In the News

Class 2017 Experiences Defense and Its Industry in Southern Maryland

LEONARDTOWN, Md. – November 21, 2016 – On November 17, 2016, the Leadership Southern Maryland (LSM) Class 2017 participated in the third of nine educational programs for the 2016-17 LSM class – Defense and Industry. The one-day event began at Smartronix Inc., in Hollywood, Maryland, where participants learned how employers support the Maryland National Guard and the Military Reserves as well as a brief by Smartronix’s Steve Bishop LSM’14 alumni on founding a company in Southern Maryland and the evolution of its life twenty years later. In addition, a tour of the facility was provided by Smartronix employees who are graduates of the program – Laurell Aiton LSM’11, Jennifer Normyle LSM’16, and Rich Newberry a member of the current class.

At the conclusion of the tour, the participants boarded a bus that ferried them to the Naval Air Station Patuxent River. Matt Scassero LSM Council Member (Retired Navy Captain  and Univ. of Md. UAS Test Site Director) hosted the day by prefacing their visit on their way to the base with a NAVAIR 101 discussion. LSM class participants began with the USN Color Guard and a welcome to the Naval Air Station Patuxent River by the Commanding Officer, Navy Captain Scott Starkey. Following the welcome, the class members had a capabilities and informational brief by Lieutenant Colonel Timothy A. Davis, USMC, Commanding Officer of the U. S. Naval Test Pilot School. The class rounded out the test pilot school experience with the rare privilege of a walking tour of the hangar apron and the aircraft used in the test pilot school curriculum. The tour was hosted by Mike “Lash” L’Heureux LSM’10 (Retired USMC Colonel and the H-53 Program Manager) and John Hardison (Test Pilot School Technical Director). The group paused for a luncheon in the River’s Edge Catering and Conference Center, where members of the Engineering and Scientist Development Program and NAVAIR Acquisition Development Program joined the participants for lunch to ask questions about their experience on the tour and gain understanding from the LSM leaders and their challenges as leaders, as well as share their experiences as new members of the NAVAIR workforce. For the afternoon session, Jeff Rusher (NAWCAD UAS Director) provided a brief on Unmanned Aerial Systems followed by a class tour of the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance—Demonstrator (BAMS-D) Hangar, hosted by Dave Seagle and Retired Navy Captain, Dave Gleisner LSM’11, hosted participants on a windshield tour to the BAMS-D Hangar location by answering questions and providing information on Unmanned Air Vehicles. From there, the participants transitioned to the Atlantic Test Range, where they were welcomed by Military Director of the NAVAIR Range Department, Navy Captain Todd Watkins, and the Chief Engineer, Bill Darden. The participants received a brief on the capabilities of the Atlantic Test Range by Larry Hill (ATR Special Projects Office), the Real-time Telemetry Processing System by Walt Sidorovich, and an Environmental Overview by Chris Jarboe. The participants finalized their day with a “A Future of Naval Aviation” brief provided by RADM Mark Darrah, Program Executive Officer for Unmanned Aviation & Strike Weapons (PEO(U&W)).

The class interacted with staff at each site, including program advocates, and as leaders living in the Southern Maryland area they had the opportunity to discuss the impact to the economy, environment, wildlife, natural resources and future generations while understanding the commitment of the defense and supporting industry to our community. Overall, the class participants were thrilled to be part of Leadership Southern Maryland and the Defense & Industry Program.

The class wrapped up their day with a networking event that evening hosted by the LSM Alumni Association at The Front Porch in Leonardtown, Maryland. Class participants were able to meet and interact with LSM alumni, more than 270 strong, as well as Leadership Maryland alumni living in the Southern Maryland region.

Leadership Southern Maryland is a nine-month tuition-based program and educates and inspires a diverse group of current and emerging leaders creating opportunities for collaborations and partnerships impacting the community needs of Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s counties ensuring a cross-section of the region including diversity of geographic location, profession, ethnicity and gender.

For more information, please contact the Helen Mattingly Wernecke, Executive Director Leadership Southern Maryland, 240-725-5469 via email or visit


Leadership Southern Maryland is an independent, educational leadership development organization designed to broaden the knowledge base of mid- to senior-level public and private sector executives about the critical issues, challenges, and opportunities facing the region. Leadership Southern Maryland is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit