Preston Dunlap has over 20 years of executive leadership experience across technology, national security, and private investment. He is the founder of Arkenstone Ventures, serves on Boards and as Lead Independent Director of Pixxel Space Technologies, advises Fortune 100 and growth companies, private equity, venture capital, and institutions such as RAND, Stanford, and MIT and is a Senior External Advisor to Bain & Company.
He led the Defense Department’s Investment Committee strategy, analysis, and diligence for the Secretary of Defense to allocate and deploy $750B+ annually in industry sectors supporting national security, such as infrastructure, services, space, cybersecurity and software, AI, communications, transportation and logistics, ships, aircraft, vehicles, and weapons.
Mr. Dunlap started $250B+ of new programs with 4 Secretaries of Defense, including the newly unveiled B-21 bomber, Hypersonic Prompt Strike, classified space and intelligence, and Joint All- Domain Command and Control programs.
He led initiatives with the Vice President of the United States and Cabinet on the future of commercial, civil, and national security space, transformed federal Venture Capital investment, was the first Chief Technology Officer of the Space Force and Air Force with $75B of products, and served on the ground floor of successful software and infrastructure companies.
He holds a Master of Science in Operations Research and Management Science from George Mason University, a Bachelor’s degree in both Computer Science and Political Science from Duke University, and was a Harvard National Security Executive Fellow.
Mr. Dunlap is frequently cited as an authority in international media and as an expert witness for the United States Congress. His awards include the Secretary of Defense Medal for Meritorious Civilian Service, Secretary of the Air Force Medal for Meritorious Civilian Service, and Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Civilian Service.
Dr. Debra L. Emmons is vice president and chief technology officer (CTO) at The Aerospace Corporation. Inthis role, she is responsible for providing vital leadership for determining and executing the company’stechnology strategy and investments. Emmons leads four offices: eLab, responsible for setting the technicalinvestment strategy and priorities; iLab, responsible for bringing transformational, game-changing concepts tofruition; xLab, responsible for developing, building, and operating prototypes; and the newest CommercialSpace Futures (CSF) office, responsible for driving the harnessing of commercial solutions for governmentmissions to advance U.S. space. She also manages the company’s $60M+ internal research and developmentprogram and the Aerospace Technical Fellows program, with the company’s top engineers and scientists.Emmons serves as chairperson of the Office of the CTO Roundtable with federally funded research anddevelopment centers (FFRDCs) and university affiliated research centers (UARCs) to develop and maintainrelationships with government and other defense-related research laboratories to identify technology priorities,future requirements, and emerging opportunities.
Previously, Emmons was vice president of special studies at Aerospace, responsible for promoting the use ofcorporate and government resources through horizontal and cross-program integrated planning and engineering.Prior to that, she served as general manager of Aerospace’s Communication Technologies and EngineeringDivision, where she oversaw the communications studies, analysis, and testing products of the division to servethe full range of corporate national security space, civil, and commercial customers, and managed ageographically distributed team of engineers and laboratories.
Earlier in her career, Emmons was integral in the establishment and growth of the NASA and civil spacecustomer lines of business and held various leadership roles. Emmons held the role of principal director, NASAand Civil Programs, serving all science and technology customers. Before joining Aerospace in 2003 as a projectengineer, Emmons worked at Hughes Space and Communications Company as a system engineering projectmanager on commercial telecommunications satellite development.
An experienced aerospace leader with technical, management, and industry experience in the acquisition anddevelopment of advanced technology space systems, Emmons has more than 25 years of experience in systemsengineering, technical and risk analysis, program management, and communications systems. She was aprincipal contributor on several key high level studies and assessments that have informed strategicdecisionmaking within the government.
Emmons earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from Cornell University with aconcentration in signal processing and communications theory. She was awarded an MBA from Imperial College
Management School, London, UK, with a concentration in entrepreneurship and finance. Emmons earned aPh.D. in systems engineering from the George Washington University.
Awards and Honors
Emmons was awarded two Aerospace President’s Awards and named Aerospace Woman of the Year (2007). In2006, she was honored for her contributions to the NASA Hubble Space Telescope Analysis of Alternatives. In2010, she was honored for providing technical studies critical to the Augustine Commission’s recommendationsfor future U.S. human spaceflight.
Past and present affiliations include the California State University Autonomy Research Center for STEAHMExternal Research Advisory Committee; Advanced Space Communications and Navigation Systems Session,International Astronautical Federation; a subcommittee of the National Science Foundation Business andOperations Advisory Committee; and National Space Club and Foundation, Washington, D.C.
Clare A. Hopper is Chief, Commercial Satellite Communications (COMSATCOM) Office, assigned to Headquarters United States Space Force, Washington, D.C. She is responsible for delivering COMSATCOM capabilities to support the joint warfighter, federal agencies and international partners. Her portfolio includes the Enhanced Mobile Satellite Services (EMSS) Program Office, the EMSS Gateway and Capabilities Office and the Department of Defense COMSATCOM Solutions Office.
