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Chain of Command

Originally, the ADL Initiative reported to the OSD Director for Readiness and Training Policy and Programs in the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (USD(P&R)) chain of command. Until April 18, 2021, the ADL Initiative reported to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Education and Training (DASD(FE&T)), who reported to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness (ASD(R)), who in turn reported to the Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness (USD(P&R)) within the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Today, the ADL Initiative reports to the Defense Human Resources Activity (DHRA), under the Director, DHRA.

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.

Laura Milham, Ph.D., Director of Innovation (USAF Liaison)

Dr. Laura Milham is an Air Force civilian and an applied human-systems scientist, with an emphasis on individual and team training and assessment. As the ADL Initiative Director of Innovation, Dr. Milham brings over 25 years of experience to oversee the program’s comprehensive execution, guiding its strategy, and ensuring it aligns with US DoD and Federal government priorities.

Karen Cooper, Ph.D., Research Scientist (USN Liaison)

Dr. Karen Cooper is a Navy civilian with over 33 years in both technology and learning sciences. Dr. Cooper’s research interest includes emergent technologies - virtual environments, LVC, mobiles, serious games, gamification, adaptive learning, crowd sourcing, digital story, social networking architectures - and their impact on our 21st century learner, worker and service person. As a scientist and engineer, she holds several computer and network certifications and is a graduate of several DoD leadership and technology programs.

Preston Bush, Principal Program Manager (SETA Contractor)

Mr. Preston Bush is the Principal Program Manager in support of the ADL Initiative. Mr. Bush’s experience is comprised of project and program management, contract strategy development, financial analysis, and spend plan development. Mr. Bush also served as the Operations Officer for the Initiative prior to taking on the Program Manager role. Mr. Bush oversees all management activities in support of the ADL Initiative program, under the guidance of the ADL 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.


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.


Mike Hernandez, Operations Principal (SETA Contractor)

Mr. Mike Hernandez is the Operations Principal in support of the ADL Initiative. Mr. Hernandez’s experience includes over ten years working in Defense as a systems engineer and project manager across a range of research and acquisition programs. Previously he was a key contributor to the Ready Relevant Learning Program for the US Navy and to the ADL Initiative’s Total Learning Architecture. He is also a US Army veteran. As the Ops Principal he oversees the management and execution of all ADL Initiative business tasks, acts as an acquisition SME, and supports the research team as they collaborate with external partners.