Lt. Gen. John E. Shaw. COURTESY PHOTO, Stoke Space

Kent-based Stoke Space names retired US Space Force leader to board

Lt. Gen. John E Shaw appointed to Board of Directors

Kent-based Stoke Space announced that the company has appointed retired U.S. Space Force Lt. Gen. John E. Shaw to its Board of Directors and Paul Croci as its chief financial officer.

Shaw has more than 30 years of experience in national security space and aerospace engineering, according to an April 8 article on the Stoke Space website. He was among the first general officers to accept a commission in the U.S. Space Force.

Stoke Space opened in Kent in 2019 with co-founders Andy Lapsa and Tom Feldman, each former Kent-based Blue Origin employees. The company focuses on building reusable rockets designed to fly daily.

Shaw’s last active-duty assignment was as deputy commander of U.S. Space Command, where he directed more than 12,000 personnel worldwide and oversaw a $525 million budget to defend the nation’s critical space capabilities and to deliver space effects to terrestrial war fighters and human society, according to the article. In this role, Shaw advocated for the U.S. Space Force to pursue advanced capabilities that enable dynamic space operations in which in-space assets can actively maneuver without constraint.

Before joining U.S. Space Command, Shaw was the last commander of 14th Air Force (U.S. Air Force) and the first commander of Space Operations Command (U.S. Space Force) at Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, leading more than 10,000 personnel across the globe that organized, trained, and equipped military space forces and executed global space operations, in teamwork with allies and international partners, according to the article.

Prior to commanding 14th Air Force, Shaw held a series of leadership roles in the Department of Defense and the National Reconnaissance Office. He also served as a senior policy advisor in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and as a co-chair or member of several U.S. delegations discussing space security issues with Russian and international delegations.

Shaw has an master of science in organizational management from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., an master of science in aeronautics and astronautics from the University of Washington, and a bachelor of science in astronautical engineering with a Russian language minor from the U.S. Air Force Academy.

“Stoke Space is a highly innovative and motivated team with a compelling vision for reusable and sustainable space capabilities,” Shaw said. “I’m honored to join them.”

“We’re honored to have Gen. Shaw join our board of directors,” said Lapsa, CEO of Stoke Space. “John has been a visionary and thought leader throughout his distinguished military career, and he’s been extremely influential to how I and others think about national security space. His expertise will be a tremendous asset to our company.”

Croci new CFO

Croci joins Stoke Space after 20 years leading a variety of significant financial transactions in the aerospace and defense sectors including a number of mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, IPOs, joint ventures, and other strategic financial activities, according to Stoke Space.

His most recent leadership role was with Wells Fargo’s investment bank, where he was managing director and head of the Aerospace and Defense Group. Croci previously led Honeywell’s business development and mergers and acquisitions team for the company’s $12 billion aerospace division. Before joining Honeywell, he held a series of investment banking positions with Barclays Capital, Peter J. Solomon Co., and Citigroup.

Croci began his work in investment banking following service in the U.S. Navy. He joined the Navy first as a Nuclear Submarine Officer on the U.S.S. Alexandria and qualified as an on-board nuclear submarine propulsion chief engineer. He later taught submarine warfare tactics at the Navy’s Submarine Center.

Croci holds an masters in business administration from the University of Michigan and bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy.

“I am thrilled to join the talented team at Stoke Space as the chief financial officer to help the company achieve its mission of making space more accessible,” Croci said. “It is an incredibly exciting opportunity as Stoke Space is well positioned to grow rapidly in the emerging new space economy.”

“As we navigate the dynamic landscape of the rapidly growing commercial space industry, Paul’s wealth of experience advising aerospace and defense businesses will be instrumental in leading Stoke’s continued growth,” Lapsa said. “We are delighted to have him join our team.”

About Stoke Space

Stoke is scaling the space economy by providing low-cost, on-demand transport to, through, and from space. It’s developing fully and rapidly reusable rockets and space vehicles designed to operate with aircraft-like frequency. Stoke’s technology development has been funded by the U.S. Space Force, NASA, the National Science Foundation and other government and private partners.


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