NLIT Summit 2019

Keynote Speakers


        Kris Paronto
Kris Paronto

Kris Paronto - “Tanto” as he is known in security contracting circles - is a former Army Ranger from 2nd Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment and private security contractor who has deployed throughout South America, Central America, the Middle East and North Africa. He also worked with the US Government’s Global Response Staff conducting low profile security in high threat environments throughout the world.

Kris Paronto was part of the CIA annex security team that responded to the terrorist attack on the US Special Mission in Benghazi, Libya, September 11th, 2012, helping to save over 20 lives while fighting off terrorists from the CIA Annex for over 13 hours. Mr. Paronto’s story is told in the book “13 Hours” written by Mitchell Zuckoff and his five surviving annex security team members. He is also the author of The Ranger Way, which shares stories of his training experiences as a US Army Ranger and his personal experiences that has brought him to where he is today.



        Mike Abrashoff
Mike Abrashoff

Mike Abrashoff was the most-junior officer in the Pacific Fleet when he took command of the near-worst performing ship. Twelve months later, the USS Benfold was the best ship in the entire Navy – using the same crew. The story of that stunning transformation has lessons for every organization: leadership matters – and culture is everything. Mike’s written three books – his first, It’s Your Ship, has sold over 1 million copies. His Leadership Roadmap offers clear, battle-tested, and actionable steps. Mike shows people at every level of the organization how to engage and take incremental steps toward change that can make a dramatic difference at work. Mike is clear, “I didn’t turn the ship around – my crew did that. What I did was to create an environment where they felt safe, empowered and supported. When you do that, anything is possible.”


        Randii R. Wessen
Randii R. Wessen

Dr. Wessen has been an employee of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory since 1984 March. He is currently the Lead Study Architect for JPL’s Innovation Foundry’s A-Team. Prior to this, Dr. Wessen has worked with several mission and program areas at JPL including System Engineer in the Astrophysics division, Telecommunications & Mission Systems Manager in the Deep Space Network serving Mars missions, Manager of the Cassini Science Planning & Operations, the Galileo Deputy Sequence Team Chief, and the Voyager Science Sequence Coordinator for the Uranus & Neptune encounters.

Dr. Wessen received his Bachelors of Science in both Physics & Astronomy from Stony Brook University, a Masters of Science in Astronautics from the University of Southern California, and a Doctorate in Operations Research from the University of South Wales, United Kingdom. He co-authored the books “Neptune: The Planet, Rings and Satellites” & “Planetary Ring Systems.” He was the recipient of NASA's Exceptional Service Medal for his contributions to the Voyager 2 Neptune Encounter and has eleven NASA Group Achievement Awards. Dr. Wessen is also a fellow of both the Royal Astronomical Society and the British Interplanetary Society and an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics. Asteroid 31664 (Randiiwessen) is named in his honor.