FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wright Brothers Institute Executive Director Announces Retirement

12.12.18 11:29 PM By Jennie Hempstead

Dayton, December 12, 2018: Wright Brothers Institute (WBI) Executive Director, Les McFawn, announced his plans to retire in the summer of 2019, following 10 years of service. McFawn will stay in the position until a replacement is approved by WBI’s Board of Trustees and the transition period is completed. His attitude of servant leadership is clear in his message to the WBI staff. “It has been a very difficult decision for me to make because I love everything about the Institute…our people, our mission and the innovative results we achieve time and time again,“ said McFawn. His departure is made easier, “…knowing that the Institute is on a really good path.”

McFawn’s leadership has paved a path of success and growth. In 2018, WBI’s 16-year Partnership Intermediary Agreement (PIA) with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base was renewed for 5 years with a ceiling amount of $49,800,000, reinforcing a proven track record of innovation and new capabilities for the Air Force. He oversees 26 employees and 58,000 square feet of innovation space, including the the AFRL Maker Hub and WBI Second Street at 444 East Second Street in downtown Dayton. Over his 10-year career at WBI, McFawn expanded WBI’s customer base to connect the Air Force to innovative small businesses via the Small Business Hub, as well as the Dayton community with collaborative economic development efforts such as the recent DOD Office of Economic Development grant, resulting in 50% faster corporate formation and $25M in startup venture funding.
Before his tenure at WBI began in 2009, McFawn was the Executive Director of AFRL and the senior civilian responsible for managing the Air Force's $1.3 billion science and technology program, and a workforce of approximately 5,700 people. After serving 3 years active duty in the Air Force, McFawn entered federal civil service in 1972 and has served in a variety of engineering and senior technical management positions within the Air Force. He served as Director of the Plans and Programs Directorate with the Air Armament Center, Eglin AFB, Florida, as well as Deputy Director, Plans and Programs Directorate, Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, where he was responsible for the command's strategic planning, manpower and organization, legislative affairs, base closure, and resource programming for approximately $43 billion and 78,000 positions. Mr. McFawn was appointed to the Federal Senior Executive Service in 1997.For more information about the WBI Executive Director position announcement, visit

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About Wright Brothers Institute
Wright Brothers Institute (WBI) is a cutting-edge innovation and technology commercialization center for the Air Force Research Laboratory, with facilities located just outside of WPAFB in Dayton, OH. We drive fast, agile innovation that enables successful technology development to solve the Air Force’s most complex challenges by leveraging resident experts, unique facilities, disruptive innovation processes and extensive networks. We leverage subject matter experts and intellectual property from AFRL and SBIR companies to unlock the right problem, connect to new partners and synchronize transition pathways through our commercialization partners. Utilizing the Partnership Intermediary Agreement (PIA), WBI provides connectivity between the government and small businesses, academia, state and local governmental agencies and non-traditional partners. WBI was the first organization to establish a PIA with the Air Force, in 2002.
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