Executive Board Bios

Dr. Sheila Ronis, Chair

Dr. Ronis is President, The University Group, Inc., a management consulting firm and think tank specializing in strategic studies and public policy. She is the former Distinguished Professor of Management and Director, Center for Complex and Strategic Decisions at Walsh College in Troy, Michigan.  Dr. Ronis is a systems scientist with a B.S. in physics, mathematics, and education an M.S. and Ph.D. in Large Formal Social System Behavior received from The Ohio State University. As a Distinguished Fellow at the Project on National Security Reform (PNSR,) Dr. Ronis chaired the Vision Working Group of PNSR in Washington, D.C., which was tasked by Congress to rewrite the National Security Act of 1947 and she was responsible for the plan and processes to develop the place where the President of the United States would conduct “grand strategy” on behalf of the nation.

On 30 July, 2010, she chaired a conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, CSIS, that presented the findings of the PNSR Vision Working Group Report and Scenarios which she edited, that outlines why foresight capabilities are essential to the workings of the Executive Office of the President of the United States. She was awarded a Fulbright Specialist Scholarship and studied these issues in Singapore in August and October 2011.

Dr. Ronis has been involved with the National Defense University for more than a quarter of a century. On 2 June 2005, Dr. Ronis chaired the symposium U.S. Defense Industrial Base: National Security Implications of a Globalized World at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces as a part of the Dwight D. Eisenhower National Security Series Symposium. A publication by that name was published and edited by Lynne C. Thompson and Dr. Ronis. On 24-25 August 2010, Dr. Ronis chaired the conference: Economic Security: Neglected Dimension of National Security at the National Defense University that explored a “grand strategy” for a healthy U.S. economy. A publication based on that conference, edited by Dr. Ronis was published in December 2011. On 8-9 November 2011, Dr. Ronis chaired a symposium at the National Defense University, Institute for National Strategic Studies, Forging an American Grand Strategy: Securing a Path Through a Complex Future, in Washington, D.C. A publication based on that conference, edited by Dr. Ronis was published in 2012. Dr. Ronis facilitated a workshop entitled Energy Security as a Grand Strategy on 7-8 May 2012 at the National Defense University co-sponsored by the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory and the Center for Technology and National Security Policy. On 12 June 2013, Dr. Ronis was awarded the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Outstanding Public Service Award in a formal ceremony in Washington, D.C. for her work with the National Defense University International Fellows Program. She has taught “grand strategy” to the management faculty at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, PA and has been involved in their foresight and war-gaming community, as well.

Dr. Ronis has worked for the Pentagon helping to develop a vision for the Defense Reform Task Force and crafting an operational definition 

of the “Revolution in Business Affairs,” and, as a part of the staff support to the Hart-Rudman Commission on National Security for the 21st Century.

She is the founder of the Institute for Business and Community Services at the University of Detroit, which was created to help the U.S. automobile industry become globally competitive. She was an executive at Michigan Bell and assisted in the divestiture of the Bell System in 1984. Her company, the University Group Inc., has worked with General Motors since 1988 and with Ford since 1985. She was involved in the creation of the United States Consortium for Automotive Research and the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles. Earlier in her career, Ronis worked at AT&T, The Ohio State University and the Energy Research and Development Administration (now the Department of Energy). She began her career working at North American Rockwell in Columbus, Ohio.

Brigadier General Jack Pellicci (Ret), Vice Chair

Jack Pellicci was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant of Infantry from West Point in 1960 and joined the US Army. He served as an Infantry officer in command assignments from platoon to Brigade level and served in staff assignments from Battalion to Division level in the US, Europe, Hawaii, Asia and the Pentagon including 2 tours in Vietnam. His last assignment in the Army was as Commanding General of the Army’s Personnel Information Systems Command. He retired from the U.S. Army in 1992 as a Brigadier General after 31 years leading and training soldiers, managing technology and improving productivity in peace and war.

Pellicci joined Oracle Corporation where he spent over 14 years leading the Business Development Group for Oracle’s Government, Education, Health and Aerospace/Defense Industries and the Global Public Sector Group where he was responsible for positioning Oracle’s strategic capabilities with customers and partners and generating new business.  In 2006 Pellicci joined Intergraph Corporation as SVP and GM of the Federal Government Business. In 2010 he became President and CEO, Intergraph Government Solutions. He retired from Intergraph in 2013.

Pellicci is currently the President of Lancer Information Solutions a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB). He has been awarded numerous military awards to include the Army’s Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Air Medal, the Bronze Star, the Joint Services Commendation Medal, the Army Meritorious Service Medal the Army Commendation Medal, the Parachute badge, the Ranger tab and the Combat Infantryman Badge. He was selected as a recipient of the Government Computer News award for Excellence in Information Resources Management and is also a winner of the Federal Computer Week Federal 100 award, one of 100 executives having the greatest impact on the US government Information Technology systems community. He is currently the Vice Chairman of the National Defense University Foundation where he has served as a BOD member for 14 years. He also serves on the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) Board and Executive Committee where he has been a key contributor for 22 years. Pellicci retired from the USO Metro of Washington Board of Directors in 2013 after 15 years supporting active military, wounded warriors and veterans.  He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, with a BS in Science and Engineering and received an MS in Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is also a graduate of the Army Command and General Staff College and the Army War College.    

Mr. Howard Isenberg, Treasurer

Howard Isenberg has been a recognized leader in the outsourcing consumer products industry for most of his career. He retired from his position as Vice President of Business Development for CCL Custom Manufacturing Inc., a worldwide provider of outsourcing services for international and national consumer product companies. Prior to its acquisition by CCL Custom Manufacturing, Mr. Isenberg was President of the Barr Company, a leading manufacturer of consumer products.

Shortly after joining CCL, Mr. Isenberg initiated changes that led to the acquisition of major new accounts and new business, which significantly increased the company’s profitability. He assumed responsibility for spearheading CCL’s entry into the China market, negotiating the establishment of a joint venture in Shanghai, China and directing the venture from the startup phase through successful ongoing operations.


CCL honored Mr. Isenberg for his contributions to the company by inaugurating an annual Service Excellence Award names in his honor. This distinction represents only the third named award in the company’s 52-year history.

Mr. Isenberg is strongly committed to applying his private sector experience to the public sector. He has served on the Boards of Directors of Lake Forest Academy; Options for People, an organization responsible for training and placing people from the inner city into the workplace. Currently he serves as a trustee for Providence-St. Mel School, an inner city primary and secondary school; for the National Defense University Foundation; and several other boards. He is Chairman of the Barr Fund, a private charitable foundation and a founding member of the Board of Advisors of the Leaders Project a global conference of future international leaders. His article “Non-Profit Agencies: The Unlikely Proving Ground for Fast-Track Corporate Managers,” published by the Wall Street Journal, outlines his theory of accelerating the growth of young managers though experience gained in public service.     

Mr. Robert Spring, Secretary

Mr. Spring was a member of the Board of Visitors of the National Defense University, and has served on a Defense Science Board Task Force which studied structural impediments to the incorporation of innovative technology into the defense industrial base.

Gracie Square Capital is an investment and consulting firm in NYC. Previously he was a partner in the Global Corporate Department at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP where he had a broad-based general corporate practice which included work in the mergers and acquisitions and private equity/joint venture areas, as well as in the infrastructure/project finance and securitization fields. His specific experience includes work on behalf of financial institutions in connection with their private equity activities; representation of investors in Univision; DirecTV in Latin America; AOL Latin America; and representation of various financial institutions on structured and project finance transactions including the privatization of the Santiago, Chile, Airport and the OCENSA pipeline project in Colombia. Mr. Spring has also worked (through trade groups and others) on various legislative initiatives in the privatization area.

