Our Team

MEET THE ACADEMY INVESTOR TEAM

The AIN team consists of venture professionals with deep domain expertise in a variety of sectors.

Sherman Williams

AIN Management

Sherman is an experienced advisor and investor with extensive experience in the healthcare technology industry. He also has experience investing in frontier technology, logistics, and marketplaces. Sherman has now participated in over 15 venture investments from the Seed - Series A level. Prior to becoming a full-time investor, he gathered six years of investment banking experience (M&A) at Greenhill, William Blair, and Chardan.

Prior to his career in finance, Sherman was a Naval Intelligence Officer. He holds an MBA from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Naval Academy. Sherman resides in New York City.

Emily McMahan

AIN Management

Emily McMahan is an entrepreneur and leader based in the Washington D.C. area. Emily is currently the Director of Programs at the Common Mission Project, where she is creating an international network of mission-driven entrepreneurs solving the critical challenges of our time. Previously, Emily founded and served as the Executive Director of Capitol Post, an incubator for military veterans to start and grow businesses. Capitol Post was also the home of Bunker Labs DC, a chapter of the national 501(c)(3) network of military veteran entrepreneurs dedicated to helping the military-connected community start their own business. 

Before starting Capitol Post, Emily was a partner and CFO at a successful startup technology firm serving the federal government. Emily holds an MBA from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business and a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Military Academy at West Point. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Patriot Boot Camp based out of Boulder, CO.

Francis Hoang

AIN Management

Francis Q. Hoang is a veteran entrepreneur who has been on the founding teams of companies that have generated over $600 million of combined sales and employed over 1,200 professionals across the fields of law, aerospace, defense, government services, and technology.

France also has over 20 years of national security experience, with service in every branch of the U.S. Government. He clerked for Judge Thomas Griffith on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and was appointed by President George W. Bush as an Associate White House Counsel and Special Assistant to the President. Shortly after leaving the White House, France mobilized in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM where he served as the Executive Officer of a U.S. Army Special Forces Company on a combat deployment in Southeast Afghanistan.

France graduated in the academic top 1% of his West Point class, received a Masters in Criminal Justice from Washburn University, and graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center. He somehow also managed to pass both Ranger School and the CPA Exam.

France's current and previous Board service includes MAG Aerospace, the Stimson Center, Marymount University, Bunker Labs, the Greater Washington Board of Trade, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. France also serves as an advisor to the ABA Standing Committee on Law & National Security.

France's commentary has been published by the Wall Street Journal, and he regularly speaks on innovation, entrepreneurship, and artificial intelligence. France proudly grew up in Tumwater, Washington.

Spencer Kympton

AIN Management

Spencer previously served as President of The Mission Continues, leading a nationwide team focused on engaging military veterans in continued service to their country by serving in their communities. The Mission Continues has helped tens of thousands of veterans rekindle a new sense of purpose by empowering them to participate in civic life: strengthening school systems, re-purposing public spaces, revitalizing national and city parks, tackling environmental issues, and improving the health, safety, and well-being of communities. He and TMC built and nurtured partnerships with hundreds of community-based organizations in urban areas all across America, while also driving and motivating changes in the national conversation about veterans. As a spokesperson for The Mission Continues, Spencer addressed veterans’ issues in front of Congress and the VA, and in media outlets like MSNBC, Fox News, PBS, TIME, and the Huffington Post.

Before joining The Mission Continues, Spencer served as Vice President of Recruiting for Teach for America and as an Engagement Manager for McKinsey & Company.

He began his professional career as an aviation officer and helicopter pilot in the U.S. Army. For eight years, he served within numerous humanitarian and peace-enforcement operations in Korea, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Central and South America, and multiple stateside locations.

Spencer lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn with his family.

AIN Management

Mike Thiel advocates for military veterans. He supports the military veteran community as an active angel investor, including currently serving as a board member of POLCO, a SaaS startup founded by two U.S. Air Force veterans. Mike also serves on the board of Swords to Plowshares, a San Francisco-based veterans direct services non-profit.

Mike began investing in multifamily real estate in 2013.  Over the last few years has grown his portfolio to 41 doors located in Annapolis, Pittsburgh, and Madison.

Thiel had a previous career in Silicon Valley as a semiconductor executive. His final semiconductor industry role was at KLA-Tencor, a process control company, where he worked directly for the CEO.  Mike worked in sales, marketing, M&A, strategic planning, and corporate ventures.

Mr. Thiel married his wife, Marcie Vu, in 2007. Marcie fled Vietnam in April of 1975 after the fall of Saigon. The daughter of a South Vietnamese General, she now works as a partner and co-head of consumer technology for Qatalyst Partners. They now live in Menlo Park, CA, with their Daughter Chloe and dog, Mochi.

Thiel earned an MBA from Carnegie Mellon and holds a B.S. in Physics from the U.S. Naval Academy.   

AIN Intern

Ashley is a Master of Business Administration Candidate at the Wharton School, majoring in Finance and Entrepreneurship. Prior to Wharton, Ashley was a Corporate Development Associate at JPMorgan Chase & Co and served as an Army Officer for ten years. She held positions as a Military Intelligence Officer in Korea prior to assessing into Special Operations as a Civil Affairs Officer. After serving six years in Special Operations with deployments to Afghanistan and across the Middle East and Europe, she transitioned into the Army Reserves. Ashley is committed to supporting the veteran community and currently serves as the COO for Promote, a non-profit that fosters innovation in the military's Special Operations community and national security organizations through leadership development training.

Erik received his commission from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2014, where he majored in Systems Engineering and played NCAA Division One lacrosse. As a submarine officer, he completed a deployment with the USS Florida to the Middle East, a strategic deterrent patrol with the USS Alaska, and led the USS Rhode Island through a project to refuel its nuclear reactor. Erik then served as the Tactics Director at the Submarine Learning Facility in Norfolk, Virginia training and certifying submarine crews prior to their deployments. He will transition from the U.S. Navy in the summer of 2020 and pursue his MBA at Harvard Business School.

AIN Intern

E.J. Leo graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 2011, and he served as a U.S. Army aviation officer and AH-64 attack helicopter pilot for eight years.  Stationed in Germany for three years and Korea for two years, he was experienced in planning and managing complex international military operations while leading cross-functional teams.  Leo directly supervised more than 100 Soldiers and pilots responsible for aircraft maintenance.  He separated from the U.S. Army in 2019 and is currently attending the University of Southern California’s Marshall’s full-time MBA program.

AIN Intern

Brian Hwang graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2013, where he majored in Operations Research and minored in Chinese.  He commissioned as a Contracting Officer in the Air Force, where he conducted business operations in Afghanistan and worked in the classified Space Superiority Directorate.  Brian transitioned into the newly minted Space Force, where he focused on developing offensive and defensive space assets.  He separated from the Air Force in 2020 and currently works for PayPal as a technical program manager. Brian will attend Harvard Business School in 2022.

 

Bradley C. Harrison

AIN Senior Leadership Advisor

Brad is an entrepreneur and seasoned business development executive with a passion for technology, media, entertainment and lifestyle. Brad has a great deal of experience launching new ventures. While attending MIT, he helped launch a joint MIT-Harvard incubator. During this experience, Brad worked at the earliest stages with many dynamic companies including Endeca Technologies.

While serving as Director of Media Strategy and Development at AOL, Brad co-authored 3 patents in search, geo-tagging, and personalization, with Edmund Fish, Senior Vice President and General Manager at AOL. Following AOL, Brad helped raise $40M in venture funding for a contextual online advertising network.

Prior to launching his business career, Brad was a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and served in the United States Army for five years, earning both Airborne and Ranger qualifications before retiring as Captain. He resides in Austin with his wife, Angie, his son, Elvis and his daughter, Scout.

Wes Blackwell

AIN Senior Leadership Advisor

Wes is an experienced investor and advisor, specializing in investing in founders from the intelligence, research, and military communities. Wes graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and received his MBA from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.

As an Advisor to DataTribe, a DC-based startup studio, Wes also assists founders building cybersecurity, analytics, and big data companies. Prior to DataTribe, Wes led enterprise implementation, account management and tech support at LiveSafe, a venture-backed mobile technology, and SaaS company. Wes is a veteran of the U.S. Navy, where he flew naval helicopters for almost 12 years.

Based in the Washington D.C. area, Wes focuses on identifying founders who are creating over the horizon technologies.

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