EMSS is an $800 million global satellite program that provides the Department of Defense, federal and coalition partners with unlimited access to the commercial Iridium constellation, a mesh-network of 66 on-orbit cross-linked satellites, through a dedicated, EMSS controlled gateway.
The COMSATCOM Solutions Office acquires any commercial satellite capability for any customer, anywhere, and has $4.6 billion under management.
Prior to this role, Ms. Hopper was the SATCOM Division Chief, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). In this role she managed the Department of Defense Enterprise Gateways Program Office, the SATCOM Operations Integration Branch, and the COMSATCOM portfolio described above, prior to its Congressionally-directed transfer to the AFSPC. Other assignments include Program Manager, EMSS and Program Manager for a classified telecommunications system within DISA’s National Leadership Command Capabilities Center (NLCC). Ms. Grason began her career in government with DISA as a contracting officer, and served as the Chief, Special Projects Contracting Branch, which held a contracts portfolio valued at over $2 billion.
Prior to joining the government, Ms. Hopper was a retirement funds analyst for T. Rowe Price.
Ms. Hopper received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance from West Virginia University, and is a Certified Public Accountant.
Ms. Hopper is DAWIA Level 3 certified in contracting.Dr. Claire Leon
Dr. Claire Leon leads the Space Systems Integration Office (SSIO) for the Space Systems Command within the United States Space Force. She leads the SSIO team in uniting the Systems-of-Systems integration effort across all SSC PEO portfolios and with mission partners in the National Security Space enterprise. Prior to joining the Space Force, she led the Graduate Systems Engineering programs at Loyola Marymount University. She previously worked for the US Air Force as a member of the Senior Executive Service, as the Director of the Launch Enterprise Directorate, Space and Missile Systems Center, Air Force Space Command, Los Angeles, Air Force Base, California. She was responsible for leading the acquisition, integration, development, production, operation and sustainment of the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Program.
Dr. Leon held a variety of leadership positions in industry, government and academia. She started her career at Hughes, Space and Communications Group in 1979, in the Propulsion Department. She gained experience across the company, in Systems Test, Systems Engineering, Line Management, and Program Management through positions of increasing responsibility. In 2008, she was promoted to Vice President of Navigation and Communications Systems within Boeing, Space and Intelligence Systems, responsible for the Wideband Global SATCOM System, the Transformational Satellite Communications System and Global Positioning System IIF satellite systems, as well as a number of classified programs. She retired from Boeing, in 2013, as the Vice President of National Programs after 34 years in the aerospace industry.
Ms. Deanna L. Ryals is the Director, International Affairs, Space Systems Command, Los Angeles AFB, CA. In this role, she is responsible for driving innovative partnerships with Allies, Inter-Agencies, and Industry to build a joint robust and resilient military space enterprise that is “Allied by Design”. Ms. Ryals is the USSF lead in developing and executing space FMS and shapes the use of armaments cooperation to set the conditions for an allied inclusive space architecture in accordance with Department and Service strategic guidance.
Ms. Ryals entered federal government service in 1988, and for more than 25 years, she supported the DoD in both civil service and industry in financial management and acquisition. In 2000, Ms. Ryals moved to the Secretary of the Air Force staff in the Space Acquisition Directorate and managed a MILSATCOM terminal portfolio worth $10B, then took over as the single SAF/AQS focal point for international activities. In 2012, Ms. Ryals moved to the Air Force Program Executive Officer for Space Launch (AFPEO/SL) as the PM for Acquisition Strategy development and secured DoD Acquisition Executive approval of a new acquisition strategy for future DoD NSS launches that introduced a competitive environment for all certified U.S. launch service providers. Ms. Ryals rejoined MILSATCOM in January 2013 with her transition to Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC). After being named SMC’s Chief Partnership Officer in 2018, Ms. Ryals ascended to her current role as Director, Int’l Affairs with the stand up of Space Systems Command in August of 2021.Paul Schauer
Paul Schauer is the Executive Vice President of Integrated Operations at Voyager Space, responsible for aligning systems, processes, and people to the company’s strategic goals. Prior to Voyager, he spent 25 years supporting the DoD and Intelligence Community in civil service and industry roles. Mr. Schauer built and executed government acquisition strategies for systems ranging from the FAR 12 Part competitions for commercial aircraft to unprecedented fixed price satellite buys. Paul then served many of the agencies as a supplier on the industry side, where he helped scale a small business through multiple acquisitions culminating as Vice President of Tactical Systems at CACI. Paul is also co-creator and co-host of the Contracting Officer Podcast, where for over 9 years (and over 1.5 million listens) he has used his background to help professionals from both government and industry understand a little more about how the other side thinks.