Ms. Laura DeSimone – Guest Speaker

Ms. Laura M. DeSimone serves as the Executive Director for the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), Office of the Secretary of Defense. She is the senior civilian advisor to the MDA Director on all issues relating to operational and management activities for MDA’s $9B+ per year portfolio. Ms. DeSimone provides oversight, leadership, direction and guidance to ensure the effective organization and integration of all programs and functions required to develop, test and sustain an effective Missile Defense program. She also serves as a key interface to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Services, and the Congress.

Ms. DeSimone served from 2014 to October 2020 as the MDA Director for Acquisition, the senior advisor and leader for all aspects of acquisition and contract planning and management for the programs that are integrated into a single Missile Defense System to provide a layered missile defense capability.

She held the position of Program Executive for Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) and was responsible for the planning, programming and execution of the design, development, integration, test, deployment, and sustainment of Aegis BMD Programs – a $2B+ per year portfolio, which includes all variants of the Standard Missile-3 and Aegis BMD Weapon System baselines. From 2011-2013, Ms. DeSimone served as Deputy Program Executive, Aegis BMD.

Ms. DeSimone was appointed to the Senior Executive Service in 2008. From 2008-2011, Ms. DeSimone served as Executive Director, Naval Ordnance Safety and Security Activity and the Deputy for Weapons Safety, Naval Sea Systems Command. In this position, Ms. DeSimone was the Department of Navy (DON) senior authority on all technical, scientific, and engineering methodologies associated with weapon and explosives safety afloat and ashore. Additionally, Ms. DeSimone was the Chair of the DON Weapon Systems Explosives Safety Review Board, the Navy’s independent oversight for safety compliance of all Navy and Marine Corps military munitions, ordnance items, explosive systems, weapon systems, and combat systems.

Previous assignments include Deputy Head, Engagement Systems Department, Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Dahlgren, Virginia, where she provided leadership and technical direction for 600 scientists, engineers, and technical support personnel; and Head, Test and Evaluation Division, NSWC Dahlgren, where she provided technical direction and management oversight for all explosive test and evaluation operations performed on an extensive complex of land, air, and water test ranges. From 1990 to 2005 she held a variety of engineering and senior program management positions in development and acquisition of Navy and Marine Corps weapon systems.

Ms. DeSimone holds a B.S. in physics from Ursinus College and a M.S. in mechanical engineering from Penn State University. Ms. DeSimone is a member of the DoD Acquisition Professional Community and a graduate of both the DoD Executive Leadership Development Program and the Federal Executive Institute’s Leadership in a Democratic Society Program. Ms. DeSimone has been recognized with the Presidential Rank Award (Meritorious), Secretary of Defense Medal for Meritorious Civilian Service Award, Navy Superior Civilian Service Award, and Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award (two awards).

Current as of November 2020.

Academics and Innovation