He has served as General Counsel to the Infrastructure Investment Commission, a congressionally appointed commission studying ways 

to facilitate domestic infrastructure finance, and worked with interested parties in Congress on legislation introduced to implement those recommendations. Robert Spring received his undergraduate degree from Williams College and his law degree from Duke University School of Law.  

Mr. Michael Tang, Development

Michael Tang is Chief Executive Officer, National Material L.P. (NMLP) and Vice-Chairman, Tang Industries (TII); both are holding companies involved in various business segments such as steel, aluminum, automotive, aerospace, pharmaceuticals and wind energy. The company’s 30 operating facilities are located in the United States, Mexico and China. Mr. Tang’s experience includes operations, mergers and acquisitions and start-ups of numerous companies. Before joining TII, he practiced law in Arizona and for the Navajo Tribe.

Mr. Tang’s current civic and philanthropic board affiliations are: University of Chicago Medical Center RAND’s Center for Asia Pacific Policy  Chicago Community Trust The Field Museum of Chicago The Kitchen Community  The Chinese American Service League   He previously has served on the boards of other non-profit organizations such as the: Board of Visitors of the College of William and Mary Endowment Association of the College of William and Mary Graduate School of Business of the College of William and Mary  WBEZ, Chicago’s Public Radio Station Economic Club of Chicago Museum of Science and Industry   Previous public company boards: Management Company Entertainment Group Corus Bank   Mr. Tang received a BA in economics from the College of William and Mary and a JD from Georgetown University Law Center.    


Dr. Farouk Shami

Farouk Shami is a Palestinian American who arrived in America in 1965 with $71 in his pocket and through education and determination achieved the American dream. In 1986, he invented the first ammonia-free hair care system which secured his first patent. From that moment, Shami’s mission became creating a company that was environmentally responsible, promoting education and adhering to the highest ethical standards to save clients’ and hairdressers’ lives.

Farouk Systems, Inc. employs over 2,000 people and exports CHI and BioSilk hair and skin products to over 100 countries worldwide. He collaborated with NASA scientists to produce ceramic thermal tools, hairdryers with low EMF (electromagnetic fields) and a line of hair tools that features nano silver, which eliminates up to 650 forms of bacteria. He holds 24 patents, 14 US and 10 International, with more pending.

Shami ran for governor of Texas in 2009 with the platform of running the state as a business and creating jobs and came in second place on the Democratic Party Ticket. He has lectured multiple times at Harvard University through the Kennedy School of Government at their Latino Leadership Initiative. He has given Commencement Speeches at the University of Houston Downtown, Sam Houston State University, North American College, and the American Friends School. He has lectured at the University of Texas and the University of Houston. He received an honorary Doctorate of Beauty Art from the Council of Graduate Schools at Seo Kyeong University in recognition of his outstanding achievements and invaluable contributions to the academic and cultural development of the world wide beauty industry.  He has also starred on Celebrity Apprentice and has been a judge at the Miss USA and Miss Universe Pageants.

He is a humanitarian who believes that generosity is repaid many-fold. He has donated to numerous charities and organizations worldwide and personally assisted with disaster relief after such tragedies as 9/11, Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Ike and Sandy and in Haiti. He also founded a diabetes research center at the City of Hope medical facility in California with his business partner.

Farouk Shami believes in infrastructure building, especially through education.  He founded a school to educate young Palestinian women with a specialization in science and technology in memory of his late father, Sheik Mohammed Shami. He donated to Beir Zeit University’s School of Business and the American Friends School. He also partnered with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to put street lights in his hometown village of Beit Ur al Tahta.

He has served on several boards, including the National Defense University Foundation, the Greater Houston Partnership, Houston’s Better Business Bureau, the American Task Force on Palestine and the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. He has received numerous awards, including the Legend Award from the International Salon/Spa Business Network, the Beauty Maker Award, the Arrival Award from the University of Houston Law Center, Entrepreneur of the Year from Newt Gingrich, the Apollo Award for being Green, the Ameristar Award and Businessman of the Year from the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and the Arab-American Cultural and Community Center and the American Task Force on Palestine. He has been honored by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the American Heart Association.