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DEF2020: Pivot & Press

23 October 2020

the speakers

the schedule

We have all had an interesting year thus far, but DEF is committed to Pivot & Press in building the culture of innovation in the national security community we all want to see! We are excited to come together for this year's conference to celebrate the obstacles we have all overcome this year and press into the next year. 

Speakers Bios

H.R. MCMASTER is the Fouad and Michelle Ajami Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, the Bernard and Susan Liautaud Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institution and Lecturer at Stanford University School of Business. He was the 26th Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. McMaster served as an active duty Army officer for thirty-four years after graduation from the United States Military Academy. He holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author of Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free World and the award-winning Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Lies that Led to Vietnam.

LTG (R) H.R. McMaster

Frans Johansson is the Founder and CEO of The Medici Group, where he’s advised executive leadership from some of the world's largest companies (including 30 percent of the Fortune 100), as well as startups, venture capital firms, government agencies, and universities. He is also author to two bestsellers – “The Medici Effect” and “The Click Moment” the former of which has been translated into 21 languages. Raised in Sweden by his African-American/Cherokee mother and Swedish father, Johansson has lived all his life at the intersection. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science from Brown University and a Master of Business Administration degree from Harvard Business School.

Frans Johansson

Dan Manning is the Lead Instructor for #HumanIntelligence, an interactive curriculum designed to improve tech teams’ “soft” skills. He combines a career of military problem solving with the latest scientific research improving collaborative, critical, and creative thinking on tech-savvy teams. His wide-ranging career in the United States Air Force provided a rich well of experiences. He served as an A-10 fighter pilot, a warrior-diplomat in Central Asia, as a lead negotiator with Russian operational forces in Syria, and led air campaigns against terrorists in the Middle East. Through his workshops and writings, he has led hundreds of doers to think better, both critically and creatively.

Dan Manning

Lisa Gaisford is the GovHub Managing Director at Dcode, where she leads the company’s work with the government innovation community to drive commercial innovation in the federal market. Lisa has more than 20 years of experience providing policy, resource, acquisition, and program guidance to senior executives in government services markets. Lisa spent 12 years as a federal employee working with defense, intelligence, and civilian agencies to improve technology acquisition processes. Lisa was a Senior Manager at Deloitte Consulting, where she worked on pricing strategy, competitive intelligence, and engagement economics across the government and public sector practice.

Lisa Gaisford

Daniel Hulter is an active-duty Air Force NCO, writer on the subject of culture and innovation, and founder of Agitare, a community of practice for facilitators of discovery and design frameworks (such as design thinking, hcd, and more) across the DoD. He is currently serving as intrapreneur-in-residence at Platform 1. His primary passion right now is promoting principles of facilitation, continuous discovery, and facilitated design practices to help DoD offices and organizations grow better culture, innovate, and navigate complexity.

Daniel Hulter

I have 12 years of experience within the Navy, the Intelligence Community, and in the corporate cyber security world with focuses on building and maturing Security Operations / InfoSec teams, SIEM/IDS/IPS engineering, malware analysis, and cyber operations. I’m currently working for my own company that focuses on “unique” requests for solutions.

John Grigg

Ryan leads business operations and strategy for the advisory portfolio at Decisive Point. Previously, Ryan was a growth and business development associate at Techstars where she advised early-stage tech portfolio companies how to rapidly grow their businesses, commercialize their products, and go to market. During her time at Techstars she engaged with investors, partners, and government stakeholders to help startups raise seed capital and secure non-dilutive funding through defense contracts. She began her career in the private sector with her own consulting practice helping founders develop value propositions that resonated with government and defense customers, navigate the complex federal acquisitions process, and capture government funding. Ryan served in the U.S. Navy for nine years as a Surface Warfare Officer deployed aboard warships and later as a Public Affairs Officer in the Pentagon. Ryan earned an MBA from The Wharton School, an MA in Security Studies from the Naval Postgraduate School, and holds a BA in Communication from Villanova University.

Ryan Benitez (Moderator)

Jake is a founding partner at Alpha Bridge Ventures. At Alpha Bridge Jake focuses on investing and supporting companies working at the edge of technology in sectors like autonomy, robotics, space, quantum computing/sensors, AI and biotech. Many of Jake’s investments have clear dual use applications. Jake is also a mentor in the AFVentures Fellowship program having worked with all cohorts to date. Prior to Alpha Bridge Ventures Jake took a complete turn around the world of technology. He began his career as an attorney working for venture firms, where he quickly realized that he preferred being on the business side of transactions. After leaving the practice of law behind Jake took on operational and strategic roles in several startups before launching a couple companies of his own. After minor success as an inventor and founder Jake co-founded Gelt Venture capital where he led seed-stage investments.

Jake Chapman 

Rebecca Gevalt is the managing director of tech at Dcode, which breaks down barriers between non-traditional technologies and government. Rebecca leads Dcode’s accelerator and investment network to advance tech companies that can move our country forward. Prior to Dcode, Rebecca worked at the Central Intelligence Agency with In-Q-Tel to bring novel tech startups into the national security space. She holds a BS from Tulane University.

Rebecca Gevalt

Michele Atkinson is an entrepreneur on a mission to lower the barriers to entry for small businesses into government contracting. She is founder and CEO of Contract Cloud, a user-friendly Software-as-a-Service platform that helps small businesses find and respond to government RFPs without having to be contracting experts. For over a decade, Michele has been writing and managing proposals in response to complex government requests for proposals, and has helped small-medium firms win over $25 billion in federal contracts in the last five years alone

Michele Atkinson

Thomas Hendrix

Thomas leads business operations, strategy, and finance for Decisive Point. Previously, Thomas was an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Zx Ventures where he sourced, evaluated, and conducted valuation of targets for investment and acquisition. He has served as an advisor to multiple early-stage ventures and was the Director of Operations at a quantum technology start-up where he built out the company’s operations and financial strategy and facilitated technology transfers with the US Government and top research laboratories. He began his career in the private sector as an Analyst at Blackstone, the world’s largest alternative asset manager, where he engaged with Limited Partners, equity research analysts, and public investors regarding fund performance, investment activity, and portfolio company operations. Thomas served in the U.S. Army for nearly 10-years as an Infantry and Special Forces Officer.

Thomas earned an MBA from Columbia Business School and holds a BS in American Legal Systems from the United States Military at West Point. He has a certificate in Innovation and Design Thinking from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.

Eric Romero joined the Air Force in 2006 working on C-5 and C-17 aircraft as an Aero Repair technician. Team memberships included Crashed, Downed, Disabled Aircraft Recovery; Unit Deployment Manager while deployed; and Quality Assurance Inspector. Recently, his focus has turned to leverage personal experience and the knowledge of those around him to guide an innovation project to infancy: the future of tracking flight line maintenance and communication.

Eric Romero

Ray Kaplan is an intelligence and policy professional with over 15 years of experience from tactical operations to strategic analysis and policy. Ray attended American University, before spending a year at the FBI and Army service in the 10th Mountain Division. After his first deployment to Afghanistan, Ray transitioned to contracting and defense Policy with the Office of the Secretary of Defense and remains an Army Reserve Officer.

Ray Kaplan

Todd Coursey enlisted in 1998 as a Nuclear Machinist Mate. He served as Chief Machinery Operator and Lead Quality Assurance Inspector and instucted at Nuclear Field “A” School. Todd commissioned and served as a Shipboard Maintenance and Material Officer. Shortly after, he transferred into the Engineering Duty Officer community and served as DDG waterfront project officer and as a DARPA-funded Fabrication Laboratory Project Officer. As a lieutenant, he acquired a degree in Physics at Naval Postgraduate School, and participated in a NASA internship investigating the use of Fiber Optic Sensing Systems to monitor cryogenic environments. Notably, he was awarded a fellowship by SPAWAR-SSC/PAC to investigate the uses of high-energy lasers. Lieutenant Coursey is now stationed in Ventura, CA with his two daughters, Isobel and Madolynn

Todd Coursey

Conrad Hollomon has spent almost a decade building strong software development teams, and working on innovative technology products on multiple platforms. Currently, he is focused on supporting early stage startups – helping founders, making awesome products, and helping founders make awesome products.

A former military officer and Afghanistan veteran, Conrad has held a variety of positions such as Executive Officer, Battalion Signal Officer, and Company Commander. His experience spans occupational fields including light infantry, information technology, and tactical communications. Conrad is a recipient of the Army Commendation Medal, the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Medal and numerous other awards.

In his spare time, he enjoys teaching computer courses at the public library, reading about organizational behavior, and trying out new delicious restaurants

Conrad Hollomon

DEF2019 Conference

Nearly 300 good rebels and virtuous insurgents from around the world descended on Washington D.C. to engage and empower others. From the Pitch Event to the final panel and everything between, the community shared some incredible stories and progress that is changing the nature of national security and how our tribe has been intimately involved.


We are excited to have Heath Murray as the lead planner for DEF2020. He is active in the DEF Bloomington chapter, serves on the DEF Giving Team and is stepping up to plan the next conference.

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