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Steve Blank
Founding Faculty

Steve Blank

Steve Blank is a founding faculty at the Gordian Knot Center, an Adjunct Professor at Stanford and Senior Fellow for Innovation at Columbia University. Steve consults for the National Security establishment on innovation methods, processes, policies, and doctrine.

His book The Four Steps to the Epiphany is credited with launching the Lean Startup movement. He created the curriculum for the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps. At Stanford he co-created the Department of Defense Hacking for Defense and Department of State Hacking for Diplomacy curriculums.

His follow-on book The Startup Owner’s Manual described a process for turning ideas into scale and his Harvard Business Review cover story redefined how large organizations can innovate at speed.

Steve's latest class at Stanford, Technology, Innovation, and Great Power Competition, is providing crucial insight on how technology will shape all the elements of national power.



Dr. Joe Felter
Center Director & Founding Faculty

Joe Felter

Joe Felter is an educator, researcher and entrepreneur with over 30 years of organizational leadership and management experience including 15 years working at the nexus of Stanford University and Silicon Valley.  He maintains teaching and research appointments at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, the Hoover Institution and Stanford Technology Ventures Program.  From 2017-2019 Joe served as US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia. Joe is co-creator of “Hacking for Defense,” a defense innovation focused academic curriculum he helped develop and pilot at Stanford in 2016. A retired US Army Ranger and Special Forces officer, Joe served in a variety of special operations assignments with combat deployments to Panama, Iraq and Afghanistan. He received a B.S. from the United States Military Academy at West Point, MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School, Graduate Certificate in Management from the University of West Australia, and Ph.D. from Stanford University.

David Hoyt
Assistant Director

David Hoyt

David Hoyt is passionate about the nexus of technology, business, law, and national security. David earned his BA in International Relations from Stanford in 2013, with honors International Security Studies from the Center for International Security and Cooperation. After college David worked for the McChrystal Group in a combination of consulting, finance, strategy, and legal roles before helping work on an early-stage enterprise software startup. David returned to Stanford to complete both law and business degrees, while completing internships in cybersecurity law, automotive economics, and early stage venture capital investing. After passing the California Bar Exam, David has eagerly returned to Stanford to help launch the Gordian Knot Center. 

Dr. Riitta Katila
Co-Principal Investigator

Riitta Katila

Riitta Katila is Professor of Management Science & Engineering and W.M. Keck Foundation Faculty Scholar at Stanford University, and research director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program. Her research is in the intersection of technology strategy and organizational learning, using machine learning, statistical analysis, and mixed methods. She is an expert on innovation, competition, and entrepreneurship in large firms, and her current research centers on responsible and inclusive innovation initiatives. She received the Stephan M. Schrader Award for Outstanding Research in Technology and Innovation Management, the Thought Leader Award in Entrepreneurship, and the Best Symposium Award by the Organization and Management Theory Division of the Academy of Management. Katila studied engineering economics and information systems as an undergraduate, earned a Ph.D. in technology strategy at UT Austin on a Fulbright Scholarship, and received a Doctorate in Engineering from Helsinki University of Technology in Finland. She is the recipient of the Eugene L. Grant Faculty Teaching Award at Stanford.

Ambassador Mike McFaul
Principal Investigator

Michael McFaul

Michael McFaul is Director at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, the Ken Olivier and Angela Nomellini Professor of International Studies in the Department of Political Science, and the Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He joined the Stanford faculty in 1995. Dr. McFaul also is an International Affairs Analyst for NBC News and a columnist for The Washington Post. He served for five years in the Obama administration, first as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Russian and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council at the White House (2009-2012), and then as U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation (2012-2014). He received his B.A. in International Relations and Slavic Languages and his M.A. in Soviet and East European Studies from Stanford University in 1986. As a Rhodes Scholar, he completed his D. Phil. in International Relations at Oxford University in 1991.

Raj Shah
Founding Faculty

Raj Shah

Raj Shah is a technology entrepreneur and investor. Most recently he was the Managing Partner of the Pentagon's Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx), reporting directly to the Secretary of Defense. Raj led DIUx in its efforts to strengthen our Armed Forces through contractual and cultural bridges between Silicon Valley and the Pentagon. Previously he was senior director of strategy at Palo Alto Networks, which acquired Morta Security, where he was CEO and Co-Founder. He began his business career as a consultant with McKinsey & Co. Raj serves as an F-16 pilot in the Air National Guard and has completed multiple combat tours. He holds an AB from Princeton University and an MBA from The Wharton School.