY VILLAHERMOSA
Executive Director, Innovation, Aerospace Corporation
Dr. Randy Villahermosa is the executive director of Innovation at The Aerospace Corporation. He is responsible for leading innovation programs, culture transformation initiatives, and the corporation’s research and development portfolio. Villahermosa’s responsibilities span a broad range of science, technology, and innovation areas related to space systems, remote sensing, data analytics, and autonomous systems.
Prior to his current role, Villahermosa supported the development of multiple satellite systems for a wide variety of mission areas including missile defense sensors for the Air Force and the Missile Defense Agency, advanced technology satellites for the intelligence community, and space situational awareness satellite systems for the Air Force. He is also an expert in space materials and contamination control, and holds multiple patents in related technologies.
Villahermosa received his Bachelor of Arts in chemistry from Occidental College, and his doctorate in physical inorganic chemistry from the California Institute of Technology.
Jeffrey has served as the CEO of NanoRacks from 2009 onwards, and more recently, has taken on the role of chairman of the XO Markets board. Jeffrey, along with co-founder Mike Johnson, has steered the growth of NanoRacks from a garage space in Webster, Texas to a storage facility as the first company shop to where NanoRacks is today – a pioneer and now leader in the commercial market for low-Earth orbit utilization. For the future, Jeffrey is increasingly focused on bringing NanoRacks hardware and commercial services to more and more in-space platforms.
As the only American to ever work officially for the Russian space program, his prior experience includes serving as Managing Director of Energia USA, the American arm of RSC Energia. In 1991, he carried over the first commercial contract between NASA and the Soviet Union to use Soyuz as an escape vehicle for Space Station Freedom.
He also co-developed the first fund dedicated to commercial space on Wall Street (Shearson Lehman) and has served as an adviser to numerous companies and governments. The author of three books, his second (Selling Peace) chronicles his time working with the Russian space program. In 2012, Jeffrey was awarded the NASA Exceptional Public Achievement Medal.
Founder, World View
Dr. Alan Stern is a planetary scientist, space program executive, aerospace consultant, and author. He leads NASA’s $880M New Horizons mission that successfully explored the Pluto system and is now exploring the Kuiper Belt—the farthest exploration in the
history of humankind.
In both 2007 and 2016, he was named to the Time 100 list. In 2007 and 2008, Dr. Stern served as NASA’s chief of all space and Earth science programs, directing a $4.4B organization with 93 separate flight missions and a program of over 3,000 research grants. During his NASA tenure, a record 10 major new flight projects were started and deep reforms of NASA’s scientific research and the education and public outreach programs were put in place. His tenure was notable for an emphasis on cost control in NASA flight missions that resulted in a 63% decrease in cost overruns.
Dr. Stern is a founder and serves as the Chief Science Officer of World View, a near space ballooning company that he is co-founder of. In 2016 and again in 2017 he was elected to be the Board Chairman of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. Dr. Stern is also the CEO of a small corporation—The Golden Spike Company. Since 2009, he has been an Associate Vice President and Special Assistant to the President at the Southwest Research Institute.
President, VOX Space
Mandy is the President of VOX Space. Mandy originally joined Virgin Orbit, VOX Space’s parent company, in 2015. As Senior Director of Business Development and Mission Management, she supported business development on the LauncherOne program for both government and commercial customers, and served as mission manager for customers including OneWeb and NASA, in addition to spearheading the creation and registration of VOX Space.
Prior to joining Virgin Orbit, Mandy was with General Dynamics Mission Systems’ Space and Intelligence Systems Directorate, where she was responsible for the space control and space protection investment portfolios and analog-to-digital transitions for a variety of SIGINT payload families. She successfully initiated development programs for the next-generation space-based GPS receiver and managed the internal investment of GPS payload development efforts. Prior to joining General Dynamics, she was a developmental engineer and program manager in the Air Force and a Director with Kinsey Technical Services.
Mandy has a BS in Mechanical Engineering and an MS in Aeronautics and Astronautics, both from MIT.
Vice President, SpaceX
Lee Rosen is SpaceX’s Vice President of Customer Operations and Integration. As SpaceX’s key interface for all customer interactions (commercial, military & civil), he ensures seamless integration and program management of satellite, Dragon Crew & Cargo missions, and on-orbit operations. In his previous SpaceX position, he was Vice President of Mission & Launch Operations responsible for running SpaceX’s launch sites and mission management. He was also Launch Site Director at SpaceX’s SLC-4E, Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA where his team transformed the pad from TitanIV to Falcon 9/Falcon Heavy configuration.
Lee is a retired US Air Force Colonel with more than 28 years of industry and military experience in space systems engineering, acquisition, operations, maintenance and mission assurance. After serving 23 years, Rosen retired with the rank of Colonel in May 2011 as the Commander of the 45th Launch Group, Cape Canaveral. He also served as the Commander of the 4th Space Launch Squadron at Vandenberg, where he was responsible for modifying SLC-6 for Delta IV and SLC-3E for Atlas V. Lee has experience in senior executive leadership positions, including classified programs. He has managed active budgets of over $7 billion in assets and has delivered critical space capabilities to warfighters and customers worldwide.
Col Rosen grew up in the Boston area and graduated from the US Air Force Academy in 1988. Throughout his career he served in a variety of positions in Strategic Air Command, Air Force Material Command, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and Air Force Space Command. He holds 4 master’s degrees and is a Distinguished Graduate of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. Lee is proud husband/dad, avid runner, cyclist, surfer, ukulele player and brewer.