The 2023 conference was a major success!
Held at the fabulous Festhaus at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg VA, the conference hosted 300 participants and sold out with 100 people on the waiting list. There was an array of impressive speakers and presentations, demos, and evening receptions that together created a remarkable networking event.
The 2024 conference will be held March 12 & 13 at Busch Gardens again with some incredible surprises in store for attendees and vendors.
Interested in attending the 2024 Conference? Make sure you're a DRONERESPONDERS member and you'll receive information as it becomes available. Click the red button above to join.
Here’s a look back at the 2023 Conference Program:
National Public Safety UAS Conference
and Reception 2023
March 14-15, 2023
Busch Gardens, Williamsburg, VA
Demos will be allowed during the entire day
Day 1 - Tuesday, March 14, 2023
0700 – 0800 Registration & Breakfast
0800 – Welcome and Introductions
Welcome - Chief Charles Werner (Ret.)
The Honorable Secretary of Public Safety Robert Mosier
Bob Stolle, President & CEO – Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation (VIPC) – Invited
Tracy Tynan, Director - VIPC Unmanned Systems Center
Chris Sadler, Director – VIPC Public Safety Innovation Center
0915 - Being Successful using Drones with Infrared Imaging Sensors
Adam Ringle – Wilmington, DE UAS Team
Michele Wharton - Wilmington, DE UAS Team
1015 – Leveraging First Person View (FPV) for Inside Emergency Ops
Ryan Shea – Manchester, CT PD
1045 – The Future of Drones for Search and Rescue
Gemma Alcock, CEO - SkyBound Rescuer - UK
1130 - NASA Presentation – Safety Management for First Responders (NASA System-Wide Project)
Dr. Kyle Ellis
Dr. Natasha Neogi
1215 - Lunch and Lunch Presentation
1315 - Flying Public Safety Missions in the Big Apple (Tips and Lessons Learned)
Michael Wall - FDNY
Michael Leo – FDNY
Kevin O’Malley – FDNY
1415 - Drones & Fire/Hazmat Response
Katie Thielmeyer - Woodlawn OH, FD - Moderator
Andrew Waters - York County, VA Fire and Life Safety Department
Tim Doyle – Norfolk, VA Fire Dept
Ross Patterson - Winston-Salem/Forsyth EM, NC (Winston-Salem Fertilizer Fire)
Matt Quinn - Great Lakes Drone Company
1515 - Local, State, and Federal Perspectives on Drones in Law Enforcement
Amy Wiegand - Moderator - DRONERESPONDERS
Dave Cameron - Campbell CA PD
Brian Leventhal - North Carolina State Highway Patrol
Robert Campbell - U.S. Capitol Police
Brandon Karr - former Pearland, TX PD
1615 – 1630 – DRONERESPONDERS International Partnership with UAS Norway
Charles Werner, DRONERESPONDERS
Anders Martinsen, UAS Norway
1630 – 1800 – Open Demonstration Time
1800 – 2000 - Evening Beer & Wine Networking Reception at the Busch Gardens Festhaus
Day 2 - Wednesday, March 15, 2023
0700 – 0800 Registration and Breakfast
0800 – 0830 – Welcome and Introductions
Maggie Cleary - Virginia Deputy Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security
0830 - Integrating GIS and Drone Imagery for Public Safety
Mike Cox – Esri
0900 – Education, Training, and Standards
Moderator - Miriam McNabb – DRONELIFE
Adam Jacoff - NIST
Dr. Steve King – MITRE
Chris Grazioso - Massachusetts Department of Transportation's Aeronautics Division’s Drone Team
Don Shinnamon - Lead Assessor, Airborne Public Safety Association
1000 - FAA Updates – Rules, Regulations, Waivers, and COAs
Paige Fitzgerald - Moderator - DE Emergency Management
Mike O’Shea – FAA Public Safety Liaison
Josh Eastlee - UAS Integration Office
Kerry Fleming – FAA System Operations Support Center (SOSC – SGIs)
John Meehan – FAA Aviation Safety Analyst & FAA Safety Team
1100 - DRONE AS A FIRST RESPONDER (DFR) – The Next Generation
Steven Katz – Moderator, Flying Lion
Brandon Karr – Former, Pearland, TX PD
Saul Rodriguez - Captain, Santa Monica, PD
Todd Withers - Lieutenant, Beverly Hills, PD
Brian Mullins - Drone Team Commander, Forsyth County Sheriff's Office
NOON – Lunch and Lunch Presentation
1300 – Keynote – Abigail Smith, Deputy Executive Director, FAA Office of UAS Integration
1315 - Virginia Flight Information Exchange (A New Way of Sharing Flight Information)
John Eberhardt - ATA, LLC, Moderator
Mike Keefe – Virginia Department of Emergency Management
Scott Mlakar - Willoughby OH FD (Ret.)
Ron Leach – New Jersey State Police (Ret.)
Doug Wood, Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission
Art Martynuska, Cambria County Emergency Management Agency/9-1-1
1400 – An Inside Look at Drones during the Miami SURFSIDE Condominium Collapse
Dave Merrick – Florida State University
1500 – A Look at the Latest Updates on Counter UAS
DJ Smith - Virginia State Police - Moderator
Thomas Adams - AeroVigilance - Former FBI
David Kovar - URSA Secure
Ryan Wallace - Embry Riddle ASSURE Univ.
Ryan Berry, FAA
1800 - 2000 - Evening Dinner, Networking Reception & Presentation of the David King Public Safety UAS Leadership Award at the Busch Gardens Festhaus
Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation
Unmanned Systems Center
Public Safety Innovation Center
Virginia Department of Emergency Management
Little Arms – Zephyr Simulator
DRONERESPONDERS Online Video Mastery Training Program
VETS TO DRONES
Nine Ten Drones
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Williamsburg
50 Kingsmill Road Williamsburg, Virginia 23185 USA
1.5 miles away
Holiday Inn Express Williamsburg
480 McLaws Cir, Williamsburg, VA 23185
1.8 miles away
Courtyard by Marriott
470 McLaws Cir, Williamsburg, VA 23185
1.9 miles away
Great Wolf Lodge
549 E Rochambeau Dr, Williamsburg, VA 23188
10.5 miles away
Hotel has a huge indoor water park if you want to bring the family.
Click to download and print
the Conference Attendance Certificate
Tom retired from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) after 20 years of service in October 2022. He spent the early part of his federal law enforcement career investigating white-collar crime matters in Florida and Texas. In 2008, Tom completed the FBI’s Hazardous Devices School and became a Special Agent Bomb Technician (SABT), a role in which he served for over 11 years. During his time as a SABT, he deployed to Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and Southern Asia in support of U.S. counter-terrorism efforts.
Tom’s last three years in the FBI were spent as a Supervisory Special Agent in the Counter-UAS Program. He led the team's evolution in this role, including developing a training program, policies and procedures, and operational standards. He led numerous high-profile Counter-UAS missions throughout the U.S. at our nation’s highest-profile sporting and cultural events, including protecting our government’s highest-ranking officials and critical infrastructure. He is still involved in the industry as the CEO of AeroVigilance, a Counter-UAS training, consulting, and services company, and C-UAS Hub- an online resource for Counter-UAS and airspace awareness vendors, products, news, articles, jobs, events, and resources.
Gemma Alcock is an award-winning innovator and respected thought-leader in the use of drones for public safety. Gemma was selected in a prestigious competition as the woman making the most difference in drones for search and rescue (SAR) around the world, receiving the title of the ‘Woman to Watch in UAS 2018’.
Gemma’s backgrounds in both SAR and in technology, combined with her love of aerial systems (borne of her passion for skydiving), set the foundation for a fascinating piece of work exploring the utility of drones for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and their search capability. By conducting a rigorous quantitative and qualitative (human centred) analysis, Gemma formulated a strong case for further development of system requirements based on the benefits such a system could deliver. Her prototyping brought ideas to life and her work informed greatly the Future SAR Innovation programme in the RNLI. After which, she founded SkyBound Rescuer in 2016 to help shape the future of public safety drones and to start helping all Emergency Services around the world to benefit from drone technology.
Not to mention, Gemma is the Lowland Rescue Director of Air Services, after previously fulfilling the role of Technical Development Lead for Air Operations. Lowland Rescue is the UK-based SAR charity that searches for missing vulnerable people on behalf of police forces. Gemma leads the air services team, which ensures that Lowland Rescue volunteers can work effectively and safely with SAR helicopters and drones, all across the UK.
Through Gemma’s tireless focus and commitment to the advancement in the use of public safety drones, Gemma has become widely respected as a thought-leader in both the drone industry and SAR sector; she is truly committed to and passionate about creating a future in which drones will routinely be a tool for saving lives.
Ryan M. Berry
Ryan M. Berry is the manager of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Security Division within FAA’s Office of Security and Hazardous Materials Safety (ASH). The UAS Security Division serves as the primary coordinator on agency actions, policy, outreach, messaging, evaluation, and technical requests relating to UAS security, and collaborates with security partners and the private sector on a holistic approach to UAS security and counter-UAS issues.
Prior to joining the FAA, Mr. Berry served as an electronic warfare and counter-UAS subject matter expert in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense, Policy, Homeland Defense and Global Security; and is a veteran of the US Navy serving as a Naval Flight Officer in carrier-based EA-6B Prowler tactical electronic warfare aircraft.
Ryan is a graduate of the Federal Executive Institute, and holds a Masters in International Security from George Mason University, a MBA from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and a Bachelors in History from Virginia Tech.
David Cameron has been with the Campbell Police Department for 34 years as a full-time and Reserve Officer. David has held assignments in traffic collision investigations, SWAT, Crime Scene Response, financial crimes investigation, and drone pilot. In 2018 David created the department's UAS program and servers as its manager and has continued to do so since retiring in 2019. In September of 2022, David wrote and received an FAA Beyond Visual Line Of Sight waiver for the Department, and as of Feb 2023, Campbell's DFR program is up and running. David continues to serve as the UAS/DFR program manager alongside his work in the private sector. David continues to advocate for the use of drones by the first responder community.
Robert J. Campbell
Robert J. Campbell began his federal law enforcement career in 2005, with the United StatesCapitol Police, and has served in a number of law enforcement roles over his seventeen year law enforcement career, providing uniformed patrol duties in both the Uniformed Services Bureau and the Training Services Bureau as a Certified Training Instructor. Sergeant Campbell was promoted to Sergeant in 2010 and has spent the last thirteen years assigned to the Command and Coordination Bureau’s Operations Division. He is currently assigned to the United States Capitol Police’s Command Center as the Department’s Airspace Security Coordinator for the United States Capitol Police, he serves as the agencies direct airspace security liaison and Subject Matter Expert (SME) to the U.S. Capitol Police Board, U.S. Congress and Senior Law Enforcement officials in the Legislative Branch of Government.
As the Airspace Security Coordinator, Sergeant Campbell manages the day to day operations for the United States Capitol Police at the National Capital Region Coordination Center (NCRCC) and also serves as the NCRCC’s primary Law Enforcement Outreach Liaison for the interagency airspace community within the National Capital Region (NCR). Sergeant Campbell has drafted numerous Standard Operating Procedures to include the Departments current Air Threat Response Plan, he has also developed and published three separate Law Enforcement Outreach Reference Documents that have been shared and used by State, Local and DoD agencies across the National Airspace System. Sergeant Campbell also developed and introduced the Acronym D.R.O.N.E. that has been adopted and used by numerous Law Enforcement agencies within the NCR as well as nationally adopted by the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Glynco, GA, and the Federal Aviation Administrations (FAA) Law Enforcement Assistance Program (LEAP).
Sergeant Campbell also serves on multiple Interagency working groups in the National Capital Region. He is currently the Co-Chair of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Government's UAS Working Group under the Technology Subcommittee, and the Interagency Airspace Protection Working Group (IAPWG). He also serves on the NCTC UAS/RCMA Working Group, and formerly on theDC UAS Working Group and DHS Whole of Community Non-Traditional Aviation Technology Working Group.
Sergeant Campbell is a military veteran with twelve years of service in the U.S. Navy, U.S. Navy Reserve, U.S. Army, U.S. Army National Guard, and is an Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps(ROTC) Graduate. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Hotel Restaurant Management with a Minor in Business from Kansas State University in 2005. He currently resides in Montgomery County, Maryland.
Mike Cox is the Fire & EMS Industry Manager at Esri where he advocates for fire and EMS agencies to leverage geospatial information and technology to achieve their response and recovery goals.
As a member of the Public Safety Industry Marketing team, he works collaboratively with GIS professionals to promote the broad use of Esri’s ArcGIS platform within fire and EMS.
Mike recently retired from the Henrico County, Virginia Fire Department after 27 years of service. He served as the Deputy Chief with responsibilities including operations, emergency management, planning, accreditation, budget, and human resources.
He was also a member of the Central Virginia All Hazard Incident Management Team, was the technical rescue team leader, and served as a Hazmat Specialist on the Virginia Department of Emergency Management’s regional hazardous materials team.
Tim was Born in Massachusetts and attended the Catholic University of America in Washington DC He joined Hyattsville’s Volunteer Fire Department in Prince George County in October of 2000. There he served as a member of the dept from 2000 until 2006 as a Firefighter/EMT and Hazmat Technician. Tim was hired by Norfolk Fire Rescue in Summer 2005 as a Firefighter/Enhanced. He finished his degree at Old Dominion University graduated with BS in Biology in 2008. His career in Norfolk Fire Rescue has been composed of assignments to the technical rescue team, Virginia Regional Hazmat Team, Rescue Company 1, and Rescue Company 2. He transitioned into the Fire Marshalls office in 2017 and was assigned as the Hazardous Device Technician to the joint Norfolk Police and Norfolk Fire Bomb Squad. Certified as a Hazardous Device Technician, Tactical Bomb Technician, Hazardous materials specialist, Technical rescue technician, Emergency Medical Technician, and a Public safety diver. Tim jointly developed the Norfolk Police and Fire UAS team beginning in 2019. He is currently the sUAS program coordinator for Norfolk Fire and Police UAS operations as well as his duties as a hazardous device technician. Tim also serves as the public safety member for the Hampton roads chapter of AUVSI and is on the board of advisors for the Public Safety Innovation Center with VIPC.
