AFMC Command News

AFLCMC acquisition professionals win DAF-level awards

  • Published
  • By K. Houston Waters
  • 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – The Department of the Air Force has recognized numerous Air Force Life Cycle Management Center personnel for excellence in acquisition and leadership.

Multiple members of the Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence and Networks and Digital Directorates, both headquartered here, won DAF-level Acquisition Excellence and Leadership Awards for outstanding service as program managers and acquisition staff officers. This follows recognition from AFLCMC and Air Force Materiel Command earlier this year. 

The highly competitive awards recognize individuals and teams that exhibit excellence in managing and implementing Air Force acquisition programs.

For C3I&N, Lt. Col. John “JP” Priestly of Unified Platform won the Outstanding Air Force Program Manager (Acquisition Category I, or ACAT I), and Lt. Col. Jared Ekholm from the Offensive Cyber Branch received the Outstanding Air Force Acquisition Manager Award (O-4 or O-5, military). The winners are both materiel leaders of branches in the Cryptologic and Cyber Systems Division, headquartered at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

“Both officers are highly deserving of this recognition,” said Col. Timothy Helfrich, the former senior materiel leader for Cyber Systems in the Cryptologic and Cyber Systems Division. “When it comes to U.S Air Force offensive cyber, Jared changed the game by delivering real capabilities at the speed of relevance. Similarly, JP reinvented capability delivery for USCYBERCOM by providing operationally relevant software every week.”

During fiscal year 2021, Ekholm led a $1.1 billion offensive cyber portfolio while driving an DevSecOps overhaul within the branch. He also piloted a Department of Defense cyber weapons initiative that fielded dozens of tools and three major systems in just four months. Ekholm now serves as the senior military officer in the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Multispectral Sensing and Detection Division at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Similarly, Priestly led a nearly $1 billion joint program that has delivered dozens of cyber capabilities to the warfighter. During the rating period, he managed 135 personnel, secured the DOD’s fifth continuous authority to operate, and initiated a DOD-wide software acquisition overhaul, facilitating DevSecOps and enabling data interoperability for Joint All-Domain Command and Control, or JADC2, and the Advanced Battle Management System, or ABMS.

Diana Hajek, who currently serves as deputy director of the Cyber Systems Group in the Cryptologic and Cyber Systems Division, was recognized with the Outstanding Air Force Services Acquisition Manager Award (GS-13 or GS-14, civilian) for her previous role, which was the director of program management with the 773 Enterprise Sourcing Squadron, also based in San Antonio, Texas. 

From the Digital Directorate, Michelle McCarthy received the Outstanding Air Force Program Manager Award (ACAT III), Erica Meyer was named Outstanding Air Force Acquisition Staff Officer (civilian) for her work in the Program Executive Group, and Capt. Ryan Torno won the Outstanding Air Force Services Program Manager Award (SCAT IV & V) for his work as a program manager of the Distributed Common Ground System/Global Network Systems Branch of the Command and Control, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Division.

“It’s a great honor to have won this award, and to be able to showcase all of the progress and contributions that our branch has made to the Air Force’s DCGS and to the ISR data processing and dissemination backbone,” said Torno. “A huge thanks goes out to our entire Network Infrastructure Transformation team here at Hanscom, which makes it all happen.”

In fiscal year 2021, Meyer assisted the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Acquisition with devising innovative acquisition pathways for 10 applications in the Kessel Run Software Acquisition portfolio, saving the Air Force over $1.5 billion.

“I am extremely honored for this recognition, as it highlights the hard work the Digital PEG does across the directorate,” she said.

McCarthy was also recognized for her work with the DCGS/GNS Branch, where she devised three-dimensional computer-aided design models in support of the development of ABMS. She also integrated the first-ever machine-assisted target reorganization capability for the Air Force and increased training in artificial intelligence and machine learning in the directorate.

Following their time at Hanscom, Meyer and McCarthy transitioned to the Rapid Capabilities Office, headquartered in Washington D.C.