President and Chief Executive Officer
Tory is the president and CEO of United Launch Alliance (ULA). Under his leadership, ULA has transformed into a competitive powerhouse that is shaping the future of space launch by making it more affordable, accessible and introducing revolutionary new capabilities to meet the challenges of the future.
Over the past 35 years, Tory has developed and fielded dozens of critical defense and space launch systems that form the backbone of America’s national security and the nation‘s efforts in space exploration. He has a deep history in missile defense, strategic deterrence, and space launch. Tory is also an expert in several rocketry and hypersonic technologies and holds multiple related patents.
Tory is a tireless advocate for the industry, sharing his passion for space technology and his vision of a self-sustaining human presence beyond Earth. Tory is also a strong communicator on space. His social media presence is legendary worldwide and is an inspiration to many.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the California Polytechnic State University, in San Luis Obispo, California, and has completed graduate courses and management programs at Harvard University, Santa Clara University, the Wye River Institute, San Jose State University and the Defense Acquisition University.
Tory is an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Honorary Fellow, a former member of the Defense Innovation Board Space Advisory Committee, and serves as a member of the National Space Council Users’ Advisory Group. Tory is also a recipient of the Air Force Association John R. Alison Award, the 2021 American Astronautical Society Space Flight Award recipient, an awardee of the Von Braun Trophy, a holder of the von Karman Medal, and a member of the Space & Satellite Professionals International Hall of Fame.
Chief Operating Officer
John Elbon is the chief operating officer for United Launch Alliance (ULA). Elbon is responsible for the operations of the Atlas, Delta and Vulcan Centaur launch vehicle programs, including design, engineering, integration, production, quality assurance and program management.
Prior to joining ULA in May 2018, Elbon served as vice president and general manager, Space Exploration, a division of Boeing Defense, Space & Security at The Boeing Company. He was responsible for the strategic direction of Boeing's civil space programs, and support of NASA programs such as the International Space Station (ISS), Commercial Crew Development program, and the Space Launch System.
Previously, he served as vice president and program manager for Boeing’s Commercial Programs. In this position, Elbon managed Boeing’s efforts on NASA’s Commercial Crew Space Act Agreements, including the first two phases of the Commercial Crew Development program. He has leveraged innovations and capabilities from across Boeing in the development of crew transportation systems to support NASA and commercial customers in accessing destinations in Low Earth Orbit.
During his 35-year career at Boeing, he has also served as the vice president of Systems Integration for the Army’s Future Combat Systems, and the Boeing program manager for several NASA programs including Constellation, ISS, and the Checkout, Assembly & Payload Processing Services (CAPPS) contract at Kennedy Space Center.
As vice president and program manager of ISS, Elbon led Boeing in its role as prime integrating contractor for NASA’s ISS contract to design, develop, test, launch and operate this orbiting facility. The multi-billion dollar contract required the coordination of several thousand Boeing employees in five major locations as well as subcontractors and suppliers located in 23 states across the United States.
He holds a Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Vice President and General Counsel
Sondra Barbour serves as vice president and general counsel of United Launch Alliance (ULA) in Centennial, Colorado, a position she assumed in February 2020. With a nationwide team of nearly 2,500 employees, ULA combines more than 100 years of launch history with the Atlas and Delta rocket families and continues to grow its legendary results with the new Vulcan Centaur rocket family. At ULA, Barbour is the company’s senior legal advisor and leads the Law and Ethics departments as well as the Office of Internal Governance.
Prior to joining ULA, Barbour served as senior counsel and assistant corporate secretary to The Boeing Company, where she provided legal advice and counsel for government and commercial satellite and intelligence systems. She also has previously held positions within the global law firm, McKenna Long & Aldridge (now Dentons) and held the position of adjunct professor of law at Southwestern University School of Law.
She has served on the Association of Corporate Counsel Pro Bono and Diversity Committees and was the recipient of the Women of Color in Technology’s 2010 Technology All-Star Award for professional achievement and community leadership.
Barbour received her undergraduate degree in engineering from the Ohio State University and graduated summa cum laude from Southwestern University School of Law where she participated in the Law Review and Moot Court Honors Programs.
Chief Financial Officer
Christopher Wolter is chief financial officer (CFO) for United Launch Alliance (ULA). In this position, Wolter provides leadership to ULA’s finance organization and oversees all fiscal and fiduciary responsibilities.
Prior to joining ULA, Wolter served as the assistant controller and vice president for The Boeing Company, where he led the teams that execute Boeing’s Corporate Finance Services, Actuarial Services, Organization Optimization, and Enterprise Risk Management. Previously, Wolter served as vice president of Tax, where he led the team that executes Boeing’s global tax strategy including all aspects of global taxes, including legislative matters, planning, controversy, compliance and financial reporting.
