Management

Wahid Nawabi
President and Chief Executive Officer

Wahid Nawabi joined AeroVironment in 2011 as senior vice president and general manager of the EES business segment.  Nawabi joined AeroVironment after a 20-year career as an executive with advanced technology companies in industries spanning clean technology, industrial/electrical equipment manufacturing, telecom, and energy. During his 16 years at American Power Conversion (APC), the company's revenue increased from $50 million to more than $2.4 billion and it became the world leader in power protection.  Nawabi started and led the Enterprise/Data Center business at APC, growing revenue to $600 million between 2000 and 2008.  Nawabi also led C&D Technologies' Americas business.

Kevin McDonnell
Chief Financial Officer

Prior to joining AeroVironment in 2020, Kevin McDonnell served as chief financial officer of JAMS, Inc., which provides alternative dispute resolution services. During his tenure at JAMS, Kevin helped the company nearly double its revenue and more than double its EBITDA. Kevin brings more than 30 years of experience in financial, IT and HR leadership roles, including serving as chief financial officer for companies in the technology, automotive and health industries. Most notably, Kevin held various senior financial roles at Teradata Corporation during its high-growth phase, where the company grew from $3 million to $300 million in revenue and expanded globally into Europe and Asia. Kevin also served as CFO of Digital Insight, where he was instrumental in significantly growing its annual revenue, taking the company public and leading three acquisitions.

Kevin earned his J.D. at Loyola Law School and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from Loyola Marymount University.

Ken Karklin
Sr. Vice President Operations

Ken Karklin has served as our Senior Vice President of Operations since December 2018 and is accountable for product line management, engineering, fulfillment, program management, quality, information technology and related support functions. Prior to AeroVironment’s sale of the Efficient Energy System (EES) segment in June 2018, Ken served as the company’s Vice President and General Manager of EES from May 2015, and as Vice President of Transition Services, subsequent to the divestiture. From April 2009 until May 2015, Ken served in a range of leadership roles at AeroVironment, including Director of Corporate Quality.

Prior to joining the company, Ken served as Vice President of Product Engineering at venture-funded start-up Touchdown Technologies which was successfully acquired in 2009 by Verigy (now part of Advantest Corp.). Ken previously held engineering leadership roles at established technology leaders, including Verigy, Agilent Technologies, Hewlett-Packard Company and Intel Corporation. Ken earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1995, is a graduate of Agilent/Hewlett-Packard’s year-long Accelerated Leadership Development Program (ADP/LEAD) and continues to pursue Executive Management coursework with Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management.

Melissa Brown
Vice President & General Counsel

Melissa Brown joined AeroVironment in 2015 as the company’s Corporate Counsel. In 2017 she was appointed the company’s Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary. Prior to joining AeroVironment, Brown served as an associate attorney at K&L Gates LLP in Los Angeles, California and Jennings Strouss and Salmon PLC in Phoenix, Arizona, advising clients on a range of securities transactions, mergers & acquisitions and corporate governance issues.

Melissa earned a juris doctor from the Arizona State University College of Law and a Bachelor of Science in microbiology and molecular genetics from the University of California Los Angeles.

Steven Gitlin
Chief Marketing Officer, VP Investor Relations

Steve Gitlin joined AeroVironment in 2002 to define the market entry strategy for one of the company’s first commercial product lines and then successfully secured multi-million dollar orders from key national accounts for that business. He helped lead AeroVironment’s Initial Public Offering (IPO) in 2007 and then established and leads the company’s marketing and investor relations programs. Steve subsequently led the development and introduction of AeroVironment’s first corporate identity strategy, then designed and executed the introduction of the company’s Values, Purpose and Promise system. Steve redesigned and leads the company’s strategic planning process and works with Wall Street analysts and institutional investors to ensure an accurate understanding of AeroVironment growth strategy and business. Prior to joining AeroVironment Steve served as a management consultant with Deloitte Consulting, focusing on Strategy and Operations for global enterprises in Aerospace, Telecommunications and Technology industries.

Steve earned a Master in Business Administration degree from the Wharton School and a Master in International Management with an emphasis on Latin America from the Joseph H. Lauder Institute at the University of Pennsylvania. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from UCLA.

Scott Newbern
Vice President & Chief Technology Officer

Scott Newbern has served as the Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of AeroVironment since December of 2018. This includes leadership of the MacCready Works Laboratory ­– a focal point for AeroVironment’s continuous innovation, focusing on relentless problem solving and doing what has never been done before. Scott previously served as the Vice President of small Unmanned Aircraft Systems beginning in 2012. He guided the strategic and tactical activities for the SUAS business area. Scott has served in various UAS leadership positions at AeroVironment since joining the company in 1997. Scott led advanced UAS development activities including establishing high volume SUAS manufacturing capability at AeroVironment.

Scott earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from North Carolina State University and a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from North Carolina State University with specialty in UAS aerodynamic modeling, control system design and flight research. Scott also completed Stanford Executive Institute program for high technology executives and Gap International’s Executive Challenge.
Rick Pedigo
Vice President of Business Development & Sales

Richard (Rick) Pedigo has served in various leadership positions at AeroVironment since joining the company in 2005. Rick led the Tactical Missile Systems business unit, focusing on growing AeroVironment’s line of advanced direct fire tactical missile products. Rick led the Advanced Programs business area where he was responsible developing innovative technologies in autonomy, unmanned systems, and advanced missiles. Prior to that he led the small Unmanned Aerial Systems business area, home to AeroVironment’s family of SUAS systems: Wasp AE, Raven and Puma unmanned aerial vehicles. Before joining AeroVironment, Rick led product development teams in commercial and aerospace companies including, Answer Products, Rantec Microwave and Hughes Aircraft Company.

Rick earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University, a Masters in Engineering degree from Loyola Marymount University, and a MBA from Krannert School of Management at Purdue University.

Alison Roelke
Vice President People & Culture

Alison Roelke joined AeroVironment in 2017 to lead the People & Culture function with a focus on creating a “Great Place to Work.”

Prior to AeroVironment, Alison was Vice President, Human Resources for Custom Sensors & Technologies, a division of Schneider Electric, which was sold to private equity in 2014 and then to Sensata Technologies in 2015. Alison stayed on with Sensata Technologies leading the Global HR Mergers & Acquisitions function. Prior to that, Alison held talent and HR operations management positions in both manufacturing and financial services organizations including YTCA a subsidiary of Yazaki Corporation, Mitsubishi / Caterpillar, and Digital Insight.

Alison holds a Bachelor degree in Business Management from California Coast University. She received her Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) designation in 2002 from the HR Certification Institute.

Trace Stevenson
Vice President Emerging Business & Deputy General Manager

Trace Stevenson has served as the Vice President Emerging Business and Deputy General Manager since February ­­­­2019. He is responsible for the leadership of our Emerging Business overseeing our HAPS business and serves as a Board Member of HAPSMobile, our Joint Venture with Soft Bank. He also is responsible for the integration efforts of any Merger or Acquisition and for the strategic and tactical execution of the UAS P&L. Trace has held various leadership roles within AeroVironment, including leading our International Business Unit where he was responsible for the support of over 40 International customers. He also led and was responsible for the execution of our top strategic initiatives such as the establishment of a Joint Venture in a foreign country.

Trace has 20 years of experience in the defense industry and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business and Economics from the University of Kansas.