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DECISIVE EDGE 6.12.2019Defense Acquisition University


The National Defense Strategy lays out a critical imperative: we must out-think, out-maneuver, out-partner, and out-innovate our adversaries. To do this, we are going to need to think differently, act differently, and focus intently on giving our warfighters the decisive edge.

So we ask: What is our decisive edge and how do we achieve it?

Defense Acquisition University (DAU) is hosting the first ever TEDxDAU to address this question and provide you with the opportunity to learn, network, and explore ideas worth spreading centering on innovation, creativity, smart risk taking, and pushing boundaries.

Join us June 12, 2019, at the Fort Belvoir, VA campus when we invite you to take a break from your day-to-day grind and be inspired by our 12 speakers. There is no registration fee, but space is limited. For professional development, TEDxDAU awards six Continuous Learning Points.

Anyone with a .mil or .gov email address is welcome to come be a part of this special event and meet some of the powerful thinkers and doers who are already out there pushing for the decisive edge.

Are YOU ready?

How to earn CLPs

Attendance to TEDxDAU qualifies for 6 Continuous Learning Points. Viewing of the 12 TEDxDAU video series qualifies for 1.5 Continuous Learning Points.

Contact Us

For general event questions please contact
For specific event questions please contact Dr. Marina Theodotou.

TEDxDAU logo

This independent TEDx event is operated under license from TED and does not constitute an endorsement by the DoD.

graphic of futuristic hand touching center of concentric circles with TEDxDAU logo below


How do we out-think, out-maneuver, out-partner, and out-innovate our adversaries? Where is our Decisive Edge and how do we achieve it? We will explore tried and tested ideas to inspire and motivate us to push the boundaries, think differently and take smart risks to innovate, disrupt, and lead towards our Decisive Edge.

Michael Brogan

Brigadier General Michael M. Brogan, USMC (Ret)

Brigadier General Brogan retired from the Marine Corps at the end of September 2011 after serving more than 31 years. During his last acquisition assignment from September 2006 to July 2010, Mike served as the Commander, Marine Corps Systems Command.

From February 2007 until leaving Marine Corps Systems Command, he performed duties concurrently as the Joint Program Executive Officer for the Joint Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (JPEO MRAP) vehicle program. In his final billet on active duty, Mike was the Commanding General, Marine Corps Training Command, the organization responsible for all primary Military Occupational Specialty producing schools, officer and enlisted, in the Marine Corps. Training Command also prepared Navy Chaplains, Doctors and Corpsmen for service with the Marine Corps.

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ian eishen

CMSgt Ian Eishen

Chief Master Sergeant Ian Eishen is the Command Chief Master Sergeant for the 412th Test Wing, Edwards Air Force Base, California. He is the principle advisor to the commander on the readiness of the wing's 11,000 personnel and the test and evaluation of multiple Department of Defense programs including the F-35, F-22, KC-46, F-16, B-1, B-2, B-52, C-17, joint piloted aircraft and emerging technologies.

ryan fitzgerald

Ryan Fitzgerald

Ms. Ryan Fitzgerald works for The MITRE Corporation, where she is the Army Autonomous Systems Domain Capability Area Lead for the Army Programs Division. She acts as a strategic thinker in expanding MITRE’s expertise and influence specific to autonomy and artificial intelligence technologies and their value to the DoD. Ryan holds a Masters and Bachelors Degree in aerospace engineering, served 17 years as a civil servant for the Department of Navy, is a licensed single-engine and glider pilot and enjoys sailing in locations around the world.

adam furtado

Adam Furtado

Adam Furtado is the Lab Director for Kessel Run, a U.S. Air Force digital transformation initiative revolutionizing how the Air Force builds and delivers software. He leads a team of 200+ government disruptors who are changing the way the DoD does business with the tech prowess of Silicon Valley, the courage of the military and a culture all their own.

Brad Halsey

Brad Halsey

Brad Halsey, CEO of Building Momentum (SDVOSB), brings his battlefield making and prototyping experience to the classroom through various problem-solving scenario-driven workshops. Building upon prior think-tank R&D experience, Brad was an "embedded scientist" supporting the Army in Iraq (2008) to make and build urgently needed tech solutions. Now his company is focused on teaching others to quickly solve problems using current technologies.

sean heritage

Sean Heritage

A career naval officer and cryptologist by trade, Sean has focused his creative energy on developing teammates, building creative cultures, and strengthening partnerships between the public and private sectors. From leading the Navy’s cyber defense operations to helping to create the Department of Defense’s Innovation Unit in Silicon Valley, Sean has made a career of transforming individuals into teams, connecting ideas to opportunity, and ensuring smart creatives reach their potential in a bureaucratic world where they wouldn’t otherwise thrive.

Michael Kanaan

Capt. Michael Kanaan

Captain Michael Kanaan currently serves as co-chair of the U.S. Air Force's Cross-Functional Team on Artificial Intelligence and as the Enterprise Lead for Artificial Intelligence at Headquarters Air Force, Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR). He is tasked with authoring artificial intelligence strategies, guiding integration plans, and synchronizing integration efforts across the Air Force.

He previously served as the Flight Commander of Target Development for Air Force Central Command at the 51st Intelligence Squadron, where he was the mission manager for a National Intelligence Community Information Technology Campaign (IC ITE) targeting the Islamic State and responsible for providing guidance to a 1,600 member analytic enterprise consisting of Joint and Intelligence Community professionals through the application of advanced analysis and targeting methodologies.

Capt Kanaan is on the 2019 Forbes "30 Under 30" List, the recipient of the U.S. Federal Government's 68th Annual Arthur S. Flemming Award for Leadership and Management, and the 2018 United States Air Force General Larry O. Spencer Innovation Award. He holds an undergraduate degree in Management from the U.S. Air Force Academy and is a graduate of the Air Force Intelligence Officer School.

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martha kotite

Captain Martha LaGuardia Kotite,
USCG (Ret)

Author of five books, including the award-winning So Others May Live: Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers Saving Lives, Defying Death, Martha graduated from the US Coast Guard Academy and Harvard University and served 29-years in the U.S. Coast Guard at sea and ashore. Hand-picked by the Commandant of the US Coast Guard, she worked in Washington, D.C. as the Commandant’s Press Secretary, served at sea as a boarding and deck watch officer on a cutter sailing the Pacific Ocean and as executive officer of a patrol boat patrolling the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea.

She rose to the senior officer rank of captain, earning many personal and team awards including the Meritorious Service Medal, leading the Coast Guard’s development of emergency crisis management liaisons and deploying on scene for significant national events like the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and numerous catastrophic hurricanes. An experienced motivational speaker for corporations, colleges, schools and leadership symposiums, she also worked in New York, New York in public relations. Martha resides in Florida with her family.

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Benjamin McMartin

Benjamin McMartin

Benjamin McMartin currently serves as Chief of the Acquisition Management Office for the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command – Ground Vehicle Systems Center, responsible for management of two consortium-model Other Transaction Agreements (OTAs) with technical focus areas in automotive, autonomy, mobility, ground combat systems, and related technologies.

Ben is a nationally recognized thought leader in the area of acquisition innovation, and the founder of the Acquisition Innovation Road Show (#FUTAIRS). A member of the Michigan State Bar since 2008, Mr. McMartin holds a B.A. in History from Oakland University, and a J.D. from the University of Detroit-Mercy School of Law.

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Dr. Wilson Rosa

Dr. Wilson Rosa

Dr. Wilson Rosa serves as the IT Branch Chief for the Naval Center for Cost Analysis (NCCA). In this capacity, he manages the development of cost estimates for major acquisition programs. He also chairs the annual Software and IT Cost Analysis Solutions Team forum to gather government, industry, and academia to share best practices on software estimation.

Earlier, Dr. Rosa served as the Senior Cost Advisor to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Acquisition Executive, as Senior Technical Advisor at the Air Force Cost Analysis Agency, and as General Engineer at the Naval Sea Systems Command and Naval Air Systems Command.

Throughout his financial management career, Dr. Rosa received numerous awards to include the Navy Civilian Superior Service Medal, Defense Acquisition Workforce Achievement Award, NCCA Senior Cost Analysis of the Year (two awards), Air Force Cost Analyst of the Year (two awards), Air Force Comptroller Excellence Award, Life Time Achievement Award (Practical Systems and Software Measurement Group), and Navy Procurement and Competition Excellence Award.

Dr. Rosa also received six Best Paper Awards at premier conferences including the IEEE/ACM International Symposium on Empirical Software Engineering and Measurement, International Conference on Software Process and Product Measurement, and ICEAA Professional Development & Training Workshop.

Dr. Rosa holds a PhD in Engineering Management from George Washington University (GWU); a M.S. in Engineering Management from GWU; and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from University of Puerto Rico. He also completed the Senior Managers in Government Executive Leadership Program at the Harvard Kennedy School.

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josh smith

Josh Smith

From his time as a submarine officer stationed in Guam to developing tactical systems at JHU/APL, Josh has seen first-hand the power of creative teams solving complex challenges. As the founder and Director of the Tactical Advancements for the Next Generation (TANG) initiative, Josh leads a brilliant and diverse team of problem solvers tackling mission-focused, human-centered National Security challenges. Through design and systems thinking, the TANG has delivered solutions on topics from mission planning to sailor toughness through empathy, curiosity, and collaboration.

Colonel Jen Sovada

Colonel Jen Sovada is the Chief of Talent Management for Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance where she is leading a revolutionary cultural and process change for approximately 35K Airmen; Officers, Enlisted and Civilians. She is driving how the Air Force ISR community develops and retains a more ready and lethal force by leveraging innovation and technology to move the workforce from the industrial age into the digital age.

She has held various positions over her Air Force career including commanding the Air Force Technical Applications Center, the Department of Defense’s sole organization responsible for nuclear treaty monitoring, and also working across Joint and Interagency organizations to further integration and interoperability to better prepare our nation to maintain decision advantage.

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TEDxDAU logo

This independent TEDx event is operated under license from TED and does not constitute an endorsement by the DoD.

7:30 am - 8:45 am

Registration and Coffee

9:00 am

Program Begins

9:00 am - 11:00 am

Sean Heritage
Ryan Fitzgerald
Dr. Wilson Rosa, USN
Josh Smith

11:00 am - 12:15 pm

BREAKOUT SESSION #1- Lunch will be served
Idea Wall
Call to Action
Meet the Transform Speakers

12:15 am - 2:00 pm

Colonel Jennifer Sovada, US Air Force
Adam Furtado, Kessel Run, US Air Force
Captain Michael Kanaan, US Air Force
Brad Halsey

2:00 pm - 2:45 pm

BREAKOUT SESSION #2- Snacks supported by Defense Acquisition University Alumni Association
Idea Wall
Call to Action
Meet the Disrupt Speakers

2:45 pm - 4:30 pm

Ben McMartin, US Army
Command Master Sergeant Ian Eishen, US Air Force
Captain Martha LaGuardia Kotite, USCG (Ret)
Brigadier General Michael Brogan, USMC (Ret)

4:30 pm - 6:00 pm

Reception - Supported by Defense Acquisition University Alumni Association

Presented by

Michelle Currier headshot

Michelle Currier

Michelle Currier, CPCM and CFCM, is a contract management expert who gets things done! As a Professor of Contract Management at the Defense Acquisition University (DAU), Ms. Currier leads with unrivalled passion and a wealth of real-world experience inside and outside the classroom. During her 39-year career, she has served with distinction in numerous roles including Contracting Officer, Division Chief, Deputy Director Small Business and Director of Contracts at the Naval Research Laboratory, Military Sealift Command, Small Business Administration, Naval Sea Systems Command, and the Army Contracting Command.

Michelle’s leadership and hard work has been recognized numerous times: DAU Faculty of the Year, DAU Distinguished Teacher Designation, DAU Corporate Asset Development Award, Superior Civilian Service Medal, and DAU Corporate Ask-A-Professor Award. Ms. Currier was recognized by Inside Business as one of the Top 25 Women in Business in Hampton Roads, VA.

Michelle has earned the Certified Professional Contracts Manager (CPCM) and Certified Federal Contracts Manager (CFCM) designations from the National Contract Management Association (NCMA). Ms. Currier was competitively selected and is a graduate of the inaugural class for the U.S. Army's Senior Leadership Program and is DAWIA Level III certified in Contracting.

