Discover cutting-edge insights and strategies at the Society of Decision Professionals 2024 Annual Conference with our expert speakers. Join thought leaders from diverse fields as they share practical wisdom and real-world applications to elevate your decision-making skills. Don't miss this opportunity to immerse yourself in a dynamic learning experience and connect with the forefront of decision science.



  • Luis Mendoza is a senior consultant at Decision Frameworks. He joined the team in 2013. Luis enjoys the gamut of Decision Quality enablement with DF, from training to framing and evaluation to presentation. He specializes in probabilistic model development and strategy evaluation. Since 2013, Luis has worked a wide variety of engagements with oil and gas companies, manufacturers, and technical government projects. He holds a bachelor’s in Industrial Engineering from Texas A&M University and a master’s in systems engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington. Luis lives in Houston with his wife and three kids and enjoys being a family.



Ellen Coopersmith is the founder of Decision Frameworks, a Decision Quality enablement firm, specializing in training, consulting, and software, which she formed in 1999.

She specializes in Decision Quality consultation, facilitation, training, and implementation. Her passion for the decision sciences focuses on decision framing, uncertainty analysis and leadership coaching.

Prior to founding Decision Frameworks, she led one of the oil industry’s most successful implementations of Decision & Risk Analysis for Conoco.


Tyler Ludlow

After a degree in Applied Math and an MBA, Tyler studied Decision Science at Stanford. He then spent a decade applying it at Fortune 500 companies, including working with 18 of the top 20 pharma companies. In 2018 he pulled a Robin Hood with Decision Science and founded the Decision Skills Institute to share it to people everywhere. The Institute targets broad-reaching efforts like training large teams of employees, specific patient populations, and certification programs for non-decision professionals that help people make decisions (realtors, financial advisors, business coaches, etc). Tyler’s best decisions were marrying his wife and having their 10 children.



Dave is a strategic leader in the inextricably linked fields of decision-making, strategy, innovation, and collaboration. Formerly a Vice President of Decision Quality, he currently serves in a Strategic Analysis role with Open Options Corporation, the pioneering firm at the forefront of applying Game Theory to strategic decision-making. He is also a faculty member at Wilfrid Laurier University where he teaches Strategy Management and Decision Making in the Lazaridis School of Business & Economics.

Having originally joined SDP as a student member and having subsequently completed Stanford's Strategic Decision and Risk Management (SDRM) program, Dave has spent years advancing the profession and creating value through a relentless pursuit of decision excellence.



Alison Zabik is the founder and head of Planning and Decision Technology at ExxonMobil, a multdisciplinary team combining decision science, corporate strategy & planning, and digital transformation. She founded the group in 2020 to scale the use of decision quality and analysis within ExxonMobil's project investment decisions. Ms. Zabik is a registered Professional Engineer and has degrees in civil engineering and music history from the University of Florida. A voracious learner, she’s always up for discussions on design, tech, behavioral economics and energy transition.



Christa has over thirty years of experience in the oil and gas industry – first with Royal Dutch Shell and then with Chevron. Her career has given her the opportunity to explore most aspects of the crude to customer value chain, largely thanks to the last twenty years in the decision analysis space. She has worked on large capital projects running into the billions of dollars, regional strategic studies, business improvement opportunities, enterprise risk management and portfolio modeling, business development opportunities and – most importantly - growing organizational capability in the decision analysis function. Her current role encompasses responsibility for developing Chevron’s decision analysis training strategy, course development and providing a diverse set of learning opportunities to the DA/DQ community to ensure the business units have access to the right people, with the right skills. In her private life she is no less ambitious.



Mike Benefiel is the General Manager of Decision Analysis for Chevron.

Mike is a Geophysical Engineer with a BSc. in Geophysical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. Mike has extensive experience in the energy industry, he has held positions in data acquisition, research, data processing, data interpretation, exploration, field development, consulting, technical management and software product management.

Mike joined Chevron in 2006 in a Decision Analysis role and is the co-developer, with Audrey Del Vescovo, of the innovative Minimum Functional Objectives approach to DA/DQ.



Ellen Vernotzy is general manager of Opportunity Shaping for Capital Projects in Chevron’s Technology Company, based in Houston, Texas, a position she assumed in May 2020.

Vernotzy joined Chevron legacy company Unocal in 1998 as a geophysicist. After that, she held roles of increasing responsibility including Subsurface Manager for Deepwater Exploration and Projects, Planning Manager for Chevron North America Exploration and Production Company, General Manager of Chevron’s Non-Operated Joint Ventures and Strategy & Planning Manager for Corporate Business Development.



Tony Kenck worked in the oil industry for 40 years. He started as a geophysicist, but eventually migrated to the dark side.

Since the late 90s, he tried to change the culture at Texaco and Chevron from an extremely de-centralized approach to a more centralized perspective. He was partially successful and, along the way, helped develop many of the portfolio tools, practitioners, and ways of thinking still in place. He has converted his experience and all the mistakes into the guide he wishes he’d had in 2000.



Eric Johnson supports drug development decision making at GSK, where he is helping the new DA practice to grow. Previously he had done DA work at BMS, and for consultancies. He is co-author of the Handbook of Decision Analysis, and a Fellow of SDP.



Lan Ding is a portfolio management and analytics leader driving data-powered decision optimization for GSK's R&D pipeline investments. With over 10 years experience and EMBA, Lan has spearheaded analytics platforms leveraging cutting-edge frameworks and industry best practices to optimize high-stakes portfolios. Recognized for bridging the gap between data insights and actions, Lan’s pioneering frameworks have delivered lasting impact, including revamped Probability of Regulatory Success valuation process at GSK. At SDP Conference, she will share her wealth of expertise enabling analytics-based transformation and investment optimization within complex pharmaceutical pipelines.



Dr. Kristen Harmon graduated from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa in 2022 with a PhD in Natural Resources and Environmental Management and a specialization in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology. Her PhD research focused on developing spatial and statistical models to assess environmental impacts on Hawaiian waterbird reproductive success and the role of Hawaiian Indigenous resource management in recovering Hawaiian waterbird populations. Kristen is now serving as a Project Coordinator in the Hawaii Wildlife Ecology Lab at UH Mānoa working on decision analyses projects that aim to optimize resource allocation strategies for the long-term persistence of natural resources in the Hawaiian Islands.



Harrison Miller is a Senior Associate Scientist in Alnylam Pharmaceuticals’ research department. In the over two years he has spent at the company; he has been responsible for developing two of the major models used by the design pipeline in determining which drugs are tested in vitro. In addition to his machine learning responsibilities, Harrison has designed chemical informatics applications for modeling Alnylam’s drugs and has been working on in-house PTRS algorithms in collaboration with the portfolio strategy team. Before joining Alnylam, Harrison received two degrees from Tufts University – a master’s in mathematics and a bachelor’s in chemical engineering. Harrison will begin as an MBA candidate at Harvard Business School in August of 2024. In his free time, Harrison enjoys golfing, skiing, and trying new whiskies.



Jonathan has diverse experiences working with a variety of state and federal agencies on wildlife and fisheries management decisions that integrate decision support and ecological modeling. Recent examples include facilitating a management strategy evaluation addressing management of the summer flounder recreational fishery which included compiling survey input from over 800 respondents and facilitating stakeholders through the process for the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council and assisting with the use of scientific assessments and policy guidance to inform endangered species act classifications. Jonathan has worked closely with the US Fish and Wildlife Service developing predictive models for the Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout, Lesser Prairie-Chicken, New England Cottontail and Canada Lynx.



Dr. Michelle Hilleary serves as a Supervisory Environmental Planner at the Institute for Water Resources, Water Resources Center based in Alexandria, VA, where she works on planning, collaboration, risk communication, and decision support tool development. She also serves as a Professor of Practice for Virginia Tech's Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability in the Online and Executive Master of Natural Resources in Global Sustainability. She previously served as the Eurasia Branch Chief in the International Affairs Program at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, where she oversaw financial and technial assistance programs in the Asia-Pacific region, facilitating wildlife conservation and scientific exchange. Michelle also previously worked at the Institute for Water Resources as a decision analyst and environmental planner, where she built capacity of domestic and international professionals in shared vision planning and provided support to projects.



Dr. Hal Cardwell has focused on collaborative multi-stakeholder planning and decision making throughout his career. Since 2008 he has led USACE’s Collaboration and Public Participation Center of Expertise (www.iwr.usace.army.mil/cpc/) in providing technical assistance to dozens of USACE projects and programs, and training hundreds of USACE staff on public participation, risk communication, and conflict resolution. Before coming to USACE in 2001, Hal spent five years with USAID in DC and Panama working on international water management issues and four years with Oak Ridge National Lab working on instream flow issues across the US. Hal holds a BS in Systems Engineering from the University of Virginia and a Ph.D. in Geography & Environmental Engineering from the Johns Hopkins University.


Ashley Goode

Ashley Goode is an assistant research scientist at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute where she develops manatee population models. She previously completed a post-doc at the University of Florida, department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation and the USGS Co-op Unit, where this research was conducted. Her research interests include conservation of endangered species, population modeling, and optimization modeling.


Leah Sharpe

Dr. Leah Sharpe is a decision scientist with the United States Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Research and Development. Her work at the EPA focuses on incorporating ecosystem service concepts into a variety of decision-making processes and developing tools and approaches to support doing so. Her recent work includes the development of decision tools, such as the Final Ecosystem Goods and Services Scoping Tool (https://www.epa.gov/eco-research/final-ecosystem-goods-and-services-fegs-scoping-tool) and the Ecosystem Services Tool Selection Portal (https://www.epa.gov/eco-research/ecosystem-services-tool-selection-portal), and collaborative applications of those tools.



Charles Persinger is an Executive Director in R&D Strategy at Eli Lilly and leads their Decision Sciences group. He joined Lilly after receiving his MBA from Duke University. Charles has over 20 years of experience helping enable organization decision quality at Lilly, with a focus on drug development and portfolio management decisions within Research and Development. He and the Decision Science team at Lilly work directly with decision-makers and drug development teams to enable decision quality across the R&D organization through a combination of direct decision consulting, developing and enabling decision processes, and education efforts. Lilly was awared the Raiffa-Howard Award for Organizational Decision Quality by the Society of Decision Professionals in 2016 and Charles was Co-Chair of the SDP Annual Conference in 2021.


Leslie Lippard

Leslie Lippard is currently serving as the Senior Director of Strategy and Portfolio at Alnylam, bringing a wealth of experience and expertise to the pharmaceutical industry. With a background in physics, Leslie earned a BS degree from Caltech and further honed strategic and managerial skills through an MBA from the University of Oregon, proudly representing the Ducks. Prior to joining Alnylam, Leslie held pivotal roles in Genentech's Pipeline & Portfolio Planning and worked as a SDG Consultant. Beyond corporate endeavors, Leslie has delved into entrepreneurship, market research, and pharmaceutical project management. Actively engaged in professional development, Leslie has contributed significantly to the field as a current member of the certification committee, and has previously served as president and conference co-chair.


Terry Karner

Terrence Karner is on a mission to help everyone improve the way they make decisions. He is Director of Portfolio & Decision Analysis at Astellas Pharma where his group continually seeks to lead with best practices in Decision Quality and portfolio analysis. He has over 30 years of industry experience in pharma, big four management consulting, and wireless telecom where he has focused on deploying the best tools of strategic decision-making: Decision Quality, portfolio analysis, and scenario planning. Terrence is dedicated to continually teach and practice the ideals of Decision Quality at every opportunity such that this approach will become the standard for strategic thinking across every organization.


Shaun Comfort

Dr. Comfort is a Principle Scientific Enablement Director for Roche in the Science Enablement and Process group, leading innovation work supporting Pharmacovigilance. He is a Board Certified Neurologist with 20+ years combined biopharma industry/regulatory experience including roles as former Medical Reviewer at the US FDA, Clinical Research and Safety at J&J, Anesiva, KCI, Cyberonics, Adaptix, and Genentech. Dr. Comfort’s current work focuses on combining machine-learning models and decision analysis techniques to evaluate Drug-Adverse Event causality and predict Project/Phase Probability of Success. His most recent work developing simple Bayesian models to estimate probability of success was published in Jan 2024 Foresight #72. He published his first book in 2020 on mathematical estimation in healthcare: How Much Is that Cure in the Window? Simple Math Solutions for Complicated Problems in Biology, Medicine, and Healthcare.


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