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AFRL Deputy Executive Director honored with Dayton Business Journal Forty Under 40 Award

Dr. Jessica Salyers, Deputy Executive Director of the Air Force Research Laboratory. (Courtesy photo)

Dr. Jessica Salyers, Deputy Executive Director of the Air Force Research Laboratory. (Courtesy photo)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – The Deputy Executive Director of the Air Force Research Laboratory has been selected as one of the Dayton Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 award winners for 2018. A panel of judges comprised of past award honorees made the selection of this year’s honorees.

Dr. Jessica Salyers was one of the young professionals honored at the 21st Dayton Business Journal Forty Under 40 award banquet held at the Marriott at the University of Dayton May 17. With a remarkable resume of accomplishments, it is no surprise she was selected for the award.

As AFRL Deputy Executive Director, Salyers assists in overseeing about 6,400 highly skilled science and engineering team members comprising a workforce with a $5 billion annual budget. She also serves as lead of the “Workforce Agility” study for the Secretary of the Air Force where she is responsible for forecasting future workforce demographics, needs, succession planning, and recommendations for Air Force-level change to pivot from current state structure and manning to a future state in order to influence the Air Force workforce of the future for the next generation.

Salyers previously served as the Chief of Staff for the Air Force Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation office which was chartered by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein to address new approaches for capability development and rapid experimentation to inform senior leadership. Her support to this effort was vital, bringing the SDPE office from a conceptual idea to a fully operational organization in about 15 months.

During her tenure as the SDPE chief of staff, the office launched its first experimentation campaign chartered by the CSAF on Light Attack aircraft to evaluate the feasibility and affordability of low-cost commercial aircraft to conduct a variety of air-to-ground missions in permissive environments. The team completed Phase I of the experiment for $7 million in just five months.

Salyers also served as the first-ever AFRL Chief Learning Officer while instituting more than 20 workforce initiatives aimed at motivating, empowering, and providing feedback opportunities to the lab’s workforce, including development and implementation of the first AFRL Human Capital Strategy. As CLO, she also led and hosted the first AFRL sponsored Industry and Government roundtable, bringing together more than 10 organizations from industry, academia, and government to discuss best practices, processes, metrics and to create relationships.

“Dr. Salyers is the perfect candidate to win this award,” said Jack Blackhurst, a member of the Senior Executive Service, and AFRL Executive Director. “Her personal drive, work ethic, work/life balance, family, and community engagement in AFRL, Wright-Patterson AFB, and the Dayton community highlights the kind of young professionals making a difference in today's world. We are very proud of Jessica and she is well deserving of this award.”

Salyers is a class of 2016-2017 Leadership Dayton Program graduate and supports an individual platform of girls in STEM – advocating for increased STEM participation for girls in structured and unstructured STEM events in schools, before/after care settings, and increased opportunities to engage young girls in STEM sooner.

“I feel honored, humbled, and in awe of what the other 39 selectees have done both professionally and for our region,” Salyers said. “I'm incredibly proud to be a member of AFRL and to be selected as part of this group of professionals in the Dayton area, and hope to live up to the legacies of others who have been part of this honor in the past and what they have continued to do for our region, state, and nation. I'm thankful to have mentors who have given me opportunities to grow and stretch professionally, and who considered me fit for consideration for this award.”