Announcing the 2023 DefenseScoop 50

In their inaugural year, the DefenseScoop 50 awards honor the most influential people and projects across the defense technology community.

Scoop News Group is pleased to announce the winners of the 2023 DefenseScoop 50 Awards.

In their inaugural year, the DefenseScoop 50 awards honor the trailblazers and leaders in and outside the U.S. military who are dedicated to using modern technology to revolutionize defense.

DefenseScoop was created in 2022 to be the premier news source dedicated to the U.S. military’s acquisition, development and use of technology as a force for modern defense. And now, a year since its launch, the publication looks to raise awareness and celebrate the outstanding achievements of the defense visionaries who are leading that effort.

The list of award winners in its first year is comprised of leaders and programs from across the Department of Defense and industry that are shaping how technology is becoming a central fixture in deterring and defending against emerging threats.

Over the course of several months, DefenseScoop readers nominated hundreds of leaders and programs across five categories and ultimately voted for the top 50 for the inaugural list.

Please join us in congratulating the winners, listed below alphabetically by each category, and sharing the list across social media and other platforms.

Lt. Gen. Maria Barrett

Commander, U.S. Army Cyber Command

Golden Defense

Cyber is the ultimate team sport, the adage goes. Lt. Gen. Maria Barrett has sought to expand this old trope teaming with other disciplines throughout the Army to form what leaders are referring to as the modern “triad.” This special operations, cyber and space triad is greater than the sum of its parts. It’s about “combining our unique capabilities and efforts to facilitate the use of these capabilities with either combatant commanders or their service commanders in the theaters,” Barrett said earlier this year. “It is about how we take the unique capabilities and people that we have to do upfront planning on behalf of combatant commanders and provide them options that maybe they would not have considered previously because it was really hard to access or understand the capabilities of” each.

Lisa Costa

Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, Space Force

Golden Defense

Lisa Costa sits at the helm of the nascent Space Force’s Chief Technology and Innovation Office, where she is charged with developing strategies and policies to advance research, development, test and evaluation across the service and deploying cutting-edge digital technologies to keep the Space Force at an edge over adversaries. As the Defense Department’s first truly digital service, the Space Force looks to Costa to understand how it can ensure its newly established organizational structures can integrate digitally. Some key efforts under her leadership include the Integrated Operations Network, the IT infrastructure that will serve as the foundation for the service’s digital presence, the Unified Data Library, a cloud-based repository for space domain awareness, and the “Spaceverse,” a digital environment that connects disparate guardians for training.

Lt. Gen. Matthew Glavy

Deputy Commandant, Information, Marine Corps

Golden Defense

According to many in the know, the Marine Corps is at the forefront among the services when it comes to the information environment. Glavy’s team led the publication of Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication-8, Information (MCDP-8), which sought to describe the purpose and mechanics of information as a warfighting function for the entire service. It is now in the process of a follow-up document that will get into the practical application phase and begin more of a discussion with the force. 

Lt. Gen. Tim Haugh

Deputy Commander, Cyber command

Golden Defense

Having served as the deputy commander of U.S. Cyber Command since Fall of 2022, Lt. Gen. Tim Haugh was selected to lead the organization, as well as the National Security Agency, in May. A veteran of both organizations, he has done multiple stints in a variety of leadership roles both at Cyber Command and within intelligence organizations. One of his – and the command’s – top goals includes improving partnerships across the military, federal government and international partners. “We think that the partnerships that we have across the interagency, with our international partners based on information sharing, really set that foundation for how we’re able to counter threats as we go forward,” he said this year.  

Wanda Jones-Heath

Principal Cyber Adviser, Department of the Air Force

Golden Defense

Part of evolving is understanding the gaps an organization has. Wanda Jones-Heath has helped lead a task force effort to help the secretary of the Air Force better understand how its networks stack up. Through efforts such as Task Force Sentinel Stand, Jones-Heath has helped the service steer toward key investment areas and put money down to improve its network and cyber capabilities against a high-powered threat such as China, though, she contends, the work is not done yet.

William LaPlante

Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, DOD

Golden Defense

William LaPlante is undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment and the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer. His vast portfolio includes procurement; contract administration; logistics and materiel readiness; installations and environment; operational energy; nuclear, chemical and biological defense; the acquisition workforce; and issues related to the defense industrial base. He has pushed to boost production lines and industrial base capacity for key weapon systems and munitions, expand the defense innovation base, and acquire new capabilities for the U.S. military to compete with high-tech adversaries, among others. His office also oversees the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative.

Gen. Chance Saltzman

Chief of Space Operations, Space Force

Golden Defense

It’s been less than a year since Chief of Space Operations Gen. Chance Saltzman was confirmed by the Senate to serve as the second-ever leader of the Space Force. But in that time, Saltzman has been highly focused on preparing, organizing and equipping guardians for challenges and opportunities in the space domain. While his position sees him advising senior U.S. leaders on military space activities, he also regularly engages with guardians via messages he’s dubbed “C-notes” as a way to communicate his intentions and stimulating discussions within the Space Force. Most recently, he sought the help of guardians in revising the Space Force’s mission statement — which now reads “Secure our nation’s interests in, from and to space.”

John Sherman


Golden Defense

Described as the “right decision for the right time,” John Sherman has worked to lead a new era of cloud computing for the DOD away from the JEDI stigma to the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability, which he has called a “game changer.” The Pentagon awarded the contract in December ushering in the department’s first enterprise cloud capability ranging from unclassified all the way up to top secret. “I am so excited about what JWCC brings from [outside the continental U.S.] and the edge,” Sherman said earlier this year. “Conflict with China is neither inevitable nor desirable and I want to emphasize that. [But] because we will look at what our forces might have to do inside a second island chain in the western Pacific as a Marine littoral regiment and that stand-in force … they [have] got to be able to have capabilities, compute, transport and so on, that works and is going to be there for them. That’s what JWCC is going to help bring to them.”

Heidi Shyu

Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, DOD

Golden Defense

Heidi Shyu is undersecretary of defense for research and engineering and the Pentagon’s chief technology officer. She is charged with helping the U.S. military maintain its edge by overseeing R&D and prototyping of next-generation capabilities, in partnership with industry, academia and other innovators. As CTO, she has expanded the list of critical technology areas the department is focusing on to address challenges in both the near term and long term. Many of her signature initiatives, such as the Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve, are intended to facilitate the transition of promising capabilities and get them into the hands of warfighters faster.

Lt. Gen. Robert Skinner

Director, DISA

Golden Defense

At the tip of the spear when it comes to new initiatives in defense IT, Lt. Gen. Robert Skinner as DISA director has had a busy year. It awarded the OTA for Thunderdome, a zero-trust solution, and is the main organization running the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability, the Pentagon’s firs commercial enterprise cloud. DISA has been awarding multiple task orders to the four companies under the agreement since its December award date. On the network defense side, Skinner also leads Joint Force Headquarters-DOD Information Networks, for which he outlined a three-pronged approach for success against ever-sophisticated adversaries trying to burrow into the network: improvements to cyber readiness inspections, improvements to training cyber personnel and a shift in mindset for how to defend the network by maneuvering the cyber domain itself. 

Dr. Stefanie Tompkins

Director, DARPA

Golden Defense

Since her return to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in 2021 as director, Stefanie Tompkins has spearheaded the agency’s efforts to develop new and disruptive technology capabilities. Along with ensuring the variety of programs underway at DARPA stay on track, Tompkins has also oversaw the creation of new initiatives that cultivate science and technology careers in the United States. “The world is incredibly dynamic, and technology and threats are evolving faster than we have ever seen before,” Tompkins said in a statement. “Status quo is a losing strategy. We need to explore many topics to find those rare DARPA ideas that could result in new, game-changing technologies for U.S. national security.”

Young Bang

Principal Deputy ASA(ALT), U.S. Army

Defense Leadership

Data centricity is Army Secretary Christine Wormuth’s number two priority for the force. At the tip of that spear is Bang leading several initiatives to improve the way the Army handles its data, namely by working on a data mesh that will overlay onto data fabrics. Additionally, he is taking on artificial intelligence and security by working with companies on AI bill of materials to better understand what algorithms are made up of.

Stacy Bostjanick

Chief Defense Industrial Base Cybersecurity, DOD

Defense Leadership

Stacy Bostjanick is chief of defense industrial base cybersecurity in the Office of the Chief Information Officer. She is charged with leading Pentagon efforts to implement the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) program, aimed at better protecting controlled unclassified information (CUI) across the defense industrial base. The far-reaching initiative will require hundreds of thousands of contractors to meet certain cybersecurity requirements to be eligible to win contracts with the Pentagon. She has served as the public face of the program and led the DOD’s engagement with industry.

Capt. Brian Erickson

CDAO, U.S. Coast Guard

Defense Leadership

Tapped as the U.S. Coast Guard’s first-ever Chief Data Officer in 2021, Capt. Brian Erickson was elevated in 2023 to serve as the organization’s first Chief Data & Artificial Intelligence Officer (CDAO). A licensed engineer and recent MIT Sloan Fellow, Erickson has served in multiple operational assignments including flying rotary fixed-wing aircraft to conduct search and rescue, law enforcement and other military missions. He strives to enable advancements in data management, integration, and AI to ensure safer, more efficient operations across the Guard.

Elizabeth Chirico

Strategy and Operations Branch Chief, OSD CDAO, DOD

Defense Leadership

Elizabeth “Liz” Chirico serves as the Strategy and Operations Branch Chief within the Pentagon’s Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office. Prior to joining the CDAO in 2023, Chirico led multiple acquisition reform efforts in the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Procurement) and headed the Acquisition Innovation through Technology team there. She also has more than a decade of Army contracting experience and has served in a number of roles as a Senior Procurement Analyst and Contracting professional. A member of the Army Acquisition Corps, Chirico also earned a Master of Studies in Law (M.S.L.) degree focusing on Government Procurement and Cybersecurity from the George Washington University Law School in January.

Vito Errico

Director of Army Software Factory, Army Futures Command

Defense Leadership

Vito Errico is director of the Army Software Factory which is located near Army Futures Command headquarters in Austin, Texas. The organization is spearheading the service’s efforts to build up its organic software talent. Unlike some of the U.S. military’s other software factories, the Army Software Factory is primarily led by troops. He previously served as executive officer to the Army G-8, special assistant to the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, and an air cavalry leader and task force intelligence officer in Afghanistan, Iraq and other locations.

Justin Fanelli

Technical Director, PEO Digital, Department of the Navy

Defense Leadership

Justin Fanelli serves as the Navy’s Technical Director of Program Executive Office Digital and Enterprise Services and as the sea service’s acting Chief Technology Officer. Driving better IT for Naval warfighters and civil servants right now and sustainably into the future is his office’s top priority. At PEO Digital, Fanelli and his team have rolled out an influential “Strategy through Execution” framework to accelerate IT acquisition as a quality service delivery engine and has fielded many notable pilot projects, among other accomplishments. He’s also previously worked across many Navy, Dept. of Navy, Joint, Intelligence Community and federal roles in command and control; intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance; healthcare; networks; manpower training, education — and more.

Venice Goodwine

CIO, Department of the Air Force

Defense Leadership

Recently named the Department of Air Force’s new chief information officer, Venice Goodwine brings over 30 years of information technology expertise from both the private and public sectors to the role. She comes to her new role after serving as director of enterprise information technology at the Department of the Air Force CIO’s office Goodwine now leads three directorates for the Air and Space Forces — cybersecurity, enterprise information technology and data and artificial intelligence — and oversees a $17 billion portfolio. She’s taken on a number of key IT and digital modernization initiatives underway at the Department of the Air Force, including a move to the Air Force’s enterprise cloud environment and efforts to enhance cybersecurity through zero-trust frameworks.

David McKeown


Defense Leadership

David McKeown is the Pentagon’s deputy chief information officer for cybersecurity and senior information security officer. Within the department, he provides policy, technical, program and oversight support to the CIO, develops cybersecurity investment priorities and provides planning guidance to DOD components. He also engages with stakeholders outside the department, bolstering information sharing and cybersecurity with the defense industrial base and representing the Pentagon in international discussions related to cybersecurity. Prior to taking on high-level civilian roles at DOD, he served in the Air Force as a cyberspace operations officer.

Don Means

CIO and Director of Information and Technology , Defense Finance and Accounting Service

Defense Leadership

As CIO and Director of Information and Technology at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, Don Means’ position in the Department of Defense is equivalent to a two-star general. In this role, Means is charged with “enabling the Department of Defense to uphold its fiscal responsibilities for all financial transactions, including payroll and accounting services, enterprise systems for financial transactions, and infrastructure support,” according to his official bio. Prior to this role, Means served 15 years in the Navy across various operational and staff assignments in both the Active Duty and Reserve forces, and then several years as a Senior Engineer and Analyst with Raytheon, where he planned and carried out Operational Assessments for DISA.

Danielle Metz

Director, Information Management and Technology / CIO, OSD, DOD

Defense Leadership

Danielle Metz serves as the director of Information Management and Technology and the director of Administration and Management in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. In her more than a decade of government service, Metz has previously served as a policy advisor to the Office of Science and Technology Policy under the Executive Office of the President and most recently the Deputy DOD Chief Information Officer for the Information Enterprise. Leading the strategic modernization of the Defense Department’s IT enterprise, Metz is working to ensure personnel and leadership have access to cutting-edge and secure digital capabilities.

Maj. Gen. Jan Norris

CISO, U.S. Army

Defense Leadership

Maj. Gen. Jan Norris serves as the Army’s Cybersecurity Director and Chief Information Security Officer, a dual-hatted position he’s held since August 2022. Before that, Norris was the Commander of 311th Signal Command (Theater). Among many leadership positions he’s held across the Army and DOD, Norris has served as the Nuclear Command and Control Communications Branch Chief for Joint Staff J6 and as commander of the 4th Joint Communications Squadron (Airborne), Joint Communications Support Element. He’s also an avid sports fan and an active triathlete, with degrees in Journalism, Applied Linguistics and from multiple military academic programs.

Colten O’Malley

Deputy Commander, Command & Control Support Agency, U.S. Army

Defense Leadership

Colten O’Malley serves in dual roles as the Deputy Commander of the U.S. Army Command and Control Support Agency and Chief Information Security Officer, HQDA G-3/5/7. A cybersecurity subject matter expert in engineering security policies, auditing hardware and software architecture, and vulnerability management, O’Malley works to ensure that Army senior leaders and officials can readily access global operations and communications capabilities to meet mission demands.

Jane Rathbun

Acting CIO, Department of the Navy

Defense Leadership

As the Department of the Navy’s Acting Chief Information Officer, Jane Rathbun is focused on driving organizational change and delivering IT modernization across the sprawling enterprise. She has almost three decades of public sector experience in the defense and space sectors and has served as a senior leader in multiple capacities including as Acting Division Chief for the Strategic Capabilities and Analysis Division Acting Division Chief for the Strategic Capabilities and Analysis Division for U.S. Africa Command and as Deputy Director of Defense Business Systems at the Pentagon. In her current capacity, Rathbun seeks to enable the continuous improvement and innovation of the DON’s $12+ billion Information Technology portfolio.

Randy Resnick

Director, Zero Trust Portfolio Management Office, DOD

Defense Leadership

Randy Resnick leads the Pentagon’s new Zero Trust Portfolio Management Office spearheading efforts to move the Department of Defense toward a new cybersecurity paradigm that assumes networks are already compromised and require constant monitoring and authentication to protect critical information. He provides strategic guidance and helps allot resources to accelerate zero-trust adoption across the DOD. He also has ZT roots in the intelligence community, having previously served as the strategic leader for zero-trust at the National Security Agency.

Renata Spinks

Former Assistant Director/Deputy CIO, Command, Control, Communications & Computers (C4), USMC, U.S. Marine Corps

Federal Leadership

Renata Spinks, an Army veteran, until recently served as the Marine Corps’ Assistant Director/Deputy CIO, Command, Control, Communications & Computers (C4). In that role, she led the service’s mobile and remote workforce operations design and architecture buildout. Her focus areas included enabling better compute and store, collaboration, access control and identity management (ICAM), data encryption and governance, among others. She also oversaw defensive cyber operations for the hybrid cloud environment and worked to facilitate the adoption and implementation of zero-trust cybersecurity principles.

Maj. Gen. Paul Stanton

Commander, Cyber Center of Excellence, U.S. Army

Defense Leadership

A rare Ph.D. in the military, Stanton has held several joint and Army assignments within the cyber enterprise. From operations to administration, he has seen all levels of the cyber force. As one of his main responsibilities, he is helping the Army as it begins its transition into information advantage, taking skills of cyber, electronic warfare and information and providing them as an integrated package for commanders to be more decisive on the battlefield against a sophisticated adversary. “Interoperable is not good enough, we must be integrated,” he said this year. 

Jennifer Swanson

Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Data - Engineering - Software), U.S. Army

Defense Leadership

The Army is moving toward full adoption of software on par with how commercial industry does business. One of the officials leading the charge is Jennifer Swanson, who is pushing the adoption of agile software acquisition pathways and DevSecOps into the contracting process. Her office also released the Army’s digital engineering strategy earlier this year to transition manual processes into the digital age.

Derek Tournear

Director, Space Development Agency

Defense Leadership

Derek Tournear is wrapping up an eventful year as the director of the Space Development Agency. The agency successfully launched the first demonstration satellites for the Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture all while managing a fast-paced acquisition strategy for the constellation’s future satellites. As leader of the Space Force’s disruptor for space acquisition, Tournear has embraced a “spiral development” approach that calls on the agency to incrementally deliver new capabilities work in multiple iterations, enabling for the latest technology advancements and quick pivots in responses to threats. “Unless we get on this model of spiral development and get new capabilities up there every two years by hook or by crook, we’ll never get ahead of the threat and be able to keep up,” Tournear said recently.

Melissa Vice

Director of the Vulnerability Disclosure Program (VDP), DC3, DOD

Defense Leadership

Melissa Vice is director of the Vulnerability Disclosure Program at the Defense Department’s Cyber Crime Center, which is charged with receiving cyber vulnerability reports and interacting with crowd-sourced cybersecurity researchers — also known as white-hat hackers — supporting the Joint Forces Headquarters DODIN and U.S. Cyber Command. Her IT and cybersecurity leadership experience includes numerous positions at DOD, the Air Force and the private sector, including as GE’s global database developer and administrator for all commercial and military aircraft engine repairs.

Eileen Vidrine

CDAO, Department of the Air Force

Defense Leadership

As chief data and artificial intelligence officer for the Department of the Air Force, Eileen Vidrine works to drive innovation through the optimization of enterprise data management, analytics and digital transformation across the Air and Space Force. Vidrine is also responsible for responsible and ethical use of artificial intelligence and related technologies across all mission areas, a critical task as the Department of the Air Force strives to become AI-ready by 2025 and AI-competitive before the end of the decade.

Colt Whitall

Chief Experience Officer, Department of the Air Force

Defense Leadership

The Air Force has been doing more to improve the user experience of its information technology in order to improve overall readiness, and Chief Experience Officer Colt Whitall serves as the lead of that effort. As the first-ever CXO in the Department of Defense, Whitall advises the Department of the Air Force’s senior leaders on best practices to transform IT user experience capabilities, skill sets and tools for members of the Air Force enterprise. By far the most useful strategy is to take a very data-driven approach,” he said earlier this year, emphasizing that data collected from different areas — from performance metrics to monthly surveys — can give federal organizations a leg up with IT modernization.

Sharon Woods

Director, Hosting and Compute Center, DISA

Defense Leadership

HaCC has had a busy year working to evolve the DOD to broader cloud adoption. In addition to the Stratus cloud, a government-owned environment, DISA is looking to build out its cloud environment outside the U.S. “With the China threat, it is so critical to make sure that our resources are forward deployed, because if something happens, that is not the time to figure out how to support your applications and data overseas, especially because we don’t know what’s going to happen to the transport, we don’t know how isolated certain locations are going to become,” she said earlier this year. 

Lily Zeleke

DCIO, Information Enterprise, DOD

Defense Leadership

Lily Zeleke is the deputy CIO for the information enterprise. In that role, she provides oversight, policy guidance and digital expertise for the department’s enterprise infrastructure initiatives as the Pentagon pursues digital modernization. Her focus areas include network optimization, cloud adoption, software modernization and IT reform. Previously, she served as the Pentagon’s radiofrequency spectrum policy lead for all matters related to spectrum use, reallocation and auction, and oversaw the strategic development of mobile broadband and domestic regulatory, policy and legislative initiatives for the deputy CIO for command, control and communications.

Wes Anderson

VP, Defense, Microsoft

Industry Leadership

Wes Anderson has spent the majority of his career supporting Microsoft’s business partnering the with U.S. federal government. Now as the head of the company’s defense operating unit, he’s focused on delivering cloud and modern IT services to drive transformation across the U.S. military and “solving our customers’ most challenging problems with urgency and excellence, serving others, and assuring all voices are heard.”

Christian Brose

Chief Strategy Officer, Anduril

Industry Leadership

Christian Brose cemented his position as one of the leading thinkers in the defense technology arena in 2020 with the publication of his book “The Kill Chain: Defending America in the Future of High-Tech Warfare.” Prior to that, he spent nearly a decade working with Sen. John McCain in a few different roles, supporting the Senate Armed Services Committee in overseeing the national defense budget, programs, and policies, and learning how large the need for defense innovation in the U.S. is. Now as chief strategy officer with Anduril, a venture-backed defense tech firm focused on autonomous systems and modern, software-driven military applications, he’s working to build technologies that solve the most important defense problems from the outside in.

Lamont Copeland

Managing Director of Federal Solutions Architecture, Verizon

Industry Leadership

Lamont Copeland is managing director of federal solutions architecture for Verizon. In this role, Copeland is a vocal leader in the defense space, partnering with the U.S. military to provide cutting-edge technology to deter emerging threats in the digital age, primarily with Verizon’s 5G communications infrastructure. “There are quite a few things associated with the 5G network that you can put on top of it to make sure that we’re protecting and also supporting the warfighter and the warfighter missions,” Copeland recently said, “things like [augmented reality and virtual reality], the things we’re doing digital twinning, to make sure that we’re able to deliver the mission outcomes closer to the edge.”

Judi Dotson

President, Global Defense Sector, Booz Allen Hamilton

Industry Leadership

Judi Dotson is head of Booz Allen Hamilton’s Global Defense Sector overseeing the firm’s work to provide artificial intelligence, machine learning, next-generation data solutions, cyber and advanced software development support to the DOD, and also is as a member of the company’s leadership team. Dotson has served more than three decades with Booz. Before being named president of defense, she was head of Booz’s National Security Sector.

Bob Ferrell

EVP, Public Sector Strategy & Diversity and Inclusion, World Wide Technologies

Industry Leadership

Before he was running public sector strategy for World Wide Technology, Bob Ferrell was a lieutenant general in the Army, running its IT operations as G6 and chief information officer. In his current role, he’s responsible for developing and maintaining relationships and revenue-generating strategy for engagements with federal, state and local government and education organizations. On top of that, he’s also executive vice president for diversity and inclusion with WWT, a role in which he leads the development and implementation of programs that promote a thriving diverse, equitable, ethical, and inclusive organization where all employees can succeed.

Amy Gilliland

President, GDIT

Industry Leadership

Amy Gilliland is the president of General Dynamic IT, a $8.5 billion technology provider with a massive bill of work in the defense space. Gilliland has spent nearly two decades of her career with GDIT and parent company General Dynamics in a number of leadership roles, and before that, she served for roughly a decade in the U.S. Navy as a Surface Warfare Officer, Congressional Affairs Liaison Officer and Public Affairs Officer. As president of one of the leading defense IT contractors, she’s focused in recent years on growth and meeting the needs of the defense marketplace, namely by delivering modern cloud-native technologies like digital engineering, artificial intelligence, and zero-trust cybersecurity.

Raj Iyer

Head of Global Public Sector, ServiceNow

Industry Leadership

Ray Iyer left his role as chief information officer of the U.S. Army at the start of 2023 and quickly landed at ServiceNow, where he heads the firm’s global public sector unit. As CIO, he was all about digital transformation and moving the Army to the cloud. Now, with ServiceNow, he’s supporting that same work from the outside in.

Akash Jain

President, U.S. Government, Palantir

Industry Leadership

Palantir is one of the most buzzy technology providers for the Defense Department because of its unabashed dedication to preserving the virtues of democracy and its ability to scale Silicon Valley ingenuity across the perilous Valley of Death. As president of Palantir for U.S. government business, Akash Jain is responsible for building and sustaining the company’s explosion of work in some of the most critical public sector missions, such as health care and defense, using data-driven artificial intelligence to deliver state-of-the-art outcomes. In June, Jain led Palantir to a major win of a $463 million contract with Special Operations Command to support its data operationalization and advanced tech capabilities.

Meagan Metzger

CEO, Dcode

Industry Leadership

As CEO of Dcode, an accelerator that specializes in connecting the dots between government and tech, Meagan Metzger is passionate about solving complex problems to make government work the way it should in the 21st century. While Dcode serves all of government, it has a particular sweet spot for the defense sector, working to help small, innovative companies and innovators tackle the U.S. military’s toughest challenges with technology at scale.

Paul Puckett

CTO, Clarity

Industry Leadership

After spending three years as the head of the Army’s cloud development efforts as the director of the Enterprise Cloud Management Office, Paul Puckett last November took his talents back to industry as chief technologist of Clarity. Despite leaving government and the Department of Defense, Puckett continues as a vocal leader in defense modernization, particularly on the topics of innovation, cloud-native software development, and modern security practices.

Rob Slaughter

CEO, Defense Unicorns

Industry Leadership

Rob Slaughter made a name for himself in the defense tech community leading a variety of software development teams within the Department of the Air Force and Department of Defense, including as director of the DOD’s DevSecOps platform team, Platform One. Now, since leaving the military, he’s CEO of Defense Unicorns, a company that delivers that same secure software development for mission-focused organizations.

Aaron Weis

Managing Director, Google Public Sector

Industry Leadership

Aaron Weis describes himself as a “recovering government CIO.” Recently, after spending nearly four years as the CIO of the Department of the Navy, he took a role with Google Public Sector as managing director. Now, working on the private sector side, Weis is still passionate about delivering cloud-driven modernization to the federal government and his former colleagues in the Department of Defense.

Space Development Agency’s Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture

Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture, Space Development Agency

Innovation of the Year

The Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture is a disruptive effort being led by the Space Development Agency to launch hundreds of networked satellites carrying critical warfighting capabilities into low-Earth orbit. The satellites will support a number of terrestrial missions — including data transport, communications and end-to-end missile warning and tracking — and is considered a key piece to the Pentagon-wide effort known as Joint All-Domain Command and Control. The Space Development Agency began launching the first demonstration and test satellites known as tranche 0 in 2023 and plans to put the first operational systems on orbit in September 2024. after which the agency will embark on an aggressive monthly launch schedule. 

Jinyoung Englund

Chief Strategy Officer (CSO), Algorithmic Warfare Directorate, DOD

Most Inspiring Up and Comer

Jinyoung Englund was recently selected to serve as the first-ever chief strategy officer for algorithmic warfare in the Pentagon’s Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office (CDAO), which is charged with helping the Department of Defense adopt AI across its vast enterprise. She previously held leadership roles in the Defense Digital Service, including as acting director, chief of staff, and digital service expert for StratOps/Product. She has described DDS as a “SWAT team of nerds” charged with helping the Pentagon solve its most pressing problems by leveraging modern technologies.

Ryan McArthur

Program Manager, JWCC, DISA

Most Inspiring Up and Comer

Ryan McArthur serves as the program manager for the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability, a $9 billion contract aimed to deliver reliable cloud capabilities across the Department of Defense. Since the contract was awarded in December, McArthur has helped oversee more than a dozen task order awards for the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability at the unclassified, secret and top-secret designations. In addition, the Defense Department and intelligence community will begin sharing classified cloud capability using the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability. “What we’re trying to do with our task order process is change how we’re doing normal acquisitions from the paper process. And we’re changing it to an actual front end application process,” McArthur said recently.

Stuart Wagner

Chief Digital Transformation Officer, Department of the Air Force

Most Inspiring Up and Comer

As chief digital transformation officer at the Department of the Air Force, Stuart Wagner pushes innovation and digital applications across the Air Force and Space Force. Wagner organizes the Air Force’s BRAVO hackathon series to address the Department of the Air Force’s challenges with data and create operational prototypes as solutions. Ahead of the third event earlier this year, he told DefenseScoop they want to scale the event to include the entire Pentagon and intelligence community. “The cool part about these events is we really don’t know what’s going to get developed,” Wagner said on the DefenseScoop Podcast. “We bring the data, we bring the environment and we let people run wild with their imagination.”

Cmdr. Jonathan White

Cloud and Data Branch Chief, U.S. Coast Guard

Most Inspiring Up and Comer

Cmdr. Jonathan White was recently tapped to stand up and lead the Coast Guard’s new Cloud and Data Branch. Prior to that role, he served as Infrastructure Managed Services Branch Chief within the Coast Guard’s C5ISC Infrastructure Services Division and he steered four different sections consisting of 100 personnel to implement core enterprise services across the guard as a Senior Technical Project Manager.