Vice President of Partnerships and Business Development
Amanda Krantz is the Vice President of Partnerships and Business Development at Volansi. In this role, Amanda leads the company’s Department of Defense and commercial accounts teams working with partners like Merck and the Air Force on Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programs, revolutionizing supply chains and delivering critical parts, essential supplies and life-saving medicines by drone to regions all around the world that were once inaccessible.
Prior to Volansi, Amanda was the founder and CEO of DohJe, a gratitude platform that made it easy for patients to directly thank their nurses and other healthcare heroes. She began her career in the Air Force working at NASA and as an Acquisition Officer at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space on the Airborne Laser and International Space Station. Since then she has held a variety of entrepreneurial business development and product roles at Fortune 500 companies like AOL, Yahoo and AT&T and at several startups, including running a music business from the back of a 15-passenger van while also playing drums in 125 shows in 22 states across the U.S. Amanda has a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the U.S. Air Force Academy, an M.S. in Electric Engineering from George Washington University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Vice President of Production
Josef Vacek is Vice President of Production and Maintenance at Volansi. In this role, Josef and his team manage the manufacturing, procurement, and quality of Volansi’s products.
Prior to joining Volansi, Josef spent 11 years at Insitu performing multiple roles within the company. In his last role Josef served as Senior Hardware Manager, a cross functional role where he oversaw people, processes, and tools for mechanical, propulsion, electronics, and aerospace engineering. At Insitu Josef also Identified business gaps within the functional teams and provided leadership with solutions to overcome these gaps. He conducted technical review boards as a subject matter expert and led the technical ScanEagle proposal team on 8 Request for Proposals (RFP) and 3 Requests for Information (RFI). He served as Chief Engineer for ScanEagle, the UAS that invented the agile ISR category, and was SUAV Project Engineer that productized the ScanEagle dual bay aircraft. Prior to that Josef was Director of Program Management for Leviathan Security Group, where he led and managed the DARPA customer CYNDER I & II programs.
Josef holds a Bachelor of Science, Aerospace Electronics from Embry Riddle Aeronautical
Senior Vice President of Global Operations
Mike Jackson is Volansi’s Vice President of Global Operations. In this capacity he oversees planning, resourcing, and execution of Volansi’s commercial drone delivery and defense operations. Additionally, Mike is responsible for Volansi’s account management and customer success programs.
Prior to Volansi, Mike was in the Air Force for nearly 25 years. He led the 27th Special Operations Group, overseeing 1500 people, 10 organization, and a global mission. He twice led the Joint Special Operations Air Component – Central, managing SOF aviation in the Middle East. He led aviation humanitarian disaster response efforts after Hurricane Maria in the Caribbean and after Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines. He was a special operations pilot in the USAF.
Chief Legal Officer
Laura Baumann is General Counsel for Volansi. In this role, Laura is responsible for the legal functions of the company and oversight of outside counsel.
Prior to joining Volansi, Laura was Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel at Heritage Distilling Company where she was responsible for the buildout of the legal function of the company, securities offerings and compliance, corporate governance, managing a large intellectual property portfolio, served as an advisor to the Board of Directors on a wide variety of legal and corporate strategy matters and much more. She has also held the role of Vice President of Legal Affairs at Blucora, Inc.and was a partner at Miller Nash Graham and Dunn LLP. Laura was a Corporate Associate at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP in Seattle and Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP in New York. She holds a BA (magna cum laude) in history from the State University of New York at Albany and earned her JD (cum laude) from Hofstra University School of Law.
Chief Financial Officer
Mike Palu is the Chief Financial Officer at Voly. In this role, he spearheads the company’s financial and capital raising initiatives, as well as implement infrastructure so the company can strategically scale to meet its global market opportunities.
Prior to joining Voly, Mike served in numerous financial executive roles, including Chief Accounting Officer at fast growth companies such as Vlocity and Medallia. He also served as Vice President and Corporate Controller of AppDynamics, facilitating the company’s accelerated growth and successful acquisition by Cisco for more than $4 billion. Additionally, Mike is a Certified Public Accountant with more than 20 years of public company controller experience, including Riverbed Technology.
Vice President of Marketing
Jen is Vice President of Marketing for Volansi. Prior to that she ran marketing, communications and government relations for drone security company, Fortem Technologies. An executive-level communications strategist and adviser, Jen has helped numerous companies and individuals elevate their brand. She has steered companies through crisis communications, framed executive and entrepreneur leadership stories and distilled complex corporate business challenges for a broad spectrum of audiences. Prior to Fortem, Jen started Flashpoint Public Relations where she and her partners helped launch dozens of technology startups in Silicon Valley. She also served as Senior Vice President and Associate Director of Hill & Knowlton’s Technology Practice Group, running communications strategy for HP and many other Fortune 100 companies.
Jen began her career in New York’s book publishing scene then returned to San Francisco and WIRED magazine, where she was director of marketing. Jen holds a BA from Saint Mary’s College and an MA from New York University.
Vice President of Flight Software and Robotics
Dalibor Djuran is Vice President of Flight Software and Robotics for Volansi. In this role, he is responsible for leading the company’s software development, avionics and robotics teams. These teams are developing, scaling and maintaining reliable systems for flying Volansi drones any time, anywhere in the world and creating solutions for customers so they can send and receive critical deliveries with minimal human interaction.
Prior to joining Volansi, Dalibor worked at Planet Labs as the Director of Satellite Manufacturing and New Product Introduction for Earth Imaging Satellites. In that role, Dalibor’s team built and launched nearly 150 Super Dove satellites and six high-resolution SkySat satellites. He has also held leadership positions at Gartner, Flextronics and Time Warner Cable. He is also the COO and co-founder of Drones-X, a California-based startup developing end-to-end solutions for consumer and professional drone pilots and flight control towers. Dalibor holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Louisville. He is also a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt.
Chief Technology Officer & Co-Founder
Hannan Parvizian is the CTO and Product Architect of Volansi. He was inspired to start Volansi in 2015 while working as an analyst, where he witnessed first-hand the crippling logistics nightmare of shipping crucial auto parts between a major electric carmaker’s service centers, warehouses and factories. Hannan incubated his idea in YCombinator’s 2017 batch and has since grown the idea into a company of over 130 employees with delivery projects all over the world. Volansi is transforming how goods are moved by offering its customers with the fastest, most responsive delivery service using high-speed long-range drones.
Other notable career highlights include being named to Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list and senior positions at Accenture, Siemens, GE and Tesla. Hannan is also a mentor of the Alchemist Accelerator. A graduate of the Technical University of Munich and a true engineer-entrepreneur at heart, Hannan also takes to the skies in his free time as a licensed recreational pilot.
Vice President of Corporate Strategy
Chris Benson is Vice President of Corporate Strategy at Volansi. In this role, Chris manages strategically important internal projects and external relationships. He is responsible for developing new corporate opportunities for strategic partnerships, investments, mergers and acquisitions.
Prior to joining Volansi, Chris was a lead systems engineer for MITRE Corporation in Washington, D.C. Before that, he spent over six years in the U.S. Air Force, most recently as Founder and Director of Strategic Investment for AFWERX, a military unit that manages over $1 billion of investments annually. Prior to AFWERX, Chris worked in multiple capacities for the US Air Force, including as a Science Attache to The Netherlands, the Lead Systems Engineer for an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Program and a Mechanical Engineer for the F-16 Program Office. Chris also co-founded ELL Operations, a hardware start-up that was eventually acquired by an industry leader, and before that architected entrepreneurship programs at MIT and Singapore University of Technology.
Chris holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, a dual master’s degree in mechanical engineering and technology and policy and a PhD in mechanical engineering, all from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Vice President of Government Affairs
Church Hutton is Vice President of Government Affairs at Volansi. In this role, Church will help Volansi deliver relevant and innovative capabilities to government customers at the speed of commerce.
Church brings 20 years of experience in the military, congressional and national security industries to Volansi and has a reputation of collaboration across the political spectrum. He joins Volansi from innovative aerospace and electronics integrator Sierra Nevada Corporation, where he was head of legislative affairs. In that role, his team partnered with government agencies and Congress to increase competition in defense programs, expand the national security industrial base, break vendor lock and accelerate the pace of innovation in defense programs. Prior to the private sector, Church spent 12 years in senior national security staff positions on Capitol Hill including on the professional staff of the Senate Appropriations and Senate Armed Services Committees, and in the offices of Sens. John McCain and Joe Manchin. He holds a BS from the Johns Hopkins University and a Master’s in Public Policy from George Mason University.
Co-Founder & Chief of Staff
Wesley Zheng is a Co-founder and Chief of Staff of Volansi, where he helps drive product development and engineering solutions to enable drone logistics. As Chief of Staff, Wesley is helping build an outstanding team that can take the company to the next level.
Since co-founding Volansi in 2015, the company has grown to over 130 employees with offices in California, Arizona and Oregon. Prior to co-founding Volansi, Wesley was a senior engineer at Lucid Motors. He holds a BA in Chemical Engineering from the University of Cambridge and a Chemical Engineering PhD focused on Energy Storage from Stanford University.
Vice President of Production & Maintenance
Ahmad Ziada is Vice President of Production and Maintenance at Volansi. He has extensive leadership experience in Operations, Engineering and Product Development and is an energetic, engaging and thoughtful leader who creates an environment of collaboration and excitement. His passion is bringing people, processes and tools together to create a successful business. At Volansi he is responsible for internal operations, including quality, supply chain, manufacturing and sustaining engineering as well as New Product Introduction (NPI).
Prior to joining Volansi, Ahmad was Vice President of eMobility at Consolidated Metco and previously worked at Insitu for 14 years. While at Insitu he had multiple senior/executive leadership roles. Most recently he was the Senior Director of Operations. He also held senior leadership positions in Product development, Engineering and Program Management. Ahmad holds a BS in Aerospace Engineering from Pennsylvania State University.
Vice President of Aircraft Engineering
Stephen Morris is the Vice President of Aircraft Engineering at Volansi. In this role he serves as the lead engineer for the company’s aircraft design division. Prior to joining Volansi, he held the position of Director of Advanced Technologies at Neptune Medical and Chief Technology Officer at Martin UAV, among many other roles in the aerospace industry. Stephen holds a BS (Summa Cum Laude) in Mechanical Engineering from Bucknell University and an MS and PhD in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from Stanford University.
Senior Vice President – Global Sales and Business Development
As Senior Vice President – Global Sales and Business Development, Marvin leads a team focused on global market expansion. In this role, he also leads a government affairs group working directly with policymakers to ensure Volansi’s interests and market needs are supported around the world.
Prior to Volansi, Marvin spent 32 years at FedEx where his most recent position was Managing Director, Worldwide Services. In that role, he led a team focused on delivering global business solutions for some of their top strategic customers. During his time at FedEx, Marvin also previously held positions in operations leadership, field sales and global sales training.
Senior Vice President of People
Mike Guerchon is the Senior Vice President of People at Volansi. In this role, he leads the people organization as they support the growth and development of high-performing teams. Mike leads recruiting, learning and development, people operations, facilities, security and IT. This all enables a great culture in support of our rapidly growing global company.
Mike has more than 25 years of experience in both ground-level start-ups and global public companies. Former roles include senior leadership positions over the human resources function at RealWear, Puppet, Okta, IKON Office Solutions and Riverbed Technology. At Riverbed, Mike led the organization through its IPO and rapid growth in revenue from $2 million to $1.2 billion. Under his leadership, the organization was recognized at No. 4 in the world in Glassdoor’s “Culture and Values” rating and top 20 worldwide of “Best Places to Work.”
Mark Mesler is the Chief Financial Officer at Volansi. In this role, he spearheads the company’s financial and capital raising initiatives, as well as implements infrastructure so the company can strategically scale to meet its global market opportunities.
Prior to joining Volansi, he served as Vice President of Finance and Investor Relations at Bloom Energy. There, he played an integral role in taking the company through several funding rounds and an eventual IPO. Mark also worked as Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Operations at Aquest Systems and as Director of Finance at KLA-Tencor. He holds a BS in Finance from Pennsylvania State University and an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University.
Vice President of Program Management
Shane Hastings is the Vice President of Program Management at Volansi. In this role, Shane and his team manage the product portfolio from ideation through execution.
Shane was most recently the Tactical UAS Product Line General Manager at AeroVironment, and has also established program management offices at AeroVironment and Insitu specifically targeted at managing unmanned system development. He has also worked in engineering leadership capacities at Insitu and St. Gobain Crystals. He holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Portland State University, an ME in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Idaho and holds a Project Management Professional certificate from PMI.
Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Will Roper is the CEO of Volansi. For three years, Dr. Roper served as the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. In this role, he led all research, development, procurement, and logistics for both the U.S. Air Force and Space Force: an annual budget totaling $60 billion. But he is best known for accelerating acquisition timelines and fostering disruptive innovation inside of government.
While at the Air Force, Will took large strides in opening defense market opportunities to commercial companies, spearheading initiatives like AFWERX and Small Business Innovative Research reform that connected 2,300 tech companies with military problems and associated contracts. He also led Department-wide technology transformations for software, artificial intelligence (AI), and digital engineering and initiated high-tech programs for hypersonic weapons, autonomous drones, advanced satellites and rockets, and a militarized internet of things (IoT), all while overseeing the day-to-day readiness of over 5,300 military aircraft and satellites.
Prior to departing the Air Force, he demonstrated the first use of AI on a military weapon system (the U-2 spy plane) and first IoT kill chain, downing a cruise missile with inexpensive artillery. He also led the turnaround of the troubled KC-46 tanker program by redesigning its critical 3D vision system. But in addition to technology, Will was equally passionate about competing for talent, updating 50-year-old body standards for all Air Force programs to increase accessibility for women and people of color to pursue military careers.
Earlier in his career, Dr. Roper was the founding Director of the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO), growing this once-classified innovation office from $50 million to $1.6 billion annually. Solving the military’s most pressing problems, his programs spanned concepts like artillery-based missile defense, multi-domain missiles, smartphone-navigating weapons, big-data-enabled sensing, standoff arsenal planes, autonomous wingmen, and swarming drones—including the world’s largest drone swarm demonstration in 2017. During his tenure as Director, he transitioned over three fourths of SCO’s programs into military programs and served as the Principal Staff Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for disruption and innovation.
Will has a bachelor’s and master’s in physics from Georgia Tech and a doctorate in mathematics from Oxford, where he studied string theory as a Rhodes Scholar.
Paul Ricci is the CEO of Qualifacts + Credible. Prior to joining Qualifacts+Credible in December 2020, Paul Ricci was the chairman and CEO of Nuance Communications. While at Nuance, Ricci transformed the company from a small imaging software publisher into a $2 billion leading provider of conversational speech and AI solutions, with 14,000 employees worldwide. During his tenure, the company successfully developed a pioneering healthcare technology business, became a leading global provider of customer self-service solutions, and built one of the world’s largest independent automotive software businesses, now Cerence (NASDAQ:CRNC).
Prior to joining Nuance in 2000, Ricci spent more than a decade at Xerox Corporation, where he served as a division president. Paul holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Stanford University. He serves as an industry advisor to Warburg Pincus and as an advisory partner to Lightspeed Venture Partners. He is a member of the board of directors of Personalis (NASDAQ:PSNL); Volans-I; and Intelligent Medical Objects. He is also on the board of the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford and on the innovation board of Partners Healthcare in Boston.
Joe Horowitz is the Managing General Partner of Icon Ventures, a leading Silicon Valley venture capital firm with offices in Palo Alto and San Francisco. A veteran of the venture capital industry, he founded Icon in 2003 and has overseen its growth, from $100 million in assets under management to $1.1 billion. Joe’s venture capital experience includes a 10-year tenure at U.S. Venture Partners, where the first deal that he worked on was the seed financing of Sun Microsystems. He was also Chairman and CEO of Geocast Network Systems, a broadband infrastructure company backed by Mayfield, Kleiner Perkins and Institutional Venture Partners.At Icon, Joe has had 16 successful exits to date. He has been particularly active in the security space with early investments in FireEye (FEYE), Palo Alto Networks (PANW) and Proofpoint (PFPT) that today are publicly-traded companies with multibillion-dollar market valuations. Other notable exits include Aster Data (Teradata), Clicker (CBS), Infinera (INFN), KIXEYE (Stillfront), Meebo (Google), Mimosa Systems (Iron Mountain), Ocarina Networks (Dell), Opcity (News Corp), Posterous (Twitter), SiTime (MegaChips), Teladoc (TDOC) and True[x]Media (Fox).Current Icon portfolio companies that Joe is on the Board of or actively involved with include Area 1 Security, Global Worldwide, PlayStudios, Synack, TuneIn and Volansi.Joe received his MBA from the Wharton Graduate School of Business. As an undergraduate, he earned his BA degree in economics from Columbia University, in addition to three years of study at Columbia’s School of Engineering & Applied Sciences. He currently serves on the board of the National Venture Capital Association and was previously a board member of the Western Association of Venture Capitalist.
Vice President of Finance
Poh Sim Gan is the Vice President of Finance at Volansi. Poh Sim has held roles in financial leadership for global manufacturing and technology companies throughout her career. Prior to joining Volansi, she was most recently the Chief Financial Officer at Openwave Mobility, where she also previously held the roles of Vice President of Finance and Corporate Controller. She has also held leadership positions at Netlogic Microsystems, Marvell Semiconductor, Riverstone Networks and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Poh Sim holds a Bachelor of Accountancy (Honors) from the National University of Singapore and has been a Certified Public Accountant since 1993.
Former Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration
Michael Huerta served as Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) from 2013 to 2018. He joined the agency in 2010 as Deputy Administrator. He currently is a public company board member, and a consultant advising clients in the aviation and aerospace sectors.
During his FAA tenure, Huerta redefined the FAA’s regulatory relationship with the aviation industry to achieve greater levels of safety through increased collaboration and widespread sharing of data. He led the agency’s efforts to modernize the nation’s air traffic control system while preparing the way for the safe integration of commercial space operations and small unmanned aircraft systems. He is also well known for eliminating the decades old ban on the use portable electronic devices aboard airplanes during takeoff and landing, making it possible to use many devices from gate to gate.
Prior to joining the FAA, Huerta served in executive positions at Affiliated Computer Services, Inc., the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the Olympic Winter Games of 2002, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Port of San Francisco and the New York City Department of Ports, International Trade and Commerce.
Huerta holds a BA from the University of California, Riverside and an MPA from the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs.
Payload Capacity: xx
# of eVTOL Motors: 8
Pusher Motor: heavy fuel or gas