Previously, Wolter held the position of senior manager of Tax Consulting at Ernst & Young LLP. During his time at E&Y, Wolter worked with large corporate clients including consumer products and industrial products companies, private equity firms and entrepreneurial companies. Wolter worked in the company’s offices in Michigan and Illinois and participated in a rotation with the National Tax department.
Wolter is a certified public accountant and holds a bachelor of business administration majoring in accounting from Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan.
Vice President and Controller
Mitch Van Dewerker is the vice president and controller for United Launch Alliance (ULA). In this role, he is responsible for ULA’s accounting and tax, financial planning and analysis, overhead rates and budgets, cost policy, accounts payable and payroll, facilities and property management.
Van Dewerker joined ULA in 2007 as the director of financial planning and analysis and most recently served as the company’s treasurer. As treasurer, Van Dewerker led several organizations within ULA, including financial planning and analysis, treasury, retirement finance, risk management, internal audit and strategic analysis. While serving as treasurer, Van Dewerker oversaw the successful transition of ULA’s pension plan for salaried employees, development and execution of the annual long-range business plan, and secured ULA’s revolving credit and term-loan facilities.
Prior to joining ULA, Van Dewerker served in several roles at Lockheed Martin, including senior manager positions in financial planning and program finance.
Van Dewerker holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and finance from the University of Northern Colorado. He also earned a Master’s of Business Administration from the University of Denver.
Chief Information Officer
Andrew Blackmon is the chief information officer for United Launch Alliance (ULA) and joined the company in April 2021. In this role, Blackmon leads the development and implementation of strategy and operational delivery for all Information Technology and E*PLM infrastructure, with an emphasis on enablement of key business transformational initiatives.
Blackmon is a senior IT leader with more than 20 years of industry experience across several industries including Aerospace & Defense, Healthcare, Biotech and Technology.
Prior to joining ULA, he served as director IT Infrastructure & Operations at Ball Aerospace and was responsible for all classified and unclassified IT infrastructure nationwide.
Blackmon has held several network and telecommunications engineering positions throughout his career before being promoted into his first leadership role at Children’s Hospital Colorado. He ultimately served as chief technology officer at Children’s Hospital Colorado and was responsible for the IT infrastructure and business applications across the organization.
Blackmon is a Colorado native who grew up in Boulder and later attended Colorado State University where he earned his Bachelor of Science in business administration with an emphasis in computer information systems.
Director, Strategy, Business Development and Sales
Tom Burkholder is the director of Strategy, Business Development and Sales at United Launch Alliance (ULA). In this role, he leads a team responsible for ULA’s strategic planning, competitive intelligence, capture and proposal activities, as well as strategic marketing and sales to drive new business, sustainable profitability and long-term competitive positioning of ULA for future launch services. Burkholder joined ULA in 2007 and has held leadership positions in Strategy, Business Development and Sales (SBDS) and Finance and during his tenure has contributed to the capture of $17 billion of new business.
Burkholder began his career with Martin Marietta which became Lockheed Martin. He graduated from Lockheed Martin’s Financial Leadership Development Program before moving to Denver to work on Atlas development. Burkholder spent 10 years leading corporate development and finance at commercial companies prior to joining ULA, where he has 15 years of senior leadership experience.
Burkholder holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Colorado–Denver.
Vice President, Production Operations and Supply Chain
Dan Caughran is the vice president of Production Operations and Supply Chain for United Launch Alliance (ULA). He leads a team of more than 1,000 employees at ULA’s production facilities in Decatur, Ala., and Harlingen, Texas, as well as all the supply chain organization.
Previously Caughran served as vice president of Defense Operations for Spirit AeroSystems. There he led Spirit’s defense programs from the engineering and manufacturing development phases to reliable and efficient recurring production. During his time at Spirit, he held numerous roles including vice president of Global Quality, vice president of Quality and Manufacturing Services, and vice president and general manager of Spirit UK in Scotland.
Prior at ULA, Caughran served as the vice president of Production Operations and as the site lead and general manager for ULA’s Decatur facility. He also led production consolidation activities following the formation of ULA in 2006, including moving Atlas launch vehicle production from Denver and San Diego to Decatur.
Caughran began his career in 1981 as a missile mechanic at Martin Marietta Astronautics in Denver. From 1982 and throughout his time with Martin Marietta, Lockheed Martin and ULA he held various production leadership roles on programs such as Peace-Keeper, Transfer Orbit Stage, Titan, Atlas and Delta launch vehicles.
From 1995 to 1997, Caughran was one of the primary production leaders in the transition and integration of General Dynamics Space Systems (Atlas and Titan Centaur programs) into Lockheed Martin. This included moving final assembly and test of the Atlas and Titan Centaur programs from San Diego to Lockheed Martin in Denver.
He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Regis University.
Vice President, Engineering and Advanced Programs
Chris Deel is the vice president of Engineering for United Launch Alliance (ULA). In this role, Deel leads the team responsible for all engineering functional areas (propulsion and mechanical engineering; electrical engineering and engineering services; operations engineering; systems engineering and chief engineers). Deel is responsible for defining the
product evolution roadmap from concept definition through detailed design. Deel most recently served as the chief engineer for Vulcan Centaur development and director of Advanced Programs.
Before joining ULA, Deel served as the launch vehicle integration lead for Lockheed Martin’s Orbital Space Plane development program. Other key roles include supporting the Space Launch Complex-41 and Space Launch Complex-3 pad activations, Delta propulsion chief engineer and the Atlas program deputy chief engineer. Deel began his career with Martin Marietta in 1994 as a light dynamics engineer on the Atlas program.
He holds a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Mississippi State University and a master of business administration from the University of Denver.
Deel is a member of Colorado State University’s Mechanical Engineering Advisory Board.
Vice President, Kuiper Program
Chris Ellerhorst is the vice president of the Kuiper Program at United Launch Alliance (ULA). In this role, he leads a team responsible for integrating finance, technical and operations activities associated with Amazon's Project Kuiper launches. Ellerhorst previously served as the director, Strategy, Business Development and Sales where he led the capture of more than $10.5B in new business orders. Additionally, he led ULA’s Strategic Advisory Group of senior industry experts, positioning ULA for profitable growth in the space launch market.
Ellerhorst joined ULA from Lockheed Martin Space where he spent 10 years in various positions, culminating in the Strategic Development and Advanced Programs organization supporting the development of the LM long-range strategic plan, leading new business ventures focused on creating new revenue streams, and supporting enterprise Merger and Acquisition portfolio activity. Additionally, he was the competitive intelligence leader for LM’s Military Space and Civil Space lines of business and developed a strong understanding of the global launch market as a core member of the LM Strategic Business Review team on ULA. Ellerhorst began his career at LM as a systems engineer working on the NASA ORION and GPS III programs. He is a graduate of LM’s Leadership Development program.
Ellerhorst holds a Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder and holds both a Masters of Systems Engineering and Masters of Business Administration from the University of Denver.
Vice President, Finance and Strategic Partnerships
Steve Furuto is the vice president of Finance and Strategic Partnerships for United Launch Alliance (ULA). In this role, Furuto is responsible for developing, managing and providing people, processes and tools for the company’s acquisition strategies, financial execution and delivering on ULA’s financial commitments. He also partners with ULA's Supply Chain organization to develop strategic initiatives and approaches with major subcontractors, leads all major contract negotiations and ensures cost and schedule execution. Prior to this assignment, Furuto served as the director of Central Finance.
Previously, Furuto was the director of Subcontracts Management and Procurement (SM&P) for ULA. In the SM&P role, Furuto drove strategic supplier partnerships and initiatives that resulted in achieving substantial ULA cost savings. Prior to this, he successfully coordinated the NSS Phase 1 estimating, contracting and negotiation activities culminating in the settlement of a block buy contract with the United States Air Force that secured work for ULA through fiscal year (FY) 2019. Prior to this appointment, Furuto served as a finance manager responsible for Delta II, Delta IV and Atlas V launch service contracts.
Furuto began his career at Lockheed Martin in 1995 where he progressed through a series of increasingly responsible positions in finance, accounting and business. In 2005, he was a critical team member who participated in the due diligence leading to the formation of ULA. In 2003-2004, Furuto supported high visibility financial evaluations for Atlas strategic planning alternatives. In 2000-2003, he led the Financial Planning and Analysis activities for the Space Systems division. Prior to 2000, Furuto worked in a variety of accounting and business functions for Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space in Sunnyvale, California.
Furuto earned a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from Santa Clara University.
Vice President, Human Resources
Liane J. George is the vice president of Human Resources for United Launch Alliance (ULA). In this role, George is responsible for directing all human resources functions including talent management, labor relations, security and emergency services, compensation and benefits, learning management, organizational development and HR operations.
George brings more than 25 years of experience leading human resources operations to ULA. She began her career with the General Motors Corporation in 1985 and has held numerous positions in both privately-held and publicly-traded, multibillion-dollar manufacturing, technology and service/solutions corporations.
Before joining ULA, George served as the corporate people officer for Sierra Nevada Corporation, directing the enterprise HR and corporate administration functions. She was also the lead member of the ethics committee, the HR lead for acquisitions and a key member of the corporate crisis management team.
George also served as the director of Human Resources for Lockheed Martin Corporation. She held multiple roles in both operating businesses and corporate headquarters. In one of her last roles, she lead the HR function for more than 1,000 employees located in the United States, United Kingdom, Singapore and Australia.
