As Managing Director for Acorn Growth Companies, Gary brings 38 years of aviation, defense, advanced technology, and leadership experience. He supports cross-functionally in the activities of the firm and specializes in developing portfolio growth, business development strategies and optimizing synergistic effects of the portfolio. He also supports organic growth acquisition and is an active leader with Acorn’s government affairs activities.
In 2008, Gary joined one of Acorn’s portfolio companies – Commuter Air Technology (CAT) located at Wiley Post Airport, OK. In his various roles at CAT including Program Manager, VP of Business Development, Senior Vice President, and General Manager of a Part 145 repair station and FBO, Gary was instrumental in the company’s monumental growth.
Prior to 2008, Gary enjoyed a successful Navy career, completing 24 years of active-duty service. As a Mustang Officer, he enlisted in 1984, and rose through the ranks to become an accomplished Naval Aviator, completing 10 world-wide deployments amassing more than 6000 flight hours as Instructor Pilot and Mission Commander. He flew numerous aircraft, namely the P-3 Orion and T-43 (B737). He served as a Catapult and Arresting Gear Officer (Shooter) and Assistant Air Officer (Mini-boss) aboard the USS Enterprise (CVN-65), while underway during the 9/11 attacks, setting a Naval Aviation record for the most aircraft “traps” in 24-hour cycle. His final flying tour was as Chief Pilot and Officer in Charge (OIC) for Navy Special Projects Squadron TWO (VPU-2), leading numerous multi-aircraft detachments supporting Special Operations in combat. His last staff tour was at Special Operations Command Pacific (SOCPAC), where he was selected as Chief of ISR, Science & Technology Advisor for USPACOM Special Operations and Joint Special Operations Air Detachment Commander in the Philippines (JSTOF-P). Gary is a rated Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) and Unmanned Airial Systems (UAS) pilot.
His academic experience was with Oklahoma State University (OSU), where he served as the Deputy Director of the Unmanned Systems Research Institute (USRI) for 5 years, which recognized substantial growth supporting DOD UAS interest. He also served as an adjunct professor instructing Aviation Law, International Operations and Human Factors. He holds a BS in Psychology from University of New York, a MS in Aviation Management from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, and a MS from the USMC Command & Staff College (Counterterrorism).
Gary was the COO for Navatek LLC, a diverse maritime R&D company in the areas of fluid dynamics, propulsion, artificial intelligence, and digital twin technologies. Gary’s most recent endeavor was standing up the embryonic autonomy group for Berry Aviation in Stillwater, OK, focusing on unmanned threat replication, propulsion, and navigation improvements.