Josh Eastlee is a Senior Technical Advisor in the Safety and Integration Division at the FAA’s UAS Integration Office and more recently has been instrumental in shepherding the first true BVLOS Drone as a First Responder (DFR) waiver enabling technology to be implemented, resulting in the elimination of visual observers.
Mr. Eberhardt is the Chief Technology Officer ATA, LLC. Mr. Eberhardt has over 25 years of experience in Solution Architecture, Systems Engineering, Data Science, and Analytics, managing teams of scientists and engineers to rapidly create customer-centered solutions in the Aviation, Defense, Healthcare, Security, and Biotechnology sectors.
Mr. Eberhardt has delivered data sharing systems in federal agencies, streaming data processing systems in commercial aviation, clinical decision support systems for cancer treatment, and logistics analysis systems, including award winning healthcare quality applications. Mr. Eberhardt is one of the founders of the Virginia Flight Information Exchange and led ATA’s efforts to become an FAA onboarded LAANC UAS Service Supplier.
With three patents, seven patent applications, and over 50 publications and invited speaking engagements, John is a thought leader in advanced analytics with experience in machine learning, statistical algorithms, and user interface design for decision support in Aviation, Healthcare, Defense, and Logistics.
Dr. Kyle Ellis
Dr. Kyle Ellis is the Associate Project Manager for NASA’s System Wide Safety project. He has over 15 years of experience in aviation research, most recently as the principal investigator and technical lead for safety enhancements developed by the commercial aviation safety team to prevent loss of control in-flight. His current focus is to engage industry and advance the development of technologies for increasingly autonomous systems and enable emerging operations.
Paige Fitzgerald is the Deputy Director of the Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA). She obtained her Part 107 certificate in September 2016 and began serving as the agency UAS Program Administrator at that time. She began teaching Part 107 test prep and flight instruction courses in 2017 as the UAS Training Director for Adam Ringle Consulting and began teaching Drone Assessment and Response Tactics (DART) through New Mexico Tech in 2019. Paige also served as the Chair of the State of Delaware UAS Training & Certification Steering Committee from 2018-2019. She has trained over one hundred UAS pilots nationally and has provided aerial support for multiple large scale incidents from disaster damage assessments and site assessments to law enforcement and fire scenes. She has worked to better integrate drone technology with other situational awareness tools across the state, helping to make them a key asset now throughout the Delaware response community. In addition to her UAS experience, Paige has a Master of Science in Disaster Science and Management from the University of Delaware Disaster Research Center and is a Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) through the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM).
Kerry Fleming has been employed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for over thirty five years. The first twenty of which as an air traffic controller in Bridgeport, CT, and since then as an airspace security specialist at the FAA Headquarters in Washington, DC.
Mr. Fleming is currently the Manager of the System Operations Support Center (SOSC), which is a component of the airspace security group. His team is responsible for applying all airspace security regulations with the protection of all Presidential and Vice Presidential aircraft throughout the United States as their number one job responsibility. The group’s other main duties include; the creation and oversight of all security-related Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs), approving flight operation requests for restricted and prohibited airspace, waivers, and assisting law enforcement agencies at the local, state, and Federal levels with their airspace needs. Additionally, this group is the sole approving authority for Special Governmental Interest (SGI) COAs and A-COAs for all Unmanned Aircraft (UAS) into the National Airspace System (NAS) for real-time life-saving emergency situations or in the aftermath of a natural or man-made disaster.
After working over 30 years in public safety, Chris Grazioso is now the full time Operations Lead for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation's Aeronautics Division’s Drone Team. He is responsible for planning and flying missions, the team's initial and recurrent training, and coordination of emergency responses which include pre and post incident damage assessments and large scale transportation accidents.
Part time, Chris is the team lead for the Metropolitan Law Enforcement Council’s (MetroLEC) Tactical Drone Unit. MetroLEC is a consortium of more than 46 local police and sheriff departments in the south metropolitan Boston area which covers 600 square miles and has a corresponding residential population of 850,000 people. The Tactical Drone Unit responds along side Metro’s SWAT and SAR teams. They assists with pre-mission planning, real-time situational awareness, live streaming, search and rescue, and indoor and outdoor suspect searching. The unit started with one pilot and aircraft and is currently at 10 pilots and 15 aircraft.
Chris is also a FAAST Team DronePro for the Boston FSDO and on the Board of Advisors and is a Public Safety Technical Expert with DRONERESPONDERS. He has presented at AUVSI’s XPONENTIAL, the DroneDeploy Conference and the FAA Droning On! Conference. Chris has been a medical specialist with Massachusetts Task Force 1, one of the FEMA US&R teams, since 2005 and has deployed to several national incidents.
Chris's extensive aviation experience includes 11 years as a manned aircraft pilot and 7 years as an unmanned pilot. He has been training the general public and public safety agencies nationwide since 2015 and is often called upon as a SME to assist local public safety agencies in starting their drone programs. Chris has significant experience in all of DJI’s rotorcraft as well as the Delair and eBee fixed wing aircraft. Chris's sensor experience includes EO, thermal, multispectral and LIDAR. Chris's UAS areas of expertise include aerial mapping and inspections, aerial photography and videography, public safety operations, night operations, search and rescue, and indoor flying.
Adam Jacoff is a robotics research engineer at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Over the past thirty years, he has developed a variety of innovative robots and directed evaluations of more than a hundred others in a range of sizes, including the first technology readiness level assessment of autonomous mobility for the U.S. Army's Experimental Unmanned Vehicle (XUV) (2002-2003).
His current efforts are focused toward developing a suite of 50 standard test methods for response robots to objectively evaluate ground, aquatic, and aerial system capabilities and facilitate integration of emerging technologies. He has conducted more than thirty international robot competitions using the test methods as challenge tasks to guide innovation and measure progress (2000-present). He has conducted more than a hundred robot exercises to refine and validate the test methods with emergency responders and robot manufacturers, including dozens of comprehensive robot evaluations using the test methods to quantify key capabilities guiding more than $100M of purchasing decisions for civilian and military organizations (2005-present). He is now validating use of the test methods as repeatable practice tasks to focus remote operator/pilot training and measure proficiency for credentialing.
