Meet our latest cohort of Defense Ventures Fellows

The future of defense is public-private partnerships
Defense Ventures is an 8-week fellowship that identifies emerging innovators from the Department of Defense and facilitates industry immersions at venture capital firms, incubators, and startups across the United States. Shift runs this program in partnership with AFWERX, the innovation arm of the Air Force, who created this opportunity for members of the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines, Space Force, Coast Guard, Reserve, National Guard and DoD civilians.

Companies who host Defense Ventures Fellows gain insight into the mission of the Department of Defense, new perspectives on the federal marketplace, and forge enduring relationships with the military members they host. 

This fall, these fellows will begin a journey to learn “what great looks like” in emerging technology and bring commercial best practices back to the Department of Defense. The Defense Ventures Program allows fellows to engage directly with the private sector, establish meaningful connections, and develop a more in-depth understanding of business models, dual-use technologies, and solutions to challenging problems. 

Visit to learn more about the Defense Ventures Program and how to apply.

Meet the members of Cohort Fourteen


Bobby Davison Bobby Davison is a reservist at Space Systems Command. He concentrates on integrating Private Capital investors and data into the decisions made for Satellite Command and Control Software Programs of Record.  

While on active duty, Bobby worked on the Combined Force Space Component Command where he integrated Commercial Space Domain Awareness Data into operations. As a civilian, Bobby is the Chief of Staff at NLP in NYC, an early-stage Incubation community for artificial intelligence.  

Bobby is completing his MBA at the NYU Leonard N. Stern School of Business and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Business at the Virginia Military Institute.

Learn to Win

Master Sergeant Conor Gray is serving as the Superintendent of Evaluations at the Air Force Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy, Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Alabama. He plays a key role advising Air University leaders on training, developing, and deploying Professional Military Education to the highest enlisted leaders in the Air Force.

Conor has championed grass roots innovation since 2017 and is often matching innovators with problem sets for leaders across Air Force. As a member of Phoenix Spark and the Wing Process Manager, he played a pivotal role in directing unspent squadron innovation funds, and facilitating over 40 improvement events.  At Air University he partnered with a Spark Tank finalist to secure a $1.25M SBIR for the development of a war game for the Academy’s Capstone event. His work with think tanks like Project Mercury and other research showcases have been published in various formats and aided the expansion of the Sky Borg program at the Air Force Research Laboratory.

Conor hold certifications in Project Management, Lean Six Sigma, and Coaching Innovation. He has a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics and a Masters in Leadership.


Drew Hill is a Cybersecurity Specialist for the 42 Cyber Operations Squadron in the United States Air Force. Drew joined the Air Force in 2013 as a language specialist performing aerial reconnaissance. He studied Korean language at the DoD’s foreign language school in Monterey, California, and has been stationed or deployed to locations in Asia and the Middle East.

In 2018, Drew assumed a dual-role as intelligence program analyst and researcher at the Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, NY. He transitioned to the Air Force Reserves in 2020, where he pivoted into cybersecurity for the military, and recently relocated to the Alexandira, VA area.

Drew holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Maryland, Global Campus, as well as Associate’s in Intelligence and Korean from the Community College of the Air Force.


Master Sergeant Issac “Ike” Holley serves as the Chief Innovation Officer for the 48 Fighter Wing’s Innovation Cell, LibertyWERX. He leads a team of passionate active duty intrapreneurs who build business relationships with regional and international tech industry startups, academia, and coalition partners to deliver lethality and readiness capabilities throughout the United Kingdom.

Ike’s efforts have supported over 218+ initiatives, gained a portfolio of around $12.5M in seed funding, and have provided a solution-mission-fit yielding over $114M in both returned hours and eliminated operational costs to Airmen & Guardians within the European Command.

Before founding LibertyWERX, Ike served seven years as a Fire Officer within the Air Force’s Fire & Emergency Services. His efforts in modernizing first responder capabilities across multiple domains led to a passion for supporting grassroots transformation at the tactical level. Ike has served as an AFWERX partner for growing the grassroots European innovation network for the last two years. He is completing his Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management in Enterprise Agility.


