Technology Transition and Manufacturing Policy. It’s what we do!

Executive Team


Co-Founder of ASTRO America, Neal is a vital part of the Astro America Leadership Team. He develops and oversees implementation of the long term strategic vision of the organization, in concert with other members of the Board of Directors, which he chairs. He draws on 20 years of experience in the national security and manufacturing fields, including roles as Director of Manufacturing at the U.S. Department of Defense, advisor to two U.S. Secretaries of Commerce and three U.S. Senators.

At the Pentagon, he led Manufacturing Technology and Defense Production programs, and was awarded the Exceptional Civilian Service medal, and Secretary of Defense Award for Excellence. His medal citation credited him for launching key Defense initiatives, such as the Manufacturing USA pilot institute and Defense Production Act Committee. A renowned manufacturing expert, he has testified to Congress and supported standards bodies (video, video). He also served as a guest researcher at the Army Research Lab. In the corporate world, he has held various R&D leadership roles, including Vice President at 3D Systems, and senior technical leader at General Electric.

Today, Neal also serves on the Board of Directors of the Advanced Robotics Manufacturing institute.

Specific Areas of Expertise

  • Manufacturing & Industrial Base Policy

  • Defense Production and Supply Chains

  • Economic Development & Public Private Partnerships

  • U.S. Government Budget Planning

JASON GOREY, Executive Director

Responsible for overseeing ASTRO America staff and administering day-to-day operations, Jason is another vital part of the Astro America Leadership Team. He ensures government-sponsored research remains on-budget and on-schedule. He has extensive experience in defense industrial base policy as well as intelligence, cyber security, and foreign affairs. While serving in the Pentagon, he was executive secretary for the Defense Production Act Committee, coordinating across multiple agencies on actions to safeguard and strengthen essential national defense supply chains.

Previously, Jason held a career human intelligence position at the Defense Intelligence Agency and was appointed by the White House as a Senior Foreign Affairs Officer at the Department of State. As a military officer, he is now a Defense Attaché (Reserves) assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency. Previously, he served as an Intelligence Officer assigned to 1st Information Operations Command (Land) and deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. He holds a Strategic Intelligence graduate diploma from the National Intelligence University, an undergraduate degree in Government from Georgetown University, and spent 12 months studying at the American University in Cairo, Egypt, during his undergraduate studies.

Specific Areas of Expertise

  • Manufacturing & Industrial Base Policy

  • Public-Private Partnerships

  • Finance & Capital Markets

  • Business and Contract Management

MICHAEL MAHER, Chief Technology Officer

Mick is a co-founder of ASTRO America and oversees its technical team, leveraging decades of technical and managerial experience in defense manufacturing fields. A renowned expert in manufacturing processes and materials, Mr. Maher served as a leading program manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), managing a portfolio of programs specializing in advanced materials and manufacturing that included the Tailorable Feedstock and Forming, Materials Development for Platforms, and Open Manufacturing programs. While at DARPA his programs developed new technologies that enabled rapid qualification of new manufacturing technologies and developed revolutionary new composite technologies, novel lightweight multifunctional and specialty material systems.

Mick came to DARPA from the Army Research Laboratory where he was Chief of the Composite and Hybrid Materials Branch and Materials Applications Branch. While at ARL, he oversaw research and development programs in the areas of armor material, coatings, composite technologies, failure analysis, hybrid material systems, processing and material transitions.

Prior to his work at ARL, he served in various technology and management positions over a 20-year span at Martin Marietta, AAI, and DuPont.  In recognition of his distinguished contributions in the fields of materials and processes, he was awarded the designation of Fellow for the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering (SAMPE) and has served on multiple major policy commissions, including the National Academies of Sciences’ Strategic Long-Term Participation by DOD in its Manufacturing Innovation Institutes.

Specific Areas of Expertise

  • Manufacturing Technology

  • Advanced Materials Development

  • Aerospace/Defense Qualification

  • U.S. Defense Budget

    LARRY (LJ) R. HOLMES, Jr. Chief Manufacturing Officer

    LJ oversees our manufacturing engineering activities, including management of government funded applied research programs. He left federal service in 2018 after 15 years at the US Army Research Laboratory (ARL). His final posting at ARL was the Director of Research Partnerships and Communication for the ARL Center for Agile Materials Manufacturing Science (CAMMS). He was also the Lead for ARL’s Hybrid Manufacturing research portfolio, with a focus on multi-material processing technologies for functional/multi-functional devices. He was the founder of the Army Advanced Manufacturing Community of Practice, founding member of the Aberdeen Proving Ground inter-agency Additive Manufacturing Working Group, and a Principal Investigator for additive manufacturing materials and technology development at ARL. He currently holds a faculty position at the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, leading the Center of Advanced Manufacturing and Materials as executive director.

    Mr. Holmes earned his BS in Aerospace Engineering from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 2002, and his MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2009.

    Specific Areas of Expertise

      • Additive Manufacturing & Processes

      • Direct Write Electronics

      • Hybrid Manufacturing Systems

      • U.S. Army Plans & Programs

    JARED BLECHER, Director

    Dr. Jared Blecher is the Director of Additive Technology at the Applied Science & Technology Research Organization (ASTRO) of America. He leads ASTRO’s initiatives to accelerate hypersonic vehicle fabrication via additive manufacturing (AM) and rapid qualification. Prior to ASTRO, Jared was a Principal Engineer in the Advanced Research and Development division of 3D Systems. While at 3D Systems, Jared led and managed multiple government-funded projects, including corrosion of AM alloys, marine alloy development, exotic and refractory alloy process development (e.g. Mo, Ru, Pt), polymer derived SiC, process monitoring, rapid qualification, and large format printing of inlet cowls and heat sinks. Jared received his PhD, MS, and BS in materials science and engineering from the Pennsylvania State University. He has a wide range of laser processing experience, such as high-power laser welding and hybrid laser-arc welding, laser doping, powder bed fusion additive manufacturing, and vat photopolymerization. Jared also has experience simulating heat transfer and fluid flow during laser processing.

      Dr. Jared Blecher, Director ASTROA

      JOHN (JC) CHRISTENSEN, Vice President, Strategic Partnerships

      John serves as Vice President, Strategic Partnerships for the ASTRO America Leadership Team. In this capacity, he oversees AM Forward-related programs, working closely with each of the AM Forward founding companies. He serves as project leader for Advancing Additive Manufacturing Technologies’ National Science Foundation (NSF) Regional Innovation Engine Development Grant, and also as co-project leader on a Wichita State University-funded project focused on Additive Manufacturing Market Information that fulfills key objectives for AM Forward. John provides key support to other initiatives including ASTRO’s Guam Accelerator Project and America’s Army OTA, and also engages in partnering activities and provides proposal writing support in response to key government funding opportunity announcements.

      John’s 28 years of federal government experience included six years on active duty in the Navy, both afloat and overseas, and 18 years with the Defense Logistics Agency, the last eight years as DLA’s R&D Chief. After retiring from government service, John supported  the Department of Defense’s (DoD) OSD Manufacturing Technology office for 14 years and the Department of Energy’s Fuel Cell Technology Office Market Transformation program for 13 years. An especially noteworthy achievement includes leading the establishment of each of the DoD’s nine Manufacturing Innovation Institutes while working with the OSD Manufacturing Technology office. John was also recognized on two separate occasions during his tenure with the Department of Energy for his support to the National Renewable Energy lab and the DOE Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Office, for leadership in market transformation initiatives across a broad range of applications.

      John earned his BS in Environmental Engineering from the University of Florida in 1979, his MS in Systems Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1993, and an MS in National Resource Strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in 1995.

      Specific Areas of Expertise

      • Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology

      • Public Private Partnerships and Cooperative Agreements

      • Other Transaction Agreements

      • Federal R&D Budgeting

      • R&D Acquisition strategies

      • Manufacturing Technology

      • Logistics R&D

      ASTRO America’s Board of Directors includes:

      Jason Gorey, Executive Director of ASTRO America

      Brett Lambert, Managing Director of The Densmore Group

      Mick Maher, Chief Technology Officer of ASTRO America

      Bridget McGraw, General Counsel, Separation Management Office, GE Aerospace

      Neal Orringer, President of ASTRO America

      Tracie Potts, Executive Director of The Eisenhower Institute

      Jim Williams, President of All Points Additive