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Rita Peterson runs a woman-owned, Native America –owned, HUBZone (Historically Underutilized Business Zone) - certified engineering services company serving the Department of Defense domestically, around the globe, and even into space. Caribou Thunder is headquartered currently on the Lac Courte d’Oreilles Ojibwe Reservation in Hayward, Wisconsin. Rita is an energetic and motivational leader and identifies through the understanding of her client’s objectives and their environment with proven processes with an exceptional team to deliver results. Since she started the business 14 years ago she was honored in 2015 with the HUBZone Owner of the Year by the Small Business Administration and recognized for her outstanding service to the Native American community — including STEM educational outreach initiatives. “The award is definitely an honor, and
Rich Skiles is selected as Chief Operating Officer. Rich joins Caribou Thunder from Lockheed Martin where he lead the C4ISR division. Under his leadership, the C4ISR division was awarded over $420M in Sales and Orders for 2019 supporting Air Force and Missile Defense Agency programs. Rich spearheaded foundational new technology initiatives in advanced mission planning for Global Strike Command and managed the Lockheed Martin C4ISR Internal Research and Development efforts. He began his 40-year career with the US Air Force then he retired as a seasoned AF Veteran in 2000. Prior to starting with Lockheed Martin in 2015, Rich lead and managed technical teams as a Program/Technical Manager for Northrup Grumman. He holds a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, a bachelor’s degree in Electronics
Tom Piffarerio serves as the Finance Director for Caribou Thunder LLC. He brings extensive experience within finance and accounting and is responsible for day-to-day financial operations. Tom comes to Caribou Thunder after working as a Virtual CFO with Summit CPA Group. As CFO he worked closely with multiple small business owners to help guide the companies to success, including cash flow management, forecasting, budgeting and business development. Prior to Summit, Tom worked with Vectrus Corporation. There he served in multiple roles including Financial Reporting Manager, Internal Audit/Compliance and most recently Technical Accounting and SEC Reporting. He was an integral part in the financial reporting and compliance of the $1.2B organization and brings a diverse range of experience to Caribou Thunder. Tom holds a bachelor’s
Dr. Mark Bellcourt is member of the White Earth Nation and holds a Doctor of Education (EDD) from the University of Minnesota. In his 25-year career at the University, he has collaborated with Minnesota Indigenous Nations, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and taught classes on multicultural leadership and Indigenous environmental knowledge. He facilitated annual manoomin (wild rice) weekend retreats for students on the White Earth Reservation, was an investigator with Kawe Gidaa-naanaagadawendaamin Manoomin (University of Minnesota wild rice research group) and helped develop University policy and protocols for interacting with Native communities. Dr. Bellcourt has presented at many local and national conferences on Indigenous environmental knowledge and authentic relationships with tribal nations. He has been active in the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES)