Board of Directors

Mr. Richard C. Hackney, Jr., Chairman

Richard Hackney has led organizations in both the biotechnology and investment sectors. Mr. Hackney has served as CEO, President and Director for BRT Laboratories, Inc. & Baltimore Rh Typing Laboratory, Managing Member, Hackney & Company LLC, Senior Vice President and Portfolio Manager for U.S. Trust, Partner and Portfolio Manager for Alex Brown and Sons, and Senior Vice President and Portfolio Manager for JP Morgan in addition to participating as an early stage investor for numerous start-ups in cable television, telecommunications, and various business services.

Richard received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Morehouse College, his MBA in Finance from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and his JD degree from the Boston College Law School. He has served board, trustee and membership roles in a variety of organizations including: Mayor of Baltimore’s Task Force on Solar Power,The Howard County Equal Business Opportunity Commission, The Maryland Institute of College Art, The Glenelg Country School, The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, The Alvin Ailey Dance Theater Foundation of Maryland, The College Savings Plans of Maryland, The Maryland Venture Capital Trust, Gamma Boule, Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, The Baltimore Guardsmen, and The National Association of Corporate Directors.

Dr. Mabel Jones Matthews, Secretary

Dr. Mabel Jones Matthews has worked within the higher education community for 40 years, including over 15 years of focus on enhancing Federally responsive research and development at Minority Serving Institutions (MSI). She has senior-level service at several higher education institutions and in the Federal government. At St. Augustine’s University and Trinity College of Vermont, Dr. Matthews held senior-level positions as Professor, Division of Business Chairperson, Dean of Academic Affairs and Vice President for Enrollment Management.

In Federal service she has provided strategic leadership, as an MSI Program Manager, Higher Education Manager and Director, Office of Education Infrastructure Division, for NASA. She designed systems and research pathways for student and faculty researchers in STEM.

Dr. Matthews provided global vision and leadership in Warwick, England; Nassau, Bahamas; Dakar, Senegal; Banjul, Gambia; Paris, France; Montreal, Canada; Deajeon, South Korea; Prague, Czech Republic; Bremen, Germany; Glasgow, Scotland; Cape Town, South Africa. She served on the International Space Education Board (ISEB) – International Astronautical Congress (IAC) and was featured in Diverse (2014) “30 Visionary Women in Higher Education. She received the Distinguished Alumni Award of Excellence from the College of Education, University of Cincinnati.

Mr. Lonnie Johnson

President and founder of Johnson Research and Development Co., Inc., a technology development company, and its spin-off companies, Excellatron Solid State, LLC; Johnson Electro-Mechanical Systems, LLC; and Johnson Real Estate Investments, LLC. He worked as a research engineer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and then joined the U. S. Air Force, serving as Acting Chief of the Space Nuclear Power Safety Section at the Air Force Weapons Laboratory. He later became a Senior Systems Engineer at the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where he worked on the Galileo mission to Jupiter.

After returning to the Air Force he served as an Advanced Space Systems Requirements Officer at Strategic Air Command (SAC) headquarters and as Chief of the Data Management Branch, SAC Test and Evaluation Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base. He was awarded the Air Force Achievement Medal and the Air Force Commendation Medal on two occasions. He returned to the JPL and worked on the Mars Observer project during the the Cassini (Saturn) project.

Johnson formed his own engineering firm and licensed his most famous invention, the Super Soaker® water gun, to Larami Corporation. The Super Soaker® generated over $200 million in retail sales and became the number one selling toy in America. Larami Corporation was purchased by Hasbro Corporation and Super Soaker® sales have totaled close to one billion dollars. Johnson holds over 80 patents, with over 20 more pending, and is the author of several publications on spacecraft power systems. Johnson holds a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering, an M.S. degree in Nuclear Engineering, and an honorary Ph.D. in Science from Tuskegee University.

Dr. Isiah M. Warner

Vice President for Strategic Initiatives, Philip W. West Professor of Chemistry and a Boyd Professor of the Louisiana State University system. He is one of the world’s experts in the area of fluorescence spectroscopy and has been a renowned researcher for over 35 years. He has more than 300 refereed publications in a variety of journals relevant to the general areas of analytical and materials chemistry. His particular expertise is in the area of fluorescence spectroscopy. More recently, his research has focused in the area of ionic liquid chemistry applied to solid phase materials for applications in materials chemistry and nanomaterials.

Research interests include the development and application of improved methodologies (chemical, mathematical, and instrumental) for studies of complex chemical systems including environmental chemistry, using tools such as fluorescence spectroscopy, separation science, nanomaterials, automated methods of analysis, and chemistry in organized media.

One of Professor Warner’s greatest passions is mentoring. He has been involved in developing new educational models involving metacognitive learning strategies and the use of a mentoring ladder that extends the impact of an individual mentor. He has also conducted educational research that focuses on mechanisms for maintaining and enhancing student education in STEM, with a focus on getting these students to pursue terminal degrees. Professor Warner has earned numerous awards from many prestigious institutions. He has recently been honored with the 2014 Oesper Award and the 2013 American Chemical Society (ACS) Award in Analytical Chemistry.

Tomi Bannister

Ms. Tomi Bannister

Ms. Bannister is a small business strategist and government contracting expert with more than 25 years of experience in delivering comprehensive, performance-based information technology operations and administrative support services to the federal government and private sector. She is CEO & Founder of ARMA, an 8(a) graduate and woman-owned SDB.

Tomi also leverages her robust business background for the benefit of a number of community-focused projects and other philanthropic endeavors as an alumna of Leadership Montgomery Program. In all her roles, Tomi is known for her emphasis on highlighting and acting on customer concerns, skillful contract management and never forgetting the importance of paying attention to detail.

A photograph of board member Wayne Johnson.

Mr. Wayne Johnson

Mr. Johnson is a nationally renowned expert in domestic and international innovation ecosystems and experienced at creating complex partnerships between government, academia, industry, and nongovernmental organizations.

Currently a member of the National Academies Government University Industry Research Roundtable, he was Executive Director of the Innovation Institute at the University of Massachusetts which he founded, Vice President of Corporate Institute Relations at Caltech and Director of Innovation Partnerships at Mass Insight.

Wayne is a member of the ASTRA Board of Directors and an influential member of the global innovation community.  Johnson has spent many years navigating corporate and academic interfaces related to intellectual property rights, innovation policy, technology commercialization and competitiveness issues.

He currently serves as a Board member of the Weston Council on Aging, Springwell and Vetflix. He is also an advisor to the technology start-up known as the Curious Reactor. In April 2018 Mr. Johnson was invited by Newton-Wellesley Hospital to serve as an Overseer for a three-year term.

Widely recognized as a thought leader and global influencer, Johnson was a delegate to the Clinton Global Initiative, September 2007. He has also been quoted as a subject matter expert on the topic of engineering education and global capacity building in the press. Johnson was one of 5 members of an expert panel, which provided Congressional Testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives (Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation, Committee on Science and Technology on July 17, 2007, regarding “Bayh-Dole – the Next 25 Years,” significant legislation, which seeks to address issues of Intellectual Property (IP).

Johnson joined HP in 2001 from Microsoft’s University Relations where he managed Program Managers and administrative staff across a customer base of 50 tier-one universities. From 2001 until 2008 he was Vice President of University Relations Worldwide at Hewlett-Packard Company. From 1967 to 2000, he held a variety of positions at the Raytheon Company in Waltham, Massachusetts, including National Sales Manager for Wireless Solutions, Manager of International Financing and Business Development, Manager of Administration and Strategic Planning for Raytheon’s Research Division, and Manager of Program Development and Operations for Technical Services.

Johnson received his B.A. from Colgate University, Hamilton, NY and his M.B.A. from Boston College’s Carroll School, Boston, MA. He was an Adjunct Professor of Management at Boston University from 1977 to 1999. Johnson was recognized during this period, as one of BU Metropolitan College’s most outstanding adjunct faculty members of the year. Johnson’s work was also acknowledged in 2005 through a Harvard Business School Case Study – HP Nanotech: Partnership with CNSI, which illustrates the challenges of managing industrial – university collaborations and examines issues of US national competitiveness.

A photograph of board member Starnes Walker

Dr. Starnes Walker

Dr. Walker is the chair of the advisory council of the University of Delaware’s Cybersecurity Initiative (UDCSI) after serving as its founding director since 2014.  While at UDCSI, Dr. Walker established the cybersecurity education initiative aimed at integrating educational and outreach programs in collaboration with partners from business, government and academia.  Prior to UDCSI, Walker served as the chief technology officer and technical director in standing up the U.S. Fleet Cyber Command and U.S. 10th Fleet, U.S. Navy. His earlier government senior executive service/SES positions included Department of Homeland Security’s director of research, Department of Navy’s Office of Naval Research’s executive director and chief scientist and standing up the Defense Threat Reduction Agency as senior advisor for science and technology.

Additionally, he served as Argonne National Laboratory’s first associate laboratory director of national security, with a career spanning the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Energy and the IC. As a former member of the SES, Walker served as a standing member of the Defense Science and Technology Advisory Group for the Director of Defense, Research and Engineering in the Office of the Secretary of Defense , along with the S&T executives of the services, DIA, DARPA and MDA.

During his tenure with government, Walker led a number of strategic initiatives. These posts include an appointment by the Deputy Secretary of Defense to serve as chairman for the joint laboratory board of the Joint Improvised Explosive Devices Defeat Organization. Walker served as a member of the executive steering group to establish the Joint Technology Office-High Energy Laser Program under the auspices of DoD’s Under Secretary-AT&L. Walker now serves as a standing member of the Air Force Studies Board and the Intelligence Board of the National Academies and the Aspen Institute’s Homeland Security Group.

Walker is now a member of Purdue University’s Global Affairs Strategic Advisory Council, a senior advisor to NNSA’s National Security Campus (Kansas City Plant) and earlier as a member of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Strategic Advisory Group board. Walker serves as the founding chairman of the Engineering Development Board of the Missouri University of Science & Technology (formerly University of Missouri-Rolla) and was a Member-US Air Force Cyber Vision 2025 Senior Expert Review. Earlier, Walker served as the science advisor to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory, as well as led the tritium production program at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory. As a senior executive service member in helping to stand up DTRA, Walker was the recipient of the distinguished DoD Exceptional Civilian Service Medal. He is a recipient of the R&D 100 Award and is widely published in the fields of physics, chemistry, optics and signal processing, with numerous patents issued. He was a Navy fellow and recipient of three consecutive Naval Weapons Fellowship awards. Walker is a member of the American Physical Society, American Nuclear Society and The Cosmos Club.

Walker holds B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in physics from the University of California and an honorary degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Missouri-Rolla.