Space Foundation names Thomas Zelibor as new leader

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Ret. Rear Adm. Thomas Zelibor - COURTESY SPACE FOUNDATION
  • Courtesy Space Foundation
  • Ret. Rear Adm. Thomas Zelibor
The Space Foundation hasn't waited long to find a replacement for long-time CEO Elliot Pulham, who left the agency abruptly on Oct. 24.

SpaceNews reported at the time that Pulham was "facing criticism after the website NASA Watch published in early October a number of Facebook posts from him." In those, SpaceNews reported, Pulham bragged about travel expenses charged to the foundation and made a crude remark about then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

But that's the old news. The new announcement ushers into a new CEO, Thomas Zelibor, who, unfortunately, wasn't chosen in time for the Space Symposium, the foundation's premier event which opens at The Broadmoor on Monday, April 3. Zelibor won't start until April 30.

Here's the news release:
The Space Foundation announced today that Thomas E. “Tom” Zelibor, retired Rear Admiral, USN, has been selected as its Chief Executive Officer, effective April 30, 2017.

Space Foundation Board of Directors Chairman James O. Ellis, Jr. said, "The Space Foundation team is very pleased to have Tom join the Space Foundation as the Chief Executive Officer. His impressive list of accomplishments in government, industry and operational space, along with his broad leadership and educational experience, will ensure that the Space Foundation continues to grow and evolve to serve our members and the global space industry.”

The Space Foundation Board of Directors worked with a national search firm to conduct a five-month search for a CEO.

"I am honored and humbled to have been selected for this position. I really look forward to joining and working with the superb Space Foundation team,” said Zelibor. “Starting on day one, I am committed to listening, learning and collectively exploring how we can build on the great successes this world-renowned organization has achieved over many years.”

Zelibor most recently served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Lightwave Logic Inc., a Colorado-based publicly traded corporation conducting R&D and production of advanced electro-optic materials for use in optical devices for the telecommunications, data communications and data center markets.

He has a wide-ranging leadership and entrepreneurial background, having served as President and CEO of Flatiron's Solutions, and as a Vice President for Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), among other commercial affiliations.

Highlights of his extensive career in space-related positions include Director, eSpace Incubator at the Center for Space Entrepreneurship; Director of Global Operations, U.S. Strategic Command, Deputy for C4 Integration and Policy/Department of the Navy Deputy CIO; Director, Space Information Warfare, Command and Control Division, and as Commander, Naval Space Command.

He also held the position of Dean, College of Operational and Strategic Leadership at the Naval War College in Newport, RI.

He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Oceanography from the United States Naval Academy in 1976. He was a Naval Aviator early in his Navy career before branching out into space and information technology assignments. The highlight of his military career was as Commander, Task Force Fifty, where he led three U.S. carrier battle groups, two NATO carriers, nearly 60 other U.S. and coalition ships, 300 aircraft and thousands of personnel in the North Arabian Sea conducting combat operations in Afghanistan after the attacks of 9/11.

Zelibor will be based at Space Foundation headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo. The organization employs 53 team members at various locations, including a Washington, D.C. office, and field representatives in Houston, Los Angeles, Princeton, N.J., and the Florida Space Coast.

About the Space Foundation
Founded in 1983, the Space Foundation is the foremost advocate for all sectors of space, and is a global, nonprofit leader in space awareness activities, educational programs and major industry events, including the annual Space Symposium, in support of its mission "to advance space-related endeavors to inspire, enable and propel humanity."

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