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 Sixteen

Insight Partners

Georgia Bass is a research and development scientist at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Currently, Georgia is a program manager co-leading a multi-million-dollar research program supporting NGA’s data integrity and data assurance Tech Focus Area. She is passionate about bridging the domains of cybersecurity, GEOINT, and strategic studies as they offer an innovative framework to develop technologies that address emerging space-based threats.

Georgia was a Champion Team Lead in the 2022 NGA Technology Accelerator where she fostered structured engagements between NGA and a technology start-up and exposed relevant NGA groups to emerging commercial technologies. She has previously interned at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence supporting the Office of Lateral Innovation and the United States Africa Command as a geospatial analyst.

Georgia holds a Master’s Degree in Global Security Studies with a concentration in Strategic Studies from Johns Hopkins University, as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Geography from the University of Massachusetts Amherst Commonwealth Honors College. She is an alum of CyberCorps Scholarship for Service and a member of the 2022 Emerging as a Global Leader Experience Program Cohort.


Technical Sergeant Jaime Benites is the Product Manager overseeing data science projects for the Data Operations Branch, ACC Intelligence Data/Tech Futures division, Langley AFB, VA. He oversees 36 civilians, contractors, & military staff in providing data operations services as well as collaborating with academia, government, and industry to support ideation exchanges and technology adoption.

Jaime's first duty station was at the National Air and Space Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force base where he served as a radar analyst. He moved to the Air Force Technical Applications Center at Patrick AFB, FL in 2009 where he served in many roles spanning 11 years. During this time, Jaime was selected for a one year deployment to the Kessel Run Experimental Laboratory in Boston, MA. It was here he found a passion for agile software development while serving as the product manager overseeing development and delivery of tanker planning software used at multiple Air Operations Centers around the world. 

Following this tour, Jaime returned to the Air Force Technical Applications Center and took on the role of Wing DevSecOps lead. He led an 8-member team to setup the Wing’s first software development factory and built capabilities to cultivate ideas from whiteboard to accredited production-level applications. Jaime enjoys playing ultimate frisbee, snowboarding, and hiking in his spare time.


Master Chief Troy Brown is an active duty Senior Enlisted Advisor in the U.S. Navy, with 25+ years of experience at all levels of the Military Health System (MHS). In his current position as the Senior Enlisted Leader to the Defense Health Agency (DHA), Assistant Director of Support, he advises eight Senior Executive Service, Flag and General Officers on human capital programs and daily operations.

This includes the DHA Acquisition and Sustainment, Research and Development, Medical Logistics, Contracting Activity, Public Health, Program Executive Office (PEO) - Medical Systems, PEO-Defense Healthcare Management Systems, and the Medical Education and Training Campus providing healthcare for 9.6 million active duty personnel, military retirees and their families. He has six combat and operational deployments that has fueled his passionate for innovative healthcare delivery and human capital initiatives that impact the MHS, Veterans Health Administration, and the civilian Healthcare System.

Troy holds a Master's Degree in Organizational Leadership and a Bachelor's Degree in Health Sciences with an emphasis in Healthcare Management and Public Health. Additionally, he is a Fellow of the National Defense University KEYSTONE Course and he is scheduled to sit for the Board of Governors Exam to become a Fellow with the American College of Healthcare Executives.


First Lieutenant Pablo Buenrostro is a Developmental Engineer with 12 years of experience in the US Air Force. In his current role, he serves in the Warhead and Fuzes Branch in the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Munitions Directorate supporting a wide variety of research and development efforts in energetic materials, fuzes, warheads, assessment methodology, and the integration of these technologies into weapon concepts and development programs.

Prior to receiving his commission he was an enlisted contracting officer with a mix of government acquisition assignments ranging from base level purchasing, contingency support, and foreign military sales in support of Saudi Arabia’s F-15 modernization efforts. Pablo has served across the United States with deployments to southwest Asia and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in support of Afghan resettlement efforts following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Pablo is originally from Mexico, raised in North Carolina, and is currently serving at Eglin AFB, Florida with his wife Master Sergeant Christina Buenrostro and their son Tomás.

Major Andrew “Andy” Glenn is an officer serving in the Army Futures Command, where he works to find and integrate novel solutions to rising and future requirements and capability gaps.  

Prior to this role, Andrew served as the senior U.S. military advisor to the Republic of Georgia’s Defense Forces leading teams of advisors and consultants focused on the forces’ modernization and compliance with NATO standards.  Andrew’s 22-year, military career has spanned multiple countries and also included numerous other roles ranging from teaching to NATO defense planning to special operations to construction program management.  He has previously started and wound down a (non-VC backed) business.

Andrew holds an MBA (focused in Entrepreneurship and Finance) from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, a Master of Military Art and Science from the Army’s School of Advanced Military Studies, and a Bachelor of Science from the United States Military Academy at West Point. In his free time, Andrew coaches youth basketball, travels with his wife, practices mixology, researches technology, and tries to help startups connect with VCs or with federal government agencies.

Squadra Ventures

Lieutenant Colonel Russell “Porter” Grant is an Intelligence Officer in the Army National Guard serving as the Director of Joint Intelligence Strategy, Plans, and Partner Engagement for United States Space Command at Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In his current role, he helps coordinate the Command’s intelligence planning efforts in support of USSPACECOM’s campaign and contingency plan development.

Porter Grant previously served as a Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) Crew Director in the Missile Defense Element as part of U.S. Northern Command’s defense of North America countering ICBM threats.

Porter has a Bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University majoring in German and European Studies; an International Master’s of Business Administration (IMBA) from the University of South Carolina; and a Master’s of Strategic Intelligence (MSSI) from the National Intelligence University. He is a branch qualified Intelligence, Air Defense, Signal, and Human Resources Officer.

Venus Aerospace

Staff Sergeant Nate Jewell is a United States Air Force Aerospace Propulsion Journeyman stationed at Ellsworth AFB in the 28th Maintenance Squadron.  Nate's current role is maintenance for the B-1B bomber aircraft.  His actions are key to the continued operation of 144 F-101 engines.

Nate previously served as an equipment custodian, maintaining and inspecting 4,000 pieces of equipment valued at $4 million dollars. He also spent time  bridging the gap between the maintenance career field and new technology at the force’s disposal. This included setting up standalone workstations for supervision, installing and mapping peripheral devices, and improving the efficiency of computing devices to increase maintenance productivity.

In addition to his Air Force duties, Nate is the founder and operator of an automotive detailing and repair service called The Car Custodian LLC. His business has helped him develop his customer relationship skills, point-of-sale software familiarity, and general business operations. He is 14 months away from graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Cyber and Information Technology, which he intends to apply to both the civilian and military sectors.


Captain Sean D. Johnson is an active-duty Aircraft Maintenance Officer who has served in a variety of roles and environments over the past 13 years. While consulting for NATO Allies, Sean directed Arctic operations for Canadian logistics efforts nearly a thousand miles past the Arctic Circle.

His previous assignments and time operating in austere environments helped him facilitate the largest personnel evacuation in history. From a combat zone, Sean's team of 200 technicians launched, recovered, and sustained safe flight for over 100,000 evacuees in 17 days during the withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021. Upon return from his final deployment, Sean Founded "StratoFI", an innovation incubator at Fairchild Air Force Base. Here he established an organization to seek, develop, and onboard new technology and processes capable of improving mission execution and the quality of life for over 5,000 Active-duty, National Guard, and civilian personnel.

Sean earned a Master's of Science in Operations Management from the University of Arkansas and a Master's in Business Administration from Gonzaga University. He lives with his wife, Sammie, and son, Nash, while forever calling Montana his home.

Major Eric Jones serves as the portfolio manager for the Air Reserve Component Incubator, designed to incubate and accelerate innovation for the Air Reserve Components.  He also manages the Air National Guard Squadron Innovation Fund and facilitates the advancement of innovation by providing innovation education and connections to innovators across the nation.

Eric is career member of the Tactical Air Control Party field with over 24 years of service, he served on active duty for 11 years before transitioning to the Air National Guard in 2010, commissioning 3 years later.  He has two combat deployments to Iraq supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom, has worked for nearly a decade conducting operational test and evaluation, and spent four years managing requirements development and implementation at NGB/A5.

He also earned several awards, including both the John Levitow Award at NCO Academy in 2009 and the Albert Wilson Award at the Academy of Military Sciences in 2014, the top awards in each program.  He holds an AA in Information Systems Technology, a BA in Criminal Justice, Masters of Business Administration, and will be completing a BS in Electrical Engineering in 2023.


Technical Sergeant Michael Laird is a Tactical Air Control Party Craftsman in the Air Force and is assigned as the Chief of Innovation out of Pope Army Airfield, NC. He focuses on informing and connecting Airmen and their leadership with the technology, resources, and funding necessary to solve their problems and enhance mission effectiveness.  Michael works with all installation leadership to identify problem sets and facilitates continuing process improvement at all levels of Pope Army Airfield.