Outside the classroom, Ms. Currier serves the contracting community with unparalleled commitment by serving the NCMA, speaking at industry and government events, and mentoring new contracting leaders. She is a Past National President of the NCMA (2001-2002) and an NCMA Fellow. NCMA has recognized Michelle with the Alvis D. Keen Honorary Life Member Award, the Charles A. Dana Distinguished Service Award, Outstanding Fellow Award, the NCMA Education Award, several National Achievement Awards and NCMA Volunteer of the Year 2017. Ms. Currier currently serves on the NCMA Board of Advisors and is a Contract Management Leadership Development Program (CMLDP) mentor and faculty member. Ms. Currier holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Contract Management from the American Management University, Kogod School of Business and the UVA Darden School of Business Executive Education Certificate in Management.

Patrice Jackson headshot

Patrice (PJ) Jackson

PJ Jackson is a senior advisor to C-Suite executives seeking to transform their organizational culture.

Ms. Jackson imparts relentless energy and exceptional leadership into enterprise-wide initiatives including the Customer Focus initiative at Lockheed Martin. Serving as their pioneering program manager, she translated the vision and intent of LM executive leadership into collaborative, tangible activity across all business areas and functions.

Ms. Jackson redesigned the Program Management Institute at the world's largest defense contractor, Lockheed Martin, influencing all levels of program execution, impacting an annual revenue of $48 billion. As a Knowledge Strategist, PJ founded the first communities of practice (COPs) at Lockheed Martin in 2005, focusing on logistics and sustainment. Her work influenced sustainment revenue growth from $5 billion to $11 billion in three years, and the design and implementation of the LM Logistics Career path for 20,000 logisticians.

PJ was the recipient of the 2016 LM NOVA award, the highest-level award presented by the corporation.

PJ's clients include global organizations many with workforces of over 100,000 employees: United States Navy, Lockheed Martin, France Energy, AT&T, World Bank, and the Defense Acquisition University.

PJ proudly served on active duty for fourteen years in the United States Navy. Applied Scientist, Engineering Management, George Washington University. Master of Engineering Management, George Washington University.

Marina Theodotou headshot

Marina Theodotou, EdD

Marina Theodotou is a Learning Support Faculty in the Operations and Analysis Center, Workflow Learning Directorate at the Defense Acquisition University. Marina is a results-driven, strategic systems thinker, communicator, and implementer who works at the intersection of learning, defense acquisition and technology. She combines practical industry experience with academic expertise, and together with diverse teams, leads, collaborates and implements agile solutions to address unmet customer learning needs. TEDxDAU is Marina’s fourth TEDx production and seventh TED experience including TED Global 2012 and TEDxSummit 2012.

During the last 25 years, Marina built her business acumen through broad and diverse global experience in 3 industries (Learning & Development, management consulting and banking & financial services), 3 sectors (government, private and non-profit) and 3 geographies (Americas, EU, MENA & Gulf). Previous roles include Director of Professional Development at the Computer Science Teachers Association, where she led the professional development strategy and technology platform adaptation of Degreed to enhance 25K K-12 teachers’ professional development. As Learning Portfolio Manager at the American Management Association, she was responsible for the development, currency and modalities of the $3.4M Finance learning content portfolio and 40 faculty serving over 100,000 corporate learners. During 2004-2007, Ms. Theodotou, as Senior Country Director and Chief of Party, she stood up in Amman, Jordan, the first office for a US Dept. of State funded non-profit Financial Services Volunteer Corps providing financial sector technical assistance to strengthen anti-money laundering, build a Deposit Insurance Corporation, and create a Small Business Loans Strategy for Jordanian Banks. In 2005, her team’s Small Business Loan Strategy Blueprint was recognized by King Abdullah II of Jordan and included in the Jordan 2005 National Growth Strategy. Theodotou began her career in banking and financial services as a teller and with successive roles at Bank of America over a decade, leading to Vice President of Strategic Benchmarking.

Marina Theodotou holds a doctorate in education from USC Rossier and Bachelors and Masters in economics from the University of South Carolina. She speaks and writes frequently on learning and development topics. Marina volunteers for the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum, the USC Trojans Alumni Association and Rotary. She is a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation scholarship winner for TED 2012 and a Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow for exceptional volunteering service in the community.

TEDxDAU logo

This independent TEDx event is operated under license from TED and does not constitute an endorsement by the DoD.

What is a TEDx?

