The ADL Initiative is a US government program for R&D and policy on distributed learning.


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.

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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.

Jennifer Vogel-Walcutt, Ph.D., Director of Innovation

Dr. "JJ" Vogel-Walcutt is an Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Human Innovation Fellow and a research psychologist, with an emphasis on learning efficiency and effectiveness, instructional technologies, adaptive systems, human interaction and development, and modeling and simulation. As the ADL Initiative Director of Innovation, Dr. Vogel-Walcutt oversees the program’s focus area of learning science and design, guides its strategy, and ensures it aligns with US DoD and Federal government priorities.

Nick Armendariz, Chief of Staff

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 Chief of Staff, Mr. Armendariz oversees the management of the ADL Initiative program, under the guidance of the Director.


Research and Development

Brent Smith, R&D Lead

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 Lead, Mr. Smith helps ensure the ADL Initiative research agenda is aligned with its overall strategy.

Van Brewer, Ph.D., External R&D Team Lead

Dr. Van Brewer is the External R&D (E/R&D) Lead, 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. Following 12 years in missile and missile system development, he spent 22 years in Army Experimentation. As the Chief Scientist for the Joint and Army Experimentation Division (JAED), he developed, planned and assessed campaigns of learning to support concept and capabilities development for the future Army. He continues to nurture these and diverse other interests, now adding distributed learning topics.



Farzana Nabi, Ph.D., Strategic Outreach Director

Dr. Farzana Nabi is an applied researcher with a socio-psychological background focused on human behavior, policy analysis, and strategic organizational planning. Her most recent experience includes serving as the Chief Social Scientist for the US Army Capabilities Integration Center (ARCIC) under the directorship of LTG H.R. McMaster. Her experience working for the DoD also includes a 1-year deployment to Afghanistan as a Sr. Social Scientist, where she was successful in integrating social science theory and research to support analytic methodologies and operational planning processes across the range of military operations (ROMO). As the ADL Initiative Strategic Outreach Director, she oversees the planning and execution of all outreach efforts via consultation and technical program management.

The Outreach team manages engagement plans and formal messaging to external stakeholders. They design strategic messaging and create media artifacts disseminated across various communication modalities. The Outreach team is also responsible for full-cycle planning and execution of events guided by the ADL Initiative’s strategic programmatic goals.



Warren Bizub, Operations Lead

Mr. Warren Bizub is an experienced program manager and systems engineer, with extensive experience in education, training, operational systems (C2, aircraft carrier fleet, naval aviation) and live, virtual and constructive modeling and simulation environments. As the ADL Initiative Operations lead, he provides support to the entire organization and is responsible for IT infrastructure and cybersecurity.