J.F. Lehman & Company, a middle-market private equity firm focused exclusively on the aerospace, defense, maritime, government and environmental sectors, is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Will Roper to its Operating Executive Board. JFLCO’s OEB is a group of senior executives and general and flag officers with deep expertise in the firm’s target markets. Through broad relationships and unique expertise, OEB members contribute to sector-specific strategy development, investment origination, due diligence and portfolio company oversight and support.
Dr. Roper joins the OEB after serving as Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (“SAF/AQ”), where he was responsible for research, development and acquisition activities across over 550 programs with an aggregate annual budget of more than $60 billion. Dr. Roper is widely credited for leading transformative approaches at the Pentagon focused on rapid acquisition and disruptive innovation. He pioneered the creation of AFWERX and SPACEWERX, fast-moving teams focused on investing in startups and smaller high-growth companies for the Air Force and Space Force. Additionally, he worked with new prime contractors at a larger scale to foster competition with traditional industry participants and drive innovation, especially in agile software and digital engineering.
Dr. Roper’s vast experience in defense and government spans nearly two decades and has resulted in many contributions, including advocating for (i) more effective multi-domain operation tools (like JADC2 and ABMS), (ii) further applications of space-based technology, (iii) next-generation unmanned and propulsion systems, (iv) the application and adoption of AI to accelerate information absorption and (v) rapid prototyping and production technologies (e.g. 3D printing to extend the window of advantage over peer competitors). Prior to becoming SAF/AQ, Dr. Roper founded and served as the Director of the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office, which focused on new, revolutionizing uses for government and commercial systems.
“We are very pleased to welcome Will to J.F. Lehman as a key member of our Operating Executive team” said Steve Brooks, Partner with JFLCO. “We believe Will’s vision, expertise and guidance will be invaluable as we continue to increase our focus on higher growth, technology driven businesses closely aligned with the National Defense Strategy.”
Dr. Roper earned a B.S. and M.S. in Physics from the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he is currently a Distinguished Professor of the Practice. As a Rhodes Scholar, Dr. Roper earned a Ph.D. in Mathematics with a focus on String Theory and quantum mechanics from Oxford University. He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the Secretary of Defense’s Award for Excellence, and two Department of the Air Force Distinguished Public Service Awards.