Rear Admiral M. Elizabeth Young is the director, Systems Engineering, National Reconnaissance Office, Chantilly, Va. Young is also the Commander, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command’s (SPAWAR) Space Field Activity (SSFA), and program executive officer for Space Systems, U.S. Navy.
Young is from New Mexico and graduated in 1984 from the United States Naval Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry. Her initial tour was at the Naval Space Surveillance Systems Command, Dahlgren, Va. In 1987 she attended the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. where she graduated in 1990 with an Master of Science degree in Physics.
After graduation she reported to the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. Her team developed biological warfare sensors which were deployed to the fighting forces during the first Gulf War and serve as the basis of many of today’s detectors. While at the Naval Research Laboratory, she served additional duty to the Naval Space Technology Program.
In 1992 she reported as the officer in charge, Naval Space Command Detachment at the Defense Support System Ground Station at Buckley Air National Guard Base in Aurora, Colo. During this tour she qualified as crew commander and was promoted to lieutenant commander.
In 1994 she reported to the Aerospace Data Facility at Buckley Air National Guard Base in Aurora. During this tour she developed and fielded a new ground processing upgrade at the Aerospace Data Facility and other facilities. Upon completing her tour, she attended and graduated from the Program Manager’s Course at the Defense Systems Management College at Ft. Belvoir, Va.
From 1997 to 1999 she served as the assistant program manager for Systems & Engineering (Class Desk) on the Naval Tactical Unmanned Air Vehicle Program at the Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, Md.
In 1999 she reported to the SPAWAR Space Field Activity, National Reconnaissance Office, Chantilly, Va. where she served as the deputy chief systems engineer of the Future Imagery Architecture Program in the Imagery Intelligence (IMINT) Directorate and was promoted to commander. In 2001 she was reassigned as the deputy program manager and chief systems engineer of the Advanced Concepts Staff in the IMINT Directorate. During this tour she led a three-year Technology Readiness Assessment of advanced, special technologies. While in this tour she was promoted to captain.
In 2005 she was appointed program manager, Low Earth Orbit System Program Office in the Signals Intelligence Directorate of the National Reconnaissance Office. From 2005-2008 she was responsible for cost, schedule, and performance of a satellite system which provides essential, value-added, actionable intelligence to ships at sea and is the engine for Maritime Domain Awareness. In 2008 she was selected for and promoted to rear admiral.
Her military decorations include: Defense Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Naval and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Naval Achievement Medal.
Her National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) awards include: Director’s Circle, NRO Gold Medal for Distinguished Service, NRO Silver Medal for Superior Performance, IMINT Employee of the Year 2004, and NRO Employee of the Year 2005.
She is also the recipient of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) Director’s Coin, NGA Medallion, and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Director’s Award.