Brandon Karr is an internationally recognized subject matter expert for UAS operations for public safety. He is currently a Drone as First Responder Solutions Engineer for DroneSense. He is from Pearland, Texas and was the Chief Pilot, UAS Program Coordinator, and a night shift patrolman for the Pearland Police Department. Brandon started his interest in aviation in 2006 where he earned his Commercial and Certified Flight Instructor licenses for manned fixed wing single-engine, multi-engine, and instrument ratings. He used his aviation knowledge and experience to start the Pearland Police Department’s UAS program and since has assisted other agencies start or develop their programs across the nation. He has developed Pearland PD’s UAS program to be integrated into patrol, K9, SWAT, crash reconstruction, and crime scene functions. Brandon has developed several courses involving utilizing UAS in public safety including Part 107 Ground School, Basic to Advanced Flight Scenarios, Night Operations, Crime and Crash Scene Mapping, and Legal Concerns for UAS. Brandon is a committee member on two subcommittees for the State of Texas regarding the implementation of sUAS for major disasters or incidents.
Steven manages Flying Lion team members engaged in DFR programs at Chula Vista, Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Santa Monica, and Beverly Hills Police Departments. To date, the Flying Lion's pilot team has logged over 21,000 DFR flights, of which, 10,000 flights have been Beyond Visual Line of Sight.
Steven's expertise is supporting Public Safety agencies with FAA consulting and COA submissions - especially those focused on Drone as First Responder and Beyond Visual Line of Sight operations. All while leading the team in NIST pilot training and continuously seeking out new technology partnerships.
Steven holds an undergraduate degree in Business from California State University, Northridge, and MBA from Pepperdine University.
Mike Keefe-Thomas is the Chief of COMMS & UAS Programs for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. Mike works within VDEM’s Response Programs And has been actively involved in numerous major events/incidents throughout his career. He has been an active leader in the Virginia Flight Information Exchange (VA-FIX) and is involved with CUAS initiatives.
Dr. Steven G. King
Steve King is the Senior Manager for the Special Projects Office at MITRE’s Center for Securing the Homeland. He was previously the Department Manager leading MITRE’s support to the US Department of State and the US Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, after serving as the Chief Engineer for MITRE’s Global Operations and Intelligence Programs. MITRE is at a not-for-profit organization chartered to work in the public interest.
Steve spent more than a decade as a DHS executive, where he received awards for his work writing a Presidential Executive Order enhancing the security of biological toxins and select agents; worked closely with the then-DHS General Counsel to help author the country’s first Federal chemical security regulations; and led the implementation of the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative for the nation’s critical infrastructure.
Steve was also an Assistant Professor, DHS Chair, and the Director of Research and Writing Programs at the Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Management at National Defense University (NDU) from 2012-2015. He was an associate faculty member at the US Intelligence Community’s National Intelligence University and the George Washington University. He is a published author and frequent presenter at conferences in the US and Europe. He created and currently teaches homeland security courses at Touro University.
He has over 25 years of firefighting experience in both paid and volunteer departments, most recently retiring as a Fire Captain in Northern Virginia. He is a former sworn local law enforcement officer and fire and explosion investigator. He holds numerous specialized firefighting, technical rescue, emergency medical services, and law enforcement certifications.
He holds a Doctor of Science in information systems and communications, Master of Business Administration, and Master of Science in Biodefense. Board Certified in Security Management as a Certified Protection Professional (CPP), certified PMI Project Management Professional (PMP), and is the immediate past Chair of the American Board for Certification in Infrastructure Protection. He completed executive programs at the Federal Executive Institute, Naval Postgraduate School, and was a 2010 Senior Executive Fellow at Harvard University.
David Kovar is the CEO and founder of URSA Inc. URSA delivers unmanned risk management capabilities at scale to system operators, investigators, and regulators through a vendor agnostic telemetry data analysis and visualization solution.
Mr. Kovar founded the practice of UAV forensics in 2015 and is one of the leading practitioners in the world. He has worked in digital forensics and cyber security since the mid 90’s and, prior to founding his own company, led EY’s U.S. incident response program. Mr. Kovar earned a BA from Dartmouth in Computer Science and received a Masters degree from the Fletcher School at Tufts in International Affairs in 2020. His Master’s thesis is entitled “Defending Against UAVs Operated by Non-State Actors”.
URSA manages a wide variety of user, organization, and government data domestically and internationally. Unlocking value from this data is critical to our customers while protecting the data and individual’s privacy is critical to URSA and to society at large.
Mr. Kovar is a rated pilot, is the Advocacy Director for the National Association of Search, is active with his regional public health network, and a cleared private sector partner of the NH IAC (fusion center).”
SFC (Ret.) Ron Leach is the Principal of Leach Strategic Partners, LLC. Ron has 30 years of aviation experience and is a retired law enforcement professional after serving 23 years with the New Jersey State Police (NJSP).
Leach Strategic Partners provides Unmanned Aircraft System consulting services to public safety and security entities focusing on UAS technology, assists with project start-ups, policy development, and response strategies including counter UAS issues, and provides specialized training to UAS users.
Ron holds several Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Pilot Ratings including Airline Transport Pilot,Certified Flight Instructor, Instrument Instructor, Private Pilot, and Remote Pilot for UAS. Ron was the Chairman of the NJSP UAS Working Group which developed a direction for the use of UAS technology as well as counter-UAS technology.
Ron served as a member of the U.S. Department of Justice, Law Enforcement UAS Working Group, and Co-Chaired the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, Domestic Security Preparedness Task Force - UAS Subcommittee. He has been published in NJ Cops magazine, presented to the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police, and contributed to the ANSI UASSC Standardization Roadmap for Unmanned Aircraft Systems.
Ron has a Bachelor of Science degree from Wilmington University (Delaware), a Master of Administrative Science degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University (New Jersey), and served honorably in the United States Navy.
Captain Michael Leo has been a firefighter with the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) for 20 years, serving 13 years in the special operations command. While earning a B.A. in Fire and Emergency Management at John Jay College, Michael studied the expanding role of remotely piloted aircraft systems for use in emergency management. As the program administrator for FDNY Robotics, Michael’s responsibilities include all aspects of remotely operated robotics in addition to emerging technologies to support command tactics. Michael currently serves as a member of the Federal Aviation Administration’s advanced aviation advisory committee, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) small unmanned aircraft committee, ASTM International small aircraft committee and is studying towards a Master’s Degree in unmanned systems at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
Brian Leventhal has spent over 21 years in public service as a law enforcement officer in North Carolina. Brian continues to serve as a State Trooper with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, where he is a helicopter pilot assigned to the Aircraft Operations Unit.
Before his transfer to Aircraft Operations, Brian was assigned to the Crash Reconstruction Unit,where he helped create the UAS program for the Highway Patrol to use unmanned aerial vehicles to map crash scenes and provide disaster and emergency response.
Brian frequently participates in the UAS community as a remote pilot. He often speaks about program implementation and development of Unmanned Aerial Systems in Government and Public Safety Agencies, using UAVs for Crash & Crime Scene Mapping, and using UAVs forDisaster Response & Emergency Planning.
A 13 year veteran of the FDNY. Joined the department in 2010 as an EMT, In 2013 was promoted to Firefighter. 2019 continued a new assignment within the Special Operations Command and is currently serving in the FDNY Robotics unit since 2022.
