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The Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative


Chain of Command

Originally, the ADL Initiative reported to the OSD Director for Readiness and Training Policy and Programs in the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (USD(P&R)) chain of command. Over time, these offices have been reorganized. Today, the ADL Initiative reports to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Education and Training (DASD(FE&T)), who reports to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness (ASD(R)), who in turn reports to the Undersecretary for Personnel and Readiness (USD(P&R)) within the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

ADL Initiative Leadership

The program is organized into key functional areas, which include Research and Development, Outreach, and Operations. The following individuals comprise the program leadership team.

Sae Schatz, Ph.D., Director

Dr. Sae Schatz is an Army civilian and an applied human-systems scientist, with an emphasis on human cognition and learning, instructional technologies, adaptive systems, human performance assessment, and modeling and simulation. As the ADL Initiative Director, Dr. Schatz oversees the program’s comprehensive execution, guides its strategy, and ensures it aligns with US DoD and Federal government priorities.

Nick Armendariz, Principal Program Manager (SETA Contractor)

Mr. Nick Armendariz is experienced in training and education, particularly adult education, instructional systems design in the public and military sectors. As the ADL Initiative Principal Program Manager, Mr. Armendariz oversees the management of the ADL Initiative program, under the guidance of the Director.

Research and Development

Brent Smith, R&D Principal (SETA Contractor)

Mr. Brent Smith is a Software Systems Architect with over 20 years of experience in designing and developing learning technologies for government stakeholders, defining R&D roadmaps to meet organizational objectives, and establishing chains of research that align with strategic goals. As the ADL Initiative R&D Principal, Mr. Smith helps ensure the ADL Initiative research agenda is aligned with its overall strategy.

Van Brewer, Ph. D., External R&D Principal (SETA Contractor)

Dr. Van Brewer is the External R&D (E/R&D) Principal, managing community of practice projects to enable the ADL Initiative's strategic vision. He is an active researcher and practitioner in complex situations, decision making and cognition. As the Chief Scientist for Joint and Army Experimentation, he developed, planned and assessed campaigns of learning to support concept and capabilities development for the future Army. From his 12 years in missile system development and 22 years in Army Experimentation, Dr. Brewer brings experience in modeling and simulation, test and evaluation, experimentation, training and leader development, requirements development, acquisition programs and science and technology management to advancing modernization, policy, and collaboration for the distributed learning community of practice.

Jerry Gordon, Internal R&D Principal (SETA Contractor)

Mr. Jerry Gordon is the Internal R&D Principal, managing the in house systems and software engineering efforts associated with the integration and evaluation of products in the ADL research Portfolio. Mr Gordon has almost 30 years’ experience as lead engineer for in-service engineering of propulsion and C4ISR systems, maritime, ground, & aviation training analysis, live/virtual/constructive simulation development, machine learning research, and serious games development. Mr. Gordon holds advanced Degrees in Human Factors Engineering and Nuclear engineering, and has been active in the development of Model Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) techniques.


Karen Murgas, PMP, Outreach Principal (SETA Contractor)

Ms. Murgas has over thirty years of diversified expertise in project management for education and training programs as well as performing all aspects of outreach/event and meeting management for academic, industry, and government stakeholders. As the ADL Initiative Outreach Principal, she oversees the planning and execution of all outreach efforts domestically and internationally.


Preston Bush, Operations Principal (SETA Contractor)

Mr. Bush is the Operations Principal and Deputy Program Manager in support of The Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative (ADL). His objective is to ensure the missions continued success by reviewing current milestones and establishing goals that continue to advance the flow of mission objectives. Mr. Bush provides support in areas such as Program and Project management, contract strategy development, financial analysis, and spend plan development.