A TEDx event is a local gathering where live TED-like talks and videos previously recorded at TED conferences are shared with the community. TEDx events are fully planned and coordinated independently, on a community-by-community basis. The content and design of each TEDx event is unique and developed independently, but all of them have features in common.

For more details please visit the official TEDx page.

Why is DAU organizing a TEDx event?

This TEDx event will bring together thinkers and doers from across the Department of Defense to inspire and ignite the workforce with innovative ideas and practices they can bring to their workplaces to help them succeed. TEDx events such as this provide a powerful and recognizable platform for listening and engaging with peers in the Defense Acquisition Workforce and Defense thought leaders.

What does an internal license mean?

TED makes available 10 types of event licenses. Because DAU has a .mil suffix and is a government university, we qualified for an internal license. Typically, a first event is limited in scope to 100 attendees from the sponsoring organization or group. TEDxDAU license has been granted special allowances: DAU’s first-ever event will be allowed to exceed the normal 100 attendees limit and our audience can include participants from across the DoD.

What are the criteria for speaker selection?

  • Passionate, inspiring, powerful fresh voice
  • Well versed on specific topic that aligns with “Decisive Edge”
  • Identified topic is tried and tested, or a prototype
  • Willing to align with the TEDxDAU format and preparation requirements

Is TEDxDAU going to replace the DAU Symposium?

No, as they are different events in purpose and format. The goal of TEDxDAU is to create a platform for empowerment and inspiration for the workforce with speakers showcasing powerful examples across acquisition and the DoD.

How is TEDxDAU different from DAU Symposia and Hot Topic Fora?

TEDx is a platform to exchange ideas worth spreading across diverse audiences. TEDx event speakers typically showcase ideas, data, and powerful examples of inspiration with calls to action that resonate with impact across diverse audiences. By engaging with other attendees and with the speakers, TEDx events encourage one to think critically, consider known concepts in new ways, explore new ideas, and synthesize messages across talks in new ways and actions. While we do encourage engagement during our Symposia and Hot Topic Fora, the focus of these events is to provide training through policy guidance, industry trends and observations by senior Defense personnel.

If I'm unable to attend, how can I see the TEDxDAU talks?

After the event, DoD employees with .gov and/or .mil domains, including contractors will be able to access all TEDxDAU content, including videos of the speakers, on Additionally, the videos will also be posted on MilTube.

I am unable to physically attend, will TEDxDAU be livestreamed?

Unfortunately TEDxDAU is an internal event and will only be broadcast to other DAU sites.

What do you mean by an internal event?

In accordance with TEDx guidance, TEDxDAU is an internal event with an “internal license.” This internal license allows DAU special exceptions to the usual limitations imposed on organizations hosting their first TEDx event, one of which is increased attendance for the event. An additional feature of the internal license is that it limits TEDxDAU attendees to the Department of Defense and their support contractors with .mil or .gov email addresses, ensuring that all attendees have common interests in the “Decisive Edge” Defense-related theme. However, in order to ensure this exclusive audience, we are unable to livestream the event to non-DAU locations.

Is there a cost to attend TEDxDAU?

There is no registration fee to attend.

Can I earn Continuous Learning Points (CLPs)?

Yes, up to 6 CLPs can be earned by attending TEDxDAU.

This sounds great, how can I attend TEDxDAU?

Return to the About section of this page for registration information. Tickets are available on a first come, first served basis.

TEDxDAU logo

This independent TEDx event is operated under license from TED and does not constitute an endorsement by the DoD.

About TEDx, x = independently organized event

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TED Talks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)

About TED

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 30 years ago, TED has grown to support its mission with multiple initiatives. The two annual TED Conferences invite the world's leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes or less. Many of these talks are then made available, free, at TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Sal Khan and Daniel Kahneman.

The annual TED Conference takes place each spring in Vancouver, British Columbia. TED's media initiatives include, where new TED Talks are posted daily; TED Translators, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as translations from volunteers worldwide; the educational initiative TED-Ed. TED has established The Audacious Project that takes a collaborative approach to funding ideas with the potential to create change at thrilling scale; TEDx, which supports individuals or groups in hosting local, self-organized TED-style events around the world, and the TED Fellows program, helping world-changing innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.

Follow TED on Twitter at, or on Facebook at

TEDxDAU logo

This independent TEDx event is operated under license from TED and does not constitute an endorsement by the DoD.