AFRL stands up new Civic Leader Program

  • Published
  • Air Force Research Laboratory Public Affairs
The Air Force Research Laboratory, or AFRL, established a new Civic Leader Program, or CLP, to build a group of informed and well-connected advocates that advises and collaborates with AFRL leadership and provides connections between civic leader communities and the public.
"The AFRL CLP is a major component of our Air and Space Force strategy designed to facilitate information sharing between senior leaders and the public," said AFRL Commander Maj. Gen. Heather Pringle. "We are excited to strengthen these vital connections to accelerate our S&T."
In October 2022, an AFRL committee identified 13 participants for the program’s first group, which offers a two-year term. AFRL technical directors, functional directors, wing and mission organization directors nominated these individuals and Pringle made the final selections.
“The team spans the many geographic locations of AFRL and is diverse in age, profession, experience and culture,” said Lenell Kern, AFRL Strategic Engagement team lead. “This group will serve as key communicators and work as supporters for AFRL and service issues. They will provide AFRL senior leaders with valuable ideas, feedback and advice from their outside the gate perspectives, which helps AFRL improve and become more innovative in working their mission goals.”
According to program guidance, a limited number of civic leaders may be appointed due to experience, expertise or other unique capabilities that make their individual perspectives of particular value to the AFRL community. 
The 13 new civic leaders were chosen based on their outstanding character, integrity and patriotism. According to eligibility criteria, all have deep interest in military affairs and are leaders in local/regional community affairs.
“Each civic leader is in a position to provide individual perspectives to senior AFRL leaders on Air Force and Space Force initiatives, issues and other matters of interest and will disseminate information about the Air Force and Space Force to a broad cross section of the public and to other prominent citizens in his or her area,” Kern said.
Dr. Karen M. R. Townsend, one of the civic leaders said the program provides her with an opportunity to serve her community and the military. 
“While I am not a part of the Air or Space Force, my goal is to utilize my expertise and experience in support of the mission of AFRL,” she said.
Jacqueline Izzo, mayor of Rome, New York, said being a civic leader is an “honor and privilege” and an excellent way to support historic relationships. 
“Our city's history with AFRL dates back many decades and we are proud of that relationship,” she said.
Recurring Civic Leader Program events

AFRL will host senior leader offsite meetings for an annual update and orientation provided by AFRL Public Affairs. For select offsite meetings, AFRL CLP members will meet for a two- to three-day conference alongside AFRL senior leaders. 
Other events may also be organized for Pringle to interact with these civic leaders. To further stimulate awareness and engagement, the directors of AFRL technology directorates will include civic leaders in directorate-level events. 
For more information about the AFRL Civic Leader Program, please contact Lenell Kern at

The Civic Leader Program members and the locations they represent are:
  • Danielle Casey, president, CEO of Albuquerque Regional Economic Alliance; Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.
  • Ted Corcoran, president, CEO of Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce; Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.
  • Ryan Michael Daza, founder and executive director, Capitol City Robotics, Inc.; Arlington, Virginia.
  • RoAnn Destito, retired after 40 years of public service to the state of New York; Rome, New York.
  • Steven DiMeo, president, Mohawk Valley EDGE; Rome, New York.
  • Jacqueline Izzo, mayor of Rome, New York.
  • Stephanie Keinath, vice president for Strategic Initiatives, Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce; Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
  • Will Laird, director of Educational Services, Antelope Valley Union High School District; Edwards Air Force Base, California.
  • Amanda Negron, CEO, HSU Educational Foundation; Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.
  • Dr. Joseph Palm, owner and dentist at Keep Smiling Dental Group; Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
  • J. Brad Steward, president, Pulakos CPAs, P.C.; Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.
  • Dr. Karen M. R. Townsend, president, KTownsend Consulting; Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
  • Sindy Yeh, senior business ambassador, Arlington Economic Development; Arlington, Virginia.

About AFRL
The Air Force Research Laboratory, or AFRL, is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 11,500 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit