SOAR Oregon, the non-profit funded by the state of Oregon to kickstart the drone industry, made two key hires this week as it begins its second year of operation. Chuck Allen, a veteran of entrepreneurial startups and multinational corporations, is the new Executive Director of SOAR.

SOAR-logo-blue-greenJohn Stevens, a leader in manned and unmanned aircraft operations and program management, joins SOAR as the Chief Operations Officer of Oregon’s unmanned aerial system (UAS) test ranges. Oregon is one of a few states chosen by the FAA to host official test sites. They are expected to lead the development of new commercial applications and provide the FAA with the information necessary to prove airworthiness and safety.

Oregon-Based AirShip Endurance UAV
Oregon-Based AirShip Endurance UAV

Allen is an accomplished technology and operations executive manager across several industries and served as Managing Director and Chief Technology Officer for Citigroup Global Equity Finance and as managing director of Microsoft’s Middle East business. Allen’s background includes both entrepreneurial and highly technical challenges, including mentoring startups and operations for a video game company. He also successfully helped to build the technology infrastructure for a $60 million trading company and then rebuild it after the data centers were lost on 9/11. Allen is also a pilot and drone hobbyist.

As the newly created position of COO for SOAR Oregon, John Stevens brings ten years of experience in the oversight of civil manned and unmanned aircraft systems and thirty years in complex program management. He will execute SOAR’s operational strategy with the ranges at Pendleton, Warm Springs and Tillamook, and with the FAA and Oregon’s partners in the Pan-Pacific UAS Test Range Complex.

UAS-Test-Range-Conditions-Oreogn

Allen succeeds Mark Morrisson, who resigned to pursue a personal project. “We could not have had a better executive director over the last year than Mark as we and our many partners ramped up to take advantage of the opportunity to establish this new industry in the state,” said Collins Hemingway, board president of SOAR Oregon. “Sad as we are to see him go, we have also found an exceedingly capable successor in Chuck, who has repeatedly shown the ability to succeed in complex and challenging environments. He and John, who brings a tremendous wealth of knowledge and experience in both manned and unmanned aviation, have the skills to make Oregon a national leader in UAS applications.”

Excerpted from official press release by SOAR Oregon.

Tierney O'Dea

Tierney O’Dea is a writer and media consultant. She started her career at NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw and worked in various forms of media for national organizations including Scholastic, Yahoo, and NASA. She also served as an executive for two startups, Slooh.com and Medic Mobile, and as a mentor for entrepreneurs in Austin, TX. In her free time, she enjoys downhill skiing, hiking, photography, and astronomy.
Tierney O'Dea