Advisory Boards

Advisory Boards

Alongside UF’s leading minds and researchers, FINS has also partnered with several captains of industry and government professionals intent on aiding us in our mission to address evolving national security concerns with applied AI and data science. The FINS Strategic Advisory Board (SAB) brings together professionals with over 30 years of comprehensive experience in matters of national defense and security. While our Technical Advisory Board (TAB) boasts seasoned, active business specialists that allow FINS to successfully navigate public, private, and federal sectors.

Strategic Advisory Board

Walter Adams

Walter Adams

Chair of the FINS Strategic Advisory Board (SAB) & Chief Executive Officer, EVI Holdings

Mr. Walt Adams is a seasoned and highly successful business development and service delivery professional with 25 plus years multi-national experience in federal, international, and commercial markets. He has in-depth knowledge and experience in Federal Civil, DoD, DHS, and Intelligence Community procurement and source selection practices including capture planning and managing proposal responses for large-scale GWACs, IDIQs, BPAs, small business set asides, sole source, and single award bids.

Mr. Adams has deep subject matter expertise in telecommunications, netcentric IT systems, systems administration, and network security. He also has extensive experience qualifying and pursuing international business, including C4ISR support in Saudi Arabia, nuclear engineering support for Poland, cellular and fiber network deployments in Cambodia, as well as global network and IT strategies for multinational pharmaceutical conglomerates in Europe, Latin America, Middle East, and Asia Pacific.

In 2021, Mr. Adams founded EVI Holdings is an investment holding company focused on seamlessly navigating the dynamic landscapes of and consolidating the manufacturing sectors such as agricultural manufacturing; consumer products and packaged goods; CDMO; furniture and durable goods; medical device manufacturing; and more.

Over the course of his career Mr. Adams developed his extensive domestic and international experience working for companies such as Teligent, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac), and James Martin Strategy. In addition, he has developed key business alliances and worked with numerous Fortune 100 companies such as Leidos, SAIC, GDIT, Lockheed Martin, General Motors, DirecTV, Deloitte Consulting, Warner Lambert, Schering Plough, the Navy Exchange, Nippon Telephone and Telegraph (NTT), and Motorola. Mr. Adams is a veteran of multiple technology and services startups, both organic and venture backed. These startups include Teligent, iKimbo, iSavvix, Airak, and Praxxs. In addition, Mr. Adams is the former president of the Broadband over Power Line Industry Association (BPLIA).

Walt earned both his B.S. in Applied Mathematics and in Computer Science from the University of Florida.

General Michael Ennis

General Michael Ennis

Retired - Enterprise Risk Officer Leidos Corp. & Senior Vice President for Risk and International Security at Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC)

A native of northern Minnesota, General Michael Ennis graduated from Concordia College in 1971 after spending his senior year studying at the Sorbonne in Paris, with degrees in International Relations and French. 

Upon graduation, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and 37 years later retired with the rank of Major General.  During that time he served as a Presidential Translator on the Washington-Moscow Hotline, liaison to the Soviet Forces in East Germany, an assistant Naval Attaché in Moscow, the Director of Intelligence for the Marine Corps, Director of Operations at the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the Deputy Director of the National Clandestine Service for Community Human Intelligence, CIA. 

After retiring from the Marine Corps in 2008, he worked five years as a Senior Vice President for Risk and International Security at Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) which had, at the time, over 5,000 employees working in Iraq and Afghanistan.  

In 2014, Gen. Ennis retired to his log home on a small lake in a large forest in Virginia’s Northern Neck Peninsula.

He received his M.A. in National Security Studies from Georgetown University, graduated from the Marine Corps Command & Staff College, and completed a one year military fellowship with the Center For Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Richard G. Matthews

Richard G. Matthews

Former Vice-President of Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems/ Independent Consultant

Mr. Rick Matthews is the founder of Rick Matthews Consulting, LLC. He is the former vice president and leader of Northrop Grumman’s Manned Aircraft Design Center of Excellence. He was also the global operations representative and global supply chain program manager lead for the Aerospace System Sector’s Military Aircraft Systems Division. Mr. Matthews served as a member of the state board’s Target Industry Cluster Task Force, helping Florida attract aerospace businesses while supporting the talent and infrastructure needs of existing businesses within the industry. He joined Northrop Grumman in 2007 following a distinguished career in the U.S. Air Force.

John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Former Deputy Director of U.S. National Counterterrorism Center

Mr. Mulligan is a 39-year veteran of the U.S. Intelligence and National Security Community, primarily the National Security Agency (NSA)/Central Security Service (CSS).

Prior to joining the National Counterterrorism Center, he was responsible for the NSA’s overall counterterrorism program. His role included integrating NSA capabilities with other US government agencies to detect and disrupt terrorist threats around the world.

Mr. Mulligan began his career as an intelligence analyst and served in a variety of field and operations management positions. While serving oversees in his role as a Senior Representative, he championed development of data analytic technology to discover and disrupt terrorist networks. His many recognitions include being awarded the National Intelligence Sustained Superior Service Medal and the Presidential Rank Award, for Meritorious Executive Service.

A native of Chicago, John received his B.A. from the University of Notre Dame and an M.B.A. from the University of Florida.

James Rickards, JD

James Rickards, JD

Investment Advisor, Lawyer, Inventor, Economist, and Author

Mr. James Rickards is the Editor of Strategic Intelligence a financial newsletter. He is the New York Times bestselling author of The New Great Depression (2021), Aftermath (2019), The Road to Ruin (2016), The New Case for Gold (2016), The Death of Money (2014), and Currency Wars (2011) from Penguin Random House.

He is an investment advisor, lawyer, inventor, and economist, and has held senior positions at Citibank, Long-Term Capital Management, and Caxton Associates. In 1998, he was the principal negotiator of the rescue of LTCM sponsored by the Federal Reserve. His clients include institutional investors and government directorates.

He is an op-ed contributor to the Financial Times, Evening Standard, The Telegraph, New York Times, and Washington Post, and has been interviewed by BBC, CNN, NPR, CSPAN, CNBC, Bloomberg, Fox, and The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Rickards is a guest lecturer in globalization and finance at The Johns Hopkins University, Georgetown University, Trinity College Dublin, The Kellogg School at Northwestern, the U.S. Army War College, the National Defense University, and the School of Advanced International Studies.

He has presented papers on risk at Singularity University, the Applied Physics Laboratory, and the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He is an advisor on capital markets to the U.S. intelligence community, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Mr. Rickards holds an LL.M. (Taxation) from the NYU School of Law; a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School; an M.A. in International Economics from SAIS, and a B.A. (with honors) from Johns Hopkins.

Technical Advisory Board

David Balser, PMP

David Balser, PMP

Growth Strategy/Business Development & Capture Management Executive

Mr. David Balser is an accomplished Business Development Strategist with 30 plus years of cross-functional leadership and executive experience. He specializes in capture management, pursuit, growth strategy, program management for managed services and integrated enterprise solutions. He also provides strategic advice to small businesses to include socio-economically disadvantaged businesses such as Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), VOSB, Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUB), and others.

Mr. Balser focuses on integrated strategic solutions that directs capabilities within enterprise technology, Multi-Domain Operations (MDO), communications, information technology through managed services and solution-oriented constructs. He develops strategies, shapes technical and acquisition requirements, develops architecture solutions, builds pursuit and execution teams delivering complex integrated solutions for large, complex, multi-faceted programs within the DoD and Intelligence Community, Federal Civilian, and Federal Health agencies.

He brings broad experience in delivering full spectrum next generation multi-domain integrated C5 Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (ISR) solutions, airborne, space, land, maritime, & cyber collection platforms and Production Exploitation and Dissemination (PED) capabilities to deliver actionable data using integrated AI/ML; telecommunications and enterprise information technology systems; RF products & services; Foreign Military Sales/Foreign Military Financing (FMS/FMF) and international Direct Commercial Sales (DCS).

Mr. Balser participates with several industry organizations such as Association of the United States Army (AUSA), National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), Global SOF Foundation (GSOF), and Armed Forces Communications & Electronics Association (AFCEA) to develop and maintain partnerships throughout the global defense apparatus. In addition, Mr. Balser participates as a mentor and growth coach to numerous executives across the commercial and federal market places.

He holds a B.S. in Business Administration Production Operations Management from the University of Central Florida and an Associate of Arts degree in Business Administration from Eastern Florida State College. Mr. Balser is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) through the Project Management Institute (PMI).

Mark S. Byers, Ed.D

Mark S. Byers, Ed.D

Chief Executive Officer, Eagles View Consulting LLC

Dr. Mark Byers was born and raised in Williamsport, PA. and began his USAF career from there in 1977, and after assignments in Alaska, Guam, and Indiana, he and his family moved to Edwards AFB, CA in 1981.  Dr. Byers and his family currently reside in the Huntsville, AL area. During his tenure in the USAF, he served on flying status as an electronics technician and at Edwards, he was a member of and/or led several avionics instrumentation specific test teams as well as serving as the Chief of the Professional Military Education (PME) branch; separating in 1988 as the Instrumentation/Guidance and Control Branch Chief, 6510 Avionics Maintenance Squadron. 

Dr. Byers retired from Lockheed Martin IS&GS in 2015 and founded Eagles View Consulting LLC as the CEO. He is an accomplished capture and proposal professional with seasoned and highly successful delivery with 29 plus years of multi-facetted experience in capture and proposal leadership positions for NASA, DoD, MDA, DHS, DoE, USSOCOM, FMS and commercial acquisition efforts. He has extensive hands-on experience with business/ marketing development, aircraft flight test, engineering services and logistics services leading in-place and virtual teams of 8-155 SME and functional experts on contracts sizes from $3.5M-$5B. He has successfully coupled his diverse involvement in capture, business development & marketing strategy development and proposal prosecution with his graduate and professional education to increase new business success and impact on numerous GWACs, IDIQs, BPAs, small business set asides, and sole source performance based and requirements based bids.

Dr. Byers has served on high performance team development efforts for NASA and the Antelope Valley College as well as on the strategic marketing team for the USAF at Edwards AFB as a civil servant.  This compilation of military and civilian experience has directly led to his innate drive to win while increasing bottom line margin and lowering expenses in boosting new and repeat business.  

He earned his Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Organizational Leadership from Pepperdine University, an M.A. in Pastoral Studies from Azusa Pacific University, and his M.B.A. in Public Administration from Columbia Southern University. In addition, he earned a Professional Certificate in School [District level] Management from University of So. California (USC).

Jeanne C. Foster

Jeanne C. Foster

Chief Executive Officer, JCF Consulting LLC

Ms. Jeanne Foster established her consulting practice after a career at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that spanned over three decades and included positions across the Intelligence Community (IC), Department of Defense (DoD), and the National Security Enterprise.

Most recently, Ms. Foster served as Deputy Director Chief Information Office (CIO) and Information Technology (IT) Services of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). Ms. Foster directed NGA’s mission and enterprise software and IT development, acquisition, and operations with a multi-billion dollar annual budget and workforce of several thousand people. She transformed NGA’s technical architecture, shifting it from a stove-piped, workflow-centric paradigm to a modern cloud-based, data-centric construct.

Known as a transformational leader, Ms. Foster served concurrently as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Director of the Office of Mission Resources (OMR) at the CIA, where she managed the Directorate of Science and Technology (DS&T) workforce, budget, and support functions. She also led a broad array of technically-focused offices as the CIA restructured to modernize into its current Mission Center construct. As Director of the Office of Technical Readiness (OTR), Ms. Foster led the DS&T’s worldwide Technical Bases managing hundreds of Technical Intelligence Officers (TIOs) deployed throughout the world.

Ms. Foster served as the Director of the Office of Development and Engineering (OD&E) and the Director of the Special Communications Office (SCO) at the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) concurrently. She worked to grow and develop the cadre of DS&T engineers and program managers who acquired, launched, and operated the next generation overhead satellite systems and the ground and communication architectures. Ms. Foster delivered multiple special communication systems in support of special operations by establishing critical partnerships across the IC and DoD.

She is a Level III Program Manager and holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice.

Colonel Richard Jackson

Colonel Richard Jackson

Corporate Executive and Retired Air Force Officer

A native of Brandon Florida, Colonel Richard “Scoop” Jackson, USAF (retired), has held key executive management, operations, and technology positions over a 40-year span in the Department of Defense and commercial sectors. 

A command pilot with more than 4000 flight hours including combat tours flying the U-2 Dragon Lady in Desert Storm and Commanding a U-2 Reconnaissance Squadron in Operation Enduring Freedom / Operation Iraqi Freedom, he has held senior executive positions as the Director of System Engineering for the Nation’s Signals Intelligence Satellites, Deputy Director of Advanced Communications for the National Reconnaissance Office, and the President’s Senior Military Diplomat to the Government of Bolivia, as well as executive positions as a US Diplomat to Australia and Commander of one of the nation’s premier reconnaissance units.  Since retiring from the United States Air Force, he has held leadership roles in business environments ranging from entrepreneurial start-ups to fortune 500 corporations, with market experience in the Department of Defense, Intelligence Community, Homeland Security, Law Enforcement, and International Commercial & Military sectors.

Col. Jackson has extensive cross-functional executive expertise in leading the development and introduction of transformational, award-winning hardware, software and systems solutions. His experience includes state-of-the-art airborne, space, land, maritime, & cyber platforms; communications and information systems; Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance products; Electronic Warfare solutions; communications-on-the-move networks; satellite communications systems; integrated security solutions; RF products & services; acoustic sensors & ocean systems; enterprise command & control networks; artificial intelligence applications; and advanced robotics technology hardware and software development.

Col. Jackson earned a B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Central Florida, with Master of Arts degrees in Military Operational Art from the Air War College, National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College, and Information Systems Management from Webster University.

Lisa McIlrath, PhD

Lisa McIlrath, PhD

Scientific, Engineering, and Technical Advisor, DARPA Microsystems Technology Office / Former Professor and Entrepreneur

Over the last 25 years Dr. Lisa McIlrath’s research interests have spanned many fields, including computer vision, image sensor design, 3D integrated circuits, Electronic Design Automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and for the last 15 years, Hardware Security. This varied background has allowed her to bridge disciplines in Computer Science and Hardware Engineering and investigate problems that require an understanding of both.

Dr. McIlrath was the President & CEO of R3Logic Inc., a small company that she founded in 2000 and successfully ran for 14 years. The early mission of R3Logic was to develop architectures, process technologies, and design tools for 3D-integrated microelectronics. As part of this effort, the company created an extensive set of EDA tools with a novel technology database able to incorporate multiple process design kits for heterogeneous processes. The first DARPA TRUST program in 2007 marked R3Logic’s entry into Trusted and Assured Microelectronics. As part of the TRUST, and follow-on IRIS, programs, the company developed several tools for reverse engineering and functional behavior extraction from integrated circuit design files. Following the licensing of R3Logic’s core technology, Dr. McIlrath held senior technical positions at Raytheon/BBN and Draper Labs before coming to the University of Florida Institute for Cybersecurity (FICS) as a Research Associate Professor in 2019. Since late 2020, she has been at DARPA in the Microsystems Technology Office supporting programs on 3D manufacturing, high-energy lasers, and hardware security.

Dr. McIlrath received her Ph. D. in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science from MIT, a M.S. from the University of Texas at Austin, and a B.S. in Physics from MIT.

Mark Miller

Mark Miller

Senior Director of Strategic Programs, Science Applications International Corporations

Mr. Mark Miller is currently selling deals and programs for SAIC’s Defense and Civil Sector, a $3.5B+ profit and loss element that supports the US Departments of Defense, Transportation, and Homeland Security with platform/system integration products and services, IT modernization services, and logistics services.

Prior to working for SAIC, Mr. Miller supported Leidos from 2003 through 2019 in a similar fashion working with a host of US Federal customers, State Governments, Commercial Businesses, as well as Foreign States and organizations as a Strategist, Planner, Business Development Director, Capture Manager, Proposal Manager, and Line Manager.

Mr. Miller has a B.A. from Hillsdale College and a Master’s in Business Administration from Norwich University. He is a US Army Veteran and spends time between his residences in Virginia and West Virginia with his wife and two dogs.