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 Seventeen


Staff Sergeant Nathan Atkin is a Software Development Operations Airmen currently serving as an Air Force product manager at the 15th Wing.  Focused on the Pacific, he is assigned to the Tron Software Factory where he acts as the lead product manager coordinating the design, development, and deployment of bespoke software applications while leveraging human centered design and agile development principles.

One of the founding members of the Tron team, he manages the Tron resident program, coordinating year long internships in design, product management, and software development at Tron; returning Airmen to their units to continue the digital transformation and expand the innovation ecosystem at the 15th Wing. Formerly a Tactical Air Control Party Airmen, Nate is responsible for fostering partnerships across the academic and private sectors; leading several SBIR projects and supporting the rapid integration of commercial technology within the DoD to support more than 20,000 operational users.

Previously having worked as a user experience and user interface designer for Tron, he is currently enrolled full time at the University of Arizona pursuing his BS in Human Systems Engineering with an emphasis on User Experience and a minor in Technical Entrepreneurship and Management.


Major Matthew Carey is the Chief of the Commander’s Action Group for 3rd Wing at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.  Matthew assists the Wing Commander and enables 2,200 3rd Wing Airmen to provide trained and equipped tactical air dominance forces. He is a Senior Pilot with nearly 1,800 flying hours, including nearly 200 combat hours.  

After three years as a first assignment instructor pilot, Matthew attended the F-22 formal training unit and was assigned to Langley, Virginia in 2018. During his assignment, he was the Chief of Mobility, an F-22 Flight Commander and deployed to the Middle East. In 2021, Matthew moved to Alaska, where he served as an Assistant Director of Operations in the 525th Fighter Squadron. During that time, the 525th Fighter Squadron was selected for the 2021 Raytheon Trophy, the USAF’s Top Fighter Squadron.

Matthew graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Finance from the University of Colorado at Boulder and commissioned in 2011. He is married to his wife Megan and they have a beautiful daughter. His military decorations include an Air Medal with a “C” device, the Meritorious Service Medal, an Aerial Achievement Medal, and the Air Force Commendation Medal.


Dennis Chapman is an Engineer working for the US Army Futures Command DEVCOM Armaments Center as a strategic relation professional at Picatinny Arsenal, NJ. The focus of this work is to find partners for the Armaments Center to work with that enables increased collaboration on Army systems as well as foster innovation.

Dennis has also worked with the Director of Technology at Armaments Center with the Program Objectives Memorandum (POM) to determine the science and technology (S&T) portfolio at Armaments Center.Dennis began his career as a Systems Engineering working on requirements and architectures for artillery systems, primarily the Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) program. He has experience working with customers along the Systems Engineering “V” lifecycle, including validating that end-user systems have met their stakeholder requirements.

Dennis earned his Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering and Master of Engineering in Systems Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ.


Staff Sergeant Joseph Comps is a Tactical Air Control Party Strike Team Leader and JTAC-Instructor with experience in both the Middle East and European theaters. He is assigned to the 9th Air Support Operations Squadron’s Command-and-Control team and the Unit Innovation Cell, where his primary focus areas have been the development of a Tactical Data Link program as well as proficiency in next generation communication waveforms.

With over 11 years of service, both as a former United States Marine and current member of Air Force Special Warfare, Joe provides a unique mixture of both tactical and technical expertise gained from years of experience within the Joint operating environment. During his current posting, Joe has led a myriad of multinational efforts that include Network Enabled Weapons interoperability testing, waveform experimentation and AI integration with Lockheed Martin, as well as defensive Cyber tactics development for Special Warfare teams operating within contested environments.

Joseph is currently in the midst of his senior year at the University of Maryland Global Campus, pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in Cybersecurity and Network Management.

AIN Ventures

Beverly Fulgencio is a Cyberspace Operations Officer in the United State Air Force with 16 years of active-duty experience. As an Enterprise Information Technology (EIT) planning and programming specialist for the Department of the Air Force (DAF) Chief Information Officer at the Pentagon, Washington D.C., she leads efforts to plan and program the DAF’s EIT portfolio totaling 14.6 billion dollars across the Future Years Defense Plan.

Prior to her current position, Bev supervised and directed cybersecurity professionals executing Air Forces Cyber and U.S. Cyber Command missions to protect a 10-billion-dollar cyber terrain. Bev’s leadership duties also included protecting a 31-billion-dollar joint military communications satellite; leading combined Air Operations for Non-Kinetic teams supporting Operation Inherent Resolve; and managing cyberspace operations with the National Security Agency.

Bev holds a degree in Communications with a concentration in Public Relations from California State University – Fullerton. She also earned her Master of Business Administration in Information Technology Management. Bev currently resides in National Harbor, Maryland and enjoys spending time with her husband, two small kids, travelling, cheering at Tee-ball & soccer games and cooking Filipino dishes.

"Maj. Clark “Slider” Haymond is an active duty F-15E Fighter Pilot, with over 11 years of experience in the United States Air Force. He has flown over 1,600 hours with combat flights over Syria and Iraq.

Clark is stationed at Hill AFB, UT flying Operational Test missions and working at the Department of Defense’s premier Weapons System Evaluation Program. As a Test Director, he leads the team that plans and executes evaluations of conventional and Nuclear munitions dropped from not just the F-15E but also all other USAF manned and unmanned aircraft.

Clark graduated from BYU in 2011 with a degree in Manufacturing Engineering and currently attends the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as an MBA student.

AIN Ventures

Captain Tyler Jackson serves as the executive assistant to the commander of Buckley Space Force Base where he helps manage $34.7 Billion dollars of Space Force Assets across 109 mission partners. Previously at Joint Base San Antonio, Tyler gained 3 years of experience managing the Air Forces’ most complex Human Resource Systems while overseeing the Air Force’s largest Lodging, and Dining operations. Additionally, Tyler served as the cross functional communications specialist as the lead Human Resource Policy advisor for the Air Force, Army, and Navy at Ft Sam Houston.

Tyler is a Dallas, TX native and a 2018 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA). At USAFA, Tyler lettered in on the Division 1 football team, founded and led self-improvement groups, and earned multiple Dean’s list honors. Upon his commission, Tyler pursued a Masters of Public Administration in residence where he learned how imperative business principles and strategic investments are to ensure the safety of the public, and effectiveness of the economy.

Outside of his work schedule, Tyler is involved in several mentorship and non-profit programs that aim to provide support for minority students, and level the academic and achievement playing field for underserved communities.


Ariel Kayne is a Commercial Engagement Analyst for Army Applications Laboratory (AAL), an innovation unit at Army Futures Command in Austin, Texas. AAL connects the Army to leading commercial technology and innovation talent to deliver mature, transition-ready solutions for priority Army problems. As a key member of AAL's Corporate Ventures team, Ariel produces industry research and insights that drive AAL’s commercial pipeline development and outreach. Ariel is passionate about modernizing how the Army approaches innovation and how the DoD accelerates the acquisition of defense technology from non-traditional companies.

Before joining AAL, Ariel served as Director of Operations at SioTex Corporation, a venture-backed chemical manufacturer, and as Program Administrator at Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs, where he led innovation and accelerator cohorts for over 1000 entrepreneurs. Ariel's military background includes decorated USAF KC-135 Instructor Pilot and Flight Safety Officer experience, with over 2000 flight hours across seven combat deployments.

Ariel holds an MS in Technology Commercialization from the McCombs School of Business and a BS in Economics with a Japanese minor from the United States Air Force Academy. In his free time, Ariel enjoys skiing, photography, travel hacking, tinkering in the garage, and spending time with his family and rescue dog.


Sergeant Seun Kolawole is a Materiel Management Specialist in the Air Force, supporting the logistical operations of the E-8 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System. He is currently assigned to the 461st Air Control Wing at Robins Air Force Base as the Wing Innovation Superintendent, where he manages projects that can save the wing over $25m in the next 5 years. Seaun oversees day to day operations, working with industry partners both local and on base while also supporting airmen innovative ideas aimed at solving problems, and providing mentorship.

Seun has led a team of airmen within the wing, in coordinating operational requirements in support of the Air Combat Command under the 15th Air Force. Sergeant Kolawole has deployed in support of numerous combat missions to Central Command (CENTCOM) and Pacific Command (PACAF) respectively.

Seun's military career began in San Antonio, Texas in 2016, prior to him being stationed in Georgia. His assignment gave him vast experience and drive to identify inefficiencies, streamline processes, and implement continuous improvement procedures. The value earned during travels, helped highlight the strategic importance of private and governmental collaboration with international partnerships. His interests now are technology, research and development, and bridging innovative capabilities to help solve existing problems.

Ms. Helena Krusec is the Deputy Engagement Lead for AFVentures, AFWERX Directorate, Air Force Research Labs. She is responsible for all public facing interaction of the DAF (Department of the Air Force) SBIR/STTR Programs with the private sector and government partners, forging relationships with private investment firms and generating interest and investment in dual-use and defense companies. She is building the platform for technology portfolio utilization by the broader DAF community with the ultimate goal of transitioning technology across the valley of death and into bigger programs of record.

Prior to her Air Force career Ms. Krusec spent eight years in the private sector working at the intersection of venture capital and national security. She is a former Security Fellow with the Truman National Security Project, and sits on the advisory boards for the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Texas at Dallas, and the Neeley School of Business’ Entrepreneurship program at Texas Christian University. She is also a member of the Lab to Market Strategy Team 3 Subcommittee as part of the National Science & Technology Council.

The Engine

Captain Garrett A. Loeffelman serves as a Modeling and Simulation Officer in support of Training and Education Command (TECOM) at Quantico, VA. Garrett is an active duty infantry officer in the Marine Corps who has spent almost ten years assisting the training community. He advises the Commanding General of TECOM on simulation capability development. His current initiatives focus on optimizing training and education investments to maximize readiness returns for the service. Garrett has a track record for developing public-private partnerships to advance innovative valuation processes for the defense sector.

Since 2017, he has worked with Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, the Office of Naval Research, and MITRE to tie training resources to readiness outcomes. His work resulted in multiple service level policy adjustments to quantitatively assess Marine performance. Garrett's work on return-on-investment methodologies for defense programs has been published three times at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference.

Garrett lives in Alexandria, Virginia with his wife, and daughter and holds a Master Degree in Modeling, Virtual Environments, and Simulation from the Naval Postgraduate School and a Bachelor Degree in Computer Science from the United States Naval Academy. Garrett is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) level III candidate.

Drew Lomax is a Program Manager with twenty years of civil service and active-duty service.  Drew leads a team in the Irregular Warfare Technical Support Directorate, developing new capabilities for conducting and countering influence operations against irregular and great power competitors.  This includes work with international partners in the UK, Singapore, Israel, Australia, and Canada.

Drew’s background includes a range of assignments and programs, from counterinsurgency and intelligence capacity building, to research and development (R&D) for operations in the information environment.  Drew sponsors and manages many efforts that develop capabilities for identifying and countering emerging adversary phenomena such as machine-generated or synthetic text, DeepFakes, online mis- and disinformation, and transitioning those new technologies to operators for operational use.

He led a program focusing on irregular and evolving threats.  This included developing and fielding the largest counterinsurgency intelligence capacity-building program since the Vietnam War. Drew’s team also developed and fielded the Defense Department’s largest program for analyzing and leveraging publicly available information (PAI) against violent extremists and other irregular actors. Drew was an Army officer prior to his civil service.  He is originally from North Carolina and currently lives in Arlington, VA.


Lieutenant Colonel Rafael Maryahin Lieutenant Colonel Rafael Maryahin is a Logistics Officer in the US Marine Corps Reserve currently assigned to the US Southern Command in Doral, FL. LtCol Maryahin has a wide range of military experience both in combat and peacetime having served 9 years on active duty and 12 years in the reserves. LtCol Maryahin was selected for the Marine Corps' Congressional Fellowship and served as Military Fellow in Congressman Issa's office.

In his civilian career, Rafael is an attorney with extensive experience in real estate transactions, financing, and litigation, business law, and government investigations. Rafael previously served as Investigative Counsel on the US House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee.Rafael is a graduate of University of Massachusetts at Amherst with degrees in Economics and Political Science.

Rafael holds a M.S. in Business Administration degree from Boston University and a J.D. from University of Maryland School of Law. He is interested in applied cryptography and distributed systems and expects to begin Fullstack Academy Software Engineering Bootcamp in a near future.


Sergeant Michael Sullivan is a Knowledge Manager by trade overseeing records, content management, publications & forms, Freedom of Information Act program, and Privacy Act program. He is currently serving as the Director of Operations for LibertyWERX at RAF Lakenheath, UK leading a team of five while overseeing a portfolio of fifty-three projects, hiring, and strategic planning for future growth of the organization.

Previously Michael was the Director of Development at LibertyWERX developing and implementing innovation training with a focus on pitching, customer discovery, and how to collaborate. He also led the content management for COVID-19 creating a centralized document repository for leaders and personnel with real-time information to make educated decisions.

Michael holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Montana State University and a Master of Art in Organizational Development. He has certified in the iMap Behavioral-Motivational Assessments.