Connecting Aerospace Interests

Northwest Aerospace and Defense Symposium Speakers

John Luddy, Aerospace Industries Association

John Luddy 2John Luddy is Vice President for National Security Policy at the Aerospace Industries Association.  He is responsible for developing AIA’s national security agenda, and for planning and executing advocacy efforts to support it.

Most recently, Luddy directed Aerojet Rocketdyne’s government relations efforts as Vice President of Washington Operations. In addition to coordinating government-related aspects of Aerojet’s successful acquisition of Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne, he established and executed advocacy efforts that successfully increased awareness of Aerojet Rocketdyne’s programs, interests and capabilities throughout the federal government. Prior to joining Aerojet, Luddy ran his own consulting practice for nine years, providing business development, market analysis, and legislative advocacy services to clients ranging from America’s  largest aerospace companies to technology startups.

During 2001 and 2002, Luddy served the Secretary of Defense as a special assistant for legislative affairs, spearheading Department of Defense efforts within Congress on missile defense, strategic weapons, and international security policies and programs.  Prior to his Presidential appointment to DOD, he supported Chairman Donald Rumsfeld as a staff member on the Commission to Assess U.S. National Security Space Management and Organization.

Luddy served for six years in the United States Senate, as a senior defense aide to two subcommittee chairmen on the Armed Services Committee, and as Senior Policy Advisor to a member of Senate leadership.  In these positions, he advised on a wide range of defense, foreign policy, and intelligence matters, and served as the senators’ principal liaison with senior U.S. government and military officials. He has extensive experience drafting significant legislation on a range of national security issues, working with Congressional staff of both parties, and navigating the legislative and policy processes. He began his Washington career in 1992 as a defense analyst with the Heritage Foundation, specializing in power projection, readiness, and personnel issues. 

Luddy holds a Master’s degree in international relations from Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, a Bachelor’s degree in history from Bates College, and is a graduate of the U.S. Army’s Ranger and Airborne Schools.  He served on active duty as a Marine Corps infantry officer, and in Reserve policy, operations, and public affairs assignments.

 Dr. Rebecca Grant, IRIS Independent Research

Dr Grant 2Rebecca Grant is president of IRIS Independent Research, a small, woman-owned business specializing in defense and aerospace research and consulting.  Grant also serves as a Director of the Washington Security Forum.  

Recent projects include analysis of autonomy on the future battlefield, Tier 1 suppliers in the defense industrial base for the US Air Force (Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition), assessment of long-range strike, and evaluation of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) recapitalization for industry clients.  Dr. Grant is also the author of major reports for the USAF and USN on air operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.   

Dr. Grant is a frequent guest speaker on airpower and technology at venues ranging from active-duty Air Force units to Wall Street investors.  She has lectured at the USAF’s Air University and for the air forces of the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Australia and Turkey.  She has appeared on TV as an expert on airpower for the History Channel, the Military Channel, the Smithsonian Channel and This Week in Defense News with Vago Muradian. 

Dr. Grant has written numerous articles for Air Force Magazine on air operations, technology trends, airpower history and great airmen. She served a three-year term as the founding director of the Mitchell Institute from 2008 to 2011. 

Dr. Grant received her BA from Wellesley College and a PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics, University of London.  Her first job was with RAND in Santa Monica, California.  She also spent three years on the Air Staff at the Pentagon working directly for Secretary of the Air Force and Air Force Chief of Staff. 

Bill McSherry, Boeing Company

McSherry Bill K65005Bill McSherry is vice president of State & Local and Global Corporate Citizenship for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Named to his position in June 2014, McSherry is responsible for Commercial Airplanes’ state and local operations, including Global Corporate Citizenship, in the Northwest and South Carolina regions. He leads a team

of specialists who manage relationships with elected officials and business leaders, advocate for key issues that advance Boeing’s business objectives, and find philanthropic opportunities to give back to the communities where Commercial Airplanes employees live and work. Prior to his current assignment, McSherry was director of State & Local Government Operations in the Northwest region. In that capacity, he was responsible for the company’s government relations strategy and Northwest network, which covers Washington, Oregon and Hawaii.

Before joining The Boeing Company in 2010, McSherry served concurrently as special advisor to Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, and as director of Economic Development at the Puget Sound Regional Council. In this dual capacity, he advised Gregoire on aerospace and job-creation issues, and oversaw the development and implementation of the Prosperity Partnership’s Regional Economic Strategy. The cluster-based strategy identified the four-county Central Puget Sound region’s key

strategic objectives, and drove near-term actions to accomplish those objectives. Among the Prosperity Partnership’s accomplishments during McSherry ‘s tenure were historic investments in high-demand bachelor’s degrees in Washington, establishment of the Washington Clean Technology Alliance to grow the state’s 

emerging clean technology industry, and designation of the Puget Sound region as one of three to collaborate with the Brookings Institution on its Metropolitan Strategy. McSherry currently serves as vice chair of the board of the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle, and as a board member of the Washington Clean

Technology Alliance, Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, and Aerospace Futures Alliance of Washington. McSherry previously served as vice president for Public Affairs and Communications at the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, and as legislative assistant for U.S. Senator Slade Gorton in Washington, D.C. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Washington.


Jeremiah "J.J." Gertler, Congressional Research Services

JJA thirteen-year veteran of defense policy analysis in Congress, Jeremiah Gertler joined the Congressional Research Service in November, 2009. He oversaw the defense procurement budget, missile defense, and other matters on the professional staff of the House Committee on Armed Services for the FY2000 through 2005 budgets, and earlier served as military legislative assistant to a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Prior to coming to CRS, Gertler established a defense policy and analysis operation for the Aerospace Industries Association.  As senior fellow at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, he was principal author or co-author of major reports on Department of Defense reform and missile defense, and initiated studies on reserve component roles and missions, systems acquisition, military logistics, and Special Forces aviation.

Gertler was extensively involved in the 1997 Quadrennial Defense Review while in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He was senior analyst for the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission during its 1995 round, and began his career in 1984 as a national security analyst with the RAND Corporation.

He is a graduate of Amherst College, the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University, and the United States Naval War College.

An award-winning writer, Gertler’s commentaries have appeared in Defense News, Naval Institute Proceedings, Air Force magazine, and the Washington Post, among others, and on national television and radio. He has also written many speeches, op-eds, and other public policy statements for members of Congress and Administration officials, and is principal author of a popular book explaining the defense establishment for laypeople.


Ron Streans, Velocity Group

08 Stearns 2Ron brings to Velocity nearly 20 years of aerospace industry knowledge and experience in market research, forecasting, business development, and proposal management. With a client base ranging from small startups to industry leaders, Ron is a recognized expert in unmanned systems and a regular presenter at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) annual trade show and sponsored symposia and webinars. In this role, Ron develops, coordinates, and implements sales and marketing plans to meet robotics and unmanned systems growth plans. He also continues to develop and promote Velocity Group’s unmanned systems capabilities and value propositions in a thought leadership role.

Prior to Velocity Group, Ron was an owner and research director for Aerospace Analytics, an aerospace & defense market analysis consulting firm.  He led all production aspects, from proposal pursuit and writing through consulting execution and project delivery.  Aerospace Analytics’ work provided companies with actionable situational awareness in: product positioning, technology to market, price/position to win, needs analysis and impacts to industry and U.S. government customers


Jay Schmidt, Silicon Forest Electronics

Jay SchmidtJay Schmidt is the Executive Vice President & General Manager at Silicon Forest Electronics, Inc. in Vancouver, Washington.   Mr. Schmidt holds Bachelor of Science and Masters of Business Administration degrees from Concordia University.  He has worked in the electronics manufacturing industry for over 30 years.   Mr. Schmidt is a board member of the Pacific NW Defense Coalition, a member of the Board of Advisors for the Washington State Center of Excellence for Aerospace, and volunteers on the Ambassador Council for Gateway-To-College.





Col. Daniel Morgan, JBLM

COL morgan photo 2Colonel Daniel Morgan was commissioned as an Infantry Officer from Georgetown University ROTC in Washington DC in 1992. Upon completion of the Infantry Officer Basic Course, he was assigned to Vicenza, Italy in the 3-325th Airborne Battalion Combat Team (ABCT). During this assignment, Colonel Morgan served as an airborne infantry rifle platoon leader, heavy weapons platoon leader, and company executive officer where he deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina during Operation Joint Endeavor.

After returning from Italy, Colonel Morgan seized an opportunity and took a break in active duty service from 1998-2001 to serve as the Executive Assistant to the Presidential Cabinet Officer, Director, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. During this time, he participated in Executive Office of the President, interagency, and legislative activities, to include extensive domestic and foreign travel in support of US national drug control strategy efforts.

Upon completion of this service, Colonel Morgan returned to Active Duty where he was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Kentucky, in 2001. During this assignment, heserved as a Company Commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment where he deployed to Iraq in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.

Upon redeployment, he served as the Plans Officer, 2nd Brigade Combat Team and then as the Battalion Operations Officer, 2nd Battalion, 3-502nd Infantry Regiment where he redeployed to Iraq in Southwest Baghdad from 2005-2006.

Upon redeployment, Colonel Morgan attended the Command and General Staff College and was reassigned to Fort Campbell as the Brigade Operations Officer for 4th Brigade Combat Team (Currahee), 101st Airborne Division (AASLT). During this assignment, Colonel Morgan deployed as the Brigade Operations Officer to Afghanistan from 2008-2009. Following this deployment, Colonel Morgan was assigned as the Division Chief of Operations, 101st Airborne Division (AASLT) and redeployed to Afghanistan as the Chief of Current Operations, Regional Command-East from 2010-2011.

In 2011-2014, Colonel Morgan was stationed at 10th Mountain Division (Light), Fort Drum, New York, where he commanded 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment. In January 2013, he deployed the battalion to Regional Command-East in Afghanistan. Following command, Colonel Morgan was assigned as the 10th Mountain Division Chief of Staff (Rear) from 2013-2014, where he then attended the US Army War College from 2014-2015.

Colonel Morgan attended Georgetown University in Washington DC where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in International Affairs in 1992 and Masters’ Degree in National Security Strategic Studies in 1998. In 2015, he earned a Master’s Degree in Strategic Studies from the United States Army War College. 


Colonel Curt R. Simonson, Commander, 56th Theater Information Operations Group (TIOG), Washington National Guard

COL SimonsonColonel Curt R. Simonson received his commission from the University of Nebraska-Kearney in 1989. He is a graduate of the Military Intelligence Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, the Combined Arms Services Staff School, the Command and General Staff College, and the Army War College. He is also a Functional Area 30, Information Operations Officer.

Previous non-command assignments include service as a Targeting Officer, Platoon Leader, Middle East/North Africa Section Chief, and TENCAP Operations Officer, V Corps, Germany; S3 PLEX Officer, 201st MI Brigade, Fort Lewis, WA; Assistant S2, 66th Aviation Brigade, Fort Lewis, WA; Battalion XO, 341st MI Battalion, Tacoma, WA; Battalion S3, Group Operations Officer, and Group XO, 56th Theater Information Operations Group, Camp Murray, WA; and S3, 96th Troop Command, Tacoma, WA. 

His command assignments include: A Company (IPW), 14th Military Intelligence Battalion (TE), 201st Military Intelligence Brigade, Fort Lewis, WA; and 341st Military Intelligence Battalion, Port Orchard, WA.  He is currently assigned as the Commander, 56th Theater Information Operations Group (TIOG), Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA. 

Colonel Simonson holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Kearney State College, and a Master of Strategic Studies from the US Army War College. His awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal with 3 OLC, the Army Commendation Medal with 3 OLC, the Joint Service Achievement Medal with OLC, the Army Achievement Medal, the Joint Meritorious Unit Award, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.


Adam Smith, U.S. Congressman, Ranking Member, House Armed Services Committee

Adam SmithNow in his 10th term, Congressman Smith is a senior member in the U.S. House of Representatives and part of the Democratic leadership team. His district spans from diverse South Seattle to the bustling Port of Tacoma, and includes the city of Bellevue, a center for high-tech innovation.  For 17 years, he has fought for issues important to his constituents in the 9th district.  

Congressman Smith serves as Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, where he is a strong advocate for our military personnel and their families. He is committed to providing our military with the best equipment available to carry out their current and future missions while ensuring that the Pentagon spends taxpayer dollars in the most efficient and effective manner.

Given his current and previous committee assignments and extensive travel, Congressman Smith has unique insights into today’s major national security issues throughout the Middle East, including the war in Afghanistan, as well as Northern Africa and our larger efforts to stop the spread of violent extremist groups and their ideology around the globe.

Understanding the need for a holistic approach to national security, Congressman Smith recognizes the importance of poverty reduction, access to education, sustainable global markets, diplomatic engagement, good governance and other measures to enable our pursuit of stable international partners.  He has supported efforts to reform American foreign assistance, introduced legislation to address global poverty, and created the bipartisan Congressional Caucus for Effective Foreign Assistance (CCEFA) with Congressman Ander Crenshaw.


Derek Kilmer, U.S. Congressman, Appropriations Committee 

Derek Kilmer Derek Kilmer serves as the United States Representative of Washington’s 6th Congressional District.  With over a decade of experience working in economic development in the Puget Sound region, Derek Kilmer is focused on getting our economy and our Congress back to work.  Derek has a strong record as a problem solver for Washington families and he's been recognized by veterans organizations for his support of our troops, their families, and those who have served. As the dad of two little girls, he is working to make sure all our children receive a quality education. He is committed to honoring our promises to seniors by protecting Social Security and Medicare. Derek grew up on the Olympic Peninsula and has worked to promote local economic development and to be responsible stewards of our natural resources. 

Born and raised in Port Angeles, Derek saw firsthand how the region's economy has struggled, and the impact that has had on families and communities. The son of two school teachers, Derek was taught to appreciate the value of education. Derek wanted to make a difference in his community, so he chose to study public policy, looking for ways to help economically struggling communities. He received a BA from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and earned a doctorate from the University of Oxford in England.

Derek put his education into practice right here in Washington, first as a business consultant for McKinsey & Company, where he helped businesses, non-profits, and government agencies run more efficiently. He moved closer to the community he was raised in so he could put his experience in economic development to use helping to retain jobs and attract new employers during the decade he worked for the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County.

After seeing how the decisions that government made affected employers in our region, Derek decided to put his experience to work in Olympia. He served in the Washington state House from 2005 to 2007 and the state Senate from 2007 until he was elected to the US House in 2012. While in Olympia, Derek was the principal writer of the state's capital budget, and helped author a bipartisan infrastructure package that has been credited with creating 18,000 jobs. He also led a successful bipartisan effort in the Washington state Senate to balance the budget and reduce state debt.

Derek was reelected to a second term in in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2014 and chosen by his Democratic colleagues to serve on the House Appropriations Committee, one of only four ‘exclusive’ committees in the House. Derek serves on the Interior and Environment Subcommittee and Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee.

Derek is a strong supporter of Naval Base Kitsap and Joint Base Lewis-McChord and has secured key investments to ensure that these installations will continue to play an essential role in our national defense and our local economy. He also believes we must provide service members and their families, veterans, military retirees, and the civilian workforce with the support they deserve.

Along with fighting for the region’s military community Derek has championed bipartisan efforts to better leverage federal research dollars to spur private sector innovation and job growth and bolster a 21st century workforce. As a native of the Olympic Peninsula, Derek knows the important role that natural resources play in our region, and is committed to protecting our waters and improving the health of our forests. It’s also why he helped found the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus to bring increased focus and attention to the cleanup work that needs to be done to restore our region's waters.

Derek has learned that addressing the challenges facing our nation will require an end to political brinkmanship and a focus on finding common sense, practical solutions. He's a member of organizations like the Bipartisan Working Group and the Problem Solvers Caucus, which work to bring Democrats and Republicans together to forge greater consensus on a wide variety of issues.

In his short time in Congress, Derek has already been recognized by a wide variety of groups for his effectiveness and advocacy. He's received a Silver Helmet award from AMVETS, been named a Hero of Main Street by the National Retail Federation, an Outstanding New Member by the Voices for National Service, and a Humane Champion by the Humane Society


 Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Y. Park, Deputy Commander, Seattle District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

ParksLieutenant Colonel Andrew Y. Park became the Deputy Commander, Seattle District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, March 18 2014.  His prior assignment was as Battalion Commander, 2826th Engineer Battalion (P), and Fort Hood, Texas.

His prior assignments include: Platoon Leader 82nd Engineer Support Company, 2nd Infantry Division, Camp Edwards, Korea; Platoon Leader and Staff Officer 27th Engineer Battalion, Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Detachment Commander Engineer Brigade, 2ID Camp Howze, Korea; Engineer Battle Captain V Corps, Combined Joint Task Force, Heidelberg, Germany; Battalion S3 565th Engineer Battalion, Hanau, Germany; Company Commander 502nd Multi-Role Bridge Company, Balad, Iraq; Deputy Area Engineer USACE, Europe District, Israel Area Office; 160th Explosive Hazards Condition Cell, Fort Hood, Texas; OIC, Staff Officer 36th Engineer Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas; Battalion Executive Officer 20th Engineer Battalion, Fort Hood, Texas.  He served three combat tours in Iraq, in 2003, 2004, and 2011.

Lt. Col. Park’s military education includes Air Force Academy Survival School, Master Fitness Trainer Course, Engineer Officer Basic Course, Jungle Warfare School, Sapper Leader Course, Combined Arms and Service Staff School, Engineer Officer Advanced Course, Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle Commander’s Course, Joint Planning Course, ILE Qualification Course, and Joint Engineer Operations Course.

He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1996 from the United States Military Academy, transferring there after attending one year at Rutgers University.  He holds a Master of Science degree in Engineering Management from the University of Missouri of Science and Technology.  Lt. Col. Park is certified as a Project Management Professional.

Lt. Col. Park’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star (with one Oak Leaf Cluster), Meritorious Service Medal (with three Oak Leaf Clusters), Army Commendation Medal (with one Oak Leaf Cluster), Army Achievement Medal (with two Oak Leaf Clusters), Meritorious Unit Commendation Medal (with one Oak Leaf Cluster), Army Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal (with one Oak Leaf Cluster), Korean Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal,  Overseas Service Ribbon (with numeral seven), Parachutist Badge, and German Parachutist Badge.


Akana K.J. Ma, Partner, Ater Wynne LLP, Attorneys at Law

MaAkana Ma offers clients from around the world practical, creative solutions to business and legal issues involving different cultures, legal systems, and business. He chairs Ater Wynne’s Global Trade Group. 

Akana works with companies and individuals conducting business in the global marketplace to help structure international joint ventures; comply with foreign laws and regulations; license and protect technology, trademarks, software and other intellectual property; negotiate contracts for the sale and distribution of products and services; establish foreign offices, license and finance exports; and comply with customs and import laws and regulations.  

He has practiced international law for more than 25 years. Akana is a member of the District Export Council for Oregon and Southwest Washington, a USDOC-appointed group that provides local companies with information about export issues. He is also a founding member of Legal Counsel International, a global alliance of international lawyers and law firms helping clients engaged in a wide range of international business transactions. Akana was featured in the Oregon State Bar Bulletin as one of a handful of Oregon attorneys with China trade expertise.