Chief Financial Officer


Mark Ferrer


Mark Oderman



Joanne Isham

Mark Morrissette

Fred Poses

John Higginbotham

Chairman and CEO

John Higginbotham brings over three decades of high technology executive leadership to Blue Ridge.  He is the manager of the USVC investment group, the founder and managing Member of SpaceVest investment management group, formerly the senior partner of SpaceVest Capital, a co-founder and former senior executive of International Technology Underwriters (Intec), and was the Product Manager for HP’s first microcomputers.  Higginbotham has served on the Boards of Directors and as a senior executive of several public and private information technology, aerospace and defense, space industry, and other high technology growth companies.  He has actively supported several prominent professional and community service organizations throughout his career. Higginbotham holds a BS in Civil Engineering from Virginia Tech and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Mark Palomba


Mark Palomba currently serves as Chief Commercial Officer responsible for go-to-market strategy, marketing, sales, strategic partnerships, and business development. Mark joined Blue Ridge Networks as a Board Advisor.

Before joining Blue Ridge Networks, Mark served as SVP, WW Partner Sales and Ecosystems at Citrix, where he led the global partner and ecosystems team after serving as Chief Operating Officer, Global Sales and Services, responsible for go-to-market strategy, plans, operational execution, strategic sales, pre-sales, field marketing, partnerships and enablement. Mark is an accomplished senior executive and global leader with a proven ability to execute across companies of all sizes. Prior to joining Citrix, Mark held senior executive positions at SAP, General Dynamics, Critical Path, Vastera, Baan, and IBM totaling over 30 years of experience in information technology across all industries.

Mark has gained exceptional expertise leading global teams in the areas of sales, marketing, services, development, operations and M&A, as well as extensive international experience establishing operations, teams and partnerships in more than 30 countries spanning all major geographies around the globe. He is a graduate of Union College in Schenectady, NY with a Bachelor of Science in Economics/Computer Science and a Master of Science in Computer Science.

Tom Gilbert

Chief Technology Officer

Tom Gilbert has supported the definition and development of cyber-security products and services for more than 30 years. His extensive security experience and technical background have been strong assets in bringing Blue Ridge Networks products and services to market quickly and successfully. Like many members of the Blue Ridge team, Gilbert has seen his share of “firsts” in the technology industry. He was on the first team to provide commercial delivery of high-speed multimedia over satellite while working at Satellite Business Systems, a one billion dollar company. He was also on the team that developed and launched the first V-LAN during his tenure at Network Systems Corporation, where he served as director of business development, marketing director, technical sales consultant, and a national account sales manager, leading the IBM and AT&T accounts.

Gilbert also managed the worldwide development and support of programming tools at IBM. He received a Bachelor of Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.

Ken Hardwick

Chief Scientist

Combining the education of an astrophysicist, experience at research and development, and expertise at assembling and managing knowledge teams, Ken Hardwick has earned his place as a leader and visionary in the technology industry. Hardwick independently envisioned and was the first person to market several key technology services, including a VPN product using cryptographic tunneling, Virtual LAN (VLAN) technology for segregation of customer networks, multiprocessor architectures for Internet routing, and packet filtering. He has also developed network-based cryptosystems that remain the technique of choice in major federal intelligence agencies.

In 2005, Hardwick was one of only five individuals named as “Ones to Watch in 2006” in InfoWorld magazine’s Innovators Awards. “By abandoning business as usual, these honorees are striking new paths to efficiency and reliability across the board,” InfoWorld stated. “We are pleased to honor those who are leading the way with their ingenuity.”

Prior to Blue Ridge Networks, Hardwick was a fellow and director of advanced software development at Network Systems Corporation where he led the development of the comprehensive cryptography and packet filtering system that is used today in Blue Ridge Networks products and services. Among other patents, Hardwick holds a software patent for virtual routing. He received a Bachelor of Science in astrophysics and Bachelor of Arts in applied math from the University of Rochester.

Mukesh Sharma

VP, Engineering

As Vice President of Engineering for Blue Ridge Networks, Mukesh Sharma draws on more than seventeen years of product development management experience with the proven ability to build engineering teams and deliver products to meet both schedule and revenue goals. He has an extensive experience spanning more than 30 years in the field of data networking, telecommunication, systems development to the field of cyber security in the Enterprise, banking sector, retail industries and industrial control systems. Prior to becoming Vice President, Sharma was Director of Hardware and Firmware Engineering at Blue Ridge where he led the development of the award-winning next generation BorderGuard Server product line and RemoteLink product line.

Sharma joined Blue Ridge Networks from Megisto Systems Inc., where he served as software manager developing their Mobile Service Delivery Systems that deliver IP data services to Mobile Access Networks. Prior to that he worked at Salix Technologies, Alcatel Data Networks, Hyundai Network Systems, AT&T Bell Labs, Timeplex Inc. and Center For Development of Telematics in India.

Sharma received his Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Electronics Engineering and Master of Science in Physics degree from Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, India.

Jim Frelk


Mr. Frelk James J. Frelk has 30 years of experience as a leader in government and industry, shaping commercial and government programs on national security, commercial satellite earth imaging, ISR, cybersecurity, autonomy/artificial intelligence, and other fields.