Anders Martinsen is the managing director of UAS Norway, the Norwegian special interest organisation for unmanned aircraft systems, encompassing drones and the entire industry ecosystem.
During his four years as a leader, Anders Martinsen has been a driving force in developing UAS Norway into Europe’s largest drone special interest organisation, incorporating more than 1950 member companies and over 4000 drone pilots. Safe usage, public acceptance and integration of drones in our society is UAS Norway’s main objective. The organisation wants to be more than merely a mouthpiece for the drone operators, in addition it operates as a co-player and a corrective organ for aviation authorities, politicians, and a business sector increasingly utilising drones as a part of their activities. One of Martinsen’s main concerns is in what manner technology generates new business models in addition to entirely new lines of business.
Into his position as manging director of UAS Norway, Anders Martinsen brings 28 years of experience as a photo journalist. For several years he has been a drone operator, utilising drones in photo assignments for national media, law enforcement and the business sector. Today Martinsen is the CEO of UAS Norway and editor of UAS Norway
Art Martynuska is the Executive Director of the Cambria County Departments of Emergency Management and 9-1-1. He is a retired Assistant Fire Chief form the City of Johnstown Pennsylvania. Mr. Martynuska is the coordinator for the Cambria County UAV response program. He holds a Bachelor's Degree is Safety Engineering and Fire Science from the University of Cincinnati, a Master's Degree in Public Safety from Saint Joseph's University. He is also a graduate of the National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer Program and the Harvard University Trade Union Program. Mr. Martynuska holds a Part 107 Pilot certificate, is voting member of the NFPA 2400 Standard's committee, and is a principle with the Pennsylvania FIX program.
Miriam is the Editor in Chief of DroneLife, one of the most popular online drone publications. Miriam is also the co-host (along w/Tim Martin) of the DRONERESPONDERS Public Safety Drone Review, a monthly online webinar to discuss all things in the public safety drone community.
John is an Aviation Safety Analyst in the Aviation Safety Line of Business, Office of Flight Standards, Commercial and General Aviation Safety Division located at FAA Headquarters in Washington, DC. John’s role is to provide technical support, subject matter expertise, and UAS related outreach support to the general aviation UAS flying public, and to provide UAS specific training and support to FAA Flight Standards District Offices and FAASTeam Program Managers. He also assists in the development of UAS concepts, policies, standards, procedures and guidance related to the safe integration of UAS into the NAS.
John is a graduate of West Point and former US Army Helicopter Instructor Pilot and served just over 5 years in the Army as an Aviation Officer before getting his MBA from Boston College. His civilian career has been mostly with private industry, in International Sales and General Management positions. He has worked at three Aircraft Manufacturing companies and run Fixed Base Operations at Stewart Airport in New York and Washington Dulles Airport in Virginia. Prior to joining the FAA, John was most recently the Chief Operating Officer and Head of Global Sales at Wyvern Ltd, an aviation risk management company based in Yardley, PA.
John holds a Commercial Pilot Certificate with Instrument rating rotary wing, a Private Pilot Rating with Instrument rating, single engine land airplane, and a UAS Remote Pilot Certificate.
John is a model railroader, attempting to recreate nostalgia of the New York Central RR, where his grandfather was a steam locomotive fireman and engineer, and is a Lacrosse fanatic.
John is married and the proud father of two sons, both recent graduates of Service Academies, and both serving on active duty in their respective services.
David Merrick is the Director of the Emergency Management and Homeland Security Program and the Center for Disaster Risk Policy at Florida State University. His research and interest areas include emergency management planning and policy, remote sensing and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in public safety, disaster logistics, crisis mapping, and information technology in emergency management.
David developed and oversees CDRP’s Disaster Incident Research Team (DIRT), which deploys to disaster impact areas to perform applied field research on disaster and emergency management. DIRT provides UAS and remote sensing capabilities in a variety of disaster contexts, including search and rescue, damage assessment, and other response activities as well as international disaster risk reduction projects.
This team is part of the State of Florida’s response system and has been deployed as part of SERT in response to hurricanes, wildland fires, and to Surfside in response to the 2021 condominium collapse. David is the statewide UAS Coordinator and activates as part of the State of Florida’s Air Operations Branch. He leads the Florida UAS Working Group which develops best practices for disaster UAS operations in the state and in conjunction with FEMA Region 4. In addition, the team has assisted local and state law enforcement with missing person and fugitive cases since 2015.
He has extensive experience in emergency management training and exercises for all levels of government, facilitated plan review and development, developed bioterrorism preparedness programs, and has provided expert technical assistance on a variety of governmental EM projects.
David currently teaches 'Foundations of Emergency Management', 'Emergency Management Planning and Policy', 'Disaster Systems', 'Unmanned Aircraft Systems' and routinely lectures on logistics, technology, and cyber security in other EMHS courses.
David has a Master of Science degree from the Florida Institute of Technology in Humanitarian Logistics and Disaster Response.
Scott Mlakar is an Assistant Chief (Ret) with the Willoughby (OH) Fire Department where he has served for 40 years. He serves on the Fire Chief's Special Operations Committee in Lake County. He developed and oversees operations of the Lake County Public Safety Unmanned Response Team (Lake County PSURT), composed of Firefighters, Police officers.. It provides UAS support to all of Lake County's Emergency Services and special teams. including SWAT, Bomb Squad, Haz-Mat Unit, Crime Scene Reconstruction Team, and Technical Rescue Teams. and He has presented at various National and International UAS conferences including, IEDO Paris Conference, Commercial UAV and the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC). He developed and is on the board for North East Ohio Public Safety Unmanned Response Teams Organization (NEO-PSURT) that is made up of Police and Fire Organizations around NE Ohio to train and coordinate Public Safety UAS resources. He has published articles for Fire Engineering magazine on Public Safety UAS. He serves as Lead Instructor at Tri-C Community College and Airborne Public Safety Association as part of their Public Safety Drone programs.
Brian serves as the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office Drone Team Commander and serves as a DFR remote pilot for North Carolina’s First DFR program. He is a private pilot instrumented rated.
Dr. Natasha Neogi
Dr. Natasha Neogi is currently a member of NASA's Urban Air Mobility Coordination and Assessment Team, as well as a research scientist at NASA Langley supporting the System Wide Safety, Transformative Tools and Technologies—Autonomous Systems, and Air Traffic Management-eXploration Projects.
Michael O’Shea is a Program Manager for the FAA’s UAS Integration Office’s, Safety and Integration Division where he serves as liaison, facilitator, and resource for both public and civil unmanned aircraft integration efforts.
Before joining the UAS Integration Office, Mr. O’Shea was a program manager for 17 years in the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of Science and Technology, where he managed the law enforcement aviation technologies program among other duties. As part of his duties at DOJ, Mr. O’Shea sat on the Small UAS (Part 107) and Remote Tracking/ID Aviation Rule Making Committees and was the co-author of the MOU between the FAA and DOJ that initiated public safety COAs for UAS. Prior to working at DOJ, Mr. O’Shea spent almost 15 years as a uniformed law enforcement officer.
Mr. O’Shea is a graduate of Baker University (Kansas) with a degree in Business and Marketing. Mr. O’Shea holds an FAA Light-Sport Pilot Certificate (Fixed Wing, Gyroplanes, and Powered Parachutes) and a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate.
Ross serves as an EM coordinator, and the logistics and infrastructure officer, for the Winston Salem/Forsyth County Office of Emergency Management. His career began in 1983 when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served for 24 years until honorably retired in 2007 as a Chief Petty Officer (Hospital Corpsman). This career took him all over the world including service in Iraq. Following his retirement, he completed his bachelor and master’s degree in emergency and Disaster Management from American Military University to continue his career in the area of emergency preparedness, response, and recovery. Ross has worked for the Special Operations Response Team (SORT) in Winston-Salem, as Logistics Section Chief and Operations Officer, Disaster Medical Assistance Team (NC-1 DMAT) and National Medical Response Team - East (NMRT-E) as Logistic Chief in support of disaster and domestic operations in North Carolina and nationally with these teams. His last job before coming to WS/FC OEM was as the Divisional Disaster Training Coordinator for the Salvation Army of North and South Carolina planning, conducting, directing, managing, evaluating, and monitoring the division’s disaster training program and operations. During his time with The Salvation Army he deployed to numerous national and region disasters to include Superstorm Sandy, Hurricanes Matthew, Irma, Maria, Florence and Michael as well as numerous major flooding events as part of the incident command for the agency’s response.
He serves as a volunteer in many capacities in his local community. These include a local volunteer fire department as a Safety LT and FF/Rescue member, and he maintains active support of the Boy Scouts of America in the Winston Salem/Forsyth County area.
Ross is qualified as a Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) from IAEM, North Carolina Emergency Management - Executive (NCEM-E) from NCEM, South Carolina Certified Emergency Manger (SC-CEM), Military Emergency Management Specialist (MEMS) from the State Guard Association of the United States, and a Certified Hospital Emergency Coordinator III (CHEC III) from Augusta University.
Matt Quinn has been responsible for major breakthroughs in the drone industry. As a driver of technology and innovation across a variety of commercial and public applications, he provides regulatory consulting for the ever-expanding field of drone technology for several public and private UAS operations. Matt’s primary focus has been unmanned aerial system integration into the commercial market. These accomplishments include one of the first ten FAA commercial night waivers and the 3rd Multiple Unmanned Waiver by the FAA. He holds several authorizations within the US, Canada, Sri Lanka, and Morocco markets for UAS operations on multiple platforms. These operations include aerial cinematography, aerial and underwater search and rescue, multiple unmanned technology and aerial crop spraying with agricultural data management. Matt has a significant background in public safety from firefighting, paramedicine, critical care medicine and aeromedical flight operations that has delivered extensive focus on UAS public safety operations over the past 6 years. Speaking at events like the NASA Wildfire Mitigation and Management UAS Operations workshop, multiple conferences and other workshops, as well as designing the first-ever, soon-to-be-released, public safety UAS tactics online training program, Matt is bound to provide a wealth of knowledge to make you, Mission Ready.
Adam B. Ringle
Adam B. Ringle serves as Commander of the Forensic Services Unit and Director of sUAS Flight Operations for the Wilmington Police Department in Delaware. Adam has more than 34 years of emergency services experience and 27 years of law enforcement experience. He possesses an extensive range and depth of knowledge in sUAS flight operations, law enforcement, security operations and emergency medical services systems. He specializes in complex sUAS flight program design, implementation and management. He is a FLIR/ITC certified level 3thermographer and thermography instructor, licensed fixed wing pilot, sUAS remote pilot and instructor providing both training and operational support to other law enforcement agencies both regionally and nationally. Adam is currently the only DJI Certified Commercial UAS Trainer and Examiner on the east coast. He has over 1,000 hours piloting multiple sUAS platforms from small quadcopters to large octocopters with heavy payload deployments. Adam provides expert witness services on sUAS matters and has developed a strong relationship with the FAA.
Cpt. Rodriguez was born in Santa Monica, CA . Saul has over 28 years of law enforcement experience in Southern California with two agencies. His primary career experience ranges from complex narcotics investigations, federal money laundering investigations, gang enforcement/investigations, field patrol work/supervision/management, K9 management/supervision, public relations, and media relations.
As a Lieutenant, he was assigned the Executive Officer to the Chief of Police, Public Information Officer and managed the Professional Standards Section responsible for the department's Internal Affairs, Training Division, Recruitment, Hiring and Policy Development.
As a Division Commander, he has had executive oversight of the Special Operations Division responsible for the Department's Homeless Liaison Program, Traffic Unit, Crime Impact Team, Special Weapons & Tactics Team, Mobile Field Force, UAS Program, Mounted Unit and Public Service Officer Program.
Saul is currently the Commander for the Criminal Investigations Division with executive oversight of the Robbery Homicide Unit, Crimes Against Persons Unit, Youth Services Unit, Property Unit, Forensics, Records Unit and Jail Division.
In 2021, Cpt. Rodriguez was instrumental in launching the Drone as the First Responder Program in the City of Santa Monica.
Chris Sadler retired as the Deputy Chief/Deputy Director of the York County (VA) Department of Fire and Life Safety after a distinguished 35-year career. In 2015, he co-founded the York County Public Safety Robotics team, which includes members of the fire department and Sheriff’s Office and is considered one of the most respected teams in the country. He is now the Director of the Public Safety Innovation Center for the Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation (VIPC). The VIPC is the non-profit arm of the Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority. In this position, he works with technology developers and public safety entities in Virginia, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and other local, state and federal partners to develop and integrate the latest and most advantageous technology resources into the response capabilities of first responders.
Chris is a graduate of the National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer Program, a Nationally Registered Paramedic, a Hazmat Specialist, and former Safety Officer with FEMA Urban Search and Rescue - Virginia Task Force 2. He is very involved in the Public Safety use and integration of Unmanned Aircraft Systems to include being the Subject Matter Expert for the International Association of Fire Chief’s and is their representative on the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 2400 Standards Committee on sUAS Used for Public Safety Operations, the Fire Service representative to the Virginia Governors’ Secure Commonwealth Sub-panel for UAS, serves on the ASTM/NFPA Joint Working Group for Public Safety UAS, a member of the ANSI UAS Standardization Collaborative, the Advisory Board for DroneResponders, collaborator with the NIST for the Standard Test Methods for sUAS, and advisor to the Virginia Unmanned Systems Center. Chris teaches and presents at many national and international conferences and training events. He has, and continues to assist public safety and government agencies around the Country with the establishment of their UAS team, FAA Certificate of Authorization applications and waivers, and standard operating procedures development.
A sworn law enforcement officer since 2007, Lieutenant Shea is currently assigned to the Office of Professional Standards / Internal Affairs at the Manchester Police Department. From 2010-2015 he was an Operator/Sniper on the Capitol Region Emergency Services Team (CREST), a regional SWAT team covering towns in the Hartford, CT area. Lieutenant Shea rejoined the team last year to provide Aerial Support for tactical operations and introduced the team to interior use of UAS. Lieutenant Shea earned a Master of Science in Investigations/Digital Forensics from the University of New Haven and has operated UAS professionally and recreationally since 2018.
Chief Donald L. Shinnamon, Sr. (Ret.) has over a decade of unmanned aircraft industry experience; including work with Boeing’s unmanned aircraft company Insitu, Aeryon Labs of Canada and Argus Unmanned. Mr. Shinnamon specializes in UAS market development projects and has experience in oil and gas, energy and public safety applications. Before entering the UAS industry, Mr. Shinnamon had a distinguished career in public safety, last serving as the Chief of Police for the City of Port Saint Lucie, Florida.
A subject matter expert in police aviation, both manned and unmanned, Mr. Shinnamon served as the chair of the Aviation Committee of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) for over 15 years. In 2008, he was selected to serve on the historic, first FAA rule making committee to draft regulatory language to integrate small unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system that eventually became FAR Part 107. He also authored the Guidelines for the Use of Unmanned Aircraft by Law Enforcement for the IACP to address the contentious privacy issue.
Chief. Shinnamon holds a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Baltimore and completed a fellowship at Harvard University. An experienced police aviator, he is an active commercial pilot, rated in both helicopters, airplanes and unmanned aircraft.
Chief Shinnamon now serves as the Lead Assessor for the APSA Accreditation Program.
Abby Smith serves as the Deputy Executive Director of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Office, which serves as the FAA's focal point for all matters related to civil and public use of drones in U.S. airspace and is responsible for coordinating the integration of advanced air mobility (AAM) operations into our aviation system. Within this role, Abby supports the Executive Director in leading FAA's efforts to safely integrate drones and AAM operations into the National Airspace System (NAS).
Prior to joining the UAS Integration Office, Smith served as the Executive Director of Policy and Plans within the Office of Policy, International Affairs, and Environment, overseeing strategic planning and policy development for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). She also provided formulation of aviation policies, plans, goals, and priorities through stakeholder outreach.
Smith began her career with the FAA in 1991 as an air traffic controller at the Miami Air Route Traffic Control Center. Smith relocated to Washington, DC, in 1999 to join Air Traffic Systems Requirements as a requirements analyst. She then joined the National Transportation Safety Board in 2001 as an accident investigator, where she worked on multiple investigations, including American 587. Since returning to the FAA in 2002, she has held multiple positions including Domestic Event Network Supervisor, Air Traffic Evaluations Manager, ATO Safety Management System Implementation Manager, Professional Training and Development Manager, Workforce Services Manager, Senior Advisor in System Operations, Director of Aeronautical Information Services, and most recently, Director of Air Traffic Organization's Technical Training.
Smith graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, and received her Master of Science degree in Dispute Resolution from Nova South Eastern University.
She is an avid cyclist, marathoner, paddle sport neophyte, hiker, camper and gardener.
David “DJ” Smith
DJ Smith grew up in Newport News and attended East Tennessee State University. After Graduating from ETSU in 1992 he became a Public Safety Officer in Johnson City Tennessee. In 1997 he was hired as a Trooper with the VSP and in 2001 he was promoted to his current rank as a Technical Surveillance Agent. He has worked in the area of Covert Technical/TacticalSurveillance for over 30 years. A few areas of specialty are Title III Intercepts, GPS Installs, Video-Audio Clarification, Technical Surveillance Counter Measures (TSCM), Mesh-Node Camera Deployments, Surreptitious Technical/Tactical Lock Bypass & Safe Penetration including GSA locks & containers, Cellular Tracking and Geo-Locating, Covert Audio/Video deployments, and sUAS & Counter UAS deployment operations to name a few.
In the area of sUAS and Counter UAS Operations: He is the Unmanned Aerial Systems & Counter UAS Program Coordinator for the Virginia State Police, serves as the Deputy Director of Droneresponders Public Safety UAS Alliance as well as their Counter UAS Working Group Chair. He served on the Virginia Safe and Secure Commonwealth Sub-Panel dealing with UAS/Counter UAS implementation and legislative issues for the Commonwealth of Virginia. DJ has served as a Subject Matter Expert (SME) on various technologies for the DHS Office of Electronic Surveillance, Law Enforcement Technology Board (SPAWARS Atlantic & Saver program). As a representative of the Virginia State Police, he is a stakeholder on the Mid-Atlantic UAS Partnership group (Google Wing) at Virginia Tech forCommercial/Enterprise UAS deliveries. He has Served on the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate First Responder Robotic Operational System Test (FFROST) assessment & evaluations of sUAS for Public Safety. He has presented and moderated discussions at: Semi-Annual Global Counter UAS Summit in Washington DC, AUVSI Xponential, Commercial UAV Expo, Homeland Security Conference, and the Global Military and Defense Conference. Most recently he was invited to be a speaker at the Security Summit in Norway. He also serves as a technical advisor to several legislative groups in Washington, DC on issues related to getting the legislative carve-outs for SLTT agencies to Possess & Deploy Advanced sUAS Detection & Mitigation Technology. DJ is also a licensed part 107 pilot and has been flying sUAS for over 13 years.
Katie Thielmeyer is a firefighter/paramedic and FAA Part 107-certified remote pilot who assists public safety agencies implement best-of-class drone programs based on ASTM and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) flight standards. She is regarded as a subject matter expert in the use of sUAS for mission-critical public safety applications. Ms. Thielmeyer serves as the Risk Reduction Officer with the Woodlawn (Ohio) Fire Department, where she oversees the Risk Reduction Division, delivering an array of essential services including fire & EMS response, community outreach, and fire prevention programs. In 2018, Thielmeyer implemented a public safety unmanned aviation program focused on sUAS response. That team, known as Hamilton County UAS 500, in collaboration with other fire agencies, law agencies, and civilian responders, now provides mutual assistance for regional deployments in the Cincinnati area and beyond. Katie also serves as the program manager and principal investigator with DRONERESPONDERS, the world’s fastest-growing non-profit program supporting the use of sUAS by public safety agencies and emergency services around the globe. In this capacity, Ms. Thielmeyer oversees DRONERSPONDERS’ partnership with NIST as the credentialing facilitator, as well as other specialized initiatives.
Tracy Tynan is the Director for the Virginia Unmanned Systems Center at the Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporatiom with the goal of growing unmanned systems economic activity and benefit in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Michael Wall is a veteran firefighter with 20 years of service in the F.D.N.Y. As the only firefighter still with the unit since its inception and initial joint venture with the FAA, Michael provides effective sUAS flight and robotic operations in the highly controlled and complex urban environment of NYC.
As a licensed Part 107 Pilot, he has flown both with the Department and privately. The majority of incidents piloted have occurred in the Class B airspace surrounding Laguardia, JFK, and Newark airports. In addition to his Part 107 license, Michael is also a sUAS instructor and Public Safety program creator for Drone-U.
"I love the ability to change public perception of sUAS operations and be a part of something so groundbreaking in Public Safety. So many advancements in Police and Fire technology are usually the result of tragedy within a department. To be attached to a completely proactive program is a rare and exciting thing. I now strive to develop Public Safety sUAS programs that, once established, their absence becomes an abnormality in the eyes of the public and the City Government.”
Dr. Ryan Wallace
Dr. Ryan Wallace is an Assistant Professor of Aeronautical Science at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. He holds an Ed.D. in Applied Education Studies (Aviation Sciences option), a M.S. in Aviation, and a B.S. in Aeronautics. His research focuses on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) safety, security, human factors, and public policy. He is currently an Educator Trustee and Chair of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Committee for the University Aviation Association. Dr. Wallace co-chairs the UAS-Enabled Security Operations Team for the Department of Homeland Security’s Critical Infrastructure Partnership Advisory Council (CIPAC) UAS Security Working Group. He is also a representative on the Federal Aviation Administration’s Unmanned Aircraft Safety Team (UAST). He serves as Editor of the International Journal of Professional Aviation Training & TestingResearch and the Collegiate Aviation Review International. He previously worked as a Customer Training Specialist at the Boeing Company on the E-7T Airborne Early Warning & Control program. An Air Force veteran, he was a rated Air Battle Manager on the E-3 AWACS, where he accumulated more than 1,500 flight hours.
Andrew Waters serves as the Assistant Chief of Technical Services and Special Operations for York County Fire and Life Safety, where he has been for the past 24 years. In his present assignment he is responsible for facilities, apparatus, logistics, health and safety, as well as all special teams including Hazardous Materials, Technical Rescue, Maritime Incident Response, Dive, Metropolitan Medical Response Strike Team, and our ROVER or Remotely Operated Vehicle for Emergency Response. He is presently the UAS Program Manager and has been a part of York County’s ROVER Program since its inception. Assistant Chief Waters is a Commonwealth of Virginia Executive Fire Officer, a Nationally Registered Paramedic, and a Part 107 UAS Pilot. He holds undergraduate degrees in Emergency Services Administration, and a Master’s in Public Administration from ODU with concentrations in Organizational Leadership and Finance.
Chief Charles L. Werner Ret. has served 48 years in public safety. Charles started his career as a firefighter with the Charlottesville VA Fire Dept. as a 37 years, serving the last ten years as fire chief. Charles also served two years as a reserve deputy with the Albemarle County Sheriffs Office. Following retirement, Chief Werner served for 2 years as senior advisor and acting deputy state coordinator for the Virginia Dept. of Emergency Management. Chief Werner has served in numerous local, state and national leadership roles on various public safety topics. He presently serves as Director/Co-Founder of DRONERESPONDERS and is an FAA Certificated Remote Pilot. Charles also serves on the Virginia Innovative Partnership Cooperation’s Unmanned Systems and Public Safety Innovation Center Advisory Boards. More recently, Charles joined the Virginia Department of Aviation as an aviation technologies advisor.
Michele Wharton is a criminal investigations detective with the Middletown Police Department in Delaware. She currently serves as one of two Deputy Commanders of the Wilmington Delaware UAS Team. This regional UAS response team is made up of personnel from multiple police and fire agencies. Michele has 10 years of experience in law enforcement and 2 years’ experience as an FAA certified remote pilot. She is a FLIR/ITC certified level 1 Public Safety Thermographer and over 100 hours piloting multiple sUAS platforms from small quadcopters to large hexacopters with heavy payload deployments. Michele has worked as a pilot in command or mission commander on a multitude of complex flight missions including barricades, shootings, and fatal motor vehicles crashes. Michele has advanced technical knowledge of the DJI aircraft systems and 3rd party device integration.
Amy began her career in the drone industry directing operations at Horizon Flight Center in Chesapeake, VA. There, she oversaw daily flight school activities, including contracting and training special elite military teams. While running operations and program development at Horizon, Amy became the first woman to develop an FAA sUAS Part 107 training program which assisted in efforts for the military and local and state emergency management teams. She was awarded the 2017 Women In Business Achievement honor through the Inside Business Journal for this accomplishment. Recently, as a founding team member of DroneUp, a drone tech service provider, Amy helped launch the start-up taking it from zero-sum revenue to seven-digit earnings through three acquisitions and investment with the most prominent global retailer - Walmart.
Amy has appeared as a guest speaker for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, sits on the Drone Service Providers Alliance Board, contributes to the FAA Veterans Education Program, and frequents STEM volunteer opportunities. She also brings considerable entrepreneurial experience, having founded her own business and advising early-stage start-ups. Her love for flying also runs in the family, as Amelia Earhart is her notable maternal cousin.
Todd Withers is currently a Lieutenant at the Beverly Hills Police Department where he serves as the Assistant Division Commander in the Field Services Division. Among other duties, he oversees the Real Time Watch Center and UAS/ Drone program.
His career in law enforcement began in 1991 where he served as a reserve Deputy Sheriff with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department assigned as a Patrol Deputy. In 1997 he was hired by the Beverly Hills Police Department and has worked assignments as a Patrol Officer, Field Training Officer, Undercover Crime Suppression Unit, Rangemaster, SWAT and Detectives. He was promoted in 2009 to the rank of Sergeant and in 2018 to the rank of Lieutenant.
In 2021, he took command of the newly formed UAS/ Drone Team where he has overseen its growth to 20 certified FAA Part 107 pilots who fly DFR 7 days a week/ 10 hours per day in partnership with Flying Lion. In addition, the Beverly Hills Police Department currently has 13 Rapid Deployment Drones issued to officers on multiple shifts for use in tactical situations. The Department also operates interior tactical drones in cooperation with it’s SWAT team.
He holds a Master of Science Degree from California State University, Long Beach in Emergency Services Administration. He is a graduate of the Sherman Block Supervisory Leadership Institute and the Drucker School of Management-Executive Leadership Institute.
Doug joined the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission staff in January of 2022 and brings 26 years of law enforcement experience, with 17 years as a first line supervisor responsible for training, supervisory, management and administrative tasks, including project development and leadership for the small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) Program at the Riley County (KS) Police Department. He served 23 years in the U. S. Navy (Reserve) retiring as a First Class Master-at-Arms. His career included increasing levels of responsibility for training, supervisory, administrative, mentoring, and technical expertise as a first-line supervisor and Leading Petty Officer primarily in the area of Firearms Training and Anti-Terrorism / Force Protection Physical Security Procedures.
Doug works directly with users of UAS in the state, FAA, and other state/local government agencies and administers the Commission’s UAS program. He also conducts research related to other states’ rules and regulations for UAS and the new Advanced Air Mobility initiatives, determining how Oklahoma can best position itself within the industry. He is the primary contact point to develop/update a UAS and AAM strategic plan for the state and provides recommendations to other state agencies or local governments on UAS operations, regulations, and policies.
Doug holds a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Central Christian College, McPherson, Kansas.