Serving the Mission
Members of the Military Community Help Northrop Grumman Shine
By Matt McKinney
At Northrop Grumman, we don't just respect the members of our nation's military community; we rely on them. The stories below are just of few examples of how their sacrifices, skills and resilience make our company strong.
Pursuing Dual Dreams
Growing up, Zach Kum had dreams of following in his dad's footsteps and working at Northrop Grumman; he achieved his goal in 2019 when he accepted an engineering role at the company. However, a visit to his younger brother at the U.S. Naval Academy in August 2021 sparked a new ambition: to serve in the U.S. Navy. Amid competing dreams, Zach grappled with what to do next.
“The whole weekend, I just couldn’t get out of my head that I wanted to be a part of the military community,” Zach said.
A chance encounter with a U.S. Naval officer on his flight home led Zach toward a path that satisfied both dreams simultaneously — he joined the Navy Reserve in March 2022. Today, he balances his commitments to both the Navy and his Northrop Grumman team, embodying the spirit of service in multiple arenas and joining the ranks of more than 1,600 Northrop Grumman employees who serve as reservists.
“I'm thankful to come to work every day to help keep our nation safe both in and out of uniform,” Zach said.
Relocation and Resilience
For Manager Jenni Ryan Hall, moving to new places is a familiar routine. As a U.S. Army spouse, she has relocated several times with her husband, Andrew. For much of that time, she worked remotely as a Northrop Grumman software engineer.
But after landing her dream Northrop Grumman job as an engineering functional manager for a missile defense-focused team in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Jenni faced the challenge of relocating for her new role while Andrew was deployed.
Jenni's Northrop Grumman teammates stepped up, helping with house hunting, vehicle delivery, unpacking and even babysitting her 2-year-old son, Jack.
“I’m not sure I could have done this relocation without my team,” she said.
Even after Jenni and Jack settled into their new home, her colleagues regularly checked in. Jenni said that support made the major life change a bit more manageable, enabling her to hit the ground running in her new role.
“My team welcomed me with open arms and excitement, and that is part of what I love about my job,” she said. “It was great reminder that we’re all delivering on the mission together.”
Standing Up for Veterans
Having served in missions like Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Lionel Cox knows the mental health challenges that veterans can face.
“Veterans make significant sacrifices, even risking their lives for our country,” said Lionel, who served 15 years in the Navy. “Each deserves access to the benefits they have earned, and none should face hunger, homelessness or feel unappreciated.”
Putting those principles to work, Lionel has taken a central role in supporting his fellow veterans as leader of the Melbourne, Florida, chapter of the VERITAS (Veterans, Employees and Reservists Inspired to Act and Serve) employee resource group.
After listening to veterans’ stories of service, including trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder, Lionel organized trauma-focused webinars and events to help them heal, sharing his own experiences and support as well.
“My passion comes from my insights into how our service members’ contributions every day allow Americans to sleep peacefully,” he said. He noted that he hopes his support will help his fellow veterans do the same.
From Air Force to Aerospace
Andrea Damm and Ryan Kegebein first met while serving in the U.S. Air Force at Colorado’s Buckley Air Force Base in 2009, and, after later marrying, they began a shared journey combining service, leadership and skill.
Their paths, which include 40 years of combined military service with deployments around the globe, led to Northrop Grumman. Recently retired as E-7 master sergeants, the couple now contributes to the company’s mission using expertise from their military days.
“While in the Air Force, I did everything from learning and performing the mission as a satellite systems operator and mission crew chief to teaching students and instructors for the Space-Based Infrared System mission,” said Andrea, who joined Northrop Grumman in 2012.
Today, she brings that experience to her role managing project engineers and projects in Boulder, Colorado.
Ryan, whose Air Force roles included mission crew chief and formal training instructor, joined the company in 2015, overseeing maintenance activities for antenna ground systems. He said he enjoys applying his unique military experience to serve the mission at Northrop Grumman.
"I like supporting a mission that affects people across the globe and learning something new nearly every single day," he said.
* Katie McCartney, Leigh McLeod, Whitney Schmitt and Susan Senechek contributed to this story.