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Dr. Patricia Sanders


Dr. Patricia Sanders has been a senior executive and career professional with over 34 years experience in the federal government including the management of complex technical programs, leadership of large and diverse organizations, and development and execution of policy at the Department of Defense level. She is skilled in change management, process improvement, strategy development and execution, and retention of top performers.

Dr. Sanders has recently retired from government service as the Executive Director of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). She was the senior civilian in the Agency responsible for its management and operations, strategic planning, legislative affairs, external communications, and all issues related to worldwide personnel administration and development. Previously she had been the System Executive Officer and Deputy Director for Integration of MDA, managing program content, schedule, cost and technical performance for the Agency’s $9 Billion per year program of work.

After teaching for Boise State University and the University of Utah, Dr. Sanders began her national security career with the United States Army in Germany in 1974. She progressed through a number of challenging positions including the management of several Defense acquisition programs including the Space Computational Center replacement for space tracking and surveillance in Cheyenne Mountain; numerous positions with the Ari Force Operational Test Center in space system and aircraft avionics testing’ a tour as the Chief Scientist for the Command, Control, and Communications Countermeasures Joint Test Force; and serving as the Director of Analysis for the United States Space Command.

In 1989, Dr. Sanders moved to the National Capital Area to assume the first of a number of staff positions within the Office of the Secretary of Defense culminating with service as the Director of Test, Systems Engineering, and Evaluation. She joined the missile defense community in 1998 and participated in the establishment of the Missile Defense Agency, was responsible for creating its robust test organization, initiated the Sensors Directorate, and accomplished pioneering work in managing integration of the Ballistic Missile Defense System.

Dr. Sanders actively supports professional, academic, and civic organizations, serving on numerous executive boards including the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the International Test and Evaluation Association, the Military Operations Research Society, and the Advisory Boards for the University of Tennessee Space Institute, the Naval Post Graduate School Software Engineering Department, and the Devotion to Children Foundation. She is active in Women in Defense and with the Metropolitan Washington USO and the Potomac Appalachian Trail Conference and participates in NASA’s mentorship program for young female professionals.

Dr. Sanders has been recognized throughout her career with various honors and awards. She has received three Presidential Rank Awards for executive achievements; was elected as a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics; presented the Allen R. Matthews Award for lasting and significant accomplishments to the field of test and evaluation; and received the DeFlorez Award for Modeling and Simulation for outstanding achievement in the application of modeling and simulation to aerospace training, research, and development.

Dr. Sanders was a National Science Foundation Fellow at Wayne State University where she earned degrees in mathematics and physics including a Doctorate in mathematics, graduating Summa Cum Laude and elected to Phi Beta Kappa.




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