Debra Facktor Lepore is the vice president and general manager of Strategic Operations for Ball Aerospace. Lepore is responsible for increasing Ball Aerospace’s profile in the market and facilitating collaboration across the company. She is the company’s senior executive in the Washington, DC area and leads Washington Operations, Communications and Strategic Development. Lepore brings over 25 years of experience in the aerospace industry to her current role. Prior to joining Ball in January 2013, she served as the president of DFL Space LLC, an aerospace consulting firm focused on developing innovative business strategies for a wide range of customers. As an industry professor at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ, she led its Master’s of Engineering in Technical Leadership program and served as Director of Strategic Programs for the Systems Engineering Research Center (SERC). She was Principal Investigator on the SERC research project “Expedited Systems Engineering for Rapid Capability and Urgent Needs,” sponsored by the U.S. Air Force, and has used this research toward PhD studies. Lepore has extensive business experience including serving as president and an owner of AirLaunch LLC, a small business which won funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the U.S. Air Force to develop an operationally responsive small launch vehicle. She previously served as vice president of Business Development and Strategic Planning for Kistler Aerospace Corporation. Earlier in her career, she was Chief of Moscow Operations for ANSER’s Center for International Aerospace Cooperation. Among other distinctions, Lepore was honored with the University of Michigan 2014 Alumni Merit Award for Aerospace Engineering and as the Women in Aerospace (WIA) “Most Outstanding Member” for 2012. She is the former chair of the board of WIA and founding president of the WIA Foundation. She is also an appointed member of the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC). Lepore is a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and an Academician of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA). She holds a B.S.E. (magna cum laude) and M.S.E. in aerospace engineering, both from the University of Michigan, and is an alumna of the International Space University summer session program in space policy and law.
Leaders from industry, defense and civil space will draw on successes and obstacles in their own careers to advise New Gen professionals about how to get ahead and which key attributes and skills are needed for the next generation of space professionals to be successful leaders.