Lieutenant Alexander Johnson is an intelligence officer in the United States Navy. He has 7 years of experience in operational intelligence analysis and planning.

Prior to his current role, Alexander held positions at the Office of Naval Intelligence where he was Flag Aide to the Commander, as an intelligence briefer to senior Navy leadership at the Chief of Naval Operations Intelligence Plot, and as an Intelligence Division officer at Naval Special Warfare Development Group.    

Alexander graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 2015 with a degree in Operations Research. He is currently enrolled in the Master of Business Administration program at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Insight Partners

Lieutenant Colonel Jamie Johnson is a Space Force acquisitions officer, serving the past few years as the Director of Space Systems Command's AtlasX Business Innovation unit, which proliferates entrepreneurship, agile methods, and data analytics to ultimately modernize the way we work.

Jamie is a Department of Defense (DoD) Career Intermission Program alumni, competitively hired during his break from active duty into senior-level roles at LinQuest Corporation and Deloitte Consulting LLP, gaining outside expertise to bring back to the service. Jamie held previous Air Force leadership roles in space control, launch, and propulsion research and development, along with a deployment managing the operations of a 24/7 communications aircraft fleet in Afghanistan.

He loves to learn and has multiple degrees and certificates in engineering and business including a PhD. He recently completed a program aimed at solving global space & defense challenges with joint DoD leaders. He is an avid student of cognitive psychology, organizational behavior, systems thinking, and culture, and was a key contributor to the Space Force's Guardian Ideal human capital strategy. Jamie is a native of Doylestown, PA, and enjoys running the hills of his Palos Verdes Estates, CA neighborhood and spending quality time with his two teenage boys.

Catapult Ventures

Dr. Uttam K. Majumder is R&D Scientist for Radar AI/ML. Uttam currently serves as a Principal AI/ML Researcher / Portfolio Lead with the US government. His research interests include in artificial intelligence / machine learning (AI/ML), synthetic aperture radar (SAR) algorithms development for surveillance applications, radar waveforms design, and high performance computing for SAR based automatic target recognition (ATR).

Uttam recently published a book on ""Deep Learning for Radar and Communications Automatic Target Recognition"".  He also published 30+ papers on various conferences and journals. He is an IEEE AESS Distinguished Lecturer on ""Deep Learning for Radar Applications"". He offers short courses on ""Radar AI/ML"".  Dr. Majumder is a senior member of IEEE and SPIE.

Uttam received Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Purdue University, M.S. in electrical engineering from Air Force Institute of Technology, and B.S. in computer science (Summa Cum Laude) from the City College of New York. He also earned an MBA degree from Wright State University, Ohio, focusing on Management, Innovation, and Change.  

Starfish Space

Technical Sergeant Michaela March is an all-source intelligence analyst serving in the United States Air Force currently supporting Special Warfare Airmen and the Army’s 18th Airborne Corps as an intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) liaison officer at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Her previous intelligence assignments include working as a counterspace and defensive space analyst at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California and the National Reconnaissance Office Headquarters in Chantilly, Virginia, respectively. Additionally, Michaela led 15-man teams of diverse expertise and specialties focused on operations in Africa and Europe while stationed at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Outside of the intelligence community, Michaela worked at the US Embassy Khartoum, Sudan in the Defense Attaché Office as the Operations Non-Commissioned Officer. She managed office operations, administrative requirements and security demands during several months of violent protests and ultimately a military coup of Sudan’s long-standing dictator. Michaela has her Bachelors in National Security Studies from Norwich University. She enjoys Muay Thai, cooking, eating, and any time spent in the mountains or near the water.

Coactive AI

Commander Gary Redman is an experienced Naval officer, aviator, and real estate professional. He currently serves as a Flight Test Naval Flight Officer in the VX-30 Bloodhounds at Naval Base Ventura County in Pt. Mugu California.

