• Meet the NASA iTech Team

    Kira A. Blackwell

    NASA Program Executive

    Ms. Blackwell is a Program Executive at NASA HQ within the Space Technology Mission Directorate Office. Kira’s vision for an innovative program within NASA to strategically identify entrepreneurs developing cutting edge technologies that have both an Earth and agency application, is how NASA iTech was formed. NASA iTech provides a platform to evaluate the technologies and an opportunity for the startups to leverage private investment dollars for further development. In the first 24 months of the program, the startups were able to leverage $368 million dollars in private investments funds, creating a unique model at a nominal cost to the federal government and successfully working with both entrepreneurs and investors.


    Ms. Blackwell previously managed her own consulting business helping innovative startups succeed. Her previous positions include serving as the Executive Director of Operations at Chrysalis BioTherapeutics Inc., the Director of Strategic Relations for the Houston Technology Center (HTC) at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC), facilitating local and international partnerships to leverage JSC’s innovative technologies, capabilities, and expertise. Prior to joining HTC, Ms. Blackwell served as the Director of Strategic Relations for Jacobs Technology, one of the largest engineering service contractors for NASA


    email: kira.a.blackwell@nasa.gov

    Harla Sherwood

    Director, Communications and Partnerships, National Institute of Aerospace

    Harla has 15+ years providing communications and outreach support to the aerospace community. She is currently responsible for public relations and all media communications to further the National Institute of Aerospace's mission in Research, Graduate Education, and Outreach. She is also responsible for developing strategies to secure funding for key NIA initiatives and for cultivating external strategic partnerships with universities, industry, professional societies, government, and non-profits.


    Harla leads NIA's Media Communications Group which produces NASA 360, a web and television broadcast program; Innovation Now, a daily radio program that explores the newest advances from NASA and the aerospace community; NASA Home and City; and is the principal investigator for the NASA iTech program.



    email: harla.sherwood@nianet.org


    Tom Flake

    Visionary - Change Agent

    Tom is a visionary who has personally founded over a dozen companies. These companies have all been at the bleeding edge of technology in fields as diverse as Voice Over Internet Protocol and Crypto-Currency. He has also assisted over fifty companies over the span of the last twenty years. During that time he has helped those companies raise almost $400MM, served on boards and participated in over 17 mergers, acquisitions or other types of exits.


    Tom graduated from The College of William and Mary’s Executive MBA program and is certified by NASA as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt. His NASA iTech related responsibilities are in the areas of expanding awareness, down select/curation, pitch prep and next-step-planning.


    email: thomas.flake@nianet.org

    Jen Consalvo

    Startup Community Inc. + Established

    Jen works with the NASA iTech team on overall planning, strategy, and specifically with the innovators themselves. In addition to the startup programs she currently runs at Startup of the Year, she cofounded, operated and sold Tech.Co, a news, content, and events organization focused on better connecting and educating entrepreneurs. Consalvo is also a startup investor, advisor, and a founding member of NextGen Venture Partners.


    Previously, Consalvo led product development teams in a range of product areas such as digital imaging, social platforms and personalization. Much of her career was at AOL, planning and building products used by millions of people globally. Jen has also served on the digital advisory boards for The Nature Conservancy and for the Master of Arts in Media Entrepreneurship at American University. She was nominated by Nevada's TBAN for 2014 Entrepreneur of the Year, listed by Business Insider in their 100 Most Influential Tech Women On Twitter, and named a Tech Titan twice by Washingtonian Magazine.


    email: jen.consalvo@nianet.org

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