Prior to working as the Chief of Innovation, Michael spent 13 years providing ground forces and commanders with planning and execution of Close Air Support, Precision Strike, airspace management and control, targeting, tactical datalink and radio communications.  Michael spent the early portion of his career as an apprentice deploying multiple times to theatres in the Middle East and Africa before becoming an instructor at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, CA.  

Most recently, Michael was assigned to the 14th Air Support Operations Squadron at Pope Army Airfield where he held positions in Program Management, implementing the instruction and evaluations of 92 Joint Terminal Attack Controllers, as well as Flight Chief, leading 22 Tactical Air Control Party personnel.

Regent Craft

Staff Sergeant Benjamin McFatridge is a Tactical Air Control Party instructor and evaluator at the 13th Air Support Operations Squadron in Colorado Springs, CO. He is motivated by the demand to accelerate change within a rapidly advancing career field by way of multi-domain joint fires application expansion.

His recent initiatives focus on the viability of warfighting resource distribution to enable the next generation of battlefield requirements by identifying complex tactical communication architecture requirements and modernizing the Special Warfare community’s survivability within the Pacific domain. Ben's 13-year Special Warfare career includes multiple combat deployments to Afghanistan and Syria as a Joint Terminal Attack Controller, the Joint Terminal Attack Controller Program Manager, and the Chief of Joint Terminal Attack Controller Standardization and Evaluations programs.

Ben specializes in integrating and synchronizing Joint All Domain Operations fire support and command-and-control capabilities within contested and degraded environments, primarily supporting ground operations while serving as a Precision Strike Team Leader.

Regent Craft

Lieutenant Chris Porter is a Naval Aviator with over nine years of active duty service. He is the Assistant Training Officer for the USS George Washington (CVN-73) managing training readiness for over 2,700 personnel.

Chris served his first tour of duty at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, FL where he was a P-8A Instructor Pilot and Mission Commander. In that role, he deployed twice to the Western Pacific AOR conducting Aerial Reconnaissance and Anti-Submarine Warfare missions in support of theater strategic objectives. After that tour, Chris spent three years as a T-6B Instructor Pilot at Naval Air Station Whiting Field teaching Student Naval Aviators in the Navy’s Joint Primary Pilot Training syllabus.

Chris graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in Systems Engineering.


Captain Philip Savitsky is an active duty C-130J Instructor Pilot currently serving as the subject-matter expert for all U.S. Air Force cargo, tanker, and VIP aircraft in Air Mobility Command's Test and Evaluation Squadron. He leads tests that impact multi-million dollar acquisition programs to upgrade, modify, and employ aviation-grade systems fleet-wide. He uses data-driven methodology to identify operational deficiencies and provide solutions to decision-makers that deliver proven capabilities into the war fighter's hands.

Previously, Philip was based in Texas, serving consecutively as a Tactics Officer, Training Officer, and Executive Officer. During that assignment, he deployed multiple times to the Middle East and Africa, delivering critical cargo and personnel to austere locations during combat operations. Additionally, he led and coordinated several agencies in joint military exercises that sharpened aircrew skills against near-peer threats.

In his spare time, Philip serves as an Academy Liaison Officer, assisting and evaluating cadet candidates applying to the U.S. Air Force Academy. Philip currently lives in New Jersey with his wife and dog and loves spending time outdoors whenever possible.


Captain Daniel Z. Wolcott currently serves as the Transition Manager for the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) Transition Office, Space Sensing Division, Space and Systems Command, U.S. Space Force, Buckley SFB, Colorado. Daniel leads a 35- person team responsible for transitioning new capabilities to the missile warning operator. Daniel directs a 20+ member team that ensures the delivery and integration of the $40 billion future operationally resilient ground system to missile warning enterprise.

Daniel previously served as an Enlisted TACP deploying to Kuwait in support of Operation Spartan Shield in 2013-2014. Throughout his career as a TACP, he served as a Section Supervisor, Flight Training Manager, Physical Training Leader, and Squadron COMSEC Lead. Daniel received his commission through Officer Training School, Maxwell, AFB in 2017.  After commissioning, he served as a Program Manager for the Air Force Satellite Control Network (AFSCN) Sustainment Division where he led an Acquisition Category III program and managed modernization efforts across eight tracking stations. Prior to his current position, Daniel was the Deputy Branch Chief for Global Positioning System (GPS) Operations Support Office where he ensured the uninterrupted operation of the $7.2 billion-dollar GPS constellation for over five-billion global users.

Daniel is from Naples, Florida and enlisted in the Air Force in 2010. Prior to enlisting he attended University of South Florida where he graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science degree in General Business.