Gary has amassed more than 2,200 flight hours in the E-2 Hawkeye over his 18-year Naval career. Gary has served as a Weapons and Tactics Instructor, squadron operations officer, and as a 7th Fleet staff operational planner. He is also a graduate of the Carrier Airborne Early Warning Weapons School (CAEWWS), the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN), and the Maritime Advanced Warfighting School (MAWS).

A lifelong learner, Gary graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 2005 with a Bachelor of Science in Management. He holds a Systems Engineering master’s degree from George Washington University and an Engineering Management master’s from Old Dominion University. Gary also has a master’s in Defense and Strategic Studies from the United States Naval War College and a Master of Business Administration from the Naval Postgraduate School.  When not flying, Gary is a full-time real estate agent for Century 21 Everest in Westlake Village, California.

Marque Ventures

Staff Sergeant Arthur "Russell" Rogers is an Emergency Manager and Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) specialist based out of the 129th Rescue Wing in Mountain View, California.

Prior to his time with the Air Force, Russell worked as a combat medic with various conventional and special operations units in the Army and Army National Guard.  Additionally, Russell has significant private sector innovation and entrepreneurial experience leading innovation efforts and building innovation centers and programs at Fortune 100 companies including, Humana, Lennar and Dupont. Since April 2020, Russell has led a COVID-19 digital transformation task force identifying and building digital solutions to improve remote work capabilities.  Additionally, he developed an innovation process and ecosystem to drive public/private partnerships across the US for the Air National Guard.

Russell lives in Silicon Valley, CA and holds graduate degrees from Harvard, MIT, and Oxford Universities. He is currently studying Global Risk at Johns Hopkins.


Captain Samuel Sentongo, a 2018 graduate of the US Air Force Academy, is an engineer and project manager with four years of active-duty service in the force modernization realm.  Sam currently an F-15 Test Engineer for the Operational Flight Program Combined Test Force at Eglin AFB. In his current role, he manages test operations for $30B+ of fighter jet modernization programs: drafting test plans, leading cross-functional teams, executing test missions, and supporting test deployments.

Previously stationed at Hill Air Force Base, Sam worked in the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center sustaining nuclear Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles and modernizing the 50+ year old ICB technical baseline in a PLM/Digital Engineering environment. Following this assignment, he was selected to lead Hill AFB’s Aircraft Battle Damage Repair Engineering Program where he trained/deployed 100+ engineers and drove research that closed combat sustainment gaps across many systems unique to fifth generation fighters. After his tenure at Hill AFB, Sam was deployed to Southwest Asia in support of Operations FREEDOM’S SENTINEL and INHERENT RESOLVE as well as Afghanistan retrograde efforts.

Sam is passionate about finding solutions to DMSMS (Diminishing Manufacturing Sources and Material Shortages), and since 2020, his support of AFWERX Challenges has influenced the allocation of $1.3M SBIR/STTR investment funds accordingly. In his free time, Sam volunteers with local organizations to provide mentorship, support community outreach, and engage in environmental protection advocacy.

Learn to Win

Major Raymond Stone serves as a Colorado Guardsman as the “resident innovator” on TAG-Air Staff.  Ray commissioned with a degree in Civil Engineering and a pilot slot from Michigan Technical University ROTC.

While on Active Duty, Ray was a pilot in the C-17 and T-6, instructing hundreds of pilots and traveling to over 70 countries. Ray flew three combat tours in the C-17 and was an aircraft commander for the evacuation of Afghanistan airlifting 1,947 souls and returning the survivors of the bombing attack on Kabul. In the T-6, Ray taught student pilots and was the SME for the DoD’s first AI Virtual Reality Instructor Pilot. On the Pilot Training Next staff Ray was embedded with industry partners tasked to integrate emerging technology into pilot training.

As a member of the Air National Guard, Ray continues to be a catalyst of change by developing Colorado’s ARCWERX Innovation Cell. Ray aims to leverage the strength of local industry while manifesting latent talent from Guardsmen by providing a platform of innovation and supporting their efforts to scale. Ray is also employed as a pilot for United Airlines based out of Denver, Colorado and loves to explore via skiing, hiking, traveling, and reading.