James served as national security affairs analyst in the U.S. House of Representatives. He also served as the Founding Executive Director and Treasurer of the George C. Marshall Institute, a non-profit scientific think-tank composed of prominent American scientists, providing technical assessments of scientific developments with a major public policy impact. Mr. Frelk later served as Director of the Office of Space Commerce at the U.S. Department of Commerce. He represented the Department at the National Space Council and led efforts on legislation and regulatory changes for the licensing of US commercial satellite remote sensing systems. In addition, he led the first multi-Agency/Department and industry mission to Russia to facilitate cooperation on the international space station and other defense related programs. James has also served as Director of Headquarters Operations (SES) and Deputy Associate Administrator for Program Analysis and Evaluation at NASA. Mr. Frelk supported program formulation and reviews, independent cost analysis, and managed NASA’s coordination with the US Air Force and IC.

Frelk has extensive executive management experience serving publicly traded and privately held companies. He co-founded Lockheed/Space Imaging, WorldView Inc., and EarthWatch/Digital Globe (now known as MAXAR), working closely with the NRO, NGA, and Defense Department. As Vice President for Geospatial Information Systems for ERIM/Veridian, Mr. Frelk supported the development of ISR systems for the Department of Defense and IC in challenging environments. As Senior Vice President for Government Services at TerreStar Networks, Mr. Frelk worked closely with the continuity of government community on a new satellite system for secure communications. Mr. Frelk served as Senior Vice President at Integral Systems, managing activities with the US Air Force on new satellite command and control systems and space situational awareness capabilities.

James Frelk is the co-author and editor of Defending Against Ballistic Missile Attacks and has authored numerous articles appearing in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, THE WASHINGTON POST, THE WASHINGTON TIMES, NATIONAL REVIEW, ISSUES IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, and other publications. He recently co-authored a SPACENEWS Commentary published December 2022 entitled, “Promoting, Protecting, and Defending Freedom’s Expansion in Space.”

Jeff Simpson


In his role as Chief Financial Officer, Jeff brings extensive hands-on expertise in all facets of accounting, financial management and financial analysis within small and medium-sized businesses. He brings extensive skills in restructuring business practices to effect improved operation. Instrumental in streamlining and improving processes, enhancing productivity, and implementing technology solutions. Jeff effectively structures tactics and strategies to align with corporate goals and objectives. He constructs financial models integral to raising debt and equity capital, and employs strong communication skills with all levels of management. Jeff contributes his intuitive approach to business, which matches his exceptional analytical skills to create resolutions for critical issues.

Paul Veeneman


With over 27 years of experience across various industries including Finance, Oil and Gas, Healthcare and Manufacturing, Paul has been actively working within the Nation’s critical infrastructure, addressing challenges, providing guidance, insight and innovation in Operations Technology, Industrial Controls, IoT, IIoT, SCADA cyber security knowledge, expertise, and education. Paul currently holds the CISSP, CISM, and CRISC certifications, and serves on several boards, including the local Minnesota chapters of InfraGard, the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA), and the International Society of Automation (ISA).

Zaherr Kamal


Zaherr Kamal, a seasoned expert at Blue Ridge Networks since 2011, has significantly shaped the company’s technological advancements. Zaherr is committed to fostering innovation and driving excellence. At Blue Ridge Networks, he has taken a versatile approach, engaging with multiple departments and applying himself to various roles. His adaptability and eagerness to learn have greatly enhanced his understanding of the company’s operations and objectives. Zaherr’s specialized skills in testing network solutions and malware protection facilitated his advancement to leading the testing department, where he collaborates with developers to enhance product reliability and performance. As a product manager, Zaherr is a key player in the dialogue between marketing, sales, and management teams. He plays a crucial role in defining and executing a strategic roadmap. His ability to forge and maintain partnerships, navigate complex organizational structures, and position Blue Ridge Networks favorably in the industry has been valuable to the company’s sustained success and market leadership. A testament to Zaherr’s vision and innovation is his pivotal role in conceiving “LinkGuard Express”, an innovative solution safeguarding critical infrastructure. This product, which achieved significant success in its launch year, has become a cornerstone of Blue Ridge Networks’ product lineup, significantly contributing to the company’s market position and growth.

Leonard Hamlin

Director of Finance & Administration

Leonard is responsible for overseeing the financial and administrative operations of Blue Ridge Networks, Inc. ensuring strong operational efficiency between all departments. Throughout his 13+ year tenure with Blue Ridge, Leonard has continued to contribute his financial and operational expertise to manage and develop processes to drive efficient collaboration, quality forecasting & budgeting, and other enterprise resource planning. Leonard has brought dedication and diligence to his multi-faceted role, taken a deep understanding of Blue Ridge’s technology, working in close concert with all executive leaders to optimize the company’s strategic plans. He received a BS from St. John’s University Peter J. Tobin College of Business.

Danille Wilson

VP, Finance

Danille Wilson is the Vice President of Finance for Blue Ridge Networks, having worked her way up the corporate ladder from Staff Accountant to Senior Staff Accountant to Controller to VP of Finance. She has worked in the financial industry for over 15 years dealing with a wide range of economic, technical, regulatory, policy, legislative and business issues affecting both small and medium sized organizations. Wilson’s experience includes extensive work on pricing methodologies, rate design, revenue requirements, billing, inventory management, payroll and general accounting. Wilson has significant experience in the area of sales training and staff development, having worked on issues pertaining to automation, the use of new technologies, and customer satisfaction.

Wilson graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology and holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Mary Washington.

Jeff Simpson


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