After the incredible success of the inaugural AFVentures Fellowship and the award of the Air Force’s “Big Bet” contract, Shift is proud to announce the virtual pilot program of the AFVentures Fellowship. In partnership with AFWERX, NavalX, and PEO Digital, this virtual 8-week Fellowship is a bold new program designed to accelerate innovation for the Department of Defense (DoD) by embedding the military’s rising stars to the best venture capitalists and startups in Silicon Valley.
As the COVID-19 pandemic forces employees around the world to shelter-in-place and work remotely, innovations we expected 10 years from now are happening today. Technology is being upgraded rapidly and new capabilities are being developed at a record pace. Of course, the security environment is also evolving and the DoD must evolve to meet these modern challenges. Despite travel limitations, Shift, the DoD, and Silicon Valley tech leaders will forge ahead to continue bringing game-changing capabilities and technologies to our warfighters.
This summer, for the first time, eight AFVentures Fellows will dial-in from around the US to virtually connect with their hosts in Silicon Valley and learn about the latest technology trends and innovation to bring back to the Department of Defense.
Meet the AFVentures Fellows of Cohort 2
- Capt Loren Bryant, Expanse, Air Force, Cybersecurity Portfolio Program Manager
- Lt Col Eduardo Buenviaje, a16z, Air Force Reserves, AFWERX Program Manager
- LT Lara Bzik, Structure Capital, Navy, P-8 Pilot & Liaison Officer to the US Senate
- MSgt Ryan Erickson, Alpha Bridge, Air Force Joint Terminal Attack Controller
- Lt Col CJ Johnson, Lux Capital, Air Force Reserves, Communications & Cyber Officer
- Capt Jennifer Walters, Alpha Bridge, Air Force, KC-10 Pilot/Presidential Advance Agent
- Maj Adam Welch, Shift, Air Force Reserves, T-6 Pilot & AFWERX Director of Innovation
- ENS Dominick Mitchell, Navy SEAL, Atomic (Concept Development Officer)
Shift is a San Francisco based technology company created to redefine career change for the 250,000 military service-members who transition from the military to civilian life every year. Our talent marketplace, proprietary assessment technology and talent development experiences empowers employers to create reliable and diverse talent pipelines by matching military skills, abilities and experience to a variety of roles. We partner with great employers like Major League Baseball, Okta, Udemy, Palantir, Publicis Groupe, Cisco, Symantec, and many more, and are backed by investors at Andreessen Horowitz, Expa, and Structure Capital.
About our Partnership with the U.S. Air Force
The AFVentures Fellowship has been made possible through the Small Business Innovation Program (SBIR), a competitive award based program that allows small businesses to explore their technological potential while helping the U.S. Air Force meet its specific research and development needs. The AFVentures Fellowship is a unique opportunity for the Department of Defense (DoD) to rapidly acquire industry-specific context and bring new scaled capabilities to the service while creating new and long lasting relationships with the private sector. By partnering with Shift, the DoD gains access to our extensive network of technology connections and learning opportunities which serve as developmental opportunities for future military leaders.
About the AFVentures Fellowship
The AFVentures Fellowship is open to all components of the Department of Defense and selection is determined by experience. Fellows are expected to be on career trajectories heading toward senior leadership positions such as General Officers, Senior Executive Service, and Senior Enlisted Advisors. Cohorts are expected to run every three months through 2024. Our next application period opens on August 12th for the Cyber-focused cohort . If you are interested in being notified about future programs or follow along with updates from the cohort, you can sign up for our mailing list here.
2020 Summer AFVentures Fellowship Cohort
Capt Loren A. Bryant is the Cybersecurity Portfolio Program Manager, Kessel Run, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Boston, MA. Prior to joining Kessel Run, Capt Bryant, an active duty Developmental Engineer, was selected for a Cyberspace Operations career broadening tour and was assigned to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, HI following completion of Undergraduate Cybersecurity Training. In her first assignment at Hickam, she served as the Cyberspace Integrations Flight Commander, 690th Cyberspace Operations Squadron, where she lead end-to-end process analysis and implemented improvements to NIPR and SIPR services for 850 thousand users across 3 Air Operations Centers, 147 bases, and 10 MAJCOMS. She then served as Deputy Branch Chief, and subsequently, Branch Chief of C2 Mission Systems, Headquarters PACAF A3/6. In these roles, she developed, delivered, and sustained the Command and Control Weapon System throughout the USINDOPACOM theater. She began her career at Robins AFB, GA where she was the Materials Corrosion Engineer, Air Force Research Laboratory and the Lead Industrial and Systems Engineer, Air Force Sustainment Center. Capt Bryant is driven to combine her Acquisitions and Operational experience, along with the BS in Accounting and two years of accounting experience gained prior to joining the military to drive Air Force innovation.