She received her Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from State University of New York at Oswego and her master’s degree in human resources from the University of Pennsylvania. She also completed several leadership development programs including HR Leadership Programs at Lockheed Martin and the Corporate Executive Board.
Vice President, Vulcan Development
Mark Peller is the vice president of Vulcan development at United Launch Alliance (ULA), and in this position is responsible for development of Vulcan. Vulcan is ULA’s future launch system that builds upon the ULA’s extensive Atlas and Delta heritage to provide a competitive product offering to serve a broad spectrum of markets. As the program manager, Peller has overall responsibility for developing the launch vehicle and the supporting capabilities required across the supply chain as well as ULA’s production and launch operations to meet the program’s objectives.
Peller began his career with Rockwell International in 1990 as a propulsion engineer supporting the Space Shuttle program. He joined The Boeing Company in 1996 when it acquired the aerospace and defense businesses of Rockwell. Peller moved to the Delta program in 1997 and held various technical and program management positions throughout the development and initial fielding of the Delta IV launch system.
Peller continued his work on the Delta program at ULA after the company was formed in 2006. In 2009, he was appointed the product line chief engineer for Delta, where he had overall technical responsibility for the Delta II and Delta IV launch systems. During this period he oversaw 24 successful Delta launches, including the first launch of the Delta IV Heavy configuration from the West Coast. In 2013 Peller transitioned into the role of the director of the ULA Hardware Value Stream where he was responsible for managing the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) contracts with the U.S. Air Force, and leading the product teams supporting launch vehicle development, procurement, and production.
Peller holds a Bachelor of Science degree in applied mechanics from the University of California, San Diego, a Master of Science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Southern California and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of California, Irvine. He is a licensed mechanical engineer in the state of California.
Vice President, Government Operations and Communications
Robbie Sabathier is the vice president of Government Operations and Communications for United Launch Alliance (ULA) headquartered in Centennial, Colorado. In this role, she is responsible for leading ULA’s interaction with key decision makers and stakeholders in Washington, D.C. and shaping critical policies and decisions related to ULA’s business.
Sabathier brings 15 years of broad-based commercial and civil launch experience from her work with the European commercial launch company Arianespace, and space shuttle contractor United Space Alliance. In addition, she co-founded a startup telecommunication company specializing in designing, deploying and operating low-cost, high-speed internet networks to serve rural communities.
Sabathier holds a bachelor’s degree in international business from San Diego State University and a Juris Doctorate from American University Washington College of Law.
Director, Safety, Quality and Mission Success
Fred Taylor is the director of Safety, Quality and Mission Success for United Launch Alliance (ULA). In this role, Taylor is responsible for ensuring a culture of safety throughout ULA’s work sites, processes and products, leading ULA’s Quality Management System and maintaining ULA’s record of 100 percent mission success. Taylor joined ULA as the director of Safety and Quality before moving into his current position.
Prior to joining ULA, Taylor spent nearly 10 years at the Cummins Rocky Mount engine plant in a variety of roles including director of Quality, Six Sigma Master Blackbelt and business unit manager. Prior to that, Taylor served as the Engine Machining manager for Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama where he helped launch the company’s production facility in Montgomery. Taylor was the Assembly Resource Planning leader for International Truck and Engine (Navistar) Indianapolis Engine plant and began his career at DaimlerChrysler’s Kenosha Engine Plant, holding a number of different leadership positions.
Taylor earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Kettering University, formerly GMI Engineering & Management Institute. Taylor also received a Master in Business Administration degree from Strayer University.
Vice President, Government and Commercial Programs
Gary L. Wentz, Jr. is vice president, Government and Commercial Programs for United Launch Alliance (ULA). In this role, Wentz leads the mission management, hardware integration, program management and launch operations for ULA’s government and commercial customers, as well as the team responsible for ULA’s role in human spaceflight. Wentz previously served as ULA’s vice president of Human and Commercial Systems.
Prior to joining ULA, Wentz served as the chief executive officer of Stratolaunch Systems Corporation and during the first four years was instrumental in establishing a small entrepreneurial company and leading the team through all startup activities. In addition, he successfully completed construction and outing of two large facilities in Mojave, California, to manufacture and assemble the air-launch platform. He led the development, manufacturing, and assembly of a unique one-of-a-kind, purpose-built composite aircraft.
Previously Wentz served as a senior executive at NASA and has worked projects onboard SpaceLab, Space Shuttle, International Space Station, 2nd Generation Reusable Launch Vehicle Program, Orbital Space Program, and Exploration Systems.
Wentz received a Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering and a Master of Science degree in engineering management from the University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida. He is the recipient of the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, NASA Certificate of Commendation, the NASA Space Station Program Team Excellence Award, numerous group achievements, and certificates of achievement.