Conference Speakers

Featured Speakers

Ken Ruffin

National Space Society,  Board of Advisors Member

Ken Ruffin is a Senior Environmental Engineer for one of the largest electric utilities in the USA, with over 25 years of experience in air quality inspections, consulting, permit applications, and compliance in both public and private organizations. For several years, Ken has also been an Executive Committee member of the Dallas Electric Club. Growing up first in the Bronx, New York City, then in North Carolina, Ken was an L-5 Society member while attending Southeast Halifax High School and North Carolina State University. As an undergraduate, Ken initially studied Aerospace Engineering, then switched to Mechanical Engineering. 

In 2010 Ken became an active member of the National Space Society Chapter in North Texas (NSS-NT) in the Dallas-Ft. Worth (DFW) Metroplex. In 2011 he started giving presentations on space travel and space development and became President of the Chapter that same year, being re-elected to that position for five one-year terms. Since 2016 he has served as Chapter Vice-President. During each year from 2013-2018, NSS-NT has earned an NSS Chapter Excellence Award four times, and the NSS Chapter of the Year Award twice. In 2018, Ken was presented an NSS Chapter Leaders Award from the NSS Chapters Committee. In 2016, Ken was elected to serve a two-year term on the  Board of Directors of the National Space Society and was subsequently elected to serve on the NSS Board of Advisors

Across the DFW Metroplex and beyond, Ken has given well over one hundred space presentations, been a speaker during space panel discussions at conventions, and has been interviewed by several TV and radio news stations and newspapers. Ken strives to inform and inspire people of all ages and all backgrounds about the latest and greatest information on space travel, space development, and space settlement from NASA, commercial spaceflight companies, universities, and associated organizations. Ken is fully committed to explaining these subjects—and the NSS mission and vision—to interested members of the general public. 

Claudine Phaire

Lockheed Martin Skunk Works

Associate Fellow

Claudine Phaire earned Bachelor of Science degrees in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo, an Airframe and Powerplant certificate from Embry- Riddle Aeronautical University and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Claudine has worked in various engineering capacities at General Motors, Raytheon (Missiles and Aircraft) and Lockheed Martin (Sikorsky and Skunk Works).

Claudine is very passionate about encouraging young people to enter careers in Engineering and Aviation. She has held various positions in the National Society of Black Engineers, the Society of Women Engineers, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc, and Girl Scouts of Connecticut. Claudine is an Associate Fellow at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works in Systems Engineering and Airworthiness and previously led the Skunk Works Woman’s Impact Network. 

Khiem Lai

The Boeing Company

 Deputy Fleet Chief Engineer

Khiem has been in his current role, 737NG/MAX Deputy Fleet Chief, for seven years and a total of 35 years with the Boeing Company.  Prior to this role, for 8 years, Khiem supported Ryanair as Airline Support Engineering.​

Khiem also spent a total of 11 years as 757/767 Maintenance Instructor and as the 747/757/767/777 Maintenance Training Assistant Manager. ​

In the mid 90’s, Khiem served as the co-chair for the 737NG Engine/APU working group.  The working groups performed MSG-3 analysis that led to scheduled maintenance in the MPD. Khiem routinely teaches Introduction to MSG-3 at Boeing.​

Khiem holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Washington, 1986.  Completed Certificate of Leadership Mastery Program at UCLA, Dec 2020.​

Khiem actively supports mentoring programs:  NSBE and JumpStart. Currently hold the role of Air Safety Technical Leader for NSBE Aerospace SIG.  Khiem also serves as an advisor for our Transformative Leadership in Disruptive Times at the University of California, Riverside Extension.​

Outside of work, he enjoys cycling, tennis and making sushi.​

Dr. Claire Nelson

The Futures Forum

Futurist, Sustainability Engineer, Social Entrepreneur, and Storyteller  

Dr. Claire Nelson is Chief Ideation Leader of The Futures Forum, a research and education practice specializing in bringing the power of strategic foresight and the discipline of sustainability engineering to challenges facing organizations and communities.  

A member of the Association of Professional Futurists, she serves on the Board of the World Futures Studies Federation and as Editor-At-Large of their HUMAN FUTURES Magazine, as well as on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Journal of Futures Studies. An award-winning playwright, her book ‘SMART Futures for a Flourishing World: A Paradigm for Achieving Global Sustainability’, takes us to the future with stories that illuminate paths of hope. 

 The convenor of Space Futures Forum, her advisory roles include: Engineering For One Planet, Morgan State Space Lab, and Omarichet, a space research NGO in Kenya. Before establishing The Futures Forum, Dr. Nelson conjured change at the Inter-American Development Bank over a thirty-year career, pioneering the Bank’s development with equity agenda, and strategic foresight as a tool for engendering development effectiveness. As a result of her leadership, the Bank honored her with its coveted Ortiz Mena Award.  

Dr. Nelson is recognized as the Architect of the Campaign for National Caribbean American Heritage Month, and a visionary community organizer through her role as Founding President of the Institute of Caribbean Studies.  She holds a Doctorate in Engineering Management from the George Washington University.  Dr. Nelson, honored as a White House Champion of Change, was named among the Top 50 Female Futurists on    

Dr. Dexter Johnson


Technical Fellow

Dr. Ronald Freeman

The Futures Forum

Futurist, Sustainability Engineer, Social Entrepreneur, and Storyteller  

Danielle White

University of Southern California Materials Science Doctoral Student

Charles Njoka 

Blue Origin

Manufacturing and Engineering Technology Manager  

Gael Gatera 

Rogue Space Systems Corporation


Aerospace Systems Conference Committee

Enanga Daisy Fale

Aerospace SIG Director

Jacqueline Long

Aerospace SIG Outreach Chair

Ernest Levert

Aerospace SIG Chief Technologist 

Era Raizada 

Aerospace Systems Conference Local Chair

Zemichael Gebeyehu

Aerospace Systems Conference Operations 

Black Students Chapter in Aerospace at the University of Michigan 

Aerospace SIG Conference Operations

Erin Skillon

Aerospace SIG Conference Operations

Khiem Lai

Aerospace Systems Operations Chair