Grant Anderson, P.E.
President and CEO, Co-founder
Mr. Anderson co-founded Paragon in 1993. From the time of inception of the company until early this year, he has been the VP of Engineering and Chief Engineer of the company and was responsible for the design and implementation of not only many of Paragon’s technical achievements, but also its processes of engineering rigor in a stepped approach of requirements, design, build, test and delivery. This process has been cited by many customers as unique, disciplined and highly productive. Coming from a background of not only technical but financial and managerial training, he has held diverse positions at Paragon including Treasurer/Secretary, CFO, Sr. VP of Operations, Chief Operating Officer and Director of Manufacturing.
Recognized as a leader in the life support in extreme environments field, Mr. Anderson has lead the systems and conceptual design of multiple spacecraft under contract to Lockheed Martin, NASA, Inspiration Mars Foundation and others. He holds multiple patents in a diverse range of disciplines including testing systems, isolation systems, radiator systems and overall systems design. He has lead development and qualification of experimental flight hardware for five shuttle flights, two Mir missions, a Russian Progress, and the first commercial payload on ISS. Prior to starting Paragon, Mr. Anderson was the Chief Design Engineer for the International Space Station Solar Array Program--the largest solar arrays ever built--while employed at Lockheed Martin, Sunnyvale, CA.
Mr. Anderson holds two degrees from Stanford University in Mechanical Engineering (B.S.) and Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering (M.S.) and is a registered Professional Engineer in the state of California. His diverse education/training included non-technical roles such as Controller for a Palo Alto, CA real estate firm during college where he implemented some of the first computers into the company’s financial systems to track and monitor property financial performance. Working at an aviation consultancy, he participated in the start-up of two airlines through route analysis, equipment analysis and strategy advice. One went on to be America West, now part of US Airways. Mr. Anderson is also a graduate of the International Space University 1991 summer session with emphasis on space business and management.
Mr. Anderson’s passion for excellence drives him to support the next generation of engineers and leaders through participation in educational work outside of Paragon. A former Treasurer and member of the board of Trustees of the Tucson Waldorf School, he lead the financial growth of that entity from a small struggling school to a robust, diverse and thriving school today. Mr. Anderson also oversees a non-profit tuition scholarship organization which provides roughly $250,000 of scholarships to deserving children throughout southern Arizona. He is also on the Industry Advisory Board for the College of Engineering at the University of Arizona, and the board of the Arizona NASA Space Grant Consortium providing scholarships to students in diverse disciplines using NASA data and technology in their work.
In his spare time, Mr. Anderson is an avid bicyclist and most recently completed a solo, unsupported 6 day, 600 mile ride across South Dakota and North Western Iowa.
Mr. Anderson lives in Tucson with his wife of 24 years, Ines, and three children ages 15-19.
Chief Operating Officer
Mr. Konopka brings to Paragon over three decades of experience in flight, test, and manufacturing operations of manned and un-manned space, military and commercial systems.
Mr. Konopka oversees manufacturing, engineering, quality, laboratory operations and program management within Paragon. He joined Paragon in 2007 as Director of Safety Quality and Mission Assurance (SQ&MA), he later served as Director of Product Realization, and most recently as Vice President of SQ&MA.
Prior to joining Paragon, Mr. Konopka was the Senior Manager of safety and quality for Boeing at the Delta IV launch sites in Cape Canaveral FL and Vandenberg AFB CA. At Delta IV he was part of the launch sites leadership team that was responsible for the construction, activation of the launch sites facilities and subsequent inaugural launch of the DIV launch vehicle.
Other experience’s include Boeing/Rocketdyne Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME) quality and configuration management manager at Canoga Park, CA, Stennis Space Center, MS, and Kennedy Space Center FL.; Manager Quality Assurance Boeing commercial airplanes propulsion systems division.