Lieutenant Colonel John Stripling is a Remotely Piloted Aircraft Pilot serving as an Artificial Intelligence Solutions Architect in the Headquarters Air Force Requirements and Strategy Directorate.  His current duties are to inform, contribute to, and advocate for concept development, capability development, and integration of artificial intelligence across all Air Force core mission areas.  

Throughout his career, he has served as a Computer Engineer, Liaison Officer, MQ-1 Pilot, MQ-9 Pilot, Acquisitions Branch Chief, Director of Operations, Director of Staff, and Squadron Commander. Lt Col Stripling has conducted over 1,500 hours of remotely piloted aircraft operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, as well as other locations. His last assignment culminated as the squadron commander of the 15th Attack Squadron (The Mighty Combat Pigeons), leading 200 of the nation’s men and women executing MQ-9 airpower in 24/7 combat operations.  

Lt Col Stripling has a Computer Engineering undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University and a Master’s Degree in Systems Engineering from the University of Florida.  He is married and has two children under three.  His hobbies include reading, running, watching UFC and college football, and managing his rental properties.

Venus Aerospace

Josh Stuckman is an Instructor Sensor Operator whose background specializes in the mission sets of Air Force Special Operations Command, specifically tactical employment during close air support with the 4th and 73D Special Operations Squadrons. Josh has honed his combat experience in the AC-130U/J Gunship in support of Operation’s Resolute Support and Freedom’s Sentinel.

In his current role, he serves as lead of the Information Technology & Tactics offices at the unit level providing members education and system innovation both on and off the battlefield. He is also currently working with civilian vendors, military test sq’s, and contracted engineers to enhance a robust and next-gen capable combat aircraft fleet totaling over $1 Billion. Josh assists in the development and employment of tomorrow’s global power conflict tactics, techniques, and procedures in growing contested technological environments.

Josh is a seasoned NCO with time spent working across multiple DOD organizational levels and has liaised with Special Operations Forces from 30+ partner nations. Most of his time outside work in Florida is spent with his son and 2 dogs either working on classic cars or building firearms. He is currently pursuing his B.A in Intelligence Studies.

Stealth Startup

Marilyn Vickers is an Operations Research Analyst leading the new data and tool development program serving the Command, Control, Communications Intelligence & Network (C3I&N) directorate in the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center. She is a technical leader, mentor, and educator for the directorate's cost community who helps in  driving culture change towards a data driven organization, redefining how data is utilized to enhance cost estimation, and pushing digital transformation in cost analysis.

Previous to her current role, Marilyn received the SMART scholarship provided by the DoD while pursuing her bachelor's degree in mathematics. She started at Hanscom AFB post-graduation on the original team of cost estimators on Enterprise IT as a Service (EITaaS) which aims to overhaul the digital infrastructure of the Air Force. She and her team built an $7B estimate from scratch and worked with industry leaders Microsoft and AT&T.  

During this time, Marilyn was exposed to the data science process which lead her to pursue a master's degree in data science at the University of Notre Dame. While pursuing this degree, she applied her new and developing skillset in leading a research project on the processes and techniques involved in the development of program schedules to determine factors in schedule delays. Marilyn currently lives in Boston, MA with her husband and enjoys traveling, calligraphy, and thrifting in her free time.

Regent Craft

Captain Matthew “Will” Williams is an Active-Duty Military Police Officer serving in the U.S. Army. His current role is as the Anti-Terrorism and Force Protection Officer of the 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command stationed out of Joint Base Lewis McChord in Washington.

He has served as a Joint Planner, Provost Marshal, Commander, Executive Officer, and Platoon Leader spanning a seven-year career.

Will received his commission and bachelor’s degree from the United States Military Academy at West Point where he studied Literature. He subsequently received an MBA from Webster University in 2018, an MS in Finance from the same in 2022, and a Graduate Certificate in Project Management in 2022 as well.  He currently lives in Tacoma, Washington with his wife.