The mission of the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum is to inspire, connect and empower people by convening events, forging partnerships and delivering tangible solutions. We do this in order to promote a culture of innovation in the national security community.

We are united in this purpose through service to our nation and the desire to bring new ideas and innovations to the national security ecosystem. We recognize that large, multi-tiered organization can stymie new ideas and ways of solving problems. Within any organization, there are people driven to find new, better, faster, cheaper, easier and more effective solutions. DEF unites those people, enabling them with avenues to express themselves, network with like-minded individuals, and gain the ideas, mentorship and support necessary to bring ideas to execution.

 

Leadership Team

Morgan C. Plummer

Executive Director

Mr. Morgan Plummer serves as a Director of the National Security Technology Accelerator Program (MD5/NSTA) at the US Department of Defense.

Prior to joining MD5/NSTA, Morgan served as a senior defense official in the Obama Administration, departing in April 2016 as the Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. As the senior public policy advisor and principal deputy to the Department’s chief human resources officer, Morgan oversaw a bold set of sweeping and progressive reforms, including the full integration of women into ground combat units, repeal of the ban against open transgender service and Secretary of Defense Ash Carter’s signature set of personnel policy reforms, collectively referred to as the “Force of the Future” initiative for which Morgan was awarded the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service. Before his role at Personnel and Readiness, Morgan served as the Special Assistant and Deputy Chief of the Staff to the Under Secretary of the US Army. While there, he focused on strategic planning, improving the organizational design of the Army’s headquarters and improving its business processes.

Morgan joined the Obama Administration after almost 12 years on active duty in the United States Army, where he served in a variety of command and staff assignments. He has completed multiple combat deployments to Iraq, been awarded numerous meritorious service and achievement medals, decorated for valor and served on the immediate staffs of two Deputy Secretaries of Defense. He continues to serve as an officer in the US Army Reserve. Morgan holds degrees from Michigan State University and Georgetown University and currently resides in Arlington, VA.

Kristen R. Hajduk

National Programs Director

Kristen R. Hajduk works at the Pentagon and is an adjunct fellow with the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies with expertise in counterterrorism, special operations, strategic war-gaming, and defense innovation policies. Kristen was co-founder and co-director of the No Exceptions initiative, a non-partisan coalition of post-9/11 military veterans and national security leaders who support full gender inclusion in the military.  She is German Marshall fellow and received her master’s degree at the University of Chicago.  In short, Kristen is a nerd who is passionate about those who serve our country – both in and out of uniform – and their ideas for making our world a better place.

Jen Sovada

External Engagement Director

Jen is passionate about enabling change within the national security enterprise. She loves to connect people so they can work together to find innovative ways to solve problems. She is also focused on empowering and supporting people so they attack problems head on, find innovative solutions and unique ways of thinking to tackle obstacles.

Jer McKoy

Community Development Director

Jer is inquisitive, creative and loves a good challenge. His belief in identifying individuals’ strengths and encouraging diversity evolved from leading Air Force teams around the world. He enjoys connecting people and thinking differently: preferably in the outdoors, ideally with a whiteboard. He seeks out promising opportunities, people’s inner potential, and the most efficient way to get to and from work. He lives in California with his wife, an author, and their dog, which looks like an Ewok.

Tricia Nelson

Marketing Director

Tricia Nelson is an experienced Social Media Marketing professional with a demonstrated history of working in the military industry. She is skilled with Nonprofit Organizations, volunteering not just with the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum, but also coordinating the marketing efforts of The Olmstead Foundation. She is a proud mother, wife, and sports enthusiast!

Justin Lynch

Business Operations Co-Director

Justin Lynch is an Army infantry officer. He is currently attending a graduate program at Johns Hopkins University. Justin is passionate about improving national security, particularly military education, doctrine, and operating concepts. He lives with his wife and dogs in Silver Spring, MD.

Ben Taylor

Business Operations Co-Director

Ben is a full-time Army officer in North Carolina. His interest in defense innovation began while writing his masters thesis on the need for militaries to constantly innovate to support the power status of the countries they serve. His degrees are in political science and defense studies, but his passions include connecting disparate disciplines for social improvement, the value of networks and motivated people, and the transformative power of good leadership.

Harlan Kefalas

Finance Director

Harlan is an active duty enlisted Army transporter whose intellectual curiosity led him to DEF. Knowledge is the equilibrium of opposing ideas. He is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership from Fort Hays State University. After his DC day job, he ponders how to attract and involve more enlisted personnel to DEF. If you are enlisted and interested, shoot him a message.

Stephanie Zhou

Giving Director

Steph first became interested in national security innovation at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown, where she studied the nexus of emerging technologies and security, with a focus on unmanned systems. She has since spent the entirety of her professional career in private equity, first at Goldman Sachs and now at Apax Partners, where she invests in growth-stage technology companies. She is ecstatic to be involved with DEF, as she believes that the existence of a forum for collaboration among disruptive thinkers, and the curation of their ideas into tangible recommendations, is key to effecting organizational change. In her spare time (when she can find any), Steph enjoys thinking about the implications of technology for security and society, catching up on tech news, and befriending people who have dogs. She is based in New York City.