Chief Financial Officer / Business Operations Officer
Mr. Johnson has more than 15 years experience in a wide range of professional Accounting and Finance leadership positions. Prior to joining Paragon Mr. Johnson spent three years at Raytheon Corporation in the Raytheon Missile Systems business unit where he maintained responsibility for the $4B+ Income Statement and was the lead interface for internal Earned Value Management Systems (EVMS) reporting. Additionally Mr. Johnson worked in the Business Office as the Financial Planner of the Kinetic Energy Interceptor Program during some of its initial development and planning stages and in the Business Office of the Lockheed Martin/Raytheon Javelin Joint Venture. Prior to joining Raytheon Corporation, Mr. Johnson was the Assistant Controller/Finance Manager at Columbia University’s Biosphere 2 Center overseeing all the Financial Operations of the organization. Prior to the Biosphere 2 Center, Mr. Johnson spent several years in Big 5 Public Accounting working as an auditor for both Ernst & Young LLP and Deloitte & Touche LLP. Mr. Johnson holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Arizona with double majors in Accounting and Finance and is also a Certified Public Accountant.
Volker Kern, Ph.D.
Senior Director of Programs
Dr. Kern is an accomplished professional with experience in large-scale program/project management, process improvement, team leadership, R&D and technology development. He played a key role in securing a 7-year, $315 million NASA contract for Lockheed Martin, led 6 payloads on 2 Space Shuttle flights with team of 100+ scientists from US, Japan, France and Canada, co-managed $170 million-per-year program, coordinating operations at NASA field centers, and led an Independent Assessment team for the NASA HQ Contract Assurance Services (NCAS) Office.
While at NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC, Dr. Kern coordinated the proposal review cycle (NASA and International Life Science Research Announcement) including technical, tactical and scientific peer reviews. In addition, he facilitated the creation of a road map for the development of safe life support systems for long-term space exploration.
Dr. Kern received $2+ million grant funding from NASA and German Space Agency and served as Principal Investigator for experiments on 4 US Space Shuttle flights. He is the author of 21 peer-reviewed papers published in scientific journals and is recipient of the NASA Public Service Medal, 2004, Lockheed Martin Space Operations "Top Flight” Award, 2002 & 2003, and the Thora W. Halstead "Young Investigators Award," American Society for Gravitational and Space Biology, 2000. Dr. Kern received a M.S. in Plant Physiology at the Ludwig-Maximilians Universität Würzburg, Germany, and a Ph.D. in Gravitational Biology at the Technische Universität München, Germany.
Barry W. Finger
Chief Engineer / Director of Life Support Systems
Mr. Finger maintains the technical excellence of the company’s Environmental Control and Life Support products through the diligent application of established procedures regulating engineering processes, coordinating ECLSS engineering with other internal and external technical organizations, and evaluating tools, personnel, and training. He currently serves as the Inspiration Mars ECLSS Technical Lead and responsible for the on-time delivery of engineering hardware, systems, and data products. Previous significant roles at Paragon include Director of Advanced Concepts and Business Development, Commercial Crew Transport–Air Revitalization System (CCT-ARS) Project Manager, and ECLSS technical lead on the Excalibur Almaz and the Rocketplane Kistler programs. Prior to joining Paragon, Mr. Finger served as the ECLSS Manager for Bigelow Aerospace where he led a lean team of engineers and technicians that developed ECLSS for commercial human spaceflight vehicles. During his time at Bigelow, the team successfully launched the first two long-duration inflatable spacecraft into low earth orbit. Mr. Finger previously served as the International Space Station (ISS) Sustaining Engineering (SE) Program Manager for Honeywell where he managed ISS SE activities related to the support of company flight hardware and systems aboard ISS. He also previously served as an ECLSS design engineer for Hamilton Sundstrand at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) and the Dynamac Corporation at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC). Mr. Finger received a B.S. and M.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Florida.
People Department Director
Kristin Behrens is the Director of the People Department, and is responsible for supporting the unique and wonderful corporate culture at Paragon.
Ms. Behrens has over 15 years of experience in a wide variety of professional and leadership positions. Included in that experience is over 12 years of professional HR experience, as well as experience in finance and contracts. She has been PHR certified and holds her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.
Prior to joining Paragon, Ms. Behrens spent the majority of her Human Resources career in the healthcare industry, where the highlight of her experience included the implementation, management, and maintenance of all Human Resources functions and activities for the opening of a new hospital. She has also been passionate about community and volunteer activities since she was young, and currently is the Human Resources Chair and sits on the Board of Directors for a local non-profit, community services organization.