Debra Facktor, Senior Aerospace and Defense Strategist

Debra Facktor is an executive-level aerospace and defense strategist, guiding new and established companies through unprecedented industry changes. For over 30 years, her leadership and strategic vision have enhanced business growth and fostered new paradigms for industry collaboration.  A business leader and systems thinker, she is known for her ability to see opportunity in change and for developing proactive plans that anticipate and leverage evolving market landscapes. With an emphasis on teamwork, mentoring, diversity and inclusion, she brings people and ideas together to make a positive impact.

Debra’s industry experience extends from government program support and international relations, to executive leadership in start-ups, academia, and in a public company.

Through January 2020, Debra was Vice President and General Manager of Strategic Operations for Ball Aerospace, where she elevated the company’s profile across multiple stakeholder communities and expanded its strategic capabilities in defense, civil and commercial sectors. Debra represented Ball Aerospace as its senior executive in the Washington, DC area, where she led the company’s Washington Operations, Marketing & Communications, and Strategic Development portfolios. She transformed the strategic planning process and implemented an enterprise-wide integrated strategic plan, leading to tremendous and sustainable multi-sector growth.

Prior to joining Ball in January 2013, Debra served as the president of DFL Space LLC, an aerospace consulting firm focused on developing innovative business strategies for its clients. As an industry professor at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ, she also led its Masters of Engineering in Technical Leadership program and served as Director of Strategic Programs for the Systems Engineering Research Center (SERC). She was Principal Investigator on the SERC research project “Expedited Systems Engineering for Rapid Capability and Urgent Needs,” sponsored by the U.S. Air Force.

Her extensive business experience includes serving as president and an owner of AirLaunch LLC, a small business that won funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the U.S. Air Force to develop an operationally responsive small launch vehicle. She served as vice president of Business Development and Strategic Planning for Kistler Aerospace Corporation, which raised over $600M in private capital to develop a reusable launch vehicle for commercial markets and laid the groundwork for commercial resupply of the International Space Station. Earlier in her career, she was chief of Moscow Operations for ANSER’s Center for International Aerospace Cooperation.

Among other distinctions, Debra was honored with the University of Michigan 2014 Alumni Merit Award for Aerospace Engineering and as the Women in Aerospace (WIA) Most Outstanding Member for 2012.  She currently serves on the industrial advisory board of the University of Michigan Aerospace Engineering Department, the advisory committee of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA), as a board member and treasurer of the Future Space Leaders Foundation (FSLF), and as a mentor for the Brooke Owens Fellowship Program.  She is founding president of the WIA Foundation, former chair of the board of WIA, former board member of the American Astronautical Society (AAS), and former appointed member of the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC).  Debra is a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), a fellow of the AAS, an Academician of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA), and a member of the International Women’s Forum. She holds both a B.S. and M.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan and is an alumna of the International Space University summer session program in Space Policy and Law.

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