Major Eduardo Buenviaje currently serves as an Admissions Liaison Officer for the USAF Academy. In this role he is responsible for outreach to prospective candidates, strengthening military relationships with the local community, and coordinating local congressional offices. Additionally, he mentors candidates interested in a civil service career and actively promotes diversity within its ranks. Previously, Ed served as an instructor pilot in the KC-135R and took part of the Special Operations Air Refueling (SOAR) Missions. He later moved onto the Special Airlift Missions (SAM) program as an instructor in the C-37A. In addition to flying, he has extensive experience in Air Operations Centers and developing and managing training programs.
Ed holds a BS in Computer Engineering from the University of California, Irvine, a MS in Computer Engineering from the University of Florida, and a MBA from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. In his spare time, Ed enjoys managing the destruction of his two-year old, futures trading, and discussing Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT).
LT Lara Bzik graduated from the US Naval Academy in 2011 with a degree in Chinese, and reported to flight school in Pensacola, Florida. Lara was one of the first female student pilots to become qualified on the P-8A aircraft, and joined the VP-45 Pelicans in Jacksonville, Florida. With VP-45, she deployed as a mission commander and instructor pilot to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan and to Sigonella Air Base on the Island of Sicily, Italy. Lara and her crew acoustically tracked Russian and Chinese Submarines, and conducted freedom of navigation flights in the South China Sea and Black Sea. Lara currently lives on Capitol Hill and serves as a liaison officer to the US Senate. In this role, she travels internationally with Senators and Staff and furthers policy initiatives for the Department of Defense. Lara is an Executive MBA Candidate at The Wharton School, and will graduate in May of 2021 with majors in Finance and Entrepreneurship & Innovation. Lara is particularly interested in early stage consumer startups, and looking forward to learning more about how firms allocate capital and work with founders to drive growth.
Ryan Erickson is a program manager within the United States Air Force (USAF) focusing on the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program connecting companies to current and projected problems within the Air Force. Previously, Ryan was a part of USAF Special Warfare serving as a Joint Terminal Attack Controller - Weapons Officer within the 147th Air Support Operations Squadron in Texas. He resides in the Lone Start State with his wife, three kids and an obese Doberman that refuses to guard the house.
Lt Col Christopher Johnson, USAF (goes by “CJ"), serves as the Senior Individual Mobilization Augmentee to the Director of Cross-Mission Ground and Communications Enterprise, Space and Missiles System Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, CA. In this role, he is the Strategic Advisor to the Director on all matters relating to Air Force Reserve support to the mission and commercial technologies related to ground-based space communications.
He is both a Communications/Cyberspace Officer, and an Africa Foreign Area Officer. He previously served as Commander of the 919th Special Operations Communications Squadron at Duke Field, FL.
His staff tours include the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), U.S. Cyber Command, Special Operations Command Central, Joint Staff J5 Africa, U.S. Africa Command, and Air Force International Affairs. In his civilian capacity, CJ is an Economics PhD Student at George Mason University, VA.
Having worked at DIU, CJ is focused on solving wicked defense problem sets by leveraging private capital markets and commercial technologies, particularly data transport technologies. His academic interests center on the important role of innovative entrepreneurs and incentive structures to spurring economic and technology development.
ENS Dominick Mitchell is a commissioned Naval Officer with 12 years of enlisted experience in the Navy. ENS Mitchell is currently a concept development officer with the strategic innovation initiatives group of Naval Special Warfare Command. In 2019 he was accepted to attend Officer Commissioning School where he was commissioned as a Naval Officer in June 2020. His personal ventures include being a sole-investor of commercial real estate in the Midwest in order to make these investments run smoothly and efficiently for maximum opportunity. He has attended the University of Charleston, WV and received a degree in Organizational Leadership.
