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Defense Mavericks

Defense Mavericks

Author: Bonnie Evangelista | Tradewinds × CDAO

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Welcome to Defense Mavericks, the podcast that uncovers the untapped potential of AI within the federal government. Join us as we dive into authentic and disruptive conversations with our nation’s brightest minds, offering a fresh perspective on how to gain an unfair advantage through the adoption of new, emerging technology. Our goal is to equip you with the knowledge, education, and best practices you need to shorten the learning curve toward government transformation.


Tradewinds AI:
109 Episodes
On today’s episode of AI Proficiency: Turning Tomorrow into Today, we sit down with John Ferry, President at Trenchant Analytics, LLC, and Co-Founder/CEO of John sat down with Bonnie to discuss one of Tradewind’s success stories, working with the CDAO on applying AI to the acquisition process.  Listen in to hear more about semi-automating the entire contract pipeline, from AI powered contract writing, improving workflow, and a faster acquisition process.  CDAO: Tradewind AI: ATARC:
On this episode of AI Proficiency, Turning Tomorrow into Today, we are joined by author and consultant  JL Hancock. JL describes how his background in the Navy exposed him to cutting-edge resources, serving as the foundation for his interest in spearheading his own projects. Tune in to learn more about why he was inspired to take risks in the field of emerging technologies, his detailed process for assessing them, and the threat that mitigating those risks often pose to modernization within the government.  CDAO: Tradewind AI: ATARC:
Join us for another episode of AI Proficiency: Turning Tomorrow into Today to hear a conversation with Ben McMartin, Senior Fellow at the Center for Government Contracting, George Mason University. Ben shares his introduction to Other Transitions (OTs), their steady evolution over the last decade, and the future of government contracting within the Department of Defense. CDAO: Tradewind AI: ATARC:
On this episode of AI Proficiency: Turning Tomorrow into Today, we are joined by Alexandr Wang, Founder and CEO of Scale AI. Alexandr has been a leading force in the future of AI innovation and sat down with us to discuss what challenges inspired him to start his company. Join us to learn more about the rising demand for high-quality data in the field, how AI should be properly utilized as a tool to solve modern issues, and the projects Scale AI plans to tackle next. CDAO: Tradewind AI: ATARC:
In today’s episode of AI Proficiency: Turning Tomorrow into Today, we are joined by Dr. Joshua Elliott; Program Manager at DARPA. Dr. Elliot sat down with us to discuss how he works to integrate AI as a way to create modern opportunities and target issues. Stay tuned to learn more about his role in creating technologies that make human workflows more efficient and the importance of proper education in giving us the tools to remain current with these advancements. CDAO: Tradewind AI: ATARC:
In today’s episode of AI Proficiency: Turning Tomorrow into Today, we are joined by Dr. Brooke Ellison, President of Brooke Ellison Leadership and Inclusion Strategies, LLC and associate professor at Stony Brook University. Dr. Ellison has spent her life advocating for those with disabilities, creating change through policy and education, and continues to inspire others with her story. Listen in to hear how accessibility-focused technology has had a profound impact on her life and career, how it can become a resource in providing opportunities for those living with disabilities, and the role AI plays in conversations surrounding the future of healthcare. CDAO: Tradewind AI: ATARC:
Join us on this episode of AI Proficiency: Turning Tomorrow into Today as we chat with co-founder and CEO of Valid Evaluation Adam Rentschler. We'll be unpacking the importance of providing feedback for complex problems and data analysis as he shares his company's success in creating a culture of open communication. Listen in as we discuss how these resources can be used to solve issues in the government as well. CDAO: Tradewind AI: ATARC:
On this episode of AI Proficiency: Turning Tomorrow into Today, we sat down with Colonel Scott Helmore, the Joint Robotics and Autonomous Systems Enterprise Acquisition Manager under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment to discuss the need for AI literacy in the workforce. He went into detail about his background and how he's been successful in using AI as a reliable solution to current issues in academia, industry, and the workforce. Stay tuned to hear his insight on how shifting the focus can best utilize a digital future. CDAO: Tradewind AI: ATARC:
Learn how to manuever and enjoy the changes being made in the constantly evolving world of technology with today's guest, Motivational Improvisor, Avish Parashar, from Avish Parashar Productions! Listen in as he shares his approach solving complex technical problems using lessons he has learned through years of improv work, especially as it relates to AI. Disruptive ideas for innovation have helped his AI expertise develop throughout his career and he now uses that knowledge to develop challenging mindsets in upcoming technology experts, inspiring those that follow to get creative in their problem-solving. Avish Parashar: CDAO: Tradewind AI: ATARC:
Listen in as we hear from guest speaker Marshall Brain, the Director of the Engineering Entrepreneurs Program at North Carolina State University and the founder and creator of He shares how his creative mind looks to figure out how everything around him works and finds opportunities to improve solutions to issues he sees. Hear how he turned this hobby into a startup company and made the writings an award-winning success! Marshall explains the challenges and resources needed with incorporating AI into situations where it did not previously exist and how those automations can benefit the systems they join.' CDAO: Tradewind AI: ATARC:
Listen in as we hear Stephanie Wilson, the Contracting and Agreements Officer in the U.S. Army, detail how to create and handle improved contracting practices necessary to acquire AI and emerging technology. She shares her years of experience in dealing with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and how proper use and understanding of OTAs have helped her be successful. Hear how asking questions and challenging the existing policies has helped develop new ways of accomplishing goals within federal contracting. Wilson also details the value in an influential and memorable quote she coined some time ago regarding the benefits of using OTA's!
Tune in to this episode of AI Proficiency: Turning Tomorrow into Today as we hear from our guest speaker, Igor Jablokov, the CEO and founder of Pryon. He delves into how important it is to be disruptive in technology and how the results can be both evolutionary and revolutionary. Hear the firsthand story of how Igor started the creation and software we now know as Amazon's Alexa and kept the solution to a known problem going as he got Pryon started. He also shares his take on how we can continue to enable innovation as technology progresses in the world around us. CDAO: Tradewind AI: ATARC:
Join us for this episode of AI Proficiency: Turning Tomorrow into Today as we hear from guest speaker Bonnie Evangelista, the Tradewind Execution Lead at the Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office (CDAO). She will introduce the efforts and goals of the CDAO and the enabling concept of Tradewind. Hear as Bonnie further details the purposes and benefits of having Other Transaction Authorities (OTA) and some of the key features they were designed to include as well as sharing her personal experiences with procurement transitions. Links: Tom Suder:  Linkedin: Bonnie Evangelista: Link: CDAO: Tradewind AI: ATARC:
The AI Proficiency: Turning Tomorrow into Today podcast is a series of casual discussions with Artificial Intelligence experts as we create resources for increased training and learning opportunities for individuals within the industry. This podcast will focus on the risks, policies, capabilities, trends, use cases, tools and technology used within AI, as well as providing the opportunity for hearing experts challenges, solutions, and passion projects. Each episode will host a guest from within government, industry, or academia and will discuss topics ranging from AI acquisitions to implementation to existing or upcoming programs and everything in between.
This week, Bonnie is joined by fellow CDAO leader Captain Manuel Xavier Lugo, Head of AI Initiatives and Capability Delivery and Task Force Lima Commander at OSD CDAO, to discuss the Task Force Lima mission, its challenges, and their 18-month race to AI mastery. Captain Lugo dives into the reality of AI integration, the pursuit of technological maturity, and the critical importance of tailored AI readiness in defense. Tune in for an insightful conversation on the balance between innovation and pragmatism. TIMESTAMPS: (1:30) What is Task Force Lima? (7:28) Scaling vs. sustaining – who really owns success? (8:55) Why you should abandon the “Black Box” mentality (15:32) Partnering with use case owners (19:05) Benefits of centralized enterprise models (22:55) Don’t be scared of technology, be skeptical (25:02) The hope and potential of AI (28:22) Why you should never skip the basics LINKS: Follow Captain Lugo: Email Task Force Lima: Follow Bonnie: CDAO: Tradewinds AI:
This week, Bonnie is joined by special guest Jennifer Pahlka, author of "Recoding America: Why Government is Failing in the Digital Age and How We Can Do Better”, to talk through some of the most pressing issues facing public servants today. Jennifer dives into the need to shift from project management to product management, the power of human-centered policy, and how embracing change can accelerate the integration of emerging technologies. Tune in for an important conversation on reshaping the public sector to better serve its citizens. TIMESTAMPS: (5:13) The power of bottom-up policy (6:39) Closing the gap between policy and delivery (12:41) Why public servants should prioritize mission over process (16:33) Discovering your “why” (19:16) Focusing on direct user feedback rather than requirements (23:28) Adding vs. simplifying policies (26:09) Putting a stop to maximalist approach to policy (27:14) Shifting from project to product management in government (31:17) How to seek community & communicate needs LINKS: Follow Jennifer: Follow Bonnie: CDAO: Tradewinds AI:
This week, Bonnie sits down with Schuyler Moore, Chief Technology Officer for U.S. Central Command, to discuss the process of integrating technology into critical military operations and her experience pioneering the role of CTO at CENTCOM. Schuyler shares her insights on the importance of fostering a culture of innovation from the top down, the critical role of user feedback in tech development, and the power of partnerships between industry and government in driving impactful change. Tune in for a dynamic conversation on what it takes to shape the future of defense technology. TIMESTAMPS: (3:13) Cultivating a culture of innovation in US Central Command (6:42) Why user feedback is key in tech development (11:19) Overcoming operational challenges in implementing emerging technologies (14:57) The impact of historical precedents on military technology (18:33) Balancing operational imperatives with technological innovation (22:10) Pro tips for staying ahead in the dynamic tech landscape (26:05) The vital role of the user community in shaping tech solutions LINKS: Follow Schuyler: Follow Bonnie: CDAO: Tradewinds AI:
This week, Bonnie is joined by Lieutenant General Michael Groen (Ret.), former director of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, to talk about the importance of transformative thinking in the DoD. General Groen shares his insights on transforming military capabilities with AI, the significance of a communal drive for change, and the need for and lack of imagination in defense. Tune in for an engaging conversation on innovation, experimentation, and what it truly takes to craft the next generation of defense capabilities. TIMESTAMPS: (3:42) What does it mean to “transform”? (8:12) The importance of stimulating thought within department (11:11) Why vitamin “I” deficiency is killing progress (13:35) Describing problems vs. prescribing solutions (17:25) How to push boundaries with experimentation (20:06) Striving for uncomfortable relevance (23:20) The key to making AI transformative (26:23) Why we need integrated data environments for decision-making (27:22) Fining the balance between industry and DoD partnerships LINKS: Follow General Groen: Follow Bonnie: CDAO: Tradewinds AI:
Today’s bonus episode features listener favorite and contracting powerhouse, Stephanie Wilson, on the Doing Tech Better in Government podcast. Stephanie chats with host, Brian Fox, about her experience with non-traditional procurement methods, combating legacy tech, and getting familiar with the unfamiliar. From AI in procurement to culture change within the DoD, Stephanie discusses the challenges and opportunities in modernizing procurement methods. Tune in to learn how to foster a culture of innovation and critical thinking. TIMESTAMPS: (2:14) Innovative procurement practices in the Army (4:54) Challenges in adopting new procurement methods (07:38) How to overcome fear and embracing change (12:22) Why upskilling and culture change are critical (20:55) Staying humble and curious in the face of innovation (24:03) What does the future of procurement look like? LINKS: Follow Stephanie: Follow Bonnie: CDAO: Tradewinds AI: Doing Tech Better in Government:
This week, Bonnie is joined by Jon Gruen, CEO of Fortem Technologies and former Navy SEAL, to discuss counter-drone strategies and the challenges of fostering innovation in the defense space. Jon shares his insights on the intricacies of operating in the DoD, the capital-intensive nature of defense technology development, and the importance of education and partnerships in driving innovation within the industry. Tune in for an honest conversation on the current defense landscape and what is needed to overcome the bureaucracy within it. TIMESTAMPS: (4:04) Jon’s journey from Navy SEAL to CEO (9:20) Why counter UAS was under-resourced (11:42) The drone threat evolution (16:59) Why innovation programs are not enough (19:53) How to protect innovation from budget cuts (24:01) What it takes to succeed as a startup in the DoD (26:09) Jon does this every time he goes to a new country (28:25) Grilled cheese in hot chocolate? LINKS: Follow Jon: Follow Bonnie: CDAO: Tradewinds AI: Fortem Technologies:
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