Panel & Breakout Leaders

Isaac Deragon, American Indian Advisor, Minneapolis Community & Technical College and Mamie Singleton, Executive Director, Youth Initiative Mentoring Academies (YIMA) served as Forum panelists.

The opening panel discussion addressed the Private Sector Perspective – A New Era of Opportunity & Requirements.  America’s supply chain, which is largely comprised of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with fewer than 250 employees, is the backbone of the U.S. A&D export economy.  To understand workforce needs and opportunities, it is critical to recognize that a company like Boeing works with at least 200 Minnesota companies in its supply chain.

Chip Laingen, Executive Director of the Defense Alliance, an Advanced Power & Energy Technology Cluster funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration and a Director of AirSpace Minnesota, served as moderator for this discussion.


⦁Norb Biderman, President & Founder, Growth Enterprises LLC

⦁Charles Horwitz, Director of Government Contract Compliance, 3M

⦁Michael Nordvall, Deputy Director, Supply Chain, Orbital ATK Armament Systems

⦁Philip Monsen, Senior Software Engineer, General Dynamics Mission Systems

The first panel topic was complemented by Public Sector Perspective – A New Era of Opportunity & Requirement. Now more than ever, public agencies are partnering with the private sector to harness innovation during this period of rapidly evolving technological change and workforce requirements.  What are the challenges and solutions underway involving our public institutions and agencies?

This discussion was led by Dr. Perry Leo, Department Head of Aerospace Engineering & Mechanics at the University of Minnesota.


⦁Cassandra Isackson, Director, Office of Aeronautics Services, MN Department of Transportation

⦁Diane Langer, Federal Aviation Administration, Air Traffic Manager, Minneapolis TRACON

⦁LCDR Dr. Leedjia Svec, USN, Military Program Director at NASA Ames Research Center

So how can pathways be defined for students that offer appropriate flexibility and quality instructional materials?

To address this essential question, a panel discussion on Connecting Secondary and Post-Secondary Education was led by Cindy Hasselbring, Senior Director, High School Aviation Initiative, AOPA (Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association – a global general aviation organization representing hundreds of thousands of members).


⦁Nancy Grazzini-Olson, President, Academy College and President, Thunderbird Aviation

⦁Mark Schroll, Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental & Technological Studies, St. Cloud State University

⦁Jasen Ritter, Vice President, Partnerships, Project Lead the Way

⦁Steven Walvig, Board Chair, SciMathMN, Director of Education, The Bakken

With increasing opportunities for all a key imperative, a panel discussion on Growing Participation from Underrepresented Communities was held to identify ways to strengthen connections and engagement. Elizabeth Bierman, Senior Technical Manager, Honeywell Aerospace and former national president, Society of Women in Engineering, was the moderator for this critical conversation.


⦁Isaac Deragon, American Indian Advisor, Minneapolis Community & Technical College

⦁Mamie Singleton, Executive Director, Youth Initiative Mentoring Academies (YIMA)

At the end of Day One, three breakout sessions provided participants with an opportunity to explore relevant questions with topical experts.  The subjects and leaders for each were:

Connecting Industry with Education


⦁Tim Barrett, Director of STEM Education & Workforce Development, Minnesota High Tech Association

⦁Stacey Stout, Director, Education & Workforce Development, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce

Out-of-School Time Roles/Opportunities


⦁Kari Denissen Cunnien, Executive Director, Ignite Afterschool

⦁Hayden Troy, District Executive, Northern Star Council, Boy Scouts

⦁Pam Wurster, Director of Outdoor Program, Girls Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys

Paving the Way from Pre-K to High School


⦁Kim Van Wie, Executive Director, STARBASE Minnesota

⦁Beth Murphy, Project Director of STEM Pathways

*All photos courtesy of ©2016 Larry Grace Photography for AirSpace Minnesota