Captain Jennifer N. Walters is the Commander Support Staff Flight Commander, 9th Air Refueling Squadron, Travis Air Force Base, California. In this dynamic role, she acts as the commander’s trusted advisor, fosters the career development of twenty-four Airmen and furnishes critical administrative support and mission readiness for over 140 members executing worldwide DOD and NATO operations.
Captain Walters received her commission from the U.S. Air Force Academy as a distinguished graduate in 2011. She has also earned a Master’s Degree and PhD in Policy Analysis from the Pardee RAND Graduate School in Santa Monica, CA, where she published extensive research exploring the relationship between post traumatic stress and servicemember career outcomes.
Captain Walters is a Mobility Pilot with over 1,400 flight hours in the KC-10A, T-1A, and T-6. As an instructor pilot, Captain Walters trains young aviators in the employment of the KC-10A major weapon system. She has flown 100 combat sorties in support of Operations ENDURING FREEDOM, FREEDOM’S SENTINEL, INHERENT RESOLVE, and RESOLUTE SUPPORT, amassing more than 800 combat hours.
Major Adam Welch is a reserve officer in the United States Air Force, where he serves as the Acting Director of Spark Cells for AFWERX-Pentagon. In this role he is directly responsible for supporting the Secretary of the Air Force and Chief of Staff priorities by developing and managing an enterprise-wide culture of innovation. He is also a mission-ready T-6A Instructor Pilot with over 16 years of worldwide operational and combat experience that provides a unique understanding and ability to articulate end-user requirements. Adam is passionate about creating an ecosystem that provides pathways and resources empowering Airmen intrapreneurs to bring tomorrow’s solutions to the Air Force today.
In his civilian life, Adam is a First Officer with American Airlines where he is responsible for the safe and efficient operation of Boeing 737NG aircraft. Adam has a B.S. in Wildlife Management from Texas Tech University and a M.A. in International Relations from American Military University.
Ventures Fellowship Program Manager
M.A., University of Oklahoma
B.S., United States Air Force Academy
Forrest is the Program Manager for the Air Force Ventures Fellowship at Shift.org. He is leading the expansion of the Program to the entire Department of Defense to host 1,000 Fellows each year at venture capital firms and startups in technology hubs across the country over the next four years.
Prior to his transition from Active Duty, Forrest embedded with GGV Capital for 6 weeks during the inaugural Air Force Ventures Fellowship. Based on his experience in Silicon Valley, he was recruited to build a globally distributed MedTech evaluation team supporting the White House COVID-19 Task Force and FEMA which evaluated more than 4,000 companies and led to 13,000 contract actions worth $830M.
Forrest served 11 years in the United States Air Force as a C-130J pilot at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, a Special Operations MC-130J pilot at Kadena Air Base, Japan, and the Chief of Strategic Engagements at Special Operations Command Europe in Stuttgart, Germany. He has deployed to Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
CEO & Chairman
M.P.P, Harvard University
B.S., United States Naval Academy
Experience: Mike is often described as the entrepreneur bridging the gap between the military and tech. By decoding experiences, he’s helping veterans get hired into roles not normally associated with military service at companies like Major League Baseball, Andreessen Horowitz, and Adobe. As Shift Founder & CEO, he builds strategic hiring initiatives with executive teams and creates pathways for veterans into media, technology, and venture capital companies. Prior to founding Shift he was a Product Manager at a venture capital-backed financial technology company. Mike previously served for seven years in the Navy, deploying to South America and the Middle East as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Officer, eventually running global operations for a bomb squad battalion. Prior to the Navy, he co-founded ID.me, a company that has raised $40M+ in venture capital and is the first digital identity network that allows consumers to prove who they are online while controlling how their information is shared with brands.
Growth & Government Programs
Christopher currently oversees government programs, marketing, and strategic initiatives at Shift.org, a San Francisco-based, Andreessen Horowitz backed labor marketplace for veterans. He is also an Adjunct Faculty member at Princeton University's Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education, where he teaches a course on Creativity, Innovation and Design, and runs his own innovation consulting business, Shadestream Innovations.
Christopher has also worked at the design firm Frog Design, where he focused on the strategy and design of artificial intelligence and applied data systems to enable transformational change, and at the global macro hedge fund Bridgewater Associates. Prior to Bridgewater, Christopher spent over a decade focusing on technology, defense and national security issues for the US Government, with roles at the National Security Agency, the White House Situation Room, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
He is trained as a computer scientist, and holds degrees from Hamilton College, Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, and the United States National Intelligence University.