Board of Directors

 
 
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Mariel Borowitz

Dr. Mariel Borowitz is an assistant professor in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at Georgia Tech, where she conducts research and teaches courses related to international space policy issues. Her research primarily focuses on international cooperation in Earth observation and the development of satellite data sharing policies. This research addresses trends such as the emergence of commercial remote sensing and public-private partnerships, the movement towards open data policies, and the rise of big data. She has also written on issues related to the future of human space exploration and space security. Dr. Borowitz earned her PhD in Policy Studies at the University of Maryland. She also holds a Masters degree in International Science and Technology Policy from the George Washington University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Prior to joining Georgia Tech, she worked as a research analyst at the Space Foundation in Washington, DC and as a systems engineer at Raytheon.

 
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Steve Howard

Steve L. Howard serves as the County Administrator for Camden County, Georgia. He also serves as the Spaceport Camden project leader. He has worked in management positions for Polk, Seminole, and Desoto Counties in Florida, and the City of Punta Gorda. Steve is a graduate of Bellevue University, where he earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from California Coast University. He is a graduate of the ICMA Senior Executive Institute Leadership Program at the University of Virginia, Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service and the Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Senior Executives in State and Local Government program. He is also a graduate of The Florida Center for Public Management’s Certified Public Manager program at The Florida State University.

 
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AJ Piplica

Anthony J. Piplica is (CEO) of Generation Orbit Launch Services, Inc. He is responsible for a wide range of technical systems design and analysis, strategic technical and financial planning, fostering of customer and partner relationships, and securing financing to fund near-term research and development efforts. He was previously a member of the Advanced Concepts Group with the Engineering division of SpaceWorks Enterprises, Inc. His past experience includes work for Jacobs Engineering at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in the Aerothermal and Flight Dynamics Group. His blend of business skills helps support GO in both strategic decision making and interfacing with customers and investors. He holds both Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees from the Georgia Institute of Technology focused in aerodynamics and fluid mechanics, supplemented by a certificate in entrepreneurship. Additionally, he is a member of the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

 

 

 
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Jud Ready

Dr. W. Jud Ready is the Deputy Director, Innovation Initiatives for the Georgia Tech ‘Institute for Materials.’ He has also been an Adjunct Professor in the School of Materials Science & Engineering at Georgia Tech and a Principal Research Engineer on the research faculty of Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) for over a dozen years. Prior to joining the Georgia Tech faculty, he worked for a major military contractor (General Dynamics) as well as in small business (MicroCoating Technologies). He has served as PI or co-PI for grants totaling ~$17M awarded by the Army, Navy, Air Force, DARPA, NASA, NSF, NIST, industry, charitable foundations and the States of Georgia and Florida. His current research focuses primarily on energy, aerospace, nanomaterial applications and electronics reliability.

 
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Stephen Ruffin

Dr. Ruffin is a professor in the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering at Georgia Tech, director of NASA's Georgia Space Grant Consortium, head of the Aerothermodynamics Research and Technology (ART) Laboratory and chair of the AE Aerodynamics and Fluid Mechanics Group. He is a specialist in high temperature gas dynamics, compressible flow aerodynamics, and airframe propulsion integration. Dr. Ruffin is Director of NASA's Georgia Space Grant Consortium (GSGC) and is the national chair of the Council of Space Grant Directors. He leads the operations of the GSGC which conducts student research and design team activities, internships, scholarships, fellowships, K-12 student hands-on activities and camps, K-12 teacher training programs and public outreach activities at museums, science centers and in the community. Through roughly 40 annual projects conducted by the GSGC, 30,000 Georgia residents and over 4,400 educators are trained annually. In his national chair role, he helps coordinate activities of space grant consortia from all states and helps set the direction for national STEM outreach efforts.

 
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Clare Swinford

Ms. Swinford is the Director for Georgia’s NASA Regional Educator Resource Center (RERC). She received a dual degree in Theatre and Arts Management from Mary Baldwin College. She served as a U.S. Senate Intern for former Senator Sam Nunn of Georgia. She served as the Assistant Managing Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, Georgia. She taught at The Westfield Schools. She joined the Museum of Aviation in July 2007 to organize and manage the newly relocated NASA Regional Educator Resource Center. In collaboration with local and state school systems and educational organizations, she initiated the NASA STEM Educator Workshop Series. A part of the Workshop Series includes Georgia’s NASA STEM Conference. She collaborates with the Middle Georgia Regional Education Service Agency and served on the committee to provide a STEM Endorsement for Georgia educators. She also serves as a Space Foundation Teacher Liaison Officer.

 
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Jacob Vallo

Jacob Vallo is the Vice President - Southeast Regional Director for the Rockefeller Group, a residential, office and industrial development company originally founded by the Rockefeller family responsible for Rockefeller Center in New York City. Jacob joined Rockefeller in 2016 after serving for 16 years in leadership roles for institutional firms in real estate private equity, investment banking and development. As a child growing up in Houston, Texas, he developed a fascination with space exploration and the way in which space and designing for space requires imagination, creativity and engineering for a myriad of products and services. As a member of the Space Working Group in GA, he brings an outsider's perspective, desires to build a physical ecosystem near GA Tech to promote innovation and purposeful collisions, and supports diversity in the space sector. 


Staff

 
 
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Laura Forczyk

Executive Director

A long-time space enthusiast, Laura Forczyk is dedicated to advancing space progress forward, both in Georgia and globally. With degrees in astrophysics and a research background in planetary science and microgravity experimentation, she has held roles in academic institutions, NASA centers, commercial space companies, and nonprofits. She is the founder of Astralytical, a small space consulting firm located in Atlanta. She aspires to become the first woman to step foot on the Moon.

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Michael Mealling

Financial Director

Michael is the past President of the Georgia Space Society and current CEO of the Waypaver Foundation. Human expansion into the solar system has been his personal mission since he was Chairman of the Moon Society in 2004 and co-founder of Masten Space Systems in 2005. Since then he has helped build a social networking startup, an IT consultancy, and a seed-stage venture capital fund. He received an MBA from Georgia Tech in 2011 and resides in northern Atlanta.

 
 

Curt Godwin

Communications Director

Some of Curt's earliest memories are of America's crewed spaceflight program, and he has been a firm follower of both national and international efforts since. He has served nearly twenty-four years in public education, and is currently leading a team of engineers supporting one of the largest K-12 networks in the nation. Although his chosen career in network engineering has lead him down a decidedly terrestrial path, he has shared his passion for space-focused outreach via social media and, most recently, as a regular contributor to one of the largest spaceflight news outlets in the world.

 
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Susan Oltman

Education Co-Director

Susan is a New York native who moved south for Georgia Tech. She worked as an electrical engineer before changing careers to teach science. Currently she is a middle school science teacher at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School in Sandy Springs.
She has presented at state and national science teaching conferences and won numerous awards. She loves teaching in an innovative way and seeking solutions to real world challenges with her students. Her hobbies include travel, glass art, and jewelry making.

 

Meg Green

Education Co-Director

 

 
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Jimmy Lin

Corporate Relations Director

Jimmy has 20 years of experience creating and leading growth strategies for tech companies and is currently the CEO of Blast Systems LLC, an innovative employee engagement solution provider. He is passionate about space commercialization and is a frequent contributor with the space community in his free time. Jimmy has an MBA from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School and an undergraduate Aerospace Engineering degree with honors from the University of Florida.

 
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Elizabeth Tang

Membership Director

Elizabeth is an aerospace engineer currently working on her PhD in aircraft design at Georgia Institute of Technology. She has volunteered for various space organizations such as Space Generation Advisory Council and Space Frontier Foundation, and co-founded SpaceUp Atlanta in 2012. She served as the Outreach Officer of Mars Society during undergraduate at GT. She was selected to be a part of the Mars Desert Research Station crews in Utah, and participated in the international Mars Rover Challenge. She entered Georgia Tech Startup Competition in 2014 and won the Judges Choice Award. With her multi-cultural and technical background, she hopes to contribute to international collaborations in space commercialization and development.

 

John Simpson

Legislative Director