TPP Directors Introduced at Annual Meeting

The Patuxent Partnership is a nonprofit member organization that works with government, industry, and academia to advance education through STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) based initiatives, to advance technology through speaker programs and networking, to advance science and technology transfer through the exchange of ideas, information, and data related to technologies, and to foster workforce development through an array of initiatives.

TPP is led by a Board of Directors. The incoming board members introduced at The Patuxent Partnership’s annual meeting are introduced here:

2020 Incoming Officers:

President, RADM Bert Johnston, USN (retired) is a Defense Aerospace Consultant, providing support services and contracting expertise to the Defense Industry. RADM Johnson has 40 years in acquisition and flight test with the Department of Defense, including more than 3,000 flight hours in over 30 models of fixed and rotary wing aircraft. He served as Vice Commander, Naval Air Systems Command, as well as Commander, Naval Air Warfare Center, Weapons Division. He was also the Navy’s Chief Test Pilot.

Vice President, Jackie Marsteller is President/CEO of Marsteller LLC, a Professional and Technical Services firm with expertise in corporate strategy development; recruitment and management system implementation; and staff augmentation. Prior to forming Marsteller LLC, Ms. Marsteller was on Ausley Associates’ executive management team; as a senior vice president for ECS Federal as the Civil Federal Government Account Executive, and managed support functions for the IT Services Division. Ms. Marsteller serves on the TPP Strategic Planning Committee.

Treasurer, Ray Wernecke is a Principal with Booz Allen Hamilton, currently the Principal Deputy of the Lexington Park, MD, office, responsible for NAVAIR business. Prior to joining BAH, Mr. Wernecke had nearly 30 years of diverse leadership and management experience within the public and private sectors, including in the hospitality industry as the Chief Operating Officer for the Cherry Cove Group.

Secretary, Kal Leikac is  a Senior Strategic Advisor with Sabre Systems Inc. He is his firm’s lead for Autonomous Systems. He represents Maryland as the industry voice to the Mid Atlantic Aviation Partnership in support of unmanned vehicles introduction into the National Airspace System. Prior to joining Sabre in 2013, Mr. Leikach spent 42 years on federal civilian service with the US Navy. His last assignment was Deputy Commander, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR).

Newly Elected TPP Board Bembers:

Ron Oblen is Manager at Guidehouse LLP, and leads NAVAR business and provides senior advisory support to multiple NAVAIR program offices. Guidehouse helps commercial and public clients address risk and compliance; operational effectiveness; and innovative management solutions. Mr. Oblen has more than 36 years of leadership experience at Patuxent River with 33 years as a career civil servant and 3 years as an industry manager. He has flight experience in 35 different aircraft types. He holds the Large Industry seat on the Board of Directors.

Chris Kaselemis, holding the Government seat on the TPP Board of Directors, is the Director of Economic Development for St. Mary’s County. He was appointed in 2015. Previously he worked for the City of Tucson for 28 years, holding various positions including Assistant to the City Manager and Economic Initiatives Program Director. He has been certified by the American Planning Association’s American Institute of Certified Planners.

Matt Scassero is the Director of the University of Maryland Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Test Site. The site works with the FAA to integrate UAS into the national airspace. Mr. Scassero leads the university’s efforts to be a premier force in advancing the UAS industry from the St. Mary’s County Regional Airport. He completed a 27-year career in the US Navy, retiring at the rank of Captain as the Vice Commander for the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division. Before joining the UMD UAS Test Site, Mr. Scassero was the Chief Contracts Officer for Melwood, a non-profit dedicated to empowering people with differing disabilities. He holds the TPP Academic seat.

TPP Returning Directors:

Chuck Angus leads the Raytheon Corporate Business Development office and is responsible for all Raytheon business interests in Southern Maryland. Raytheon Company, with 61,000 employees worldwide, is a key industry partner in Naval Aviation. Mr. Angus has over 27 years of experience in DoD weapons. He retired from the US Air Force in 2010 after 22 years of service.

Mike DeManss is the Founder and Managing Director of DeManss & Associates LLC, a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business. Mr. DeManss, a 1973 graduate of the US Naval Academy, retired due to injuries incurred in the service and joined BAE Systems. He directed BAE Warminster Operations and relocated to Southern Maryland to lead the Systems and Software Department. After 32 years with BAE Systems, Mr. DeManss joined Eagle Systems as Vice President, Business Development and then founded DeManss & Associates LLC.

Steve Eastburg is the Executive Vice President of Smartronix Inc., responsible for Engineering Solutions for the US Navy, Air Force, special operations, and combatant command customers worldwide. He retired in 2012 as a rear admiral from a 32-year career, which included tours of duty in carrier aviation, aircraft developmental flight test, and Naval Air Systems Command vice commander, chief engineer, warfare center commander, and squadron commanding officer.

Heidi Fleming joined Lockheed Martin in November 2016 after 27 years of service in the US Navy. From Lockheed’s Patuxent River Field Office she liaises with Navy and Marine Corps. Ms. Fleming retired as Commanding Officer, Naval Air Station Patuxent River. During her career she served operationally in the C-130 and P-3 communities deploying worldwide and held Congressional Affairs assignments with the Navy Secretariat and Secretary of Defense. Other shore assignments included the US Naval Academy and Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing Eleven.

Michael L. Johnston is the Director of PAE Applied Technologies’ Lexington Park, MD, office. He is responsible for a workforce of over 400 employees who perform US Navy Range Operations and Maintenance and Aircraft Modification and Instrumentation work. Mr. Johnston has over 30 years government and industry experience with Navy Test and Evaluation projects and programs. During his government career, he served on the NASA Wallops Flight Facility, Board of Directors, and was the Vice President of the Patuxent River Chapter of the International Test and Evaluation Association.

Gary Kessler is an Independent Consultant, with Kessler Integrated Systems Solutions LLCHe performs a broad range of technical, management, and organizational efforts in support of government and industry. Mr. Kessler served over 35 years of federal service, promoted to  Senior Executive Service in August 2006 and served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy from 2014 to 2018. He served as Executive Director for Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) and Deputy Assistant Commander for Test & Evaluation for Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR).

Tom Phalen, Director, Air Vehicle Operating Unit, Acquisition Engineering Division, KBRwyle. Mr. Phalen’s 27-year career in the Navy included operational tours as an A-6 pilot to include combat missions in Desert Storm, Commanding Officer of an EA-6B squadron, Commanding Officer of a Test Squadron, Program Manager and as Commander, Naval Test Wing Atlantic. He has flown over 4,500 flight hours and has 1,010 carrier arrested landings.

Ed Rule is President and CEO of Naval Systems Inc., a professional support service founded in 2004 and headquartered in Lexington Park, MD. Mr. Rule has over 35 years of leadership and management experience as a career Naval Supply Corps Officer, Comptroller, consultant, and entrepreneur.

Frank Schenk is the Federal Account Executive for Autodesk Inc. and responsible for Navy, Energy, Homeland Security, and Agriculture accounts. Autodesk is a world leader in 3D design, engineering, and entertainment software. Mr. Schenk has over 25 years of military experience performing and managing military operations in science and technology. He served in the Navy from 1991-2015 initially as a Surface Warfare Officer transitioning to the Information Warfare Community specializing in Meteorology, Oceanography, and Hydrography.

Leslie Taylor serves as the Department of Navy Liaison to The Patuxent Partnership. She is Executive Director of Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division/Deputy Assistant Commander for Test and Evaluation Naval Air Systems Command. She is responsible for implementation of policy and guidance for execution of T&E throughout NAVAIR. Ms. Taylor received her bachelor of science degree in civil engineering from the West Virginia Institute of Technology in 1984. She earned her master’s degree in engineering management from the Florida Institute of Technology in 1993. She graduated from the Senior Executive Management Development Program in October 1998 and is currently an instructor for Johns Hopkins University in the systems engineering curriculum. Ms. Taylor has over 27 years of total civilian service.

Linda Vassallo is Director, Department of Communications & Media Relations for Calvert County Government. Ms. Vassallo has more than 30 years of experience in the fields of public relations, communications, marketing, and business development. Prior to joining Calvert County Government in 1996, she served as a communications associate for USEC, public information specialist for SAIC, special projects analyst at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and intern staff to the National Republican Senatorial Committee on Capitol Hill.

Michael Wick is Provost and Dean of Faculty at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. He serves as the Chief Academic Officer of the College and is responsible for the academic program, faculty appointment and reappointment, promotion and tenure, and implementing the faculty bylaws. Mr. Wick has over 25 years experience in higher education as a faculty member, leader, and academic administrator. He has published nearly 60 scholarly articles on topics including artificial intelligence, expert systems, computer science education, and higher education administration and leadership.

To learn more about The Patuxent Partnership and its